"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rappers Write Your Shit Down! - A Prayer For Shawn Carter

"One of these guys is a writer. One of these guys is a biter. Take your pick."

As we all (should) know, Jay-Z is not the greatest rapper of all-time. Of course, people like to pretend this at alarming rate these days but yet again, people seem to disturbingly like "Lollipop" at a higher rate than is naturally acceptable, so we cannot trust the opinion of the masses. As great as rapper as he is (but not the greatest), Jay-Z is responsible for a lot of annoying, awful trends in hip hop since his unfortunate ascendancy to the hip hop throne post-Biggie's death. He's directly responsible for rappers liking to front like they are an underworld boss/Fortunate 500 CEO because they "own" a clothing line and a vanity label filled with their childhood ganja toters; he's responsible for many a misguided young man who unfortunately feels that he can be both street and sophisticated by wearing a Yankees cap and Jordans with a blazer and a button up shirt; and most troubling of all, he's responsible for many less talented rappers to start believing that their too good to write down their own rhymes. This is what I'm going to be discussing today.

One of the more memorable scenes in Jay-Z's shamelessly self-congratulatory documentary, "Fade to Black", is the scene where Jay-Z explains the creative process behind his rhymes. Jay-Z after listening to a gaggle of a horrific sub-Kanye chipmunk soul beats finally stumbles upon a gem in the form of the Buchanan's "What More Can I Say?" and begins to mumble like a retarded street hobo for a few moments (or as he calls it his "rain man thing") before crafting an entire rhyme in his head without bothering to write it down. At one point, 9th Wonder, who must have stumbled into the studio in between projects of handing the same beat over and over again to Buckshot and the entire underground rap scene, looks as if he's seen god himself in the flesh as he witnesses Jay-Z craft a whole entire song in his head without once putting a pen to the pad. Admittedly, this is an amazing feat because most rappers who freestyle entire songs sound horrifically cliched and boring but Jay-Z has been able to amass one of the greatest discographies in all of music while not bothering to do one of the most fundamental practices of being a great emcee, writing. Now on the surface, this isn't necessarily a bad thing and would be something that would be quite impressive if the practice had simply stayed with Shawn Carter and not spread to the rest of the hip hop world but because modern rappers are nothing if not original, many of today's greats including erstwhile rapper royalty like T.I., Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne have decided they don't need to bother writing their rhymes down (as it gets in the way of selling cocaine and sipping syrup) and hip hop has suffered for it.

Like any great craft, rap lyricism is an intricate and difficult process that requires careful editing and re-writing. It's not something that the great rappers just jump into when writing a song. A well-crafted song takes time and effort to unfold as you not only can you build not only intricate rhyme structures into the song but complex metaphors and stories can be introduced as well. This is exceedingly difficult when you freestyle your songs unless you are a true once-in-a-lifetime genius because by it's very nature freestyling is an open ended form based on chaos and versatility. It's hard to write "Follow The Leader" when you are coming completely off the dome, call me a skeptic. Nas, once, dedicated an entire song to the process of editing your rhymes on "Book Of Rhymes" on God's Son in which he rhymes as if he's reading discarded song ideas that he found in boxes in his attic. In each verse on the song, Nas starts and stops different song ideas that he's had in the past, tossing away and dismissing ideas that seem like they could be winners in their genesis because Nas finds the rhyming subpar or the idea unfocused. It gives a glimpse into the creative process of a song writer as Nas meticulously crafts each verse until it's perfect (too bad his beat picking isn't as sharp.) and is why Nas' is one of the foremost writers in hip hop history. Regardless of how you feel about Nas' penchant for beats or his desire to make ill-concieved controversy baiting rap titles, Nas has never been less than clever and fresh with his rhymes. He remains one of the greatest writers of his generation because he's such a sharp and meticulous writer.

In my opinion, the greatest writer of all-time in hip hop music is Wu-Tang's resident obscene slang kicker, The GZA. GZA is a perfectionist when it comes to crafting the perfect sixteen bars because he shows the importance of using economy of words. GZA nevers wastes words, never adds a syllable when there doesn't need to be, and always makes sure his metaphors are clear and make sense. We all know his potency when it comes to lyricism when he crafts clever songs like "Labels", "Publicity", "Queen's Gambit", and "Fame" where GZA namechecks various real-life people, magazines, football teams, and music labels and is able to craft vivid narratives by rhyming those words only. This is only done because GZA takes the time to meticulously craft and edit his words. While some of GZA's later work is weaker comparative to his earlier stuff because of beat selection and production, GZA has never written a wack rhyme in his life. Period. His direct, economical style shows the power of writing your rhymes down and shows that you can be lethal when you use your pen. I have been often a critic of rhymers like Lil' Wayne for their forced metaphors and suspect similies and it's precisely because they don't bother to edit their material. It just pops into their head and they record on wax with little to quality control. Wayne and others are able to become undeniably profilic because of this but it keeps them from entering the pantheon of great rhymers.

It was welcome news recently when T.I. announced after his spectaculary idiotic assualt weapon possesion charges that he decided to write his rhymes down again on paper so I'm hopeful that his next album could quite possibly be his best one he's ever recorded. Jugding by the recent dopeness that was his new single that T.I. could possibly be headed that direction. T.I. already has massive flow so if he became a more consistent writer than the debate on who is the greatest Southern rapper of his generation could be answered and the national nightmare of Weezy's cough medicine soaked reign could be over. Call me estatic.

Ultimately, when you don't write your rhymes down your work suffers. Jay-Z was a tremendous rapper when he didn't write his rhymes down but one can only imagine if he bothered to sit down and think his rhymes completlely through. Perhaps, he wouldn't have blatantly stole so many lines from Biggie, UGK and others over the years and wouldn't have the dogged complaints from the naysayers that the best rapper of all-time can't possibly be such a shameless biter. So rappers don't be like Jay-Z. Write your shit down. You might just save yourself the embarrassment of making a song like "Sunshine." You'll thank me later.


Disco Vietnam said...

This is an extremely and disappointingly misguided point of view that values labored composition over spontaneous creation. It's dangerous critical territory to devalue an artist's work based solely on your misunderstanding of their process. Wack post.

DocZeus said...

'This is an extremely and disappointingly misguided point of view that values labored composition over spontaneous creation. It's dangerous critical territory to devalue an artist's work based solely on your misunderstanding of their process. Wack post."

Ouch, that hurts.

DocZeus said...

Actually, Disco. Could you elaborate where you think I'm wrong? I'm not suggesting that Jay-Z's getting in the booth and freestyling off-the-top but that the fact, he's not bothering to write his rhymes down hurts him as an artist.

Perhaps, I should have better edited myself. Hmm...

Anonymous said...

I thought the shit was spot-on.

Disco Vietnam said...

I just reject any notion that one creative approach is inherently superior to another, specifically when it comes to music. I think in this case you're impressing a writer's or poet's values (painstaking craftsmanship, deliberateness of thought) onto a musician. Rap is first and foremost music, and rappers, no matter how much they rely on lyricism, are first and foremost musicians. If writing lyrics down and thinking like a writer detracts from Jay-Z's musicality while making music (which it most certainly would) then why would he do that?

I will concede that rappers who take this approach for the wrong reasons (Jay-Z does it and he's successful so I will do it and I will be successful) aren't doing anybody any good. But that's hardly Jay-Z's fault. It's just that those rappers are being dishonest by employing a creative process that isn't natural to them and their art suffers for it. But Jay-Z's art doesn't because that's how Jay-Z naturally makes music.

I once spoke to a completely unknown rapper who told me he simply can't write his rhymes down because the second he sees his words on a page he believes he's being dishonest and has corrupted what he wants to say. As writers that's a difficult pill to swallow but for a musician it makes perfect sense. The words aren't the song.

So these "what if"/"if only" games are just attempts to put artists in boxes we're more comfortable with because as writers we're woefully ill equipped to discuss music in any substantial way. We're frightened by Lil Wayne's prolific output because we think it shows a lack of focus on quality, but really we just resent that he doesn't think like a critic or even considers us when making music. Would you honestly prefer he did?

Do you really think Jay-Z's music would improve if he employed a creative process completely unnatural to him just so we can impose our flawed and biased writer values on his music so we can more easily rank him against his peers? We can't advocate dishonesty, especially for meaningless purposes.

Jordan said...

Hmmm, this is interesting. Doc I think you're probably mostly right but Disco's definitely got a point. I'm reminded a bit of the Killer Mike interview where he said that "that's life" was actually a freestyle, and it makes sense; all that energy, anger and intelligence that Mike shows in every interview was on display, in a way that it's not quite in every Mike song. There's definitely something distancing about sitting down and writing everything out, and in the case of Killer Mike, that's a distance that I don't really want. Even if every line isn't great there's something to be said for an angry guy who's got a lot to say to just start saying it.

For Lil Wayne, I have some of the same feelings if not quite as strong. It's really impressive how immediate "something you forgot" sounds, with all that raw emotionality that would make it tougher to write and perform later with the same kind of intensity. I think Wayne's problem might be that he's rarely as inspired to rhyme as he is on "something you forgot" so instead he just ends up kicking the same kind of lame similes and pop culture references (although sometimes his pop culture references are really great and emotionally charged) but what really shows through is the lack of inspiration, which in turn highlights the lack of craft.

In any case I think I agree with you that rappers shouldn't only freestyle, as eventually what they offer on those gets thinner the more often they do it. I do think that freestyling can be a really valuable tool to have in your arsenal though. "Unbelievable" may be the only track on Ready to Die that wasn't written, but it's also one of the best, because after so many impeccably crafted lines and verses it gets down to the basics, almost showing us how Big's mind works how he makes these connections based as much on sounds as ideas while continuing to kind of make sense and be hilarious. Now biggie definitely shouldn't have freestyled all his verses, otherwise we'd undoubtedly been denied great lines about gazelle shades, slave ships, Giuliani and jheri curls, but I'm sure you can see how that ability helped him.

Anyway, sorry if this is kind of incoherent, this post just got me thinking of different ways spitting from the head could be helpful.

Christopher said...


So the first video should make you nostalgic. Jesus. The swagger. The successful label. The pissed off glare.

Spot-on post in the commentary on the curse that Jay wrought on everyone. Although the "Grown man" shit thing has always been retarded, I support a 15 year old's right to wear a blazer with Kool-Aid Reeboks.

True about Wayne, too. But the catch is, this generation si ADD-addled and fucking stupid so no one understands the concept of dynamics and creating things that actually connect musically. People can be as "RANDOM LOLZ" as they want, but if it doesn't form a bigger tapestry, shit's meaningless.

tray said...

I agree, but:

1) Jay doesn't have one of the greatest discographies in the history of music, not even close,

2) Nas is often less than clever and fresh with his rhymes, see "I Can," "You Can't Kill Me," "Who Killed It," maybe half the songs on Street's Disciple (for ex., American Way), several songs on Nastradamus, all kinds of lazy guest spots, and of course this latest song he put out...

Trey Stone said...

Doc, one of the things that bugs me in how you and a lot of heads seem to judge rap is that "well-crafted rap song" is defined as rap that follows some kind of strictly-defined "meaningful" lyricism. so a high-concept Nas song, no matter how poorly executed, is always better than a Jay song where he's just flossing or bragging but sounds 100X better.

as for the best ever thing, i don't see how Jay isn't, because with Rakim, influence is not the trump card for GOAT, and Jay easily has a better discography than Nas no matter how many marginal Nas albums stans wanna hype like they were unfairly underrated. he also has a much better flow and is much more articulate in his lyricism than Nas, who sometimes comes off as a college kid who thinks they're qualified to comment on stuff they obviously don't know a lot about

the reason i like Jay and (currently) Wayne more than Nas is because their style's more free-flowing and entertaining, which probably has to do with the off-the-top thing. Nas's flow sounds nice over the right kind of beat, but he's incapable of switching it up well, and if he didn't try to pack so much material into each bar he could possibly be more engaging and direct with his delivery. i'd also reiterate that there's nothing wrong with making fun songs that don't have any intricate lyrical concept. Jay's obviously capable of doing the hustler soul-searching thing, but he's generally at his best on songs that rely on his charisma, wit and flow to carry him through. in addition to some of Nas's conceptual songs not being the orgasm-inducing works of genius some of his fans seem to think, dude needs to learn that it's not a crime to lighten up every now and then. and i realize he's got his share of lighter, flashier songs, but even on a bunch of those he still sounds like he's taking himself a little too seriously

padraig said...

^something I wonder - when did the GOAT debate get reduced to Jay vs. Nas?

shit, there are tons of dudes I'd take over Jay and none of them are named Nas; Pharoahe Monch, Masta Ace, Biggie, Ghostface, Aceyalone, Big L, KRS, GZA, Ras Kass & so on. I obviously have different criteria than some dudes though. and hip hop isn't even really my main interest, or it hasn't been for several years. so, you know.

As to the post, I'm more or less w/Mr. Vietnam. whatever works for you. obviously if dudes are just doing something b/c Jay (or whoever) else does it then they're deluding themselves, but there's no such thing as one creative process that is inherently better than another.

DocZeus said...


Fair enough. However, I think your downplaying the importance of editing even in music. Most forms of recorded music are HEAVILY edited precisely because it's recorded in pieces and has a mixer and a producer. I guess I'm referring to lyricism specifically when I refer to editing though since I'm not a particulary fan of freestyle rap. I've seen and been part of way too many freestyle sessions and battles to know that's an overrated art.

I'm also not denying that it's a valid artistic choice if you used for a specific reason but I can't help but think it's laziness on the artists behalf. Way too often, the actual music is treated like an afterthought to the more "fun" aspects of rap stardom. I think it's symptomatic of the whole "I'm not a rapper" phenomenon that plagues so many would-be moguls today in music. If you ain't a rapper, don't waste my time.

Personally, if there is a G.O.A.T., I believe I stated in the past his name is Dennis Coles so the Nas/Jay-Z debate is moot. His only flaw is that he wasn't nearly as popular or seminal as a solo artist as Rakim, Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, LL, etc but his discography is the most consistent and best of everybody whoever worked. He has nothing even remotely approaching a wack album on his resume and all of them are great.

As for Jay-Z, I feel he gets a pass because for his post-Reasonable Doubt - Pre-Blueprint period inconsistency (at least in terms of albums) because he was massively popular and his albums sold so remarkably well. Nas' gets his albums unfairly shredded to pieces in that period despite being generally the same amount of quality because they weren't Illmatic. Escobar Era Nas falls victims to unfair expectation.

As for their post-2001 work, it's remarkably similar in the lacking category. Post-Stillmatic/Blueprint Nas and Jay only both have one (maybe two) album that's of merit compared to their earlier stuff.

And I infinitely prefer, light-hearted flossy Jay to his grown-man introspective shit. "Big Pimpin", "Give It 2 Me", "Can I Get A..." and "Hard Knock Life" are probably my four of my five favorite Jay songs.

And neither has had a decent single in years. Jay hasn't had a great single since "Give It 2 Me" and Nas hasn't had one since "Made You Look" (unless you count "Thief's Theme" which really wasn't a single).


1. Yes, Jay does. Don't be obtuse.

2. Nas' wack songs rarely fall flat because Nas' verses are weak. Mostly because either the concept is completely ill thought (like Be A N**** Too demonstrates) or because Nas' creepy devotion to Salaam Remi and L.E.S. Seriously, can Jungle delete their number for Nas' phone. And American Way only falls apart because Kelis is unbelievably off-key.

Anonymous said...

Your comments sections got especially nteresting with thiss one. kudos. i tend to generally think of great pieces of art as labours of love that have undergone immense pain and scrutiny - im cool with the art of feestyling but when crafting a classic i hope people are aiming for timeless pieces of work. this is where i connect with your idea of editing. however, i've never been one to disregard the value of immediacy. its almost like a argument of tradional art vs abstract art - like people arguing over whether soeone like jackson pollock's work is really art or mere paint puke ..bad anaology i know, but im trying to bring a parallel towards another scene where a new form of immediate art was not embraced by purists ..im a huge wayne fan , but i will totally agree that he lacks quality control. i dont think we need to support wack freestyles as having some sort of "emotional" or angst ridden immediacy. as the diversity of your comments discussion kinda reveals , its not really that "spontaneous creation" or "laboured composition" is in itself inherently good or bad. they're merely formats for art. and we can blessed/cursed with great and horrible pieces of art with both these formats. do you. - jay kay

Christopher said...

Kelis is always off-key. Goddamn shame.

Trey Stone said...

all of "American Way" is trash, the beat especially. and Nas's flow is weak shit on "Be a Nigger Too." seriously now. anyway, while i understand the separation of beat and emcee on the basis that rappers typically don't produce their own tracks, saying stuff like "Nas's tracks usually don't suck because of his rhymes" just doesn't mean much in my mind. who cares how good anyone's spitting if the music sucks? not that you were arguing otherwise. it's just if Nas picks beats that sound like shit and aren't suited for his style, i'm not gonna separate the lyrics in my mind like they're an isolated part of the track that somehow redeems him.

i guess we're kinda on the same page as Jay's own strengths (though i'd clarify i'm including RD in the introspective shit of his i was comparing, not that it's bad or anything,) but i get the vibe from a lot of your posts that you place a lot of value on a select type of lyricism. it's not that i have a problem with meaningful shit when it's done well, but with certain guys it's almost like they just benefit from low expectations, and get a pass even when their shit isn't all that well-executed. more to the point, it seems like you think there's some kind of glass ceiling for the type of rap Jay does, like it's good but it could never be as good as what Nas/GZA/whoever does because they're more concept-oriented. there's good and bad ways to do both kinds of rap and i don't think one's inherently inferior to the other.

while i like I Am..., i think all parts of Jay's catalogue are pretty easily superior to Nas's, with the main exception being HHID vs. Kingdom Come. i haven't heard IWW in full, mostly because what i have hasn't compelled me to check it out ("Nas Is Coming" and "If I Ruled" are both good though.) but there's not much at all between Stillmatic and God's Son i can see myself coming back to. to be honest i'm actually pretty indifferent to Illmatic, i just generally avoid saying that cuz a) blasphemah and b) it's one of those albums where i get why it's appreciated the way it is, even though it isn't really my thing.

and padraig -- i was just talking the typical consensus choices as far as that goes. most of the guys you mentioned i'm not that into for one reason or another, or in the case of BIG like but would rank lower than Jay. and i generally think you have to reach a certain level of popularity/influence to be seriously considered in best ever discussions.

Trey Stone said...

damn, i swear i subconsciously remember certain wording when i read it. even though i completely agree with what DV's said i seriously didn't mean to repeat the "inherently superior/inferior" phrasing he used in his second post. clearly i'm a biter not a writer

Zilla Rocca said...

The bottom line is this:

Jay's method works marvelously for him because he DEVELOPED that method for YEARS slinging on the corner with no pen and pad. He wrote rhymes in his head out of necessisity and start exercising that gift and getting sharp with it.

Wayne, T.I., Kanye etc do it to be spontaneous and match the vibe of the beat. They've been doing it for what--6 months? A year? Jay's been doing it since the early 90s in Marcy Projects.

Overall, it HURTS the quality of coherent lyricism if you don't write/edit your shit. Rakim is PROUD that he WRITES his rhymes down, and consequently he's one of the greatest ever. You can ride waves of inspiration off the head. And there are exceptional geniuses like Jay that can write that way exclusively. But NO ONE IN HIP HOP bragged about that writing style until Jay-Z came out. You can write down Jay's lyrics and put them next to GZA's on a sheet of paper and they'll be just as layered, profound, and slick. Can't say that about Wayne and co.

If you want to be spontaneous, join a cypher or go to Scribble Jam. Don't carry yourself as "The greatest rapper alive" when you just rhyme "boat" with "coat" off the head and the words in between are garbage. Jay-Z writing "D'Evils" in his head and Lil' Wayne freestyling "A Millie" are on two different ends of the quality spectrum.

tray said...

No, no. Maybe Jay has one of the greatest discographies in the history of rap, but that just speaks to the poverty of the genre... if you're talking about the greatest discographies in music, you'd have to look at Miles Davis and The Beatles and so on, people with three or four albums that reinvented music, plus, like, five other classics, whereas Jay has, let's be honest, zero classics, two really good albums, only a few others that you can even call solid, and then some really forgettable stuff. Nas, sometimes he really has nothing to say. Especially when he tries to get political. The whole Nas stan theory that if only he had picked better beats, every Nas album would be a classic is a big myth

DocZeus said...

"The whole Nas stan theory that if only he had picked better beats, every Nas album would be a classic is a big myth."

I can't disagree with that since Nastradamus is horrible in too many ways to name but Street's Disciple could have been classic if a few beats weren't quite as Salaam Remi-ish or if it was cut down to a disc.

"whereas Jay has, let's be honest, zero classics, two really good albums, only a few others that you can even call solid, and then some really forgettable stuff."

C'mon let's not pretend that Reasonable Doubt and the Blueprint aren't classic (ESPECIALLY BLUEPRINT). If there is one thing that I stand against it's agenda-based revision. I know there's a backlash against Reasonable Doubt because it didn't get its due until five or six years after it's debut and suddenly, it was being called one of the five best albums of all-time but RD is Jay's best work both sonically and lyrically. And Blueprint is one of the five best albums released this decade, hip hop or otherwise. No hyperbole. I loved it the first time I heard it seven years ago.

And I'd just like to clarify my argument by saying that Reasonable Doubt is the exception to the rule. Although, I have an odd suspicion because of the intricacy of the writing on the album that Jay hadn't developed his off the dome style yet but I'll take Jay at his word that he was coming up with the raps completely in his head.

Trey Stone said...

i'd disagree on RD being Jay's best sonically (and i prefer the more direct rapping style he kept developing after that from Vol. 2 on but i digress.) while there's some definite standouts, i think a lot of the production there is just kinda decent. it's not bad, probably because the producers stuck within a reliable range of samples, but there's not a bunch that really jumps out at you like his later albums (the mostly narcoleptic Vol. 1 excepted)

that's the thing for me -- RD is more thematically consistent on the production end than pretty much anything else dude did before BP, but it doesn't have the same production highs. even with Dynasty, which is fairly hit-and-miss, i can honestly say i've come back to the best songs there more than anything on RD. "Intro," "Give It 2 Me," "This Can't Be Life," "Stick 2 the Script," "1-900-Hustler..." all hot shit i tells ya

i'd share the suspicion on him supposedly not writing down shit for RD though. with BP, it's believable cuz his style there sounds pretty spontaneous, but the amount of stuff he's packing into each bar on RD is completely different

tray said...

I'm sort of in the noz boat on Blueprint. I, too, used to think it was a classic, but now I listen to it and find that it's just a bunch of unchallenging, ear candy, comfort food beats, coupled with Jay really not saying much of anything in a not especially clever way. His flow on there was amazing, but lyrically it's actually pretty lazy. Bouncing back like roundballs and such. Now, you can make a classic with great beats, great flow/mic presence and not much else, look at Doggystyle, Slick Rick's first album, but aren't those albums a big cut above Blueprint?

As for Nastradamus, I actually think there's more there than on Street's Disciple. If you look at Doom's remix of Nastradamus (Nastradoomus), you may find that in that case it's really largely the beats dragging the whole thing down. Whereas on SD I really felt like he had nothing to say. The marriage stuff was treacly, his sex raps were as nauseating as ever, when it comes to saying anything political I just think he has no clue what he's talking about, the storytelling cuts were weak by his standards, he got outshined by Quan...

dallas said...

Doc Z,
Believe it or not but there are some folks ridiculously invested in the notion that Jay-Z doesn't write down his lyrics. That is a Hollywood lie. Jay-Z does write down his rhymes.

He says and acts like he does not because in his vanity he knows that this will be the demise of anyone who emulates his behavior. Notice in some recent interviews that T.I. now admits to writing own his lyrics.

It's both insane and asinine to imagine a writer or musician that disrespects the efficacy of viewing their work before them. C'mon Disco, grow the fuck up. Writing something down prior to uttering or playing the composition is the equivalent of practice.

Yes man, practice. Keep in mind that the second time you utter a verse it no longer remains a freestyle either.

We throw stones at Lil' Wang because he is no good. Not because we are jealous of his work ethic. Shit is good, or not. Wang's shit is NOT good.

Nice drop Doc Zeus. I have been preaching the respect for greater lyricism since I came on the scene. If some nigga didn't believe in writing down his best "freestyle" shit would we ever have had the 'Iliad'?

DocZeus said...

We throw stones at Lil' Wang because he is no good. Not because we are jealous of his work ethic. Shit is good, or not. Wang's shit is NOT good"

I toss boulders at Lil' Wayne because I feel the hype he's received his undue and his lyricism is way overrated. However, I'm on the side of Lil' Wayne that says he's interesting artist because of his off-kilter frog delivery is quite different. I kind of see him as an update of the Ol' Dirty Bastard tradition.

People forget that ODB wasn't a great lyricist by any stretch of the imagination. He's worse than U-God in that respects but his delivery and his voice was insane. I kind of see Wayne owing a lot to Russell Jones in that respect.

Madman said...

I don't believe physical writing should be a guideline, but a rapper should use the process that feels natural to them. I rap myself and used to keep everything in my head. Not because Jay did it, but because I was too lazy to write anything down. Once I started writing the quality of my work got much better.

To this day, it just amazes me that he can keep songs like Renegade, Breathe Easy, & Threat inside his head.

Mike Cee said...

Jay-Z MEMORIZES his lyrics... he doesn't FREESTYLE. There's a difference between memorizing and improvising. "It's all in the MEMORY" a direct quote from S. Carter himself. Only artists that truly freestyle tracks are Supernatural, Freestyle Fellowship.

Praverb said...

a lovely topic...I would love to understand the creative process of J.U.I.C.E., Supernatural, Reignman, Craig G, and more...

Anonymous said...

you are a retard dude

"Like any great craft, rap lyricism is an intricate and difficult process that requires careful editing and re-writing."

First of all rap was started from straight flowing and then evolved into writing, it was about having simple rhymes while showing control on the mic. Rap HAS NEVER been 'a difficult process that requires careful editing and re-writing.' It's by far the easiest music to make, good or not good, that's why you see so many jerk offs getting signed. Jay-Z is in no way the best rapper but in terms of music, he makes some of the best out there, so does kanye, brother ali, and plenty of others, not to mention the greatest pop star of all time, Michael Jackson who didn't write a word down for Thriller. you have no basis for any of the shit you said in terms of music, he might be a money whore elsewhere, but that's proley why he doesn't make as good music ne more he's to caught in everything