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

Friday, May 30, 2008

What The South's Reign Really Meant: A Semi-Defense Of Hip Hop's Most Notorious Region - A Eulogy For The South Part II

No, dude. It is.

Outside of slavery, the legacy of Jim Crow, Nascar and the fact that Our Glorious Leader calls it home, I don't hate the South. Honestly, if there was a region in this country that I hated then it would be the entirety of New England. Mostly because of their sheer obnoxiousness in their (complete bullshit bandwagon) "passion" in rooting for Boston-based sports teams (like you guys gave a crap about the Celtics before they started winning this year...) in which they've miraculously managed to make motherfuckin' Yankees fans somehow inexplicably more sympathetic. I don't harbor any ill will towards the South.

After my article yesterday about the Midwest's rise in cultural significance in rap music, I found that many people were upset by my tangential South bashing in this piece. Other than the fact that people still haven't realized my opinion is the gospel truth about the world (It's burden, really. There's a reason the name's Zeus.), I'm still surprised by how many people don't gather that my tongue is always firmly planted into the side of my cheek when I'm doing my pantented brand of critical "analysis". I'm a hater and a bad person and it brings me supreme joy to throw my favorite targets under a Greyhound. I can't help it. I desperately need therapy. It did get me thinking about the nature of the South's cultural hegemony on hip hop the last decade and what it meant in a broader historical term and if it did, in fact, kill hip hop deader than Curtis Jackson's career. My conclusion... Sort of but it was inevitable, anyway so it's not really our Southern brethren's fault.

In ten years, when music historians are looking back at this particular period in hip hop's history. I have a feeling that we will be calling this period "the Hip Hop Is Dead Era." (In fact, I'm coining that term if that's at all possible. We are living in the Hip Hop Is Dead Era. Deal with it, haters. God's Son across the keyboard!) The dates on this period stretch from roughly late '97 until now and it's a period in which mainstream rap music succumbed to the ills and vices that C. Delores Tucker had always accused hip hop music of glorifying and it's generally considered a period in which hip hop saw it's cultural queue factor rise and drastically fall off the Rand McNally like it was Lauryn Noel Hill or something. During this period, the traditional East/West cultural dominance and rivalry was replaced by the Southern rap regime that we currently know and love er....grudgingly tolerate. The movement was predicated on a strong insular do-it-yourself business plan and movement pioneered by the likes of Master P of No Limit Records, Luther Campbell of Luke Skyywalker Records, Brian "Baby" Williams of Cash Money Records and J. Prince of Rap-A-Lot Records. They sold their music out of the trunks of their trucks as they were denied admission into the major label kingdom which proved to be blessing since their business plan provided they take the lion share of the keep (as well as systematically conning their artists away from their royalties but you know, we'll ignore that part of the equation for a second.) which provided they amassed mass wealth and obtained a loyal, fanatical base of fans who ate this shit up like it was chocolate-covered cocaine crispies. When the void provided by the demise of the New York and West Coast rap scenes after Biggie's and Tupac's death was created, these new labels were able to come in and dominate rap charts because of their loyal fanbase and innovative business schemes. That's how the South won and that's why their music became the dominant sound of the decade.

Of course, we all know what happened next. After unprecedented sales in the early part of the decade behind such monster acts as Eminem, 50 Cent, Nelly and Jay-Z, hip hop began to drastically backslide into the gigantic hole of the commercial and critical wasteland that is now.
The Internet and digital downloads killed the record industry but hip hop curiously took a larger hit in the scheme of things than other genres and sales plummeted to record lows. Record companies fearing the worst began signing artists who were virtual clones of the few success stories they had and accordingly, the music got stale and processed. The South because of it's hegemony on the music scape took a lot of the blame since their sound had come to define the decade and accordingly, when prophets of truth like Nas began saying that hip hop was dead. Major feelings were caught about modern hip hop criticism since in affect, it was an attack on the region by proxy due to the South being the biggest game in town. Ultimately, it would disengenous to completely blame hip hop's commercial struggles on the South. The music industry has been murdered by digital downloads and early leaks of the album which has affected all forms of music. Hip hop has always been a youth driven medium both in it's artists and fanbase so it would make logical sense that it would be more aversely effected by the the digital revolution since young people tend to be more digitally saavy than their older counterparts. Hence, the phenomenon of the internet leak replacing the release date as the most important date in a rap records shelf life. Old people simply don't download music at the rate that a teenage Lil' Wayne fan would simply because they wouldn't know how to navigate the complex world of internet file sharing. Even if you could place a square link to the shittiness of the South's music to the decline in sales, it would ultimately be a relatively moot point behind the basic premise that digital downloads have murdered record sales at a geometric rate in recent years.

Critically, the down slide of rap music can be placed more firmly on the South's shoulders but not to the extent that haters like myself would ultimately assert. Many Souther rap apologists like to assert that the South is more than the lyrical coke-obsessed anti-wunderkinds of the Soulja Boy's, Young Jeezy's, and Mike Jones' of the world. They assert the anti-lyrical, ignorant stereotype of Southern rap music is a fallacy brought on by anti-South New York-centric elitism of critics like myself and others. They like to point to point out artists like Z-Ro, Killer Mike, Andre 3000, and others as prove that the South is deep. There is a partial truth in that statement but let's be real for a second, the South was not promoting or supporting these artists at nearly the rate they supported the coke-obsessed ignorant quotient of their artists. For better or worse, Young Jeezy is ten times as a big a star as Killer Mike and if artists like Killer Mike were the true face of the South, they would've sold more and been on television as ubiquitously as Mike Jones and Paul Wall. If you are going to present the likes of the Ying Yang Twins, Dem Franchise Boyz, and D4L as the face of your movement than you should prepared for people to stereotype your entire region's musical movement as a bunch of ignorant, gangsta grilled minstrels. It's intellectually dishonest to say that Trae is as popular as Paul Wall. Unfortunately, Paul Wall and his ilk will be the lasting legacy of the South's reign. It may not be fair but if you contrast it with who was dominating the charts during the East's and West's collective reign on the top (Biggie, Tupac, N.W.A., Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Dre and Snoop) than it simply casts and ugly shadow on the proceedings.

However, there is a mitigating factor in the lack of critical success of the movement that helps understand why the South kept feeding us crap. The shifting tastes of the youth and the collapse of the record industry help explain the shift in popular taste towards a more shallow and "ignorant" fare. The record industry upon it's mass failure panicked and started only signing artists that appealed to what already sold the most and worked in the past. It helped lead to a decline in alternative artists which was steady during hip hop's '90s heyday but generally kept anything outside of the basic cars, bitches, drugs, guns and money obsessed rappers. Dumbing it down became fashionable and the only way to get a record released so any artist that showed a flash of intelligence essentially got tossed out the door. Southern artists were all too willing to oblige to the New Order. However, it's my assertion that had the South remained as a small regional movement and not broken out, the result would have been exactly the same. Had New York stayed on top, it too would have fallen to a critical winter as even in the '00's, the most popular artists from New York were artists like 50 Cent, G-Unit, Ja Rule and Dipset which wallowed in the same basic ignorance and lack of lyricism as the worst of the South. It would've been no different. Hip Hop would still be dead had Biggie not been murdered by Chuck Phillips, er...Tupac's ghost.

In the end, my assertion that the South's reign wasn't exactly good for hip hop remains true but it would've played out the exact same way even if Hawaiian rap had dominated the pop charts this decade. Hip Hop's "death" was inevitable. Music moves in cycles and it was impossible for a music as weird and insular as rap to remain as cultural dominant on the American Youth culture as it was in it's '90s golden age. It's hard pill to swallow but it's the trut....Oh shit! The Carter III just released. Fuck this! Let's get back to some good old fashioned hating.


ObiWon said...

I think the rise of the South first hit me when I listened to the Braveheart's "Quick to Back Down". My favorite rapper Nas rapping next to Lil John's amusive demeanor just didn't seem right. Not saying that Lil John doesn't make good music (to me he really doesn't, though you might catch me moving a little to "Snap ya Fingers")it was just weird to see the epitome of Hip Hop a little out of his element.

Now that the South's hold on Hip Hop has officially coming to end, it is interesting to see how much Hip Hop has changed, the number of acts that have came and went, and who has stood the test of time. I blame the South for blowing up ridiculous trends like grills, huge rims, and spinner wheels but nobody can say that the South was all bad for Hip Hop.

UGK, Outkast, Chamillionaire, T.I., Young Jeezy, and Lil Wayne have made huge contributions to Hip Hop and as a result of its little stint in the South, Hip Hop will never be the same again. I think it's kinda cool how something that was founded in New York could just be snatched by a whole other region. I think that the South has made people from other regions step their game up and really put some thought into their music. Hip Hop can not be taken for granted and I think people are realizing this.

I listen to Common's new joint (U.M.C.), the new Roots cd, Lil Wayne's Lollipop remix with Kanye and I go bananas. The different sounds, all with exceptional passion, are bringing an end to what I agree historians will call "The Hip Hop is Dead" era.

Knowingly or not, the South taking over Hip Hop has made it so much stronger. And maybe now if the music labels make it appealing for people to spend money on music we can see Hip Hop strengthen its grip on the music industry.

Christopher said...

Will you let the worship go if Nas continues his 12 year pattern and Nigger/Untitled is just as much of a weedplate as everything he's done since Illmatic?

DocZeus said...


Let's just not pretend that Stillmatic, God's Son and It Was Written weren't hot. It fits better with the delusional, Jay-Z is the greatest of all-time narrative people are desperately trying to write.

Trey Stone said...

nah, none of those're hot. Stillmatic in particular has some real garbage beats outside of the intro and the Premo track. now if ya said I Am... or HHID, maybe

i completely agree with the paragraph about the mainstream representation of Southern rap, but while i don't doubt there's some truth to your whole idea of labels promoting mostly "safe" rappers based on image, i'd add that some of the alternative dudes could learn from the production sound of Southern rap. seriously, if some of these guys were rapping over Jeezy/T.I.-ish beats i'd be willing to bet some of the same people who currently call those beats generic would be calling 'em hot. or not, but i don't think some kind of branching out would hurt. Lupe and the like don't necessarily have to bite current styles but they could definitely move beyond the stale boom bap-isms they're currently on (i'm patenting that phrase)

DocZeus said...

"Lupe and the like don't necessarily have to bite current styles but they could definitely move beyond the stale boom bap-isms they're currently on (i'm patenting that phrase)"

The Cool doesn't sound really anything like boom bap. It's the sonic cousin of Graduation and that's definitely NOT boom bap. I mean I can understand hating Lupe as a rapper but if you at least dig what Kanye did on Graduation, you should at least respect the production on the Cool.

As for the assertion if the Talibs and Mos Def's of the world started rhyming over Southern beats , they would've sold more, I think that's a fallacy. Social conscious relative commerical failure is a lot more complicated than wack beats. Talib over a Lil Jon jawn just would not work. Most Southern rap beats are really built for polysyllabic lyricism that most conscious artists use so unless they "dumb down" their flows ala Jay-Z, it would've failed miserably. A las Nas on "Quick To Back Down."

And I'm using alternative rap in a broader sense than just conscious shit. There really weren't any Pharcydes or Biz Markie's during the South's reign either and those guys are different than conscious rappers like Common. Different strain of lyrical DNA.

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trey Stone said...

yeah, maybe i was using that in an overly broad sense (the "ism's" my cop out) although some of the drum patterns on there sound like basic boom-bap rhythms. you're right it's got more of a left-field sound but it just doesn't pop to me the same way Graduation does. it's not even a lack of "bangers" or radio-friendly sound i'm talking about, but the beats're missing something that prevents 'em from crossing that boring/chill line for me.

africanorigins said...

*sighs* I posted in your other post about the South/Midwest. I was the Anonymous(didn't know I could login w/wordpress) who brought up Jay Electronica. Yeah I see you're a tongue-in-cheek kinda guy, but you're still shitting on the South. By alleging a decline in the South's 'reign' in Hip-Hop. Even though you wrote in your post about the whole genre being in decline.

What proof do you have that the South is going in the shitter? What say ye? You've yet to post any proof. Conversely you assume, that because the Midwest is rising The South must be declining which is crazy to me. Yes culture is cyclical but to think we aren't in a new time/era is telling on your part. It shows your inability to let go of a nostalgic way of thinking.

Jordan said...

Outkast are the top selling rap act of all time (well maybe not all that was rap but still.) The idea that more people know who Paul Wall is than Andre (which you don't say but kinda disingenuously imply) is therefore pretty bullshit. Record companies don't give a shit about good music, they promote whatever sounds like a hit, and if that (what makes it to MTV/BET) is the narrative you wanna follow that's fine, but I don't know, I thought you were smarter than that.

You kinda treat southern rap as a trend, and not a deep culture, which is fucked up if all your favorite rappers were influenced by Scarface (and they were). Anyway the South might not dominate rap culture (whatever the fuck that means, as if I give a shit what high school kids who don't really like rap play at parties to force people to dance) but it's still got a rich legacy that goes back before 97-98 that I'm still exploring, and it's pretty diverse and thriving now.

And I think "Swang on 'Em" pretty much proved Lupe should make an album rhyming over southern style bangers. Plus then he could make Hip Hop Saved My Life-style fan fiction about himself. More efficient that way.

DocZeus said...

"Outkast are the top selling rap act of all time (well maybe not all that was rap but still.) The idea that more people know who Paul Wall is than Andre (which you don't say but kinda disingenuously imply) is therefore pretty bullshit. "

Well, I'm directly referring to the historical period of 99-now. In a lot of ways, Outkast, UGK, Geto Boys, Goodie Mob, Scarface, Eightball & MJG, etc. existed prior to that period and they were pioneers of the movement but for the most part, they were noticeably absent or irrelevant when the South REALLY took off. I don't mean to marginalize their influence but they were early to mid '90s acts for the most parts and therefore, I didn't mention them in the analysis. I'm talking about the '00s and the South's dominance.

I mean Dre 3000 spent the better part of the decade being a bootleg Prince impersonator. The Geto Boys released one album collectively which people barely noticed. Goodie Mob was broken up. Eightball & MJG was never really THAT popular. UGK was mostly absent due to Pimp C's incarceration although they did become more popular than ever when he was released. Scarface released the Fix and then disappeared.

And I am treating southern rap as trend for the contexts of the article since I'm discussing national trends in rap's popularity and why they rise and fall. Personally, I am interested in this.

Jordan said...

Sorry if this ends up being on some "the food was bad... and such small portions" shit, but even in looking at it as a trend I'm not sure you're being entirely fair. I mean Ludacris and T.I. are far more popular than any of the clowns you list as possible "faces of the south" but they're not mentioned, possibly because what they do (shallow subject matter, good punchlines, really good elastic flows and excellent beat selection) doesn't really fit with your argument of what people like about southern rap. Not that this post really attempts to be that thorough or scholarly, but maybe when you beef with entire regions, you should be?

Actually that whole section is problematic for me. I mean you're looking at southern rap like it's a movement, and then you act like it's all the south's fault that Killer Mike hasn't blown up and Paul Wall did. You're practically lecturing them "you guys fucked up. You could have had someone good as the face of your movement, but you just had to buy that Dem Franchise Boys ringtone, didn't you? You disgust me." Which is kinda bullshit because what distinguishes the popularity of Dem Franchise Boys and say 8ball and MJG (who you dismiss for being not that popular) isn't their popularity within the south, but outside it. 8ball and MJG are actually pretty huge in the south, if anything it's the rest of the country that didn't really catch on because they were promoted locally, but never had any hits that really crossed over outside of the south. To use an overblown analogy, blaming southerners for the rise of D4L is like blaming American Indians for the popularity of Sacagawea: nobody asked them if they wanted her to be the face of their movement. If anyone should be blamed for that it's record companies and the rest of the country.

Plus, coming from the midwest, you really don't wanna be blaming anyone for anyone's popularity. I mean, I shouldn't have to remind you that "Devil Without a Cause" will probably always be the highest selling rap album, or how you can't pretend St. Louis is not the midwest, or of the massive phenomenon that is the Insane Clown Posse.

Trey Stone said...

i don't think Luda has very good beat selection at all outside of certain singles, but i digress

i think Doc's argument about the face of Southern rap is pretty much on-point. popular representation matters and you can't really be surprised when more casual fans (speaking in general) generalize the South based on it's biggest acts. it's true that the biggest artists aren't always the best but it's hard to argue they don't have the most current influence.

there is also definitely a current anthemic Southern sound that i don't think some of the "good guys" being mentioned here neatly fit into. especially OutKast, their albums are always completely different from the last one.

however i'd second anonymafricanorigins question here about whether the South decline/Midwest rise is really currently happening. your background analysis here seems on-point Doc but outside of Kanye West who's really blowing up out of the Midwest? Lupe had one (shitty) sleeper hit and sold decently but i don't see the other guys you mentioned in the last post really becoming all that popular outside of rap-nerd circles. meanwhile even if Wayne doesn't do Kanye numbers he's gonna sell well, and Jeezy and Tip's new ones will at least sell decent. plus i don't see the assorted untalented Southern one-hit wonder train slowing down, even if i don't usually like 'em outside of, well, their one hit. sometimes anyway.

i know you were talking about a Midwest renaissance in the creative sense too, but i'm not seeing it on a mainstream level, at least not yet.

Jordan said...

Not every Luda beat is that good unto itself, but Luda picks beats he sounds great over.

Again, with a couple exceptions the acts Doc discusses aren't the biggest acts, they're one or two hit wonders, which is completely different. The fact that all the acts Doc has neglected to discuss are the acts with actual longevity, who really sold albums instead of ringtones kinda shows some ridiculous bias, and I'm not co-signing it.

I have no issue with casual fans. I mean, some dudes grow up that way, like their daddies.* And a casual fan's assessment of a particular piece of work can be really interesting. But if you're gonna talk shit about an entire region and pigeonhole them, that casual shit ain't gonna fly. You can't half ass that shit, even if you couch it in some ironic Stephen Colbert style fake arrogance. I mean I read Roni Sarig's whole book about southern rap and still found it kinda cursory and unsatisfying. This aint a book, but still, I want better. Nerd the fuck out. If you wanna talk popularity bring in soundscan numbers and shit.

Oh and I agree with Trey/africanorigins that I don't see any sign of the south's commercial hold faltering. And that you're unable to let go of nostalgic ways of thinking. And remember, Kid Rock is still your fault.


Trey Stone said...

i wasn't referring to Doc with the casual fan thing, just to be clear.

the one-hit wonders we're talking about here may not've sold albums, but their singles were all over the place and they had more currency in recent hip hop than most of the guys being brought up here. the South right now is basically T.I./Wayne/Jeezy + some Miami dudes, and a few years back there was the whole crunk phase. you can't realistically say the other guys being mentioned here were all that directly relevant to the rise of the South in recent years, with the possible exceptions of OutKast and Bun/UGK, and even they're past their peak of visibility.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

i don't have much to add to this argument other than this: atlas bears a heavy burden, while zeus gets intimate with mortal women.

i am tempted to agree with jordan in regards to how these sort of narratives should be approached, but i am wary of using soundscan numbers as proof of anything. like he said, kid rock ends up being the greatest rap star of all time.

Anonymous said...

I dont quite understand the argument that the South cant be mad at the popular faces being used as cannon fodder for anti-south arguments/stereotypes. I mean, isn't this true for ANY region or "movement?" During the late 90s, NY rap was killing the radio and record stores, but that consisted of a mediocre DMX, a Jay and Nas who pubicly admitted they dumbed down their lyrics to seel, a shitty Ja Rule, and Big Pun? Couldn't one apply some of the same arguments that are hurled at the south's so-called faces of the movement?


Anonymous said...

Also, I "Stillmatic" IMO didn't consist of a majority of shitty beats. I can think of three, maybe 4.


Anonymous said...

appreciate you extending the discussion on the issue but just for clarification purposes, who exactly are you talking abt when you speak abt the south's 'reign' -as mentioned by you and several other commentors, the south has been on an impressive independent hustle waay before its official blowup ..and when we speak of the south taking over the mainstream - who are we crediting or blaming here? - Is it a)the southern artists themselves for bulldozing their way into airwave dominance -This suggests either a superior hustle/product on their part or lack of hustle or good quality records from the other coasts. In fact when you talk abt the quality of the midwest killing the south's reign, you seem to be consciously or subconsciously admitting that until now, no other coast was really providing output that could fuck with the south's "dominance" b)are we blaming record companies for latching onto a growing phenomenon and saturating the market with profitable ventures (in which case "the south" really isnt to blame) or c) the consumers for choosing this (in which case, unless we're somehow assuming that people from the south are the only ones buying southern music, we're blaming ourselves for not supporting better music). just curious - jay kay

txcaddyking said...

This is coming from the same guy who about a year ago had not heard any Chamillionaire that was not from his major label releases. The south has been big in the south for years. Just because the east/west coast had large cities that were able to dominate mainstream media, they got the play. The South did not rise, everything else just fell off.

Don't come at the southern artists for making music that all focuses on the same subjects when everything that came from the east coast post 1995 was about being related to the mafia and everything since day 1 from the west coast is about being a gangsta (NWA - Game). Would it be so hard to believe that people living close to each other may experience/feel the same things?

And who is buying all of the crappy southern music? Is it the kids here or is it being sucked up by all the kids in the drought affected east & west coast?

tray said...

Jeezy's really good though. I'll agree that people like Paul Wall and Mike Jones are pretty bad rappers (though they made a few great songs), but you could say the same of quite a few New York rappers; why single out the South? Also, this claim that there is some talent in the South but it took a back seat to the Ying Yang Twins just isn't true. Outkast is one of the top-selling rap acts ever. Then there are commercial successes like UGK, Scarface, Luda, T.I. (maybe not the greatest lyricist but not a wack rapper by any means)... D4L and the Franchize Boyz went gold, once, if that, and they're "the face of the movement"?

DocZeus said...

"Jeezy's really good though."

For all that is good and holy in the world, no, he is not! I do not understand how you can hate Lupe Fiasco and can like Young Jeezy. This is like preferring to eat a turd over a Baby Ruth. I mean if you were allergic to chocolate, it would be infinitely preferable to eating a nugget of feces.

Seriously. Jeezy is probably the worst popular rapper of this decade not in Dipset.Lyrically deficiencies aside, and I'm not even being contrarian when I say this but his beats ARE THE BASIC DEFINITON OF BORING. I mean you give conscious rappers shit for "boring" production but the "monolithic" synth beats that Tom Briehan is always yammering on about are just lame. It's at best third-rate Three 6 Mafia and listening to an entire album full of this shit gives me a damn headache.

I'll admit that Thug Motivation 101 had it's moments but the Inspiration outside of 3 A.M. and Go Getta was just terribly, terribly boring. I mean I suppose if you like listening to the exact same song 20 straight times over the course of 80 minutes than Jeezy's your man but otherwise, give me Lupe rapping about being a damn killer cheeseburger.

Just, ugh.

DocZeus said...

I suppose my basic argument hinges on if you think Luda, T.I., Wayne, and Jeezy are really that good. I have mixed feelings about pretty much all of them except Jeezy who I just think sucks.

The thing about Outkast (or at least Dre 3K) is though, they kind of spent the decade making music that wasn't quite hip hop. It was hip hop influenced but I'm not sure if you can call Idlewild or The Love Below hip hop or at least, Dre's parts on those albums.
Plus as I've discussed, their three best and classic albums pre-date the period a bit and kind of fall into the golden age period.

Plus, I think they kind of transcended being regional figures around Speakerboxxx/Love Below where they became pop icons as opposed to hip hop icons. I'm not quite sure about this point, though. I think I might do a post about "post-regional" rap a little down the road discussing figures that either transcended region or can't really be shoved into the proverbial box.

Trey Stone said...

"I Luv It," "Bury Me a G," "Dreamin'," "What You Talkin' Bout," "Mr. 17.5," "I Got Money..." i will say my primary problem with Jeezy is i'm hoping he'll add more layers to his persona. his shit sounds great but some of his lines in particular are near-impossible to defend against the whole negative urban influence argument.

then again, i guess you could probably say the same about T.I. and Wayne, even if they don't approach the subject matter in such a blatant way.

Luda's problem is he can't seem to make a really good album, from all i've heard at least

Trey Stone said...

actually now that i think of it i'd say 101 fits more into the boring "monolithic" box you're talking about here Doc. Shawty Redd's all over that one and with a couple exceptions his beats are on some generic haunted-house shit. most of the best beats there aren't done by him.

Inspiration has a slower tempo but the beats are pretty consistently well-layered.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

"i will say my primary problem with Jeezy is i'm hoping he'll add more layers to his persona"

i think doc would argue, though i'll let him speak for himself, that jeezy is too big of a moron to add layers to his persona and that was obvious all along.

Kronos said...

Given the number of posts and their intensity of opinion, I would say that you struck quite a chord, Doc.... I look forward to your "post-regional" rap.

tray said...

Gee, I thought Go Getta was one of the worst songs on the album. Mr. 17.5, What You Talkin 'Bout, on the other hand - inspirational stuff, no pun intended. And the beats on those weren't monolithic or synthy at all. Actually they were kind of Blueprinty. Jeezy... we all know he isn't a great writer, but then, he's not trying to be one. He's a classic "it's not what he says, it's how he says it" kind of rapper. Of course, some may not like how he says what he says; I used to find all the ad-libbing pretty asinine myself. Now I enjoy it. It's really a matter of taste. Very much like, say, Queen. Also repetitive, loud, hypermasculine, stupid, so on. I find that kind of aggressively dumb stadium rock really noxious; others seem to find "We Will Rock You" endlessly entertaining. What's undeniable is that they're very good at what they do. So's Jeezy. Lupe... he lost me for good when he put out Daydreamin. I was actually a fan up to that point, but when he started up about making cocaine cool and the naked women in the pool, I found the guy so self-righteous that it was it for me. There's a long and noble tradition of sellout-bashing in rap, it's brought us classics like "Crossover," "Fakin the Funk, "Mass Appeal," etc., but when Lupe does it I just want to bash the guy's head in. And I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that he always chooses to sellout-bash from the perspective of the sellout in this drippingly sarcastic sort of way (see Daydreamin, hook of Dumb It Down, Hip-Hop Saved My Life), and I find that really condescending, but that can't be it because Jeru did the same thing on "The Bullshit" and it came off really well. Although I think the condescending tone is a big part of it. Maybe it's that, whereas the great sellout-bashers at most accused the sellouts of greed or dishonesty, Lupe makes it out like he's morally and intellectually superior to 99% of hip-hop. Even when he attempts to understand the plight of the southern rapper on "Hip-Hop Saved My Life" (they sell out for the money), he comes off as such a snob:

His man called said your time might be now
They played your freestyle over "Wipe Me Down"

It's pretty obvious that Lupe doesn't think too highly of freestyles over Wipe Me Down.

DocZeus said...

"i think doc would argue, though i'll let him speak for himself, that jeezy is too big of a moron to add layers to his persona and that was obvious all along."


africanorigins said...

"Seriously. Jeezy is probably the worst popular rapper of this decade not in Dipset."

Im not the biggest Jeezy fan, but the worst rapper of this decade is a stretch, damn it! I mean God Lord, listen to SHAWTY-DOWNSYNDROME-LO, soulja boy, VIC.
I happen to like Jeezy's beat selection also. I just do.
And Lupe seems to be divisive in my inner circle too. Hate em/Like em. I think Lupe's is dope.

"Given the number of posts and their intensity of opinion, I would say that you struck quite a chord, Doc.... I look forward to your "post-regional" rap."
Underrated reply man. But all in all, great post. Great discussion.

tray said...

Shawty Lo's really, really bad, but kind of funny. My nomination for worst LCD rapper would be Plies. Then Gucci Mane.

DocZeus said...

Well, yeah. Jeezy is probably not worse than Gucci Mane or Shawty Lo but I did qualify not in Dipset. I mean Jim Jones re-defines awful. And I can't stand Juelz "Same Word With Same Word" Santana.