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


Friday, October 24, 2008

Not A Blogger Vs. XXL’s 10 Freshman MC's



In the embryonic stages of my glorious monument to the halcyon genius that is my blog, I took serious umbrage with what Elliot Wilson and the crack team over at XXL Magazine had seemingly arbitrarily decided were the the ten most elite members of hip hop’s next generation. It was filled with such future “kings” of the genre as Gorilla Zoe, Plies and the immortal Papoose. Needless to say, one year later, their choices have only gotten more laughably awful as only
Lupe Fiasco has managed to do anything truly of note that wasn’t a shitty mixtape.

You would think after such an abortive performance that XXL perhaps would shy away from making such predictions but alas, you just don’t know
Harris Publishing. This year, XXL has decided to name their “10 Freshman MC’s” and release a trifecta of covers to commemorate and like last year, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to savagely hate on each of these rapper’s career prospects. I hope you shall enjoy.

Wale

Sounds Like... Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Lupe Fiasco gang raping Lil’ Wayne in the Backyard Band’s backyard and if that act produced an offspring

Best Case Scenario: I get to triumphantly say I told you so as he sells one million copies of his debut album

Worst Case Scenario: Do you have any clue who the Backyard Band is? Is your name noz? No? Exactly…

Doc’s Take: For those who are avid reader of my blog know how big a fan I am of Wale. I personally think sky’s the limit for this kid. “The Mixtape About Nothing” remains one of the few bright spots in an otherwise, holocaust barren year for hip hop albums and Wale’s slowly been making a name for himself off the notoriety of that album. Wale bridges the elements of D.C.’s famed Go-Go scene and brings a warm, hip hop spin to it. The kid’s a star in my opinion.

B.o.B.

Sounds like... Cee-Lo Green before he got his "Soul Machine" on

Best Case Scenario: He becomes the next Devin The Dude

Worst Case Scenario: People continue to confuse him with that one Outkast song about blowing the living bejeezus of urban Iraq

Doc’s Take: B.o.B.’s a talented dude but I can’t imagine he’s going to have much of a successful career. He seems bound for permanent underground status and if he’s lucky, he’s going to be a perennial “You-Should-Be-Up-On-This-Dude’s-Shit” status. I’ve pretty much enjoyed every solitary thing this guy has released lately but it seems too esoteric and smart to catch on with the mainstream and not “avant-garde” enough to catch on with the hipster crowds. His sound just isn’t quite original enough to carry him. He seems like another Trae. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Asher Roth

Sounds Like… Eminem if you gave him Jay-Z’s post-retirement flow and forced him to only rap about being in college… so basically just Eminem with way less talent really…

Best Case Scenario: He gets to fuck an Olsen Twin.

Worst Case Scenario: Seriously, did you see that Dallas Penn video? Dude is doing the backstroke in pools of pussy… I don’t think there’s a worst case scenario.

Doc’s Take: It seems that there is irrational element of hip hop blogdom that loathes this guy with the fires of a thousand suns. It seems as if my fellow brethren feel that Mr. Roth is the second coming of the Anti-Christ and is single-handedly ruining hip hop in it’s entirety. Personally, I’m running a check on this particular branch of bullshit because while Asher Roth isn’t exactly my taste, he’s not that wack. I personally kind of enjoy his kinda great Weezer-sampling “I Love College” and the dude seems to display some energy and passion so as far as I’m concerned the wanton hate derives from the fact a bunch of white bloggers are pissed that they didn’t come up with the idea of being “The Upper Middle Class White Rapper Who Raps About Being White And Upper Middle Class” first and now he’s all up in the high heel set and you’re not. I’m onto you people and you gots to chill. Don’t hate.

Charles Hamilton

Sounds Like... what Urkel would sound like if he rapped and had a Sonic the Hedgehog fetish

Best Case Scenario: He becomes the black
Asher Roth

Worst Case Scenario: Well…he was once on an episode of “The Real”

Doc’s Take: I’ve written about Charles Hamilton in the past and basically everything I’ve written applies here as well. Charles’ flow is kind of awkward and forced but his skills as a producer and the esoteric nature of the samples that he uses makes his music interesting and diverse. He probably should stick to producing other acts because he’s not the world’s most talented emcee but he creates some material that is actually pretty dope. I’ve been enjoying his “Hamiltonization Process” series of mixtapes that he’s been dropping. I kind see him and Asher Roth as artistic cousins in both style and the audience they seem to be after. They both seem obsessed with girls and nerdy things so I can only really see one of them becoming a star. I’m betting on Charles’ paler brethren, though.

Blu

Sounds Like… the Okayplayer Message Boards

Best Case Scenario: Kanye West decides to produce his album and leaves the auto-tune firmly at home.

Worst Case Scenario: Electric Circus… That’s all I’ve got to say… And don’t think that isn’t coming? Did you hear that “C.R.A.C. Knuckles” album? Tell me, I’m wrong.

Doc’s Take: I don’t really know how I feel about Blu. He’s a truly talented emcee as his words flow easily from his lips and he projects the kind of soul soaked warmth the Okayplayer crowd is know for but I can’t say I really dig his music/ On one hand, I remember I thoroughly enjoyed “Below the Heavens” last year the one time I listened to it but I definitely felt like I did not need to hear that record again. The “C.R.A.C. Knuckles” he put out this year with Ta’Raach was extremely disappointing but I really love “Pop Dem Boyz.” Personally, I feel he destined for Little Brother status as one of those rappers that you either love or loathe on general principle for attempting to be “conscious.”

Mickey Factz

Sounds Like… what Lupe Fiasco looks like

Best Case Scenario: He inexplicably makes the cover of XXL Magazine… Oh wait…

Worst Case Scenario: He cons a couple of models into thinking he’s the dude who wrote that “Superstar” song.

Doc’s Take: I do not care for Mickey Factz at all. He’s a completely, generic and boring hipster rapper with a completely indistinctive voice or personality and he hasn’t even made anything as remotely good as “Drivin’ Down The Block”, “Black Mags” or “Cappuccino.” Plus, he friggin’ looks like Lupe Fiasco. Why is he on this list? Did XXL Magazine need to meet a quotient of black coffee shop dudes in horned rim glasses? This should be Krispy Kream’s spot from the KnuX.


Cory Gunz/Curren$y

Sounds Like… Aren’t these guys the same rapper?

Best Case Scenario: I mean seriously aren’t they both Lil’ Wayne’s former baggage handlers?

Worst Case Scenario: Seriously?! I’m not making this up aren’t these guys both “proteges” of the late, great Dwayne Carter. I could swear this is true.

Doc’s Take: I’m not wasting any more of my energy writing about Cory Gunz and Curren$y. I have better things to do with my life. Just, no… Please explain this to me, though. Why not just put Blood Raw on this list if we are choosing weed carriers now? Ugh… This offends me on so many levels.

Ace Hood


Sounds Like… DJ Khaled’s payola game is waaaay strong!


Best Case Scenario: DJ Khaled dies in either a fiery, multiple car accident, a long extended torture by one of the rich sadists in the movie Hostel, or gets drawn and quartered by four tractor trailers driven by the ghost of Biggie Smalls…thus we never have to hear this guy rap, anymore….



Worst Case Scenario: Ace Hood inexplicably falls ass backwards into a “This is Why I’m Hot?” and thus, I can’t escape his voice even when I’m on the J Train and some douches cell phone blows up. There really is no worst case scenario. There is no bottom to his limits.


Doc’s Take: Why? Just why, XXL?! Ace Fuckin’ Hood is going to be a future star?! You know what? I was being too hard on Curren$y and Cory Gunz because this is just too egregious for words. What exactly does DJ Khaled have on the industry that he continues to foist his music and his artists upon the world? What did we do to deserve such a grisly fate? I’m beginning to think that DJ Khaled is God’s revenge on the human race for the Holocaust? What the fuck?!?!


Kid CuDi


Sounds Like… somebody decided it was good idea to bring hip house back… I’m looking at you, Baby Bam…


Best Case Scenario: He becomes the second, most successful rapper out of Cleveland thus supplanting Ray Cash.


Worst Case Scenario: Actually, I’m not actually sure that above isn’t the worst case scenario. I kind of like Ray Cash. You should probably own “Cash On Delivery.” It’s actually pretty dope. Can we get Ray Cash on this list instead of Ace Hood? That would make me happy.


Doc’s Take: I saw Kid CuDi in concert at an overpriced club in the West Village a few weeks back with Jeff Weiss and a couple of other bloggers and his live show was pretty good. I was actually pretty shocked that so many people knew the words to a bunch of obscure ass Kid CuDi songs. I also happened to meet Naledge from Kidz In The Hall and to my absolute shock, homebody is Prodigy-sized,. No joke. As for Kid CuDi, I can’t say I’m the word’s biggest fan. His music is kind of the sonic cousin to old Hip House stuff of the early ‘90s and I can’t say I’m really behind that kind of movement. “Day-N-Nite’s” pretty catchy, though.


Final Thoughts: Overall, I’m definitely more pleased with this year’s version that last year’s version of this list. I approve of about half of these rappers on the list and those that I think outright suck aren’t quite as awful as those who I thought absolutely sucked last year. Personally, if I had my druthers I would replace Ace Hood, Mickey Factz, Curren$y and Cory Gunz with the Knux, The Cool Kids, Bishop Lamont and Elzhi but yet again, if I had my druthers than Jim Jones wouldn’t have a career. Here’s to hating, folks! L’Chaim!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What The Hell Ever Happened To Eminem?

"Dude."

You know, what honestly gets to me about this Dwayne Carter “Best Rapper Alive” bullshit? (You know besides everything…) He’s not the first rapper to get erroneously crowned this title by white rock critics and the fifteen year old girls of the world. Oh how we soon forget Charles Barkley but in my day, there was another controversial weirdo-outsider (and associated with the Outsidaz) rapper making the rounds of the hip hop world expanding the definition of being an emcee, courting mainstream acceptance and selling one million records in their first week. His name was Marshall Bruce Mathers III, perhaps you’ve heard of him…and let me tell you something, Mr. Carter, you are no Eminem.

For a period of my life between the ages of fifteen and twenty, Eminem was my favorite rapper on the planet and it wasn’t even remotely close. Sure, I loved Jay-Z, Nas and Wu-Tang Clan (and let’s not forget about the understated glories of Skee-Lo’s “I Wish”) as much as a righteous fan of “real” hip hop should but they paled in comparison to the Pale Motor Mouth of Motor City. Perhaps, it was my severe case of melanin deficiency or my penchant for attracting bullies as if my real name was B.J. (but you can call me the Good Doctor Zeus, motherfuckers…) but Eminem spoke me to in ways that only Kurt Cobain and George Lucas could even dream of. Here was a rapper that looked like me, that rapped like nobody I had ever heard before, and was the funniest, sharpest dude holding a sword in the game. I was hooked the second that he brazenly declared that “he’d fuck anything that walks” the first time I heard “My Name Is…” For a white teenage rap fan growing up in the suburbs, Eminem was like Jesus Christ (or Larry Bird take your pick, really…) descending from the heavens to give us white people of the world, a messianic figure to worship and add legitimacy to people that had long written off white rap fans as tragic, Jamie Kennedy clones. Marshall Mathers was revolutionary.

And best of all, he really was that damn good. Eminem did something unique that no other white artist had ever done before in any medium. He was able to channel the experience of being white in America explicitly and coherently (something that always been taken as a given in American culture, as “the mainstream” America generally treats being white as “normal””…whatever the fuck that means… and thus not particularly interesting) in a manner that was simultaneously extremely uncomfortable and inherently relatable to white teenagers. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that every culture commentator who ever tried to explain why “white kids love rap” are inherently completely full of shit. White kids aren’t trying to be any more rebellious towards their parents by bumping Public Enemy than they would be than bumping the Clash or even Jimi Hendrix. White kids like rap music for the same reason they like anything. They like rap music because their friends like rap music and because it’s on T.V. Period. End of discussion. Any other reason speaks to the culture biases of the commentator and lack of understanding of the basic notion of youth than anything. Kids like shit because they like the shit they like. It’s the world that makes the things they like weird or rebellious. However despite the basic truth or perhaps because of it, it’s really hard to define just how beautiful and therapeutic for somebody like myself to have Eminem dominating the rap world like they did. It's just nice to know sometimes you ain't alone in this crazy, twisted planet.

Eminem's first three major label albums (and even his underrated underground debut, "Infinite") are three of this decade's defining and most iconic albums. "The Slim Shady LP" is a trippy, mind-warped ode to sex, drugs and murder armed with some of Dre's most inventive beats and Em's razor sharp black humor and wit that makes it in my mind, the funniest album ever recorded. The first time I heard the album was a defining experience for me in more than one ways. First, it was the first album that I obtained by less than "legal" manners. My best friend, Matt, sold me the bootleg that he burned for five dollars and I can remember feeling like this was the future. It didn’t seem wrong to me that I was getting an illegal copy of a music. After all, I wasn’t stealing a “real” copy from a store. I was merely trading for digital information stored on a hard drive. That didn’t seem wrong. Listening to the “Slim Shady LP” for the first time was unlike anything I heard before. Eminem was crass, rude, ultra foul-mouthed, dirty and he would say the things that you were thinking in the back of your head out loud. It was fucking brilliant. By the time, he released both “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Eminem Show”, I was convinced that Marshall Mathers was the most important artist of his generation and nobody came close. People forget but Eminem wasn’t all about dick jokes and songs about raping his mother. Em spoke about things and spoke about them candidly and often uncomfortably. He spoke about freedom of speech, crazed, psychotic fans, domestic violence, the murders at Columbine, his “alleged” homophobia and he came directly at his detractors with more ammunition than they came at him. And he became the biggest music star on the planet because of it… I could not have worshipped the guy more if I dyed my hair blonde, kidnapped my pregnant girlfriend, and drove her over a cliff with her in the trunk of my car.

And then he met Curtis Jackson and it all came murderously crashing down…. Like everybody, I was caught up in the hype of 50 Cent when he first came onto the scene. He was the hot new protégé of my favorite rapper and one of the greatest producers of the time and had a pedigree that was simply way too mind boggling for my prurient adolescent mind. (After all, he was shot nine times! Nine fucking times! How gangsta is that! Obviously, his music is genius because of it and in absolutely no way derivative of much more talented and original emcees. I mean clearly his realness is for us to behold. I mean, at least, he’s more real than Ja Rule no matter what that bitch J-Lo says!) After Eminem met 50 Cent, he soon became obsessed with his own gangsta and the next thing we know he’s talking about how he’s a soldier, beefing with Ja Rule and Benzino, and getting way too self serious about his life.. Soon “Encore” happened and it destroyed the last shred of credibility that he had in my eyes. “Encore” is not just a bad record. It’s a horrific, unlikable, unmitigated disaster of the highest proportions. The first time I heard it, I was convinced that Eminem was making a really bad comedy concept album that I didn’t get the joke on. The record featured too much of Eminem’s legendarily shitty self-production and it had way too many songs that blatantly chased the old Slim Shady formula but way grosser and less funny. There were records about puppet sex, puking, and the size of his dick and those were the “highlights” of an otherwise unlistenable record. I remember thinking to myself that Eminem could not possibly be serious with this record. It seemed as if he was making record that was purposely horrific as if to shed the massive attention that followed him everywhere he goes. Nothing could possibly be this bad on purpose. And then he disappeared from the map…

I don’t know if it was the grief from his long-time best friend and mentor’s death, Proof, or his addiction to drugs, or the dissolution of his marriage but it’s been a long time since we heard anything of note from Eminem. We haven’t heard a new song, a freestyle, a mixtape, or an ill-conceived collaboration with Coldplay from Mr. Mathers in years! Jay-Z retired and un-retired, released two albums, and generally completely demolished his credibility in the time that Eminem has been unofficiall gone from the hip hop world. There were rumors that he ballooned to three hundred plus pounds and was dangerously suicidal. If Jay-Z and Nas were aging completely ungracefully than Eminem was completely self-destructing. As for me, I completely forgot about Eminem. I grew up and my tastes evolved and solidified to the point where a new Eminem record barely peaks my interest. Earlier this week, Eminem released his first new song off the upcoming “Relapse” entitled “I’m Having A Relapse” and I couldn’t be less interested. The song, itself, is pretty harmless Slim Shady-era ode to drugs and it features this weird sinister Middle Eastern influenced beat and Eminem does his old routine of using weird voices to color his legendarily flow. This would normally be fine but it sounds dated and forced. I don’t know if I’ve grown up or Eminem’s completely lost it but it sounds completely out of place in 2008. As much as, I would like to see Eminem return to form, I feel that this might not be a good idea for Marshall Mathers to come back if he’s not going to be the same. Age and maturity has been the kryptonite of many a great rapper and for a rapper whose career was built upon being the most immature and childish rapper of all-time seeing an old and fat Eminem, waddling on stage, rapping about vicodin and kinky sex, maybe two traumatizing for words.

I hope I’m wrong, though. I hope Em can come back with an album that defies conventions and proves why so many of us thought he could be the greatest rapper of all-time when he was ripping it up ten years ago but something says that Eminem might be better served if he hung up the mic and make his self-implosed “retirement” official. He was once great but I don’t know if he can do that, again. The world sometimes passes us by and they need to learn to let go. It might be time for Eminem to stay gone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No Words...VILF Edition



This song is waaaaay better than it has any right to be especially coming from John "Stupid Blank Stare" Brown from "Ego Trip's the (white) Rapper Show". I saw this clown on the L train heading into Brooklyn a few weeks back and had to fight back uncontrollable laughter as he sheepishly tried to hit on some random bar skank at 2 a.m. Highest of high comedy. I felt embarrassed because I think he realized I recognized him from the show and was clearly trying not to laugh in his face for doing nothing other than existing. I apologize my dude. But be proud, Mr. Brown. You made one song in your life that I co-sign. That's something DJ Khaled has never done. Hallelujah Hollaback!

Regular Programming Will Return Later This Week...