Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kanye Has Issues/Cam Can No Longer Rap/Soulja Boy > Lil Wayne Right Now/Thoughts on CB


Would hip-hop be better off if this man were a butler? Discuss.


So I'm working on a lengthy post on why Niggaz4Life is a top-ten rap album of all time, but in the meantime, I just wanted to mention that Kanye has issues, Cam can't rap anymore, and Soulja Boy is rapping better than Lil Wayne right now.

1. Kanye has issues.

"People are so gay-conscious now," he told MTV, referring to those who are "scared" of gay people, or of being perceived as gay. "That's like the whole thing like with the internet – every day [is like], 'Oh I can tell he gay now!' But back in the day, people used to have songs like Get In That Ass or something like that. Someone would never make a song like that [today] because they'd be like 'Whoa! I can't make no song like that! People gonna call me gay!'"

"Your dress don't give away whether or not you like a man," Kanye West explained this week...

"Because stereotypically gay people got such good [style] ... they were smart enough to take a fresh-ass logo like the rainbow and say that it's gonna be theirs," he said, celebrating the beauty of the red-and-yellow-and-pink-and-blue. "I've been collecting all of the freshest stuff that's rainbows – Denver Nuggets jerseys, BAPE shoes, Nikes with rainbows on 'em – and saying, 'Man, I think as straight men we need to take the rainbow back because it's fresh.'"

West used to be scared of gay people, he said, but now, "authentic" and "secure in [his] manhood", he can "go to Paris [and] have conversations with people who are blatantly gay".

Not only that, but West regrets having once said that "gays really know how to dress".

"That's when I was ignorant to gays," he said in this week's interview. "Because there's a lot of gay people who don't dress good at all. There's a lot of gay people that I dress way better than."

I really don't get what Kanye's up to here. Yes, if he were gay and bent on hiding it, you'd think he wouldn't give interviews talking about how he's so secure in his manhood that he can go to Paris and have conversations with people who are blatantly gay. Or how we straight men need to take back the fresh-ass rainbow. Or how we need to bring back the days when songs were called "Get In That Ass." On the other hand, if he were straight, why would he do interviews like this? My conclusion is that he is gay and thinks that the only way for him to maintain his closeted lifestyle, since he obviously isn't capable of pulling off the whole acting straight thing, is to talk about gay shit so much that we'll think there's no way he'd constantly bring up the issue if he had something to hide. Anyway, this explains why 808's sucks so much with the exception of 'Love Lockdown,' which of course is all about how he has to "keep it low, keep a secret code, so everybody else don't have to know."

2. Cam can't rap anymore. I know everybody's excited that Cam's back and made a not-so-funny video, and I'm sure when the album drops there will be some great lines and Kelefa Sanneh will have a lot of fun typing them up in his New York Times review (or wherever dude works now) and saying how dadaist they are. But, as all great aging rappers do eventually, Cam has lost his flow (and swag!), and, much like Jay or Luda, has resorted to this gimmicky "let's put a lot of emphasis on every other word" slurry slow flow to hide it. To the point where, on this remix with Gucci Mane and his equally retarded weedcarrier little cuz, OJ Da Juiceman, who sounds like some kind of hopped-up-on-Juicy Juice crack-selling toddler in a playground ("Ay! Ay! Lemme play with the digital scale, Gucci! My turn!"), Cam has the worst verse on the song. Really sad.

3. Soulja Boy is rapping better than Lil Weezy right now. Before I get into the specific evidence for that outlandish claim, I just want to say that, to all the people who make the idiotic argument that music doesn't get better or worse, it just gets different, do you listen to the radio? I do, and this is what you hear: Akon. Plies. The Dream. Akon-Plies-Dream posse gangbangs. The eighth single off I Am An Awful Whore Named Sasha Fierce Who Can't Be Accused of Being A Sellout Because I Never Had Any Integrity or Soul To Sell Out In The First Place. Pop Champagne Part Diminishing-Ass Returns. When they're not playing that garbage, they're talking about Chris Brown and Rihanna. Chris Brown and Rihanna, folks, would not have been famous back in 2002, because Chris Brown and Rihanna have made a total of 3 good songs (Umbrella, Run It, Forever), and back in the good old days of Neptunes Uber Alles, it took more than 3 good songs to be a celebrity couple. Five years ago this would've been the equivalent of a fight between Lumidee and Mario,* and no one would give a shit. Today, they matter because we're in a really bad moment for urban pop music and have been ever since Timbo went back to chilling in his mansion doing steroids. The producers of the moment - T-Pain, The Dream, Polow, Browz, 808s Kanye - have their half-decent moments but mostly just repeat themselves in never-ending synthy vocodered suckitude. Unfortunately, our finest rapper has been sucked into this morass. In the process, he's forgotten how to rap. (By the way, moment you always know when a rapper's fallen off: when his interviews start generating way more buzz than his music - which is happening now with Wayne and Katie Couric.) Meanwhile, Soulja Boy is one of the few commercial rappers out there who doesn't harbor dreams of becoming the next Cher. And, dude's actually improving. Leading to bizarre man-bites-dog moments like this, where Soulja Boy outshines Wayne pretty conclusively on his own "Turn My Swag On" remix (incidentally, the only 'Turn My Swag On' remix/freestyle that's any good).

* Check how on-point this analogy actually is. Like Rihanna, Lumidee had just the one good song ("Uh Oh," admittedly kinda annoying, but so was "Umbrella"), and like Chris Brown, Mario had just two good songs, "Let Me Love You" and "Just A Friend." Three, actually, if you count the amazing remix of the former with Jada. In fairness, "Don't Stop The Music" was alright, but mostly because anything that samples "Wanna Be Startin Somethin" automatically is.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

YeAHHhhhhhHHHHhhhh*


Rap's answer to Aqua.

I'm sorry but this Gucci Gucci loving insanity has got to stop. I can't bear to see the best minds of my generation destroyed by Gucci madness. It's high time for someone to stand athwart this runaway train and yell stop. Dear readers, do you take Gucci Mane seriously? I want to know. Yes, it is true, he's had a strong verse on a Soulja Boy song here and there, but for the most part, don't you feel a little embarrassed every time you listen to this guy? If he doesn't make you feel embarrassed, who does? The girl who made "It's So Cold In The D"? Everytime I listen to this guy I feel like I lose a point of IQ. I could go on all day quoting terrible Gucci lyrics, but it isn't so much what he says, it's that voice, that cognitive function-numbing instrument So Many Shrimp charitably describes as "a stuffed-nose ignorant rap, a creaky, shambolic & highly addictive backwoods mumbling cadence." Oh, it's mumbling alright. Shit, I'm sure it's addictive too if you pollute your mind with this crap on a regular enough basis, but is that the point? 'Barbie Girl' gets addictive if you listen to it enough times. Most anything really really stupid does. The most ridiculous part of this SMS post for me is when they talk about "how smart" Gucci is because apparently his mom was a schoolteacher and he gave a quasi-articulate interview once. (Sample: "My childhood was straight just real articulate. [My mom] was on me everyday she did good with me, that’s why my word play is so sick. That’s where I get my crazy vocabulary from." Crazy relative to... Shawty Lo's?) This is the epitome of that soft bigotry of low expectations shit I was talking about a couple months back. Do you remember the time Gucci Mane went to jail on charges of killing one Pookie Loc and he wrote a little poem about it from prison? I sure do. Ladies and gentlemen, Gucci Mane's foray into literature, "Round II."

I know I have my mother’s luv

I know she’s prayin 4 me
But all the things I took her thru
I know its hard 2 luv me

My older brother’s disappointed
My little brother’s scared
Been faced with trials my whole life
Yet still I’m not prepared

I always dreamed to be a rapper
Just like Big Daddy Kane
But all I got was jealousy
Since I took my daddy’s name

I once lost my sanity
With prayer I got it back
My Granddad had a heart attack
And we can’t bring him back

I love my girl with all my heart
Though we both have made mistakes
Besides God, no one’s perfect
No one will ever take her place

My homeboys truly miss me
I cry because I miss em
I know they all can feel my pain
Them being victims of this system

Now as I write this poem
Tears are rushing down my cheeks
I wanted to be a respected black man
Like Big Cat and Frank Ski

They say I’m not intelligent
Because I have a speech impediment
But all that is irrelevant
Because my words are heaven sent

They say that I’m a murderer
But I do not believe it**
So pray tonight for Gucci Mane
And even pray for Jeezy

Not bad for a thugged-out five year-old.

* My imitation in type of a Gucci adlib.
** I'm a little confused about how one can have a belief about whether one's a murderer or not.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tom Cruise as Blagojevich
















I think this is a great idea, don't you? Role of a lifetime for Cruise. They look alike, and Blago's smarmy, slimy, but kinda likable vibe is just perfect for Tom. It could really re-establish him as a serous actor.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jim Jones: Live At The Mercury Lounge, or "WHO'VE DONE MORE?"



The first minute of this is way funnier than that Cam video that's floating around. Check out the white background soul singers. At first I thought this must've been some The Real production because it's so bizarre. But apparently it's for real. Co-starring Dame, Juelz, Jim Jones's Cell Phone, and "Mr. Om'Mas here of the mighty mighty Sa-Ra." AKA The Insanely Bougie Bespectacled Gaydar Setter-Offer Hack. I especially liked the 0:48-1:30 segment:

Jim Jones wildly making crackhead faces into his cell phone: WHO DOES MORE THINGS THAN ME IN THIS INDUSTRY?? TELL ME, YOU LET ME KNOW. LET'S GET THE STATISTICS. WHO'VE DONE MORE? AND HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE SOLD MORE RECORDS THAN ME AT THIS CLIMATE OR WHATEVER INSIDE THIS INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW?? LET ME KNOW! IF THESE NIGGAS ARE DOING MORE THAN ME THAN THAT THEN TELL ME...

(Cut to a sensitive-looking soul in a rugby shirt pattering away on his drum kit. Gay Sa-Ra dude, voiceover): Jim is amazing... these gentlemen are all amazing... um... I have wonderful background singers, Kensey and Jen -

(Cut to Whole Foods cashier looking-ass white background singers, singing): Blah blah blahhhh...

(Kanye bunk buddy wanders into shot and joins in in gay off-key voice): I have FOUUUUND you rather spleeendid...

(Background singers and Kanye's special friend all together): I thought you were DEEEEVINE... tra la la...

(Cut to a beaming be-beanied Jimmy caressing mic and creepily coming closer and closer and closer to the camera like a homo thug gila monster).

Dame: You know, this is the synergies of urban and rock and roll and it's, it's just the new world and I want to be at the forefront of it and I think Jim should be at the forefront of it. I think the world needs him.

(Cut to Jim, Jimmy weedcarriers, and the less cute but sluttier-looking background singer standing outside Jim's truck.)

Jim and slutty background singer: Zeek! Zeek!

Jim: We're on Hot 97 nigga! We're on Hot 97!

Slutty white background singer: Hahaha! [Thinking: Black people saying nigga! This is crazy!]



3 Cool Songs by 1 Cool and 1 Not-So-Cool Rapper You Never Heard Of


Is it slightly ironic that his single is called "I Look Good?"

Meet Chalie Boy. Chalie Boy's from a town in the country two hours outside of Houston. (Mildly amusingly, Chalie once said of this town in an interview, "you know we got ourselves stores and little hole-in-the-walls so we know how to get down like everybody else." Calvert TX: it has stores.) Chalie's new song, "I Look Good," is about the shit he and the girls he knows wear. Uninspiring subject matter, yes; the main attraction here is the crazy quasi-gospel hook ("I look GOOOD, I look GOOOOOD") and Chalie's singsong flow and affable warmth. Think Nelly if he didn't come off as sort of a retarded prick, or maybe Z-Ro if Ro weren't terminally depressed. Also of mild interest is how he praises a shorty's "Christian Luhbowtins" and her House of Dereon jeans in the same breath (yes, that's Beyonce's cheap, tacky clothing line), suggesting that he doesn't have the slightest clue what he talks about. Which is endearing somehow compared to, like, Kingdom Come Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of luxury watches. Anyway, I will do my due dilligence and see what other stuff he's done, but this guy sounds very promising.

Chalie Brown, 'I Look Good,' c/o MuzikFene, a sort of Southern Nah Right Jr. for those of you obsessed with Gucci Mane. Seriously, everytime Gucci Gucci burps, they've got it. They had this one song the other day with Yung Joc and Gucci was rapping like an idiot as usual (in the old-school sense of someone with such a low IQ that he got put in an institution), and then Gucci goes "I'm rapping like an idiot." Well at least he's aware.



So this Ju character is "of" D4L in spite of the fact that, as of their last album, he wasn't in it. I guess all this anonymity and confusion explains why he walks around with a t-shirt that says "I AM JU" on it. Well anyway, Ju put out a mixtape a couple months ago, and judging by the three songs I've heard off it Ju, or his uncredited producer, is the most progressive producer in the game (next to Block Beataz of course) which helps because Ju has no personality and can't rap. 'Gangsta N Your Life' sounds like the sort of "authentic Chinese music" they play at bad Chinese restaurants. 'Trapped Out' sounds like the soundtrack to a very strange trip, not a beat for a song about a sixth-rate trapper-rapper's "brand new house, brand new car, brand new chain." Actually maybe a better analogue would be a really weird version of the music they play in kid's movies when the hero goes in the cave discovers the buried treasure and all the crazy jewels are glistening. Anyway, it's all very weird, and weird is good - not, but in this case it is.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What The Fuck Is Wrong With Pharrell and Other Odds and Ends


No homo @ my google imaging "hot boys."

You know, I'd like a Hot Boys reunion as much as anyone, but I'd like it to involve the real Hot Boys, not prissy little Virginian superproducers pretending to be the Hot Boys, you know? (Too much you know but whatever.) Which is why I was very puzzled to hear this new Lil Wayne/Pharrell collabo in which Pharrell pretends to be Juvenile and accuses an unnamed 'nigga' of being "snitchy snitchy, bitchy bitchy." Rich coming from an androgynous guy who's probably never seen any crimes to even snitch about. Please, Pharrell, stop this Frank Caliendo champagne campaign. That's Wayne, Big, and Juvie who've you've mimicked in the past few months. Who will you pretend to be next, Pac? I wouldn't be surprised. Also, Wayne's verse is really subpar and the only good part of it is when he borrows a line from Jeezy's verse on the "They Know" remix.

In less depressing news, that delightful Ciara single now has an equally delightful video. Particularly welcome is Cici's discovery of the push-up bra. Not so welcome is Jeezy posing in a grown man dress shirt and grown man beard as he delivers his impossibly shitty grown man verse. You know, I was kidding when I said that today's Jeezy has way more in common with today's Common than people think, but I'm starting to see how right I was.



Finally, are you all aware of the new "Stanky Legg" dance craze? With this song and video, you can relive the joys of vintage Dem Franchize Boyz. Seriously this is a real throwback in more ways than one. Like when was the last time you saw a southern dance video where the rappers played basketball in a high school gym? That's a very 2003-05 look. I'm also all about those big yellow distressed capital letters that encourage you to "DO THE STANKY LEGG."


Mario Winans Back Doing His Bitch-Ass Thing

Yes, Winans is back doing his bitch-ass thing. This time he's with a Russian rapper telling some skeezers in the Moscow clubs that their love will last forever. I love Mario Winans.



Tinani f. Mario Winans, 'Forever.'

Stop The Presses! Sick New Rae and Ghost!


Champion gear that I rock to get your boots knocked.

This must be what it was like to be a rap head back in the mid-90s. As you know, I didn't start listening to rap until 2002, so I never really got the chance to experience what it's like to hear new classic shit, as opposed to just picking up old classic shit because noz or whoever said so. Well, now that void in my life has been filled. You know, the Renaissance remix was great but frankly I find it hard to believe that something this good could be recorded in 2009. Maybe it's a Cuban Linx outtake that Rae plans to stick on Cuban Linx 2. Because this here is really the best Rae we've heard since Cuban Linx itself. Better than that song with El Michels Affair, better than 'My Corner,' better than 'State of Grace' or 'Baggage Handlers,' better even than 'Sneakers' or his guest appearances on 'Royal Flush' and 'Skew It On The Bar-B' or 'Frozen' or even, yes, 'The Sun.' The beat is this sick, otherwordly vocal sample from the sort of girl group RZA got C.R.E.A.M. from, plus some dusty drums. Rae and Ghost get super-busy, but the best part is Meth stealing the whole fucking song, sounding like an older wiser version of the hungry emcee who ripped 'M.E.T.H.O.D. Man' 16 years ago. Meth has done this a few times before in the past few years, see 'Presidential MC' and his guest spots on both Masta Killa albums, but this is just a whole other level of ferocity. Put it this way, maybe once I get over my initial OH SHIT reaction I'll feel differently, but right now my attitude is you could put this on Cuban Linx and it would hold its weight. Oh shit.

Raekwon The Chef, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man - 'Untitled (Radio Rip).'