Saturday, June 6, 2009

When Cam Could Still Rap

A disturbing trend in rap criticism today is the inability to discern the difference between a technically good and a technically bad rapper, or worse yet, the tendency to dismiss technical criticisms as 'rockist' concerns that have no place in a post-lyrical, post-technical, post-everything rap landscape. Last time I checked, rap was music, not spoken word disquisitions on urban poverty/fruity skinny jeans with synth accompaniment. The musicality of a rapper's flow, of its interplay with the beat, matters deeply - far more, in fact, than what the rapper's saying. If Rakim's first three albums were about eating babies (or worse yet to some sensibilities, cutting taxes), they'd still be masterpieces, albeit of a perverse sort. Conversely, if the members of G-Side got access to Nas's old rhymebook, they still couldn't make a classic or even an especially memorable album. That all said, I think the problem in most cases is less ideological than an issue of simply bad hearing. How else do you explain people writing things about Crime Pays like "the Harlem MC remains one of hip-hop's most compelling eccentrics, enlivening clich├ęd gangsta subject matter and pro forma beats with his deceptively virtuosic flow" or "he's still redeeming those deadly boring cliches with inventive rhyme schemes and a well-developed sense of sarcasm," or "listening to this crackling disc that overflows with wit and brilliant rhyme schemes, you wonder why the New York MC has been so far eclipsed by Lil Wayne... after all, Cam'ron offers just as many dizzying, free-associating turns of phrases and couplets as Wayne and has been doing it for years" (essential track on this review: 'Curve'? Really??), or worse yet, "the fabulously snotty attitude, the melodic wit, the rhymes that tend toward glossolalia: yes, Cam’ron has returned to form." Jon Caramanica, YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS. So, to illustrate the difference between great and deeply mediocre Cam, I'll be sporadically posting some classic Cam verses from obscure and not-so obscure tracks for the next week or so. Enjoy.

I can't get with you sissies
Take a sip of the sizzy
Mix it with Cris till I'm pissy
Dizzy, dizzy, get me quickly
Like they slipped me a mickey (nope)
Nah, I slipped off with Mickey (who else?)
Mandy, Mallory, Maya, I'm slick like I'm Ricky
Take a pic 'cause I'm picky
Suck my dick through my dickies
Put a condom on first, nothing itchy to get me
Get me? (Get me?) Now get the picture, pour the pitcher
All the more, more to pour
with your niggas, now here's your liquor

Three 6 Mafia f. Bun B, Cam'ron, Juelz Santana & Jim Jones, 'Sippin on Some Sizzurp,' 2:17-2:43.

I got a rock habit, I cop carats
How could I not have it?
Ice dripping down my neck, even the lock lavish
But my most prized possession? Cop badges.
That I got in a scuffle with those cop bastards (faggot niggas)
I unlock handcuffs, I cock 'matics
I don't want to talk to yall if yall not addicts
I'm not average, my old school, stopped past it
Seen my principal, showed off my fox fabric
No hard feelings though, sir, got past it
See you failed me in math, but I got past it
Guns, credit cards, dog, got plastic
When I floss in the street, man, I stop traffic
You should stop [?] and pay homage
How I got cabbage,
when I tell you I love you, ma, it's not marriage
But L, with that speech you spit
You'll have your own beach in six, and that's a fact of life

Cam'ron and Juelz Santana, 'Facts of Life,' 1:30-2:32.


JoJo said...

Ummmm, he's still a lot of fun? Crime Pays rules in my book because I've always just enjoyed thinking about what the fuck is going on in Cam's head, I mean, the ad-libs alone are enough for a good time. I know everyone wants to be erudite rapaholics now so maybe I can offer my views as a more "Aristotelian Aesthete" and say if it there's a good time in there why can't you just enjoy it? If it ain't broke don't fix it! Also don't forget "Glitter" from Public Enemy #1 in your upcoming posts.

tray said...

Yeah, Glitter is like, the last Cam song I really really liked. The ad-libs are still there but I just can't stand a bad flow, especially when the guy sounds so uninspired and bored.