No Trivia

Don’t Wrap Up Rap Just Yet: G-Side

leave a comment

Did you see that interview with Tyler Perry on 60 Minutes last Sunday? Probably not, but Perry called his infamous character Madea, “bait”: “Disarming, charming, make-you-laugh bait so that I can slap Madea in something and talk about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family — any of those things.” The beats on BP3 are bait like that.

Visceral, in-the-now slabs of synth and Euro-house party sounds so that Jay-Z can slip his grown-ass man insights onto a new album. It’s more than “mildly entertaining” as Sasha Frere-Jones said in “Wrapping Up”, it’s a deeply affecting album about standing between two worlds and wisely inching towards the smarter, less “cool” choice.

Hunstville, Alabama’s G-Side released an album full of beats not all that different from those weirder ones on BP3 and they did it nearly a year before Jay and they didn’t reach out to 500k-a-beat business buddies, they were holed-up with their town’s avant-rap geniuses the Block Beataz and crafted Starshipz and Rocketz, a perfect album about looking forward and cringing as you look back. The fluttering synths, the stuttering 808s, the waves of weird space-noise running through their songs are not there to reflect what’s going on in New York City clubs–or on sites like Discobelle–but to musically manifest transcendence. Space and retro-futurism as escape from all that bullshit.

Album-ender “Run Thingz” is basically all-out rave stuff, it doesn’t slow the BPMs down all that much and it doesn’t remove the airy edges of the electronics–as is the production habit on BP3–and the verses, from ST 2 Lettaz and Clova, use their current success and parlay it into rap-it-so-it-happens utopianism: “I stay trill like ST/They put a lock where my soul be/And found a way to break free/Starshipz that’s the dedication”.

It’s a long way from ST’s killer first lines on “Youth of the Ghetto”: “Momma stay gone, Daddy’s been gone, lights ain’t on so I had to get grown/No TV, can’t watch The Flintstones/So I went outside with them boys and flipped stones.” You’ll notice that rarely are G-Side rapping in the present-tense about hustling. They’re not that much different from Jay-Z, only their concerns are, even as they float around in space, much more grounded. It’s the production sound and trends of the ‘aughts wrapped in earthy, deeply sincere rhymes. The stuff Frere-Jones praised Gibbs for, just not as wrapped up in niche sound of rap’s past. Looking into the past and then dragging the past into the future.

Their latest project, Huntsville International comes out on November 9th and in title alone, shows these hyper-specific regional rappers talking to the world. It’s named after their hometown’s airport, but it’s also a reference to the group’s broader scope. Since the release of Starshipz, the group’s travelled up North and West and across the Atlantic, picking up new ideas and sounds, all now to be rolled-up in their forward-thinking space-age country rap tunes.

further reading/viewing:

-”Wrapping Up” by Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker
-”Das Racist to Sasha Frere-Jones: Stop Killing Rap”
-”They Don’t Really Dance: G-Side at Guilford College” by ME
-”Artist Spotlight: G-Side” from KevinNottingham.Com
-Tyler Perry on 60 Minutes

Written by Brandon

October 29th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Blueprint 3, G-Side, Jay-Z

Leave a Reply