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Spin: “The Rise of Rap’s Regular Guys.”


On G-Side, Tabi Bonney, and Stalley, and what it means to be moderately famous in rap.

A rapper’s narrative is pretty much always the same: Enter the young, hungry wordsmith who has finally, gloriously, made it. Lately though, thanks to the Internet, which makes it easy to bypass labels and normal promotional routes, as well as a messy, confused industry that often protracts buzz, the next big thing remains on the come-up for far too long, eventually staring down their official debut with a well-defined, often self-satisfied persona.

On last year’s Thank Me Later, Drake skipped the hungry, earnest rapper stage and proceeded directly to the “I’m famous, now what?” point in his career, and producer-rappers like J. Cole and Big K.R.I.T saddled their striving-for-classic mixtures with a “small town on my shoulders” martyr complex that demanded fame they’d not yet earned and had them questioning whether that fame was even worth it in the first place. Recent releases from Huntsville, Alabama’s G-Side (The One…Cohesive), Washington D.C.’s Tabi Bonney (Postcard From Abroad), and Massillon, Ohio’s Stalley (Lincoln Way Nights) make those petulant meta-narratives look a little foolish…

Written by Brandon

March 4th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

8 Responses to 'Spin: “The Rise of Rap’s Regular Guys.”'

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  1. But haven’t there always (or for a long time already) been plenty of everyman-type rappers? What separates G-Side from like Murs or something? Or are you talking about a recurring trend that’s starting to, um, recur again in response to the conflicted-about-fame trend?


    4 Mar 11 at 8:43 pm

  2. Not even being a douche, but really, you don’t think there’s a difference between Murs and G-Side? I think I see what you mean but that’s a really poor example.

    But since I think I know what you mean…These guys all frame their hustle/come-up/whatever around what’s afforded to them and less so, what is not. They’re very much show don’t tell rappers and they’re all focused. Murs for example, at least his persona, suggests a laid-back dude. These guys are all the opposite of laid-back. Rapping and making it is very important to them, and is wrapped up in their narratives. They care a lot. Too much maybe. They seem like J. Cole or KRIT quietly turned down a bit. I think most average guy rappers affect a less intense persona…


    4 Mar 11 at 8:51 pm

  3. I mean obviously there are several planes of existence between Murs and G-Side but Murs is like the most regular of regular-ass rapper dudes so he’s the first that popped in my mind. I guess I should’ve phrased my question, what’s the difference between how Murs is “regular” and how G-Side is “regular”? Which I think is a more nuanced difference and I get what you’re saying more after your reply.

    Maybe I’m getting hung up on the title which you probably didn’t pick anyway but I would’ve been more comfortable if it was like “the Return of Rap’s Regular Guys” or something that indicated like “regular in comparison” to dudes like Cole and Krit and Drake.


    5 Mar 11 at 1:59 am

  4. I mean, it’s a fine question, it’s just I still don’t totally know what you’re saying here? Like, yeah, Murs is regular as is I guess Devin the Dude or something? Who else? I really don’t think there’s a lot of people mining this territory and there never has been. Part of the schtick of many regular guy rappers is how they aren’t this or that, explicitly or implicitly, or that they just kinda rap about hanging out, etc. while I think G-Side and all of the guys here, really frame their raps around their lives in realistic, 360-degree way. None of them have a “schtick” or rather, that schtick is their stance/place in their specific milieu. That seems different to me than Murs or other “regular guys…”

    This is interesting to flesh-out, so keep asking me if you’re still not satisfied…


    5 Mar 11 at 6:07 am

  5. Yeah I mean, I guess it really is just the title. Like I read the article and I’m not really disputing that yeah, these artists are exploring new territory. But naming the trend “the rise of rap’s regular guys” sounds like it just kinda dismisses the “regular” guys like Devin/Murs/whatever that have come before. It sounds like the “regular” you’re talking about is more in comparison to the martyrdom/whatever of Drake/Cole/Krit and has less to do with the “regular” that Devin/Murs traffick in. And I would’ve liked to have seen more of a distinction made because the Devin/Murs “regular” is what I had in the back of my mind the whole time.


    7 Mar 11 at 8:35 pm

  6. Yeah, I guess though, if those are the only examples (or some of the only ones, who else? Pharcyde…?) and they’re rappers who’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years and they’re from totally different regions, AND I don’t think G-Side, Stalley, or Bonney are basing their careers around those guys at all, I’m not sure why they needed to be mentioned. I see what you mean, but I think the regular guy rap thing is new and these guys are all slowly creeping towards real success.


    7 Mar 11 at 8:42 pm

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