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2007 Rap Recap: What It Was, What It Is Pt. II


-Crime Mob’s Hated on Mostly

What It Was: The kinda slept-on, but at the same time labelled slept-on so much they’re almost overrated Crime Mob, dropped the pretty amazing ‘Hated On Mostly’. Besides ‘Hated On Mostly’ being the best album title of the year, it also possesses plenty of moments of Southern production genius and as usual, one song that even Southern Rap haters can’t hate on:‘Circles’.

One can’t ignore or dismiss Three-Six Mafia’s “influence” on the group, but Mob’s sound is tinnier and even more aggressive than Three-Six productions, which never fail to be catchy and damn near-poppy even if they are willfully weird. The quasi-gun-shot drums and super-clean guitar accompaniment of opener ‘Represent’ might feel like some genius (or horrible) conflation of Three-Six and Mannie Fresh production styles, but there’s this underlying mess of deep synth tones and screeching strings approximations that put it into new (at least new-ish) territory. There’s some genuine raver acid squelches on the Pimp C-assisted ‘Go To War’, weird theremin and even deeper more ominous synth tones on ‘All-Madden’ and of course, Crime Mob’s secret weapon/gimmick, female rappers that really can rap, Diamond and Princess. The girls overall, were inconsistent- they occasionally bleat out a verse- but their best moments (as on ‘Circles’) give me hope for future Crime Mob records.

What It Is: Initially, this album seemed a bit inconsistent, but the more I listen, the minor flaws sort of disappear. ‘Hated On Mostly’ has remained in my player way after the deceiving single ‘Rock Yo’ Hips’ stopped dominating local radio, BET countdowns, and MTV Jams. ‘Circles’ got plenty of music-fan love but it didn’t really translate to anything big. It’s the sort of thing that really does make you think there’s some radio conspiracy against any rap song that is even remotely smart or insightful. A few months ago, it was announced that Diamond, the most engaging member of the group, went solo. Every listen of ‘Hated’ had me asking myself or whoever was in the car with me, “Why don’t the male members just produce and leave the rapping to the females?” So, Diamond’s leaving is kinda cool but without the Crime Mob production, it will end up as either hipster-baiting throwback girl rap or crappy hard-ass rap just not over Crime Mob beats. I’m vaguely interested in how this plays out.

-Devin the Dude’s ‘Waitin’ to Inhale’
What It Was: In an act of particularly grotesque rap elitism (and defeatism), rap heads expressed fear about Devin’s celebration by “hipsters” before it even happened. But Devin’s way too weird in a way that’s pretty much devoid of coolness- there’s not really anything to the Dude that warrants even ironic appropriation- and he’s painfully sincere. He’s out-there like a guy at your bus-stop. You’re initially afraid of him, but after like two days, you sit there and bullshit with and even look forward to the frigid or too-hot- depending on the season- wait for the bus, because it’s really the only time you’ll interact with a guy like him. And that’s what ‘Waitin’ to Inhale’ feels like: A totally unfiltered dive into the mind of Devin, equal parts funny and depressed, offensive and insightful, a little too long, too much to take in one-sitting, but ultimately worth your time; you’ll laugh a lot and learn a lot.

What It Is: Having since gone back and digested Devin’s discography, ‘Inhale’s particular brand of dirty raps and Southern production is even more of a delight. Although I’m still partial to ‘To Tha X-Treme’, the album’s series of fables and sweetness feel unrealistic and forced in a way that his other albums are not. At the same time, the increased focus found on ‘X-Treme’ carries over to ‘Inhale’. It’s still a little long but there’s so many great songs on here, that when it kind of falters at the end, it stands-out more than it really should. I honestly haven’t listened to the album all the way through since the Spring, but looking at the tracks, it’s really only the last two (the jokey-in-a-way-that-”hipsters”-would like ‘Nothin’ to Roll With’ and the over-over-long ‘Till It’s All Gone’) that seem unnecessary and it’s the rest of the disc’s greatness that makes these tracks feel so underwhelming. Early’s fall’s ‘Waitin’ Our Turn’ (credited to the Coughee Brothaz) is expectedly messy but contains enough genius that it’s at least worth a listen. And, don’t worry, the hipsters didn’t get into Devin, I’m sure many of you are so happy Devin sold less albums than sell them to those goddamned hipsters.

Related Blogs: Devin the Dude Week Part 1,Part 2,Part 3,Part 4, and my Baltimore City Paper article on the Dude.

-Prodigy’s ‘Return of the Mac’
What It Was: Those bad-ass Youtube videos, those really-great soul beats…P was apologizing for aligning himself with 50 Cent! Not really, even on the “gulliest” tracks, there are lines like “I got blood on my G-Units”-which ingeniously combines the Mobb Deep we all love with the one we feel sorry for- that make it impossible to totally disassociate ‘Blood Money’ from ‘Return of the Mac’. A remarkably consistent album that constantly plays with the tension between the young Prodigy of ‘The Infamous’ and that era of rap and the older, money-grabbing lame rapper of the 2000s and ultimately, attempts a noble but sensible return to the former.

What It Is: This album kinda sucks. The ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ of 2007 in the sense that I got totally sucked into the hype, the glossy shine, and its baiting of dumb rap fans like me and lost perspective on a “meh” album that isn’t content-less but is quantifiably “complex” or “dark” and not you know, actually dark or complex. My bad. Fun to listen to a track when it pops up on my iPod and good for my friends that aren’t rap obsessives, but otherwise, a pretty worthless album 8 months after its release. What was once novel and interesting about Prodigy working out his messed-up career and damaged street-cred, has gone too far- especially since his arrest and imminent incarceration- and gives me the same sad, icky, exploitative feeling of say, that Amy Fisher Sex Tape.

-Robert Glasper’s ‘In My Element’: Rap-Influenced Jazz Done Right
What It Was: ‘In My Element’ is the best kind of album to get into. I wasn’t anticipating its release on any level, it wasn’t the latest album from a favorite or notable group, I wasn’t even aware of it until I heard an NPR story and some quick samples that piqued my interest and what I heard was a pretty perfect mix of conservative jazz and open-minded but fusion-skirting experimentation. The hook of the album is its hip-hop influence, but that doesn’t show up through embarrassing jazz-rapping, but through some loosely hip-hop rhythms, some ‘Mecca & the Soul Brother’-ish interludes, and occasional vocal samples culled from answering machine messages and in ‘Tribute’ the final devastating track dedicated to Glasper’s mother, a preacher’s eulogy. The other “hooks” are ‘J Dillalude’, a medley of Dilla beats done jazz trio style, and a cover of Radiohead (mixed with Herbie Hancock) on ‘Maiden Voyage/Everything In Its Right Place’. If those ideas excite you, they won’t disappoint; if they make you weary of Glasper’s album, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

What It Is: I kept waiting for this album to get some support and the proper talk-up but it never really did. It still gets near-weekly play on long drives and every listen opens up some new comparison or subtle musical detail. It also serves as an unintentional but strong response to Wynton Marsalis’ snarky, misinformed ‘From the Plantation to the Penetentiary’.

-Don Imus Says Some Bullshit
What It Was: Don Imus thinks he’s being a postmodern racist when he calls a women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hoes” but forgets he’s a stupid old man who is actually racist. My thoughts immediately darted to Howard Stern who has had a long-standing hatred of Imus, for not only being a hack but a genuinely dishonest and horrible person (old Stern stories reveal Imus to consistently use the word “nigger”). Somehow, Imus was able to deflect the criticism by invoking the moronic double-standard and what began as a bunch of opportunistic people exploiting Imus’ mistake, became bans on “the N-Word”, Paula Zahn specials, and Imus being fired. Ultimately, it was like so many situations related to political correctness, one where it reveals everyone, left and right, right and wrong, to be totally full of shit.

What It Is: Don Imus is back on the air, he was paid for his “firing”, and rap is still under attack (although it seems to have subsided a bit, no?). This is why this kind of good-intentioned censorship is retarded…

-Three-Six Mafia Release Two Great Singles and No AlbumWhat It Was: It was pretty refreshing that after Three-Six’s Academy Award, goofy reality show, and general moving up a plateau in terms of fame, their first single contained lyrics like “I pop her cherry then I pop my collar”, a fairly explicit verse about doing coke from Juicy J, and a particularly John Carpenter-esque beat, full of looming synths, ghostly oohs and ahhs, and a totally flanged-out guitar outro. At the same time, there were rumors that the album had people like Good Charlotte and Paris Hilton on it…who knew what the fuck was going on? A few months later, there was the equally insane and aggressive ‘Like Money’, cut from the same sonic cloth but this time with some flanged-out scratching, more guitar riffs, and some Godzilla stomp drums. By the time ‘Like Money’ came out, ‘Da Last 2 Walk’ had been delayed twice and was slated for the December 2007.

What It Is: Is Three-Six Mafia or their label to blame for these delays? Both sides needs to realize these dudes just can’t sell-out even when they want to. ‘Doe Boy Fresh’ and ‘Like Money’ are their singles??? Just give up and let them make another genius album of songs that keep the content simple, the guests minimal, and the beats the most out-there shit being made, be the comparison to fellow weirdo producers like Timbaland or overtly “experimental” musicians that grabs the cover of magazines like ‘WIRE’ and have stupid names.

-Lil Wayne’s Rap Takeover (or something)
What It Was: It was hard not to scoff at the Wayne hyperbole going on but still, you ask anybody still interested in this rap shit and they will ruefully or gleefully rattle off an impressive list of Weezy tracks from last year that bounced all around their brain. Wayne’s schtick was to be ubiquituous, admittedly whorish, and drop some random shit on a random song to random degrees of success. He turds up Kanye’s ‘Barry Bonds’ and is just plain annoying on ‘Make It Rain’ but drops super-affecting shit on the Lloyd’s ‘You’ (and ‘Something You Forgot’ and Wyclef’s ‘Sweetest Girl’ remix and ‘Prostitute Flange’ and ‘Comfortable’..) and is crazy and creepy as fuck on ‘I Feel Like Dying’ (and ‘It’s Me Snitches’ remix and ‘I Like It’). The highs of ‘Da Drought 3′ match the highs of any collection of music released this year, but it’s still pretty much impossible to get-through in a single sitting (while say, UGK’s double-disc is surprisingly listenable all the way through…). The sheer weirdness met with unexpected consistency on ‘Da Drought is Over Pt. 4′, my preferred Weezy mixtape for 2007.

What It Is: I recently put together a Lil Wayne mix CD for a friend at work and it was through compiling that mix, that the greatness of recent Lil Wayne totally struck me. Editing out all the bullshit and cloying half-assedness, with minor diversions into my personal favorite eccentric tracks from the rapper-eater, the scope of what Lil Wayne has done in the past year and a half was clear. His jumps from an insane amount of metaphors (or to be real, mostly similes) for getting head and wet pussies to some really emotional shit about the women- real and imagined, fucked and ones he wants to fuck- to a (and I fucking mean this) Proustian ability to recall the minor details of his childhood, both personal details (Starter jackets, Saints hat, ‘Gremlins’) and pop-culture events (Tonya Harding, ‘The Bodyguard’, Nintendo), builds into a feeling of really getting to know a rapper who has made it his goal to be as weird and grotesque and obscure as any. Of course, this hyperbole dies down because I realize that through the making of my Lil Wayne mix, I custom-fit the dude to appeal to me. The brief ‘The Leak EP’ is both exciting and disappointing and is but one more example of the way Wayne drops the ball on actual, official releases- the releases that “matter”.

Brandon’s Worst Posts of the Year
-Black Hercules: You guys kinda slept-on this dude. He just posted some new videos like yesterday and make sure to check them out. Nevertheless, this was a clear attempt to keep-up with my three-posts a week schedule.
-More About Amy Winehouse: Before I realized that the amount of comments one receives means very little- especially from a bunch of angry Winehouse fans clearly directed from some kind of message board, not actual readers- I did this sequel to my first Amy Winehouse hater post.
-Paid Bloggers Are Assholes: I’m supposed to put this one here and act like I’m embarassed by it, but it’s still basically correct and I’m impressed by my kinda articulate vitriol. Also, Fennessey’s Vibe blog currently has an even more prick-ishly obnoxious pic, for those interested…
-Lil Wayne’s Latest Single: I Just Shit My Pants: I’m on the fence on whether this was a particularly great post or a particularly terrible one. Like most things, the truth probably falls somewhere in-between…
-Links & Lists: This was from when I was in film-school for three days. Again, before I realized that no post is usually better than a shitty post. Also, admitting it’s a crappy post doesn’t make it a less crappy post.
-Who Said It: Common or The Technopriests?: The links to the images don’t work but I don’t really have a place to house them and you’re not missing anything anyways. It’s sort of funny to think that when I pitched this to Rafi at OhWord, I was a little pissed he didn’t accept it.
-Just Some Good Videos: When you’re too busy to post, just post a bunch of Youtube videos…works everytime!
-Ja Rule and the Gays: Following-up my pretty good “Kanye Week” series with this muddled discussion of homophobia and silly condemnation of anti-homophobia was pretty stupid.

Written by Brandon

January 22nd, 2008 at 4:58 am

2007 Rap Recap: What It Was, What It Is… Pt. I


-BET’S ‘American Gangster’
What It Was: This time last year, I was getting more excited about loosely rap-related television- BET’s ‘American Gangster’and ‘Ego Trip’s ‘White Rapper Show’- than any actual rap music. ‘American Gangster’ was a surprise because it easily could’ve been a stupid exploitative “hood” show and I still would’ve watched. Instead, it was an incredibly nuanced and determinately moral show. When ‘106 & Park’ “flashback” videos means like, ‘Headsprung’ by LL Cool J, BET Uncut was long fucking gone, and the moronic programmers haven’t realized it’s a bad idea to program late-night reruns of ‘Girlfriends’ on BET and BET Jazz, ‘American Gangster’ stood out.

Related Blog: You Should Watch: ‘American Gangster’.

What It Is: The second season was equally stellar, the first season is out on DVD and the show finally got a few shout-outs from the press and even that, was primarily as a sidebar to the swagger-jacking turd that was Ridley Scott’s ‘American Gangster’. Curmudgeon Stanley Crouch wrote a smart article contrasting the amorality and simplicity of the film with the show, but you know, the show was the same a year before when Crouch probably dismissed it without ever seeing it. All of this is even more grotesque when looking back at 2007, a year where, arguably, the attack on rap grew even more absurd. Critics praise Scott’s weird hood cash-in as somehow being real because he had a lot of money for hyper-accurate set-design and vague pretensions to “complex” morality that’s more Jeezy than Jay-Z- or once was, ‘American Gangster’ (the exploitative album not the exploitative film) is equally disingenuous…

-Ego Trip’s ‘The White Rapper Show’
What It Was: Who knew the White Rapper Show would’ve been engaging on that great-but-gross reality show way and have a like, surprising ability to suddenly be making plenty of comments on current rap culture? Well, I had a feeling because the title is prefaced with “Ego Trip’s” but still! From its ultimately sympathetic approach to “wiggers” and rap-loving rednecks, to weird indirect comments on “stop snitching” and class issues, and like, actually good guest appearances from rappers, I knew where I was every Monday from 10-11 PM.

What It Is: The new season is coming out soon and the hook this year is female rappers which doesn’t sound as entertaining, but I’m willing to let the Ego Trip guys take me there. It’s all a little bittersweet because just a few weeks ago, Elliot Wilson was dropped from XXL which is pretty depressing and a genuine blow for smart, popular coverage of rap. Wilson’s aggressive style made him look foolish- the magazine was nowhere near as good as he pretended it was- but I’d buy at least a few issues a year, while I’d skim through the SOURCE in 10 minutes and avoid VIBE like some kind of vaguely hipster metrosexual-vying-for-street-cred plague.

Related Blogs: Episodes 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.

-DJ Drama & the Mixtape Crackdown
What It Was: DJ Drama’s ‘Gangsta Grillz’ series was an always engaging bunch of mixtapes that could guarantee a few great songs at the least and sometimes, were way better than the artist’s actual albums. The idea was simple- put good rappers over other rappers’ good beats- and it worked; they started popping up in malls, record stores, and end-of-the-year lists. I found the whole mixtape craze really fun and like, the last bit of music fan nerd-dom left in an iPOD crazy world. The poor fidelity, the annoying sound effects, the crappy no-name rappers, the covertness of it all- I already bemoaned the absence here- was just really, really, great and DJ Drama was the KING of good, bad tapes. Every douche in the world would drop the “Hedoesn’tevendoanythinghesuxxxx” speech, but he compiled the series and made them compulsively listenable and even his annoying drops seemed perfectly place, adding to the ambiance of it all. Mixtapes quickly dried-up and were replaced by internet-only tapes which gives the same content, but just isn’t as fun.

What It Is: Music sales still suck. Illegal downloading is as crazy as ever; good job RIAA. DJ Drama was initially humbled by it all, refusing to be a total martyr, his recent release of the “meh” ‘Gangsta Grillz: The Album’ has him making a poor man’s DJ Khaled compilation, and ruining the rather momentous ‘Art of Storytelling Pt. 4′ with a closing faux-triumphant rant straight out of a Ric Flair wrestling tape. I had some silly idealistic hopes for Drama, thinking he would take his talent for compilation to “real” record labels, but he didn’t. Maybe the guy needs money for legal bills, but it was depressing when the first single had the same cast as every other “Southern Banger” this year…I thought maybe we’d get something odd or unpredictable, like sticking Little Brother or something on the track but no…and while we’re at it, why won’t all these entertaining-for-a-verse guys just make a whole album? They should just be a crew: Fat Joe, Baby, Rick Ross, Akon.

-R.I.P Disco D
What It Was: The guy who made ‘Ski Mask Way’ killed himself? Even if you knew more about the dude, that’s usually how you framed it to friends only to later elaborate on Disco D’s varied and interesting career. It’s always grotesque to intellectualize someone’s death- especially a suicide- but he was but one more example of the porous borders between rap and other genres and yes, the genuine influence of much hated-upon “hipster” types on the genre. That Trick Daddy song he made is pretty amazing.

What It Is: There was a very good and affecting article printed over the summer on Disco D’s career and his “ups and downs”.

-Rich Boy’s ‘Throw Some Ds’
What It Was: Upon first hearing this song, I declared it the ‘Stay Fly’ of 06/07, that like perfect fucking rap single that you usually get like, one, maybe two of each year. The beat, especially those perfectly warm but a little futuristic synth boops, grabbed you right away (along with Polow’s “dick on the wall” line!) but the vague melancholy of it made it stick around.

What It Is: ‘Throw Some Ds’ sort of came out at the worst time. Late 2006, but not late enough to be considered a song of 2007, it sort of sat there in between and by the time Rich Boy’s self-titled album came out in like March, there was too much build-up. Just as ‘Throw Some Ds’ slowly wormed its way into every type of rap fan’s head, Rich Boy’s album or at least, the really good tracks stuck around. He’s underrated amongst the asshole hater fan who laughed at ‘Throw Some Ds’ because it was Southern and about cars and then slowly, after the initial hype decided to like it, but Rich is overrated amongst his supporters- which includes me- because it’s hard to truly praise the dude. He’s got potential, which isn’t the sort of thing you say about a guy who already dropped his debut, but oh well. ‘Let’s Get This Paper’ is undeniably great as a big dumb Southern rap song or a smart social commentary rap track.

-Monique’s Favorite Singles 2007

0. UGK Ft. Outkast *’Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)’: This is no place holder. It’s above the contention of the rest of this list.

1. Playaz Circle Ft. Lil Wayne ‘Duffle Bag Boy’: I was sort of blown away at this song on first listen. It’s got a great hook via Lil Wayne but sort of lacking otherwise. It works really well overall because of the consistently changing tone between and within Wayne’s hook and Playaz Circle’s verses. Also, had a “real” rap video (see No. 3).

2. Gorilla Zoe ‘Hood Figga’: Long hair: Yellow, White, Red, Brown. That Zelda-esque flute noise is amazing.

3. Kanye West *’Stronger’: I thought this was the best of the three KW singles. I think he really bombed out on the order these were released. I think this would have worked better as the first single because it’s more representative of the album than ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ or ‘Good Life’. It’s the most widely digestible of the three and had a video and sample that stood out. The video is not a “real” rap video; it’s more of an artsy homage to an experience in the future (will we be wearing jean vests?). Truth is: maybe the future isn’t much different than right now…remember when KW had to wait a year for everything? He’s still waiting.

4. Lil Boosie feat. Foxx and Webbie ‘Wipe Me Down’: Better than “Crank That”. Shoulder, Chest, Pants, Shoes.

I didn’t really think that the “Crank That” craze was a bad thing…it’s more so that it just wasn’t that good; I never really liked steel drums in the first place.

5. Lloyd *’Get It Shawty’: I’m really into these sort of-Aphex Twin beats. The idea was my first noted by my since passed friend in reference to Akon and Snoop Dog- “I Wanna Love You”. But it’s really Lloyd’s use of the word “weight” in this song that blew my mind. Things that we define as “real” usually have “weight”. So, it seems like a quick, deep way of making this dancing experience that Lloyd is singing about seem more meaningful.

Also, Lloyd has this great Michael Jackson “Rock With You”-like persona that I can’t deny.

6. 50 Cent ‘I Get Money’: On “Curtis vs. Kanye day”, I remember walking down Main Street in Newark, DE and at least 3 cars drove by…windows down…blasting this. These two people in front of me basically said “aw real cool, blast the single”. But that’s what is so good about it.

This also happened during football season at school and I had this “great idea” for this football team anthem “I run New-Ark”, get it?

7. Bobby Valentino ‘Anonymous’: It’s no secret- I think BV is really good on the singles. I’m still not over ‘Slow Down’. This song strikes this Foreigner “chord” with me and maybe that was what Timbo was going for…but I like that “chord”.

8. Baby Boy Da Prince ft. Mannie Fresh ‘Naw Meen’: GO DJ! Although I liked ‘This is the Way I Live’, it was sort of this weird thing with my roommate last year where she interpreted it as “hood” or something. That eventually sort of weird-ed me out so I prefer this more impenetrable BBDP single.

9. Musiq Soulchild ‘B.U.D.D.Y’: I really don’t like ‘Teach Me’…but ‘B.U.D.D.Y’ probably should have been a Bobby Valentino song. Therefore, I’m loving it. The video is pretty similar to the video for ‘Slow Down’ but instead of a fantasy, it’s more like Musiq just harassing this girl. And Musiq has the biggest head and face ever…it makes him seem like he has a chubby body type but then he doesn’t. Weird.

10. Swizz Beatz ‘Money in the Bank’: This is favorite of the Swizzy singles. The video is really stupid but I really like how the beat drops out and it was a great radio song. I also really like how its a pretty mean spirited song. But I’m not offended; we all know the “money in the bank” chic is out there and she’s a scary one.

*Denotes albums I purchased in 2007.

Monique’s Favorite Month of Videos (January 2007 Rotation)
-Akon and Snoop Dogg ‘I Wanna Love You’
-Pretty Ricky ‘On the Hotline’
-Lloyd ft. Lil Wayne ‘You’
-Nelly Furtado ft. Timbo ‘Say it Right’
-Rich Boy Ft. Polow da Don ‘Throw Some Ds’
-Birdman and Lil Wayne ‘Leather So Soft’
-Young Jeezy featuring R. Kelly ‘Go Getta’

Written by Brandon

January 18th, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Beware of the Hand When It’s Comin’ From The Left

one comment

Kanye West Week begins on Graduation day, so tomorrow! Tonight, you get this-

Woooo! Have you seen this shit? A few weeks ago I tried to peep readers to a Democratic City Councilmen wannabe, trying to make his name by opposing a rap concert held in Baltimore. Well, today, thanks to Oh Word’s ever-dependable ‘Around the Horn’, there’s ‘Offended? The Rap’s On Me.’, an article in the Washington Post by Justin D. Ross, a (gasp!) aspiring Democratic politician! If Sach. O’s article didn’t prove to you why Public Enemy is still relevant, I’ll refer to my favorite piece of Chuck D. knowledge: “Beware of the hand when it’s coming from the left.”

The discussion of rap found in Councilmen Ross’s article is the new wave of opportunistic rap criticism. At this point, nearly everybody under forty years old is at least desensitized if not fairly familiar rap and in due time, O’Reilly-esque scare-mongering isn’t going to fly. Rap’s opposition will increasingly come from people like Ross, who will claim an interest or allegiance and preface their played-out, ill-informed criticisms with stuff like “So I’m not just sounding off when I say this”; please, please don’t buy into it.

I’ll begin with Ross’s stance of implicating his own whiteness. If Ross were the hip-hop insider he claims to be, he’d be aware of how the whole “white people buy most rap music” thing is a myth. Hell, you’d think he’d have even read about it Bakarai Kitwana’s wonderful ‘Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop’. There’s an entire chapter called ‘Erasing Blackness: Are White Suburban Kids Really Hip-Hop’s Primary Audience?’! For a politician so concerned with what is “harmful to race relations”, you’d think he’d be aware that communal aspects of the African-American community allow bootlegs, mixtapes, etc. to be easily available or you know, the way most malls and major entertainment stores are located in white areas and on the statistic tip, black people going to those stores would have those purchases chalked-up to the white side. Sure, strictly going on “sales” white people buy the most rap albums but any actual research shows that they are not the primary consumers.

I also want to know why he assumes every white person buying rap (or just every white person?) comes from “comfortable suburban neighborhoods”. Plenty of low-income white people purchase and embrace rap music too. Sure, the music does not “degrade” them but as MC One Man Gangler pointed out in the comments section of this entry…if you’re going to use white people’s supposed majority purchasing of rap music to argue your political points, you cannot also assume that the music does not negatively affect those same white people. At least be consistent.

The only consistency is Ross’s towing of an outdated liberal party-line that still perceives white people as oppressors and black people as helpless victims. It isn’t a surprise, that at least according to the music cited in his article, he listens to overtly political rap (Public Enemy, the Roots, Talib Kweli) and dumbed-down coke rap (Rick Ross, Young Jeezy); the two most grotesque clichés of the black experience. Of course, citing the artists he does may just be further evidence that he isn’t that big of a hip-hop head and just listens to the popular stuff. In 2007, it’s Jeezy, in 1989 it was Public Enemy.

Ross simply adopts that outdated “white people are the primary consumers of rap” argument among a few similarly disingenuous arguments because they fit. You’d think he’d be above such a purposefully simple-minded understanding of a word like “nigga” and of course, how it is indeed, quite different from “nigger”. The O’Reilly-like move of referring to rap’s complex use of the word “nigga” as simply a “racial epithet” is a cheap shock strategy and pretty offensive from a supposed lover of hip-hop. To bolster his argument and to get some additional hip-hop head “cred”, Ross cites his early embrace of Public Enemy. He has a good point in subtly contrasting their 1989 popularity with 2007’s significantly less-refined rappers, but he dismisses it all with safe jokes about his embrace of the group: “Before I graduated from Kenmoor Middle School, I was ready to “Fight the Power” because Public Enemy told me to (even though I didn’t really know what that meant).” Ross doesn’t want to take Public Enemy’s revolutionary raps too seriously because it would make him look absurd and bring up images of “co-opting”, so he laughs it off, which totally messes up his thesis. So, as long as people mindlessly follow “positive” rap and not “negative” rap, it’s all okay? Spoken like a true, Puritanical liberal…

Will you be removing those hateful songs from your iPod, Mr. Ross? When did it suddenly hit you that some of the rap you were listening to was “degrading”? I have a feeling it was pretty recently, you know, when every other no-name politician, pundit, and talking-head, decided to use rap music as a springboard for mild political fame.

Written by Brandon

September 10th, 2007 at 4:15 am