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Why Hip-Hop Won’t Suck More in 2009 Than Any Other Year…

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Dukes over at The Full Clip posted a pretty muddled and ultimately sorta safe but still worth discussing entry on XXL’s latest batch of “Freshman” and how it’s evidence of the negative influence of blogging on hip-hop. His biggest conflict is one that nearly anybody could agree with, at least at first: Very few of these guys have proven themselves and only a couple of them seem all that spectacular.

Dukes’ point is one about a frustration with the immediacy of the internet and shortening attention spans and lots of other stuff. It’s best defined by a concern he expresses when he implicitly compares these guys to rappers of the past. All the rappers on XXL’s latest cover are not spectacular–except, his totally subjective support of Kid Cudi, Blu, and Wale–and that their (relative) fame “seems more hustle than art…”, as if the 1991-equivalent of internet hustle wasn’t being employed by every rapper that blew up in the next couple years after that. It’s verging on nostalgia without coming out and saying it or maybe, not really knowing it?

The quickest rebuttal to Dukes’ blog blame is this: Look at last year’s cover. It’s certainly less “blog rap”-oriented and even though the number of artists on each list that I like is about the same, this year’s is a way more promising list. Simply put: You’ll have to defend this year’s list to less rap fans. It’s harder to dislike say, Charles Hamilton than Lil Boosie (even though Boosie’s way better in every way really). Interestingly, last year’s group is actually more representative of varying tastes in rap and a wider spectrum, but that’s another point, we’re apparently talking about rap music as a whole. So, if this year’s list is what the blogs created and last year’s list was something else, then blogs are not going to destroy hip-hop next year.

How or who or what led to last year’s choices is unknown and while this year’s list is a bit more on the side of the kind of dudes bloggers have been bigging-up than last year’s, that seems more of a sign of how rappers use media outlets to get their names out there than anything else. These are not a bunch of rappers who got a song posted on some sorta-popular blog like this one or anything, these were guys with enough press or pull or clout or whatever to get their music to a bunch of powerful “bloggers” and rap websites and from there, it trickled down and then back up.

These guys all maintained a hype and were able to capitalize on the rap blog world’s obsessive quest for the newest leak, freestyle, or whatever, but every one of them were “established” in the sense of having a solid team of people blowing them up before they actually blew-up.

It still seems baffling how a semi-talented turd with a white people-baiting bit as deep-rooted as Sarah Palin’s “Joe Sixpack” routine like Asher Roth went from being nobody to being hyped by XXL, sucked-off by NahRight, and on this cover, but it didn’t have a whole lot to do with bloggers, it had to do with the same fucking connections and superficial “hustle” that’s broken your favorite and least favorite rappers. If there’s something to blame the bloggers for, it’s not really questioning or analyzing any of these up and comers and just sort of accepting them and instead, dropping 75 words on how this song samples ‘Adventures of Dizzy’ for NES or how this guy performed at that one FADER after-party and rapped on old-ass Franco Battiato tracks or how this guy’s really taking it back to 1994 or whatever else.

Dukes’ piece is giving the blogs way too much credit. Unless of course by “blogs” you just mean the frequently updated section of every print magazine’s website or NahRight which really isn’t a simple blog anymore (and has always had tight industry connections). And if that is what Dukes means by “blogs”, then his frustration’s misdirected because these “blogs” and semi-corporate websites have picked up where lagging magazines sales dropped off. It has very little do with this blog or most of the blogs I read…

Written by Brandon

October 24th, 2008 at 2:28 am

Posted in Wale, XXL, hipster, the internets

M.I.A Just Want To Take Your Money: Scottie B’s ‘Paper Planes’ Remix


-‘Paper Planes’ (Scottie B Remix) off Homeland Security Remixes.

-‘Bmore Club Slam’ by Scottie B and Wale off Wale’s Mixtape About Nothing.

On her own type of cultural imperialism, M.I.A’s grabbed this and that from the Baltimore Club scene recently. Blaq Starr provided some production on ‘Kala’, has gone on tour with her, and Starr’s protégé Rye-Rye, a teenage girl from Baltimore has joined her on-stage and appears on another ‘Paper Planes’ remix. With all that in mind, it’s hard not to read Baltimore Club legend Scottie B’s remix of M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ as a little contemptuous. He speeds her vocals up into an even more annoying nag or slows them down into a blurry drag, and punctuates it all with a persistent vocal chopped and reorganized to say “…why can’t you see?/M.I.A just want to take your money.”

Scottie B’s been a DJ since the late 80s, involved in Baltimore Club since its inception and still co-owns/runs ‘Unruly Records’. His style is decidedly throwback, almost all classic club-breaks and tons of House and Hip-House signifiers which he consistently finds new ways to flip and fuck around with; he’s both a hardcore protector of the scene and open-minded celebrator of out-of-town “BMore club” love. He’s bitter enough—see that shirt above—but he always goes out of his way to state that support for the music is important no matter what or where it comes from.

And so, he’s rightly jumped on the Baltimore Club remix trend, sending out remixes for hipster darlings like M.I.A, Santogold, and Wale, but sending them out as uncompromising all-out Baltimore Club jams. There’s no compromise here. Only the real thing. ‘Paper Planes’ gets the same destruction and then, rehabilitation as any other song ripe with samples would receive on its way through the Scottie B, Baltimore Club assembly line. When even people from Baltimore call Spank Rock or Diplo “Baltimore Club” and tell you how “crazy” it was when M.I.A brought out “this little black girl Rye-Rye”, this is important.

Rather than outwardly complain, Scottie takes the opportunity to do the music he’s known for more than two decades right. One of the best aspects of the remix is the way he grabs the original ‘Paper Planes’ gun-shots and uses them for rat-a-tat percussion- the way it’s used on a song like say, ‘Safe’ by KW Griff (which can be found, amongst other places, on Rod Lee ‘Vol. 5’, a nationally distributed Baltimore Club mix/album). Scottie B spins samples from ‘Paper Planes in all directions, speeding them up and slowing them down and sticking a layer a classic house kick-drum and rumbling bass under it all. Loud enough, it makes you feel kind of woozy and sorta makes the original version feel like a waste of time.

And of course, there’s those vocal edits, “all I wanna do is take your money” and “MIA just want to take your money”. It could just be Scottie B doing what he does or it’s some not-too subtle address of the London/Sri-Lankan’s questionable interest in Baltimore music and this whole half-contemptible (not totally contemptible, mind you) hipster trend that’s got everybody upset or at least, thinking.

Contrast it with ‘Bmore Club Slam’ off Wale’s new mixtape. It’s a song that Wale said he commissioned from Scottie, a symbolic connection between the DC rapper and Baltimore Clubbers. It’s not a remix so it’s a little different, but it’s interesting that Wale’s basically allowed to run circles around Scottie’s beat and do whatever he wants

Written by Brandon

June 5th, 2008 at 9:46 pm