Thursday, December 6, 2007

FAQ: How to Deal with 2Pac Fans

I wasn't going to do this post because of Pimp C's death, but I'm restless and I'm not updating as much as I'd like to. So the following is a list of popular responses to any criticism, informed or biased, against Malcolm X Christ Jr., Tupac Amaru Shakur, as well as some admittedly antagonistic retorts.

The following is all based upon actual experiences on Allhiphop.com threads:

1."You just a Biggie fan"
Since when did Biggie and Pac become the only rappers in history? I seem to have not gotten that notice that only the rappers agreed upon by the Source, XXL, Jay-Z and Nas are to be given eligibility to be considered the best.

I'm a fan of good music in general. So in that sense, yeah, I like Biggie. But only because Biggie is better than 2Pac. Bun B is also greater than 2Pac, but your obsession with maintaining the status quo and believing whatever is parroted to you won't let you even consider that notion. If your top 5 consists of "2Pac, Jay, Nas, Eminem, and Biggie", then you're clearly either 13, a girl, or aren't that into music or hip-hop. Have fun on the allhiphop.com message boards.

Also, why isn't it possible to both enjoy and know the faults and limitations of the artist? I do have about 15-16 2Pac songs on my iTunes that I legitimately like (a few more for the beat than anything...). And its a shame and really insulting to automatically assume someone "doesn't get it" or "likes ringtone rap" and blame "young kids" if they don't think your masturbation material and fake-leader and role model is God himself. I mentor at schools and believe me, Junior High kids are just as brainwashed as you.

2."You a hater"
Because I disagree with you, or because I criticized something? So criticizing something automatically makes you a "hater"? I'm glad to see McCarthyism is still in full force.

Last time I checked, "hating" was shitting on someone or something successful out of jealousy and with no real justification. Hating is not having a reasonable argument and defending it objectively. By this logic, any form of dissent is "hating". Oh, wait, I guess its only hating if it differs with popular opinion. If I derided Soulja Boy for sucking, I wouldn't hear a peep from you, so clearly your beef is that you have a personal attachment to someone you don't know and haven't ever met that you happen to like. And speaking of Soulja Boy, to accuse someone of hateration, wouldn't you yourself have to enjoy everything and never have any qualms? That would make you naive and uninformed. And if you do dislike things like, say, Plies, then you're a hypocrite. Save calling people "haters" for hoodrats and teenagers. They might be more impressed.

3."How old are you? You weren't old enough to get Pac and how important he was."
I'd like to know how that matters. How exactly is that relevant? I wasn't around in the 70's but I know which bands sucked. Because there are these things called albums that you can listen to. And if you have well trained ears or a keen awareness, you can ascertain and feel the time period just as well as those who were around at the time. When I listen to Busta Rhymes' "Everything Remains Raw", I can feel Manhattan in the early 90's cats decked out in Hilfiger and getting drunk. Whether or not someone was around to "feel" 2Pac is irrelevant, though I was, because there's more than enough archival footage and music to make an informed judgment. You can even check out articles and TV and other media of the time to gauge popularity and effect.

Plus, this a complete bullshit cop out by biased fans who can't defend their own opinions through reason and prefer to condescend and intimidate. This makes you a fucking asshole.

4."He was a real dude"
A.He was a straight thug
And it got him killed. Big achievement. Notice how many people fail or die for that behavior? T.I. and his army guns ring a bell?You didn't know him personally, so I doubt you can attest or prove this. And people who can may be biased, so this is anecdotal, at best. Also, what the fuck does that have to do with the quality of his records?

B.He was like Malcolm X
In terms of execution style, maybe. And Elliot Smith is like Kurt Cobain.

It's fucked up and insulting to even imply that. Pac was political sometimes, great. Most people are in the real world. He wasn't saying anything that hadn't been said before. And also, like most rappers and musicians, his politics weren't anything to care about. Muddled, contradictory, hollow, sloganeering. Even actual political leaders are myopic and lack nuanced and wrong a lot of the time. Yeah, I agree with a lot of shit he said, but being political isn't a positive or negative trait, it's just a fucking trait. Pac couldn't wash Malcolm X's 50lb balls.

C.He's touched me and millions more
That's your problem. First, you can't be trusted to be objective. You tearing up during "Ambitionz Az A Ridah" pretty much cinches that. Second, that doesn't mean something is good. See, if I said that I had a complete spiritual awakening white listening to Lil' Boosie, that doesn't mean shit. That's more of a sad declaration than a cosigning of the greatness of "Wipe Me Down". And also, let's stop pretending Pac being a pretty boy and good actor doesn't influence all of this. Don't be ignorant of image, its effect, and how rare it is for people to listen to music without harping on the artist or their personal lives. If Pac looked like Hell Rell, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Also, you know who else has touched the hearts of millions and was beloved? Hitler. Congratulations 2Pac fans, you inspired what shall now be known as the "Hitler Argument".

Get your mind right.

D.Dude sold 50 million records and is known worldwide.
When you develop some taste through listening to a lot of records and aging/maturing a bit, you realize that things that sell more than double platinum probably suck. There are rare exceptions, but people are, on the whole, kind of dumb, and though Michael Jackson made a lot of quality records, celebrating things that are best-sellers and equating that somehow with quality is something people who don't actually like music do. Hey, the Eagles "greatest Hits" is the best selling record of all time, but it fucking sucks, too.

Also, see: Hitler, Adolf.

5."He did 'Brenda's Got a Baby' and 'Keep Your Head Up' and blah blah blah, and as a woman...
As a woman, you're retarded. I kid. But, no, really. You're the type of chick that thinks "the DL" is real. But, hey, I do love those songs. Well, "Brenda's Got a Baby" has a shitty beat, but "Keep Your Head Up" is my jam. But its a weak point to harp on a few of his songs that have a functional message, in comparison to the trying-too-hard sloganeering of his first two records or the completely redundant and done to death shitty lyricism and single-minded rapper cliches on his later records. If someone say, released 5 or 6 crappy, filler-laden, poorly-produced albums and then hundreds more posthumously, and the majority of the songs were wack, would the artist be exempt and considered "best" regardless of their failures? Apparently. I guess a few classic anthems outweighs tons of shit.

Oh, and Hitler was a vegetarian and loved animals. Which means a lot to me as an environmentalist, therefore he's the best leader evar.

6."Whatever white boy"
I can't even acknowledge this. It should go without saying what is dumb and fucked up about this cop-out. Just some advice: White rap fans, tread lightly when discussing rap canon, and be prepared for some ig'nant shit.

7. "Who do you like, then?"
Doesn't matter. If my favorite movie is "Rat Race" and I only listen to ringtone rap and metalcore, I'm still better than you if I have the perspective to know and acknowledge that they suck. That's kind of the key here. It's not what you like, it's what you think is good.

8. "All his records are classics!"
Well, to you. Very few artists have flawless catalogs, and even the best ever have only 3 good records or so. In rap, the best catalogs are Ghostface, Jay-Z, UGK, Boogie Down Productions, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre (counting NWA), Ice Cube, Busdriver, Outkast, the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kanye West, in terms of consistency of product and number of good albums. Pac's records all had shitty production, except his singles and the odd Easy Mo Bee produced track ("Temptations" rules.)And some of those tracks with ill beats, like "Amitionz Az A Ridah" are completely trash lyrically. The guy got bodied by Dr. Dre's ghostwriters on "California Love". To not act like his delivery is what's great and covers up his uninspired bullshit rhymes just keeping your head in the sand. And to make a statement like "all his records are classics" you must really not listen to a lot of rap. There was this thing called Ready To Die. And another called Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, as well as Illmatic, Black on Both Sides, Ironman, Supreme Clientele, Liquid Swords, Enter the 36 Chambers, Return of the Boom Bap, Ridin Dirty, Paid In Full, Muddy Waters, etc.

Good move on Pac's part not to have Dr. Dre produce all of his songs. Shit, he probably could've gotten RZA, if he was really "trying to sign Wu-Tang to his label imprint". Dude clearly couldn't choose beats. But we forgive Nas because Nas is a great rapper and made a classic album. Now excuse me as I re-watch "Nothing But Trouble".

9. "That's just your opinion!"
No shit. That's why its called an opinion. Whenever someone says anything, its generally implied as "opinion". And just because its unpopular or not seen as in line with canon, doesn't make it any less right. Majority opinions elect American Idols. Minority opinions tend to shape things like the Bill of Rights. Get familiar, b.

10. "It's fucked up to disrespect the dead"
It's a lot more fucked up to lie and mythologize events and people. You're doing everyone a disservice. While we're at it, let's just say that everyone who ever lived was just great. Everyone and everything is awesome. Always.

Misinformation creates ignorance. And ignorance breeds 2Pac fans. See, it's one big cycle, like a snake eating itself. And also, do Afeni Shakur and the Source magazine pay your light bill? No? Then shut the fuck up. Why lobby for something that's immaterial and doesn't affect you?

11. "Fuck is you?"
Fuck I look like?

You know, fighting to maintain other people's opinions and prevent ideas from being challenged or reevaluated is a sickness. It seems to be systemic to the degree that even rappers have to always put themselves as lesser than Pac, though I doubt the 6 million cats (and that's just in Harlem) that spit ALL think Pac is the best, for the sake of politics and not stirring fan ire, they gotta buck down.

I loved "Tupac Resurrection" and I'm bummed the guy is dead as well as BIG, Big Pun, Big L, Pimp C, ODB, Jam Master Jay, etc. I wish all those guys were still alive. And everyone is more aware of his "impact", though mostly negative, and being an icon and etc. But, come on. It seems like saying Pac is overrated could be the only thing that would get Bush impeached. The fact that you could get mobbed for even bothering to criticize him or not place him as the best rapper ever (LOL at that notion) is a sign that this whole thing needs to stop and people need to actually discuss and analyze these things more. And since things have lightened up a little in the last 11 years, it's a great time to do that. In no way would this detract from his status as the John Lennon of rap or take money out of Afeni Shakur's pocket (Bless her heart, but what the fuck is she doing allowing the release of these awful postmortem records still?)

What's really that insulting for saying "he's good but very overrated"?

AV Club: R.I.P 2Pac, the most overrated rapper in history

13 comments:

Lady Chavez and Fluffgirl said...

this is awesome, you went all out for it, I agreed and disgreed fully ;)

-LC

josephlovesit said...

Question: are there any rappers who blaspheme 2Pac? Not like rappers that have had prior beef with him, but ones that drag his name through the dirt for the hell of it. I'd love to hear that.

Like you, there are a handful of songs I enjoy. But I've always felt weird for not loving the smell of his shit (read: the majority of his output).

Christopher said...

MissHugoBoss y La Fluff: Haha, thanks. I just checked out your blog, its mad cool.

J.O.S.E.: Man, its so rare to even hear a rapper say Pac wasn't the best, lest criticize him. Rappers are balless man, although, saying that shit in public will get you hated on. If there's anything I hate, its playground gang mentality, and they all have that shit.

I feel similar about Reagan. I nearly had a hemorrhage when dude died and all of a sudden he was flawless and everyone was supposed to love him, where I wanted to shit on his grave like most world leaders.

DocZeus said...

No disrespect, Pac certainly isn't the Greatest Rapper of all-time but if he's not in your Top 10 to 15, it's not really credible. There is such a thing as influence and Pac is the most influential rapper of all-time (with all due respect to Rakim). Legions of rappers bite Pac's style and image wholesale. I personally don't take things such as technique, delivery and catalog as the only criteria. You have to take things like influence and historical impact as a criteria as well. Pac makes up any technical shortcomings by the fact that he really is the most iconic figure in rap music ever even if he really couldn't hold Big's jockstrap lyrically.

Christopher said...

DocCronos: Oh, he's in there. He IS the John Lennon of rap, so you'd have to be an actual "hater" to ignore that he's an icon. I disagree on impact, because if someone made one great album and years of shit but is famous, and someone else made years of great consistent albums but isn't famous or heralded, then I'd like to think the latter is still better, regardless of how many very real templates and etc. the famous one popularized.

Celebrity and influence rarely correlates with quality. If you measure greatness by achievement, then the top 5 of all time reads Pac, Jay, Biggie, and Nas. But, I don't do that.

Also, everything Pac influenced sucks. So there's something else to consider. But regardless, like I said in the post, he's got like 16-17 songs I sincerely vouch for as great and he is important, no doubt. He's the most famous rapper ever, so yeah.

But, in the end, I do agree, he's in the top 15. Somwehere between Big Pun and Melle Mel

floodwatch said...

Fantastic post, Christopher, easily the best I've read here. For me, 'Pac's shining moment was his performance in Juice, and if I recall correctly, dude didn't rap at all in that flick.

DocZeus: I suppose the qualifications for G.O.A.T. are different for everyone, but 'Pac wouldn't make my top twenty. As a hip hop icon, there is no contest to his importance. In terms of lyricism and raw skills - please. And can you really say with a straight face that he was more influential - encompassing the breadth of hip hop history - than Rakim? No disrespect, I'm just curious of your arguments.

(By the way, FUCK Blogger for preventing anyone without a Google Blogger account from leaving nothing more than a "nickname" or worse, "anonymous.")

Christopher said...

TheDownwardSpiral Co-Produced By Alan Moulder, Trent Reznor, and Flood(watch): Pac was a killer actor. But then, I think about the story from Iconoclasts with Dave Chapelle and Maya Angelou, where dude was on the set of "Poetic Justice" acting an ig'nant fool and showing his ass and Maya Angelou came up to him and said:

"Do you know how special you are? Do you know? Your ancestors came over here in their own vomit and now you're a successful free man. Do you know how special you are?"

He proceeded to cry and call Afeni Shakur. Now, had Maya Angelou been in charge of picking Pac's beats for the first three albums, they might've been a lot better.

Yeah, Blogger is tripping. I really didn't want to use my gmail for this and the changed google made to blogspot are dumb.

DocZeus said...

Floodwatch-

Rakim is the most important rapper in terms of influence on technique and rapping style, ever. I mean Pac and Nas both borrow heavily from Rakim. Pac's influence, however, goes way beyond simply rappers rapping like him. It goes into the way, rappers consciously craft their persona. After Pac became an iconoclast in the public for his troubles with the law, his troubles with being shot and his weird wannabe "I'm A Revolutionary Super Thug Gangsta" bit, didn't literally every rapper consciously shift that image towards Pac. I can think of like 20 rappers off the top of my head who bite his "Post-Death Row" style.

And I think people sleep on Pac's technique. You can possibly sleep on his catalog but don't tell me, Pac couldn't really, really rap. This Pac was a wack rapper stuff is really revisionist.

Anonymous said...

nice post. as someone who adored pac growing up, I gotta agree with this post. Not so vehemently though, but I agree nonetheless. I kinda realized as i got older (or as i realized I had no quotables that I could remember from his catalogue), that he wasn't the greatest rapper. He was proficient, and his delivery was passionate. His passion and overall charisma had a lot to do with why he remains mentally inscribed within the black and hip hop community. Who wouldnt be proud of having an articulate speaker for their generation?that being said, dude isnt the myth that a lot of documentries make him out to be and his iconic status and badass outlaw image shouldnt rank over actual skills in the hip hop canon. I mean, James Dean was badass too..but lets not pretend like he was one of the greatest actors ever -jaykay

Jay Smooth said...

Pac was a B- emcee, maybe B at best when it comes to the basics of emceeing, nothing new or revisionist about acknowledging that.

Pac was one of the most important artists we've had, but if anything it was *despite* his technical skill level, rather than because of it.

I miss Pac's presence way more than I miss Biggie's, but I listen to Biggie's records way more than I listen to Pac's.

Christopher said...

DocHephaestus- I can also add, though he only had one flow, Pac's flow was ridiculous.

A good example is the Dave Chappelle Lost Episodes sketch where Dave's in the club, and a "new" Pac record is played by ?uestlove. But it's Dave imitating Pac. The imitation as dead fucking on though, which tells how distinct his voice and flow was (The first verse on "Amerika's Most Wanted" is one of those moments.)

Christopher said...

Jay- Whoa, I dig IllDoctrine so I immediately went "Oh shit, Jay Smooth commented".

I remember in 11th grade, our statistics teacher (who worked on the school staff and just moonlighted for the class) brought up the argument that BIG would've fallen off eventually, and analyzing the Jiggy era, that's probably true. BIG might've fallen off but remained King of NY and etc, but had Pac not died, he might've put out a true classic and matured a lot, since I can't think of something sadder than being sonned by Maya Angelou.

I have a short list of people I'd bring back if I could. Aaliyah, Cobain, Pac, BIG, Freddie Prinze, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, for not only being tragic and untimely deaths but me feeling like their end left serious "What If?" Marvel Comics-type shit open.

Anonymous said...

I agree with doczues. Christopher.. you said you think that 16-17 of his songs are great, right? I would say the same about Micheal Jackson (just my opinion). How many artists have 16-17 songs that a critic such as yourself think are great? Not many. And in my opinion, Tupac was more passionate, genuine, and real about his experiences than most. (In my opinion All). Also, he might not have been the most lyrical artist but you can't deny he had talent. He deserves credit for that. You can't call anyone the greatest.. that's just a matter of opinion, but I do think he deserves respect where respect is due. And 1 last thing.. Not all fans of Tupac are conspiracy theorists and out of touch with hip-hop. The majority of those are young, wannabe white boys. I'm white, so don't call me racist and I act white so dont call me a wannabe. Like Christopher, I enjoy all quality music. But I disagree with him. I consider Tupac's music to be quality. I do agree that most hip-hop today is NOT HIP-hop but CLUB-hop. Tupac falls into the category of HIP-HOP.