...Thurston Moore, in Punk:Attitude opined during the standard late 70's/80's NYC comparison between the adjacent development of punk and hip-hop as art/social movements that while the punk kids eschewed all material signifiers of wealth for myriad ideological reasons, hip-hop embraced and celebrated money and fat gold rope chains and all that shit. For a number of historical and sociological reasons, this was an insightful, if obvious, comment on the capitalist spirit that came to represent mainstream rap and is fully embodied, like Leviathan to government, by the Unitarian God MC, Jay-Hova...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
This Is Not The Matrix. But I Am The Oracle. "Do You Wanna Get With Me?" The Question Is Rhetorical.
Oh ho ho ho. Unfortunately a combination of being a college senior who suddenly gives a shit about being active on campus and a lingering aversion to sitting on my laptop and typing, rather than spending an hour going through youtube, StopAllMonsters, and the myriad channels of free amateur porn of girls who should know better than to trust any man in the digital age (word to anonib.com). I feared "blogger death" for a minute there, exacerbated by the fact that there's little to care or write about in music this year and my blogroll pretty much, with some minute differences, shares the same views or at least some semblance of it so the well ran dry around the time I went to Rock The Bells in August.
But now its October, and awakened by both my 21st birthday and the 1 year anniversary of this blog, I have a backlog of shit to exhume Or expound. Ex-somethin'.
Seeing as I'm now 21 and both boringly legal in the US and anything but appealing to marketers and the world at large, it's only fitting that the the remaining October posts will deal with age in hip-hop, or lack thereof and it's trapping and implications, including my own.
Let's get this out of the way.
Soulja Boy is a coon. This isn't judgment made out my approval of class warfare, socialist politics, latent afro-centrism/black nationalism, or a condemnation on the whole of materialism, it's an observable fact. Not because of his pop-rap for 12-year-olds and dancing, but because of his coon-ass behavior on Youtube on the daily. But he's the coon of the moment, or at least was since he seems to already have run out of the gas that "Yaah" afforded him, so it's not surprising that (Lil') Bow Wow, nee Shad Moss (really?) would go to him for tracks. Standard practice in hip-hop, even for producer/rappers like Kanye, is to remain pliant to whatever sounds are out there, and apparently after a bit of interaction with TI and Mike Jones and years being suspiciously at the behest of a certain form Whodini backup dancer/Janet Jackson enema carrier (because she keeps her shit regular, y'all) in Atlanta, Bow Wow began to refashion himself as a Southern rapper, or in reality, the "modern" Southern rapper as typified by Lil' Wayne, who essentially has all of the 00's NYC mixtape rapper cliches that Jay-Z cursed us all with (Whisper rapping, etc) but maintains all the things about characteristically less verbose and "speedy" Southern rappers that people like myself (and not DoctorZeus) love.
It's a logical and profitable move. It's an old hat to discuss relevancy versus financial stability versus artistic "credibility", but to be a rapper is to have to navigate that paradox of "Okay, I need to do this song with Lil'Wayne and T-Pain so the government doesn't repo my throwback jersey collection" versus "I'm gonna do whatever the fuck I like, fuck it I'll go on Koch and tour with Heltah Skeltah". Few can really do it, and the longer you stay around in any genre in general, the more criticism and derision is heaped unto you and people can see every flaw and loose seem in your image and shtick. One only has to look at Madonna, LL Cool J, U2 and Jay-Z to see what happens to people who become too successful and safe.
The source of Bow Wow's problem? About 10 years of kiddie star baggage, the same kind that reduced Lil'Romeo into a desperate Lil' Wayne rip-off (although Wayne's inflections come from Slick Rick, Andre 3000 and Snoop), prevents much in the way of image reinvention, especially considering there was and isn't anything remotely interesting or artistic about Lil' Bow Wow in the first place. In many respects, not to milk the comparison, he's the anti-Lil' Wayne. Not only did Wayne grow up without having to remind people he was growing up or make desperate bids like drop the "Lil'" from his moniker, but Wayne is unarguably interesting.
Also, in an age where we have a glut of great, but boring, rappers and terrible, but charismatic, rappers, Wayne managed to merge being interesting with having (sometimes) great lyrics. Although of late Wayne can only drop a 16 of note in freestyles.
Plus, Baller Blockin'> Like Mike.
This post was inspired by the video embedded above, which, I do actually like a lot, as well as Bow Wow's appearance on former hXc Hebrew/current manchild Pete Wentz's "F'n MTV". In it, he constantly insisted that he was trying to show how he was "grown up" and was going to stop making albums and start making films "like Will Smith". This was followed by a strangely robotic and pandering analysis of whether people will believe he was "all grown up" now by the impotent panel of talking heads employed on the show. The answer? Naw. Like most of the high school kids I used to run with in Brooklyn, he's really deluded and insecure, but that's made more tragic by the standard former child star attempts on his part to become something he's not, which is a person of substance within the field he's in. Catchy reworkings of "Going Back To Cali" with Omarion aside, dude is completely enslaved to the Scream Tour/106&Park/girls who don't actually enjoy music demographic. Even though he's currently being bolstered by increasingly catchy singles the last few years like say a Britney Spears, he lacks the star power to do anything with it. Realizing he's not a pop star but a kiddie rapper trapped in the BET chitlin' circuit, there's only one move to make, which is "respected rapper".
Motivated a self-serious pretension probably originating from his Napoleon complex, the kid is crippled by the fact that he's been a punchline for years. The same reason Marques Houston and Omarion would have trouble reaching the ubiquitous level of Usher is the same reason Bow Wow will never become the TI he thinks he is.
The best bet for someone like Bow Wow is to just become MC Hammer. Go all out and make an album full of catchy-as-shit pop songs akin to his recent singles and forget ever being taken seriously. Parachute pants and a cheap-ass G-Shock watch (what is this, 2001?) encrusted with diamonds.
That's a good look.At 22, that door closed a while ago. Being ill at 11 doesn't mean anything at this point. Biggie had already dropped Ready To Die, and Nas Illmatic by 22.
Or, he could just do the female pop star standard and become a gay icon and surf on disposable income for years.
This post is a tome to all the Foxy Browns, Lil'Zanes, Lil' Mamas, and Lil' Romeos that were put on the mic and quickly realized they had nothing to add. I'ma pour out a lil' bit of grape quarter water in the memory of your relevance.