Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Record Report

Ramblings Post #75
The year 2009 draws to a close, and I'm slowly coming to grips with not being a kid anymore. Don't get me wrong, even in my lumpy form in ill fitting clothes driving my Road Hazard Turbo 05' I still am the recipient of the occasional glance of the young chippie. That or they've mistaken me for their father. In either case, it means age is just a number. A big number, but just a number.

One of the many signs of old age is when you think the current music is horrible, and that they they don't like they used to "back when I was growing up" . And this may be the case for me, as lately music...well, the more popular rap music of today, seems to have taken the term "quality control" to new heights, or lows depending on your point of view. This little tirade was prompted when listening to the radio this morning on the way to work, Jay Z's new single, the one about New York, came I changed the station...and then Jay Z's new single came I changed the station, again....and then Jay Z's new single came I changed the station, again again....and then Jay Z's new single came I turned to the gospel station.

As you may or may not have guessed, I'm not a big Jay Z fan. I think the last song of his that I liked was "I Just Wanna Love Ya" in 2000.

Don't even get me started on the mess that is Lil Wayne.

And if I as a consumer have no interest in the two "hottest" rappers in the game, then maybe it's just that I'm getting old and this is just a sign of the times.

And you would be wrong.

I like a lot of "new" rap. Atlanta's own Gucci Mane's "Wasted" I found catchy before they played into oblivion. Kanye's "Big Ego" was quirky but likable, I just got turned on to Fred the Godson (though he is a little gangsta for my usual tastes) and Blitz the Ambassador , so I do like some of the new stuff. Even Officer Ricky (Rick Ross) is okay. But these guys? Well....

Jay Z lucked out, then I guess worked that good fortune to his benefit. That good fortune being that the rap game was bereft of any talent or heat in the late 90's. And Wayne gets by on image and inertia. He has the prototypical "rapper" look that makes us mad when suburban white kids emulate it, yet "we" celebrate it. The thing about these two "rappers" that bothers me the most is that according to them neither can be bothered to put pen to paper prior to walking into the studio. And their songs sound like it.

Jigga is at least practiced at freestyle to some degree, but his rhymes have a Flavor-aid feel to them, as opposed to authentic Kool-aid. Instead of the complex construction that is the NY norm, this Rockafella original comes across as light in the cookies, but with good production. In a subgenre that places heavy emphasis on wordplay, Jay to me appears to be a really popular middleweight, and not a heavyweight.

Wayne on the other hand, just needs to stop. That latest thing currently in heavy rotation for no reason in which he laughs between lines is so bad, it's gone on through back around to good and then back to bad again. At least that Jay Z song I don't like has a loose theme - very loose - but Wayne just appears to be in the studio messing around. The single is almost like one of those old time skits rappers used to put on the albums to deflect all the gunplay and being black angst they displayed. Not that I'm hating that you can just throw something together and get paid, but as the theoretical consumer, I don't appreciate being insulted either. And that's what that is...insulting.

For the record, the last Lil Wayne song I liked was "Stuntin' Like My Daddy", although his wordplay is horrible there as well, the beat is killer.

The occasional one off that is nonsensical or just pure braggadocio is okay, even expected in the rap game. A continuing series of them quickly becomes tiring. Over several years it becomes wearisome. In a four minute song we're talking about roughly two minutes of rap...or three scores of sixteen bars, not including chants and general screaming into the microphone... not a whole lot of writing. And it's not like either one of them are "battle rapping", so I don't really see the big thrill.

Maybe I'm just getting old. But more likely, I'm not.

Barkeep. For old times sake, a Schlitiz Malt Liquor Bull and bag of pork skins...

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