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Monday, November 30, 2009

Album Review - Birdman - Priceless

I took a little hiatus, been tired lately, I probably need to work out, and this isn't the ideal to return to blogging with, a review of Birdman, nee Baby's, latest album, Priceless. Honestly, there isn't going to be much to do because knowing Baby you already know what the album is going to be about. It's like listening to the Ross or 50 Cent album, there is always that inkling that maybe, just maybe there will be a surprise in there somewhere.

That said, you already know Birdman will be talking about Balling, Getting Money, and being a real gangster that gets said Money. Look at the first five track titles: "Been about Money", "Money to Blow", "Money Machine" and "Priceless". Honestly, this shit is sickening. The idea that all Baby think,s or cares about is just the accumulation of money for no other purpose than to just have it is ludicrous and endemic of the problems facing our youth. Even the 6th song "Bring it Back" features the word "money" in the chorus more than anything else.

One of the biggest problems during this first half of the album is that Birdman has too many solo songs. Now I don't believe for one second that Baby is writing any of the words coming out of his mouth, but the songs need something else when it comes to the verses other than Baby's static delivery and more than Wayne using auto-tune on the hook every single time. When it's not wayne, it's Drake who sounds like he is using the auto-tune himself. Listening to "4 My Town" you can tell they are recycling bars as the hook features wayne saying "see me faded off the brown", sound familiar?

Musically, you can say the songs are solid, they are exactly what ou expect, the beats fit in with the current style but as a whole they blend in, especially with the hooks having the same feel every time, however, "Hustle" featuring Gudda and Lil Wayne is downright terrible and annoying. "Mo Milly" attempts to make up for it as Drake spits a decent verse and the beat changes the tempo somewhat and Bun B is the most unique voice on the entire LP. The failed crossover/pop/rock attempt "I want it all" with Kevin Rudolf should have been scrapped. The album ends with the "Always Strapped remix" which is nice and old.

Overall this album hits its target right on the nose. Baby is one-dimensional and boring as an artist, and the success of the label has Wayne, Drake, and Baby complacent and not even thinking about attempting to stray from their formula. That's probably best for them. For me, it's a headache.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Even more bad rapping

Honestly, I know my man Knowledge of the Union commented on my last post in reference to the twerk team video but I have one that's even worse for you and everyone else out there. I present to you Isiah:

Now this first part of the video is actually just garbage. Another wack ass song on how you're real and other niggas aren't. The second part manages to be even worse because you end up seeing more dudes in an "uncut" ass shaking video than women. Dirty looking dudes too talking about how much they put in "Twizerk". WTF is going on people?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's too easy to be a rapper now

Now let me tell you this, on the one hand the computer explosion and internet revolution have made it great for truly talented people and artists to get exposure to the masses on a shoestring budget. However, at the same time it has removed some of the barriers that kept the riff-raff from entering the game, wasting space, time, resources, and dividing the precious attention of the fans. Let's take a look at some of the offenders.

Mowett Ryder:

Strippers should not be allowed to rap. Especially if they are rapping about thugging it in the streets, sounding bad, and stopping in the middle of talking about killing you to shake their ass. That's just like a junkie rapping about politics while stopping to smoke crack. I don't believe you you need more people.

Twerk Team:

You may know them from youtube cause you searching out booty videos or one of my first blogs on watching what your kids are doing while they have time alone on the computer, one thing is for sure, these girls should not be rapping. It's crazy when a group of people says instead of making t-shirts to make a buck off of our H-list celebrity status, they decide to make music that serves no purpose.

Lola Luv:

This video chick seems like she actually could have potential, problem is she wants to stick with this "Boss bitch" talk instead of actually talking about life. She is a baller, whips bentleys and has fendi bags out the ass, why the fuck are you rapping then?

Wacka Flocka Flame:

this is the first and last time I will ever put something up from Wacka Flocka because this will be taken as good publicity just to be talked about.

Hip-hop fans we really need to stand up and dig through the garbage to find the diamonds that are hidden amongst them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Im not into gimmicks

By now if you hit the blog semi-regularly you would have picked up on the trend by reading. Maybe I need to get into depth on it and explain why it is some of your favorite rappers end up on my shit list. It's because they cover up deficiencies in their lyrics with excessive use of gimmicks.

Hip-hop has been around a minute and my theory on why it seems to suck and have no variety right now on the radio is easy to understand but people don't like to admit it because it shows or they think it shows that they aren't smart. The most popular artists now say thing sin the most simple manner. Gucci, Plies, Jeezy don't make their verses complex and colorful with methaphors and similes. Listeners have become lazy. 50 Cent made a statement where he said NY hip-hop had gotten so complex that you had to do things like tell a story backwards to impress people. He is right. Also, NY dominated the radio for so long that everything began to sound the same, just like now.

This is why Snoop and the West Coast were able to blow up nationally. It was a different sound and it was still palatable to the youth of the East Coast who were looking for something that stood out. The same thing happened when Master P and his No Limit Soldiers put New Orleans and basically the entire South on the map. They sounded like nothing else that was out. The same thing with Nelly and his rise in St. Louis.

Today, with the proliferation of rappers, there are way too many, it becomes hard for people to stand out amongst all of the noise they make. It becomes paramount to have a unique voice to stand out because true lyricism is lost these days. The new rap style involves more simple punchlines that are liberally sprinkled in amongst boasts of balling and buying the bar and cars. It is only natural that some people who have unique sounds stand out amongst the crowd thats fine. However I do have a problem with those who just plain have a lack of lyricism like Jeezy and get their popularity from the fact they have ad-libs that work very well. Anyone remember on Making the band when Puff said the secret to hot songs was the ad-libs and overdubs? He was more than right, where would Jeezy be without his trademark 'yeeeaaaahhh'?

More and more instances abound, Lil Wayne who is overrated, cops out on his lackluster verses by using auto-tune or making some silly ass sounds instead of concentrating on making bars that go with the song and make sense. It has rubbed off on Drake, who has a terrible voice, who randomly 'sings' parts of his verses and naturally sounds like a damn auto-tune. Nicki Minaj who actually had some decent bars, but too often she resorts to just raising her voice for something that isn't even slick, or making a face, which adds nothing to the actual song.

Now look to artists like Common who doesn't do things like that yet always comes consistent with hot bars that make sense but gets over-looked except by the natural hair set because he doesn't cheapen his verses with immature sounds and noises. I sound like an elitist and to some extent I am because it is annoying when people claim an artist is hot when the content isn't there but because of something in the delivery. There are artists who really deserve to make it on more delivery but those are the DMX's and Tupacs who have a real passion for what they are saying. Nelly and Plies really shouldn't get that pass.

For myself it's a disturbing trend where people are doing anything just to get attention but once they get it, they don't add anything to the story that hip-hop is supposed to tell. Look at Soulja-boi, what does he add to your understanding of life through his music? Is that everyone's job, no, but when you're not making party music what are you talking about? Hustling and selling crack is no longer good enough and it isn't cool to cover up the fact you have nothing to talk about with things that will take everyone's attention off of the fact that you have nothing worth saying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Album Review-50 Cent- Before I Self Destruct

Between beefs 50 cent does record albums. Lately, raps bad guy has thrown jabs at Jay-z, and more hooks to Rick Ross and Fat Joe in preparation for the release of his latest album, Before I Self Destruct.

Some people say that 50 has fallen off but his music has remained consistent and relatively the same since he came out. The biggest problem other than the lack of advancement in subject matter, is that his first album was so much of a classic that he can never top or regain that momentum again. His return does mark a return to some griminess from NY and the hard sound he is known for while not seeming like a Rick Ross fantasy lifestyle.

"The invitation" and "The Days Went by Me" are solid hard hip-hop tracks that showcase Fif's trademark style of basically speaking about his life on record. "Death to my Enemies" is the return to the slick-talking 50 Cent that took down Ja Rule. The album starts strong and hard (pause and no homo) and bangs in the whip especially.

"Crime Wave" which was featured on this blog previously is one of my favorite joints on the album. I would have loved to hear Jay-z spit over something like this on BP3 to really show some life, he didn't and 50 doesn't disappoint over a serious track. "Strong Enough" is decent enough but the song seems tired by this point in the album and "Stretch" is a stretched attempt to extend the feel of Crime Wave and talk about the drug trade and 50's expertise in such.

I also like "OK You're Right" which is near the end of the album, amongst 50's grouping of singles like the Ne-yo assisted "Baby By Me" which should be a serious smash. If it isn't, it will prove the industry is motivated not by music but by public perception and popularity even amongst its stars. "Do You think About Me" is also a good single which will most likely have a video soon.

The problem is there is a lot of inconsistent moments in the album. "Could've been You" with R. Kelly could have been left off the album truthfully. "I Got Swag" had potential within the hook, however the song doesn't attack the idea that he starts with like I would have liked. I also don't appreciate 50 jumping on the "swag" bandwagon this late in the game. The hook would have been better with Yayo doing the second part of it. "Get it Hot" and "Gangstas Delight" are downright bad songs.

"Hold Me Down" is a rehash of 50 treating his gun like a woman. Been there, done that, remember "My Buddy" from the G-unit album? that was better. "Psycho" featuring Eminem could and should have been better just because 50 needed that song to be a real highlight. "So Disrespectful" is classic 50 going at the icons and saying what no one has the balls to say, however, it comes off as very contrived and forced as the attempt to inflame that it is.

Overall 50 has some tough NY style production for the most part and it's one of the things he excels at. He has several good songs but the misses really hurt because 50 needed to come close to making "The Massacre" at the very least. I also lament the fact Banks and Yayo didn't make the album which is a travesty. Having Lloyd B drop a couple of verses could have saved some songs and Yayo's energy could have definately saved a couple more and brought the rating up. I didn't like the last 2 from 50 and this one is a slight disappointment probably because I wanted it to be a banger.

Rating: 3/5 (but not better than Royce da 5'9 Street Hop)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are Southern Rappers Scared of beef?

Let's be clear this is not talking about actually going into the streets and shooting each other, but beef as in making diss tracks about other rappers. Now this was another topic by my man NC-17 as he asked why East Coast rappers make diss records while Southern rappers make hits. I'll address the aspect of beef right now.

It's false. Southern rappers diss and have beefs just as much as anyone else with the exception of Lil' Wayne who is such a massive fraud that the public overlooks all of the obvious lies he tells so what is the point in even bringing it up? For the rest of them there have been plenty of disses. Jeezy and Gucci Mane beefing since "So Icey" was released. TI getting ate by Ludacris on the "unreleased" version of Stomp by Young Buck. Trick Daddy throwing shots at Plies and Rick Ross. Rick Ross going after 50 Cent hard. Fat Joe who is a southern artist now going at 50 cent. Juvenile, Turk, and B.G. throwing shots at Baby and Cash Money. There is plenty of beef in the South to go around.

The thing is since they also have a bunch of catchy songs and the dominant radio spins what we end up hearing is the party, crunk songs and nothing that would show their content, or lack of. Honestly I come across as a Southern rap hater. That's not the case but because thats more of what gets pushed out and exposed to the masses I listen and critique and I have not been impressed with much music period. There are too many rappers and not enough things to say so one guy with a catchy beat gets on and blows up but has nothing behind it.

The diss record is a huge part of the game. As 50 Cent has said repeatedly, Hip-hop is the most competitive art form and thus much more aggressive. Beef records are the outright expression of that. This was great before the internet where a guy would record a song it would play on the "rap show" on radio, hit the mixtapes and bubble for a while. The subliminal shots in every verse on other tracks would be scrutinized and analyzed for at least a week before you heard a response which had to be tough because you only got to do it once.

The internet changed all of this because now within hours your joint will be online and distributed along with 8 interviews where you talk about it. The next day a response will be out and the content gets rushed and watered down which is the trend. But I'm rambling a bit. The real question now is why is it that the South makes hits and no where else is getting any type of airplay or love...that's another issue for another blog...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nicki Minaj makes excuses...

Now I meant to write or talk about the BET hip-hop awards cipher but other things came before it. However, thanks to Nicki Minaj, I remembered to talk about it. First, let me address what she is talking about in this next clip.

She whined for a while but then she gets to the point that people weren't just saying that oh your verse was written. The problem was that her shit was performed. It didn't even look natural. I mean she had a dude hand her a cigarette on cue. Let's look:

Now no doubt, her verse was not the wackest one. Crown Royyal or whatever takes that honor. Buckshot wasn't great but he freestyled his verse as well like KRS from what Nicki says. But in the end that's not the reason people called the verse wack. The second reason other than the props was the gimmickery (I know that's not a real word) of raising her voice which she does in like every verse that I hear.

Contrast that to Budden who downplayed his verse but had a bevy of quotables such as: "just got the truck customized got a meaner grill told Baby just being real/ leave or get balls in your mouth I spoke to her like Serena will"

Can we guess who that was toward?

Hmmmm, was that toward me?

Then let's look at this cipher which was the main event.

Nicki stop bitching, take notes and stop being a Lil Wayne clone. You were hot because you were your own person.

Is a Hit song a Good song?

Now this stems from something my man NC-17 sent to me on twitter asking about South rappers making hit songs. It got me to thinking does a song that ends up being a smash always have to be a good song. The answer simply is no. The reason's why are a little different.

First of all, this is one of those personal things for the most part. If you don't like the song for the most part you are not going to think it's good. That's my issue, I don't understand why people support some songs to the extent that they do on a personal level. The radio is a business and the best songs are not always going to get played because the best artists don't have the biggest budgets and/or the support of major labels to get airplay.

When it comes to music and especially hip-hop if you don't have a set criteria on how you judge music in the end you cannot have a discussion about it. Today most of the rap music that gets played is based 80% around the beat and 15% on the ability to be repeated and understood. The topic and lyrics of the actual song are secondary to most listeners. For me myself, a good song cannot just have a "rocking" beat which is what people say when they know that a song isn't good but cannot help to like it. I know because I do it. Most people would not actually say that "Turn My Swag On" was a good song but it did rock to them. For me "Wasted" rocks off except for Plies' part because I refuse to support Dr. Algernod.

Peer pressure and constant radio/club spins also make the songs that aren't 'good' into 'hits'. It is a proven fact that the more something is played the more support it will end up getting just because after a certain time for the majority of people most songs will be able to finally grow on them or not sound as bad as the initial listen. Need examples, check Nelly, check Soulja Boi, T-Pain, Chris Brown. All of these guys have limited abilities however, the marketing got them over the top and established.

So why aren't all good songs hits? that's a harder question for me to get into because I just don't know why some technically sound songs don't get a street buzz. Why don't good singers like Jaheim get out of adult contemporary purgatory when he has the voice and ability to be the next Luther Vandross? Yet the Dream who has made an entire career of being off-key one of the 'hottest' singers in the game? Why does Talib Kweli have to toil in the semi-underground when Gucci Mane is on the radio every 15 minutes. Even when Kweli has had songs that were radio-friendly types he didn't get that amount of burn...but we'll get into that later...tell me what you think, must a hit song be considered a good song?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spike vs Tyler

Now the funniest part about this entire debate is how old it is. There has been a growing group of people (like myself) who are not fans of Tyler Perry's work for various reasons. Now let me be honest I only have liked X and He Got Game from Spike Lee so it's not like I am a big fan of his either. Beyond understanding his point I empathize with him and his anger.

You see the first thing people say is that "Spike is hating" or "Spike is jealous". That is because they are uninformed. Watching more educated or should I say aware people try to resolve this conflict without picking a side is hilarious because it can't really be done. The common idea is that Spike can't make the money that Tyler Perry makes or that he is jealous because his films don't get that kind of money. how many people have thought that maybe Spike holds his film making to a higher standard and won't do what Tyler does just for money.

This parallels hip-hop in many ways. You have a large number of artists who don't have any business rapping because they actually don't care about making good music. Then you have an artist like a Nas who takes the extra time to put into making every song, verse, and bar count to the fullest. Why wouldn't this person be mad when they put forth the extra time and effort into their product or job (just to relate it to everyday people like you and me) and get overlooked when someone else shucks and jives and gets the love, promotion, and accolades.

Back to the original topic, I can say that Tyler has had some amazing accomplishments. He has created an empire from nothing even though it is very similar to the coonery of Amos and Andy in some regards. His ability to make some big business moves is to be commended, however, his characters are often generic caricatures of the same old stereotypes in every movie and television episode. The lessons are stale and generic as well and the movies always seem to emasculate men and paint them as the villain.

Spike Lee on the other hand is too smart for his own good sometimes, hitting you over the head the message and smothering you with it so that you cannot breathe at times. That and that damn dolly camera shot of someone walking down the street in every freaking movie can be very, very annoying as is his habit of showing up on screen himself in a bit part with a poignant role in the story-telling process.

Now the final thing I want to address is the idea that Spike should call Tyler Perry and tell him how he feels in private. Honestly, the idea of Spike making the statement is not to change how Tyler Perry makes his movies and his money, but to change the public's view and to open the debate as well as their minds. The problem is never that Tyler makes those movies, it is that the public, especially the black public, runs out to support comedy and entertainment that is silly and stereotypical and not that which has the depth of a Spike Lee. Look at tv. There aren't any serious black dramas on because we don't watch them. The only black movies that get made are drug sagas with an action twist and slap-stick comedies usually involving a drug deal gone bad or a man in drag.

Until we as a people start to support a variety of films, there will seem like there is only room for one person to represent us and that is wrong and what Spike is fighting against.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beanie Sigel - Jay-Z skirmish....

Now this is what I have to say about it. Honestly this is more because of a twitter conversation I had on Saturday morning. The fact of the matter is Jay is most likely a serial user, there is a definate pattern here. I had one of the participants talk about Beans' accusations and speaking about what happened as just part of business.

That last sentence may be hard to understand. Let's recap: Sigel releases a "diss" track called "Not Your Average Cat" addressing what he felt were shots in the Blueprint 3 and other feelings that were on his chest. He later went on Charlamagne's radio show in Philly to clarify the lyrics. One of the main issues was that Jay-z didn't say he would be responsible so Beans could get out of jail on bail. The second is that he obviously felt they had a relationship that preceded their business dealings. Third, that Jay never really put his neck out there to help push the rest of the label and that it was Dame who set up Bean's deals that were somewhat lucrative to have a back-up plan as the Jay-z situation deteriorated.

Jay-z's rebuttal was that Beanie had a lot of opportunities and still squandered them and basically gave the hollywood round-about answer saying none of it was his fault.

Now one of the issues I'm looking at this is idea that whatever Jay-z does is alright because it is Jay-Z and it's okay because it's business. The problem with that is this idea that Jay befriended and was to take Beans under his wing and actually teach him some things about the game. In his interview Sigel refers to a classic Jay-Z line where he is said to be trying to hip him to game, not making him change (him being Beans). However, it turns out that it wasn't a conversation, but an admonishing because what Beanie was doing was jeapordizing Jay. "Hov" wasn't interested in protecting the career of his artist and friend but looking out for himself. On the one hand, you cannot blame a man for looking out for his best interests, but when the guy purports it as doing it for someone else you might feel a different way about it.

Businesses and capitalism do not have to be inherently wrong, evil, and manipulative. There is enough out there for everyone to get a piece but the problem is some become consumed by power and selfishness. Another quote in my conversations was:

No one makes $400+ million and not be accused of using people!! Its business!!

So is that saying it is okay to use people in the name of business? Not in my personal book and I'm not going to try too hard to convince you otherwise if you believe that it is ok. But a man whose image is built upon being the advocate for the other hustlers, the guy who looks out for his people who don't have anything cannot be the same person constantly being accused of using people and still maintain that image of being Robin Hood. Being accused also doesn't make you guilty automatically, however it doesn't mean that you're innocent either.

Business aside, Sigel is upset that throughout his time in jail he didn't hear from this guy who was supposed to be his friend. This is the same person who wouldn't vouch for him so that he could be out free. Fine, I can't fault Jay for that one. Beanie was reckless. To not call, write a letter, or visit however is unacceptable. This wasn't Puffy and Shyne. Then if you go back to the radio interview and Sigel talks about 50 Cent regularly being in the same jail to visit a relative when he was at the heights of his career truly adds insult to injury and is the real focus of his anger. Well that and the fact he used his new release to throw some shots at Sigel and the SP crew.

In the end, it's just another example of how the industry is a shady place. There is a lot we may never actually know. Jay talks about how Beans had a lot on the label, and he is right but it doesn't absolve Jay of his responsibilities as one of the principal owners of the label. More on this to come....


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