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Thursday, December 30, 2010

You all really owe Suge Knight...

I know no one wants to like Suge Knight because he is the hip-hop Darth Vader. He intimidated people, killed Death Row, and possibly even some of the biggest rappers of our generation, but in all honesty, some of you people out there owe Suge right now. First of all, without Suge and his tactics there would have been no Death Row in all probability, and with it, no Snoop, the Dre we know and thus Eminem and 50 Cent and their lineages, nor would we have had All Eyez on Me and so much of the Pac legacy after jail.

That alone is enough to admit that Suge played a huge role in hip-hop history, and though everyone talks about how much they disliked the East Coast-West Coast beef, it brought out some good music, competitive spirit and was one of the more interesting times in hip-hop which we haven't had in a while. It also helped to shape the way we feel about Pac, Biggie, Puff, and Snoop in general. He also helped to drive the entire West Coast forward and when he and Death Row went down, so did that entire era. The main reason i thought about this was because of the popularity of  gang culture now, particularly that of the "Bloods".

Do you notice the color scheme going on here?

Now he didn't start gangs nor did he start gang culture in hip-hop. The West Coast artists were definately talking about it before Death Row began, but he is integral in bringing it to the mainstream and gathering acceptance. Snoop was the first huge Crip rapper who repped his colors as hard as he did and for a while he was the gang representative for L.A. . But as Death Row grew bigger, and Suge's celebrity began to shine brighter, so did the light on the "Bloods". Suge famously had everything in red from his office to his cars, well before today's most famous "Blood", Birdman.

See when Cash Money came out, Baby wasn't repping the B's at all. This dude was in the Big Tymer's videos wearing blue like it was nothing. Wayne is the same way. They weren't repping this gang shit until recently as it has become popular and acceptable, partially courtesy of the trendsetter, Mr. Suge Knight.

Just look right here at Suge co-signing 'blood' Wacka Flocka.

You see, before Snoop being in a gang was not acceptable for the most part. Today, you have everyone throwing up covert blood hand signs from Chris Brown to Ron Artest. (I'm no gang expert but that's what the rumor is). It's gotten so bad that every rapper I see with a red shirt on I wonder if they have turned to the gang-side. The Game, who is an avowed Blood, owes his ability to have a presence to Suge both for the dealings with Dr. Dre that led to Aftermath, and for making the color red so popular.

Though the proliferation of gangs across America and their promotion as if they are a positive aspect of society is not something I can be proud of hip-hop for, all of these artists who are benefitting from the controversy and popularity of being in a gang, or at the very least affiliated, have to give a nod to Suge Knight for being the first person to actively showcase the Blood lifestyle, even if he always issued public denials. That is the irony. While we all know that Marion 'Suge' Knight is a prominent Blood, he never outright acknowledged it, showing some modicum of respect and ability to show tact (though an insult to our intelligence) by never actually saying he was a gang member. Converesly, these new-age clowns are walking around brandishing the gang affiliation like it's a Nobel Peace Prize.

If I can editorialize a little bit more, these guys are all promoting a lifestyle that they do not have to actively participate in. At their income level and amount of fame they are kept above and beyond the fray of daily gang life and out of the hands of most danger. They are making being a gang member cooler, but the people who actually are joining at the street levels of the gang have no such protections. They are constantly in danger and are much more likely to be killed in those same streets, pushed and prodded to continue by music that 'encourages' the violent lifestyles that they lead. It's a lack of responsibility that angers me.

I'm not really going to talk about the gang lifestyle, because I don't know enough gang members to know or truly understand why they do it, I can tell you that in general it definately isn't something that I can endorse or get down with. To see how many artists are now repping different sets is troubling, especially when they haven't always been showing such memberships. However, what i do see is that before Suge and Death Row, this wasn't all as popular.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making songs for the women or towards women....

I know the title of this post might seem confusing at first glance. I mean everyone knows if you want to sell records you gotta make songs for women because they buy records, they go to clubs and they get it popping. What do you mean by songs "towards" the women? I'm going to explain in detail but let's break down the idea we're talking about here.

One of the more famous Tupac quotes is the one where he says you have to make songs for the women (I'm paraphrasing here because I can't find it on youtube)because the women buy records, and the niggas gonna buy whatever the women like. Following this theory, every rapper before and since has put out what you might call, a chick track. A Chick track is basically a song that is aimed squarely at the female consumer, it's usually slower, softer, and less aggressive in nature. Additionally, the hooks are often sing-songy or just with a singer altogether.

Nelly might be the king of making this type of song. Now there is a difference I think in what Tupac was syaing. If you ever listen to "Brenda's Got a Baby" or "Keep Ya Head Up" these songs are made for women. They celebrate their achievements, downplay, excuse, or attempt to explain the flaws of the way they lead their lives. This song isn't so much to make women dance and want to party, but for them to have a voice. Female artists like Eve also make these songs:

Now we all have a fondness for these songs, but they are the not the huge runaway success that songs which are marketed, or made towards women. Look at this next video:

Women are loving this song even though Wacka, Wale, and Roscoe don't make any attempt to relate to them. In fact, while not being the worse at this mind you, they spend their time degrading women and telling them the different ways to bounce their ass. I guess it's like that Chris Rock joke where he says women listen to this and go "he's not talking about me". Then who is he talking about?

Truth of the matter, women are just like men who listen hip-hop. They don't  really want to hear about their lives anymore. They don't want to know that you relate or can make a song that forces them to possibly relive a moment that wasn't stellar in their lives. They want to fantasize and get away from the daily grind of an actual life. Just look at the rappers in the top of sales, airplay, and popularity and you will see that those who provide this escape are at the top of the charts. Especially, when they make songs that are more-so aimed at the female demographic. Why do you think songs like Dear Mama and Keep Your Head Up aren't as prevalent today?

Monday, December 20, 2010

T.I. = Pac ?

So T.I. apparently is the latest artist to try and compare himself to Pac (a topic I have to get started on really soon). This is going to be a comparison and attempt to answer if that really makes sense. So first let's look at the arrest records.

Pac is a controversial figure, whose attitude almost started riots at points throughout his career but the first major arrest altercation was in Atlanta in 1993 when he had a shootout with two off duty police. The incident involved alcohol, bad attitudes and lots of bad judgement but in the end no one ended up facing charges. Then the most infamous incident, which ended up throwing him in prison, was the rape conviction in New York. The story, a woman alleges that Pac and his entourage sexually assaulted and 'gang banged' her. Tupac said he was asleep and had no knowledge of what might have happened.

Tip on the other hand has a much longer rap sheet. However, a lot of his problems stemmed from issues before he reached stardom. In 2004, he went to prison for violating probation stemming from 1997. He was simultaneously on probation for possession and firearms charges from 1998 and some other 'small' offenses. Some of which included an 'assault' at a Tampa, Florida mall, and suspended license charges in Georgia. All of these pretty much added on increments of time to his previous probation until he was famously arrested before the BET awards in 2007 for attempting to buy guns and silencers from federal agents. He did about a year in jail and was home for about 5 good months before he was once again arrested, this time in LA on drug possession charges in violation of the law and his federal probation.

Musically, Pac has a lot going on. His fans tend to be more ardent than most, and I do like a lot of his music, btu I'm not a rabid fan as much as others. However, he has some serious classics from "Keep Your Head Up" to "Brendas Got a Baby". While all of his music wasn't as socially conscious, "Hit Em Up" is an example, he had a greater proportion of songs of that nature that were wildly successful. His ability to reach out to the streets and make them feel included while at the same time attempting to uplift overshadowed his lack of classic lyricism. He was the first major artist to create that serious emotional connection with his listeners.

T.I. is more of a 'swagger' rapper now in that the majority of his songs are more about how fly he is though he has ability to craft strong singles. However, songs like "Live in The Sky", "Dead and Gone", and "Live Your Life" do have a resonance with those who are living the street lifestyle and are trying to just survive. As a repeat offender and underdog, he uses his charisma and charm to overcome his own lack of lyrics and draw you in. Personally, the fact that he always manages to try and add in a song letting the youth that follow him know that that his path isn't necessarily the one they should be following is one thing I always respected about the self-proclaimed "King of the South".

There is something different though. Look at T.I.'s charges and you will see a pattern of petty self-inflicted wounds that have hampered his growth as a man and his career. Rather, they actually show how he hasn't grown as much as he would have liked us to think. After dodging a sentence that should have effectively sent him to prison for 20 years he comes out and not even a year later ends up violating for simple drug charges. For someone who is supposed to be a criminal mastermind who managed to 'run a drug cartel' of sorts (listening to the raps and claims there is no paper evidence in my possession-just want to make that clear) to make the same mistakes continuously in mind-boggling. The carelessness in which he tried to acquire weapons right before an awards show is also hard to fathom. Conversely, Pac's charges were not as much of a reflection on his own actions but that of the friends he kept. His also seem to be more reactionary in the physical sense while his words may be more incendiary.

Then there is the music, point blank, Tip's catalog cannot compete with Pac's when it comes down to content. The overall depth of Tupac's music is much greater than TI although TI does at least make an attempt unlike many of his contemporaries. Tupac had party tracks but even they weren't as glitzy as today's music.

My point is this, T.I., you are not Tupac and I never heard that until you yourself made the comparison. I understand why everyone wants to be held in that high esteem but not many people could ever fit the bill. While T.I. and Pac both share an uncanny charisma and ability to connect with the streets while seeming to have the sense to try and teach or give something back to young people. They also explain the urban life an environment more than their peers. T.I. did so in his "Road to Redemption" reality series that aired after his plea deal in his weapons case, and Pac in his numerous interviews. It seems that T.I. is more inconsistent with his message and though Pac varied wildly his overall quality was in the end, higher. So is T.I. like Pac? Possibly, but I wouldn't completely agree. Now this:


Just might be the better fit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Album Review- Redman-Reggie

Redman is pretty much a hip-hop legend. He is one of the most famous rappers from New Jersey, and one of the biggest smokers in hip-hop. He's even one half of hip-hops version of a buddy comedy with his buddy Method Man. Consistent he has been, and if you're a fan of his style, you would not ever be displeased, though his albums have tended to be long winded and rambling in nature. Much like Ghostface, Redman is still of Defjam and can secure release dates without much in the way of a budget.

The album has a simple intro, which showcases the overall clean production in the cd, compared to the more funky beats that normally accompany Red. "That's Where I Be" featuring DJ Kool is more of the general Redman random rap, which ironically is more popular than ever thanks to artists like Lil Wayne. The album has plenty of features, including plenty of New Jersey area underground stalwarts like Saukrates, Ready Roc, and Runt Dawg on "Full Nelson" which has a nice drum kick but one of the most annoying auto tune hooks this side of Ron Browz. Saukrates is also on "Lemme Get 2" where Redman actually talks about his life as a celebrity, traveling and going out and not about smoking. Smoking isn't left out as evidenced by "Lite 1 Witcha Boi" with Method Man and Bun B, and the song actually doesn't suck. Kool Moe Dee is on "Rockin wit da Best" and Faith Evans is featured on "All I Do" which are both about Redman and his place in Hip-hop.

The single, if any, is "Defjammable" a typical Redman track both in feel, beat, and lack of subject matter. "Cheerz" features Melanie Rutherford and Ready Roc again talking about hip-hop. "Mic,Lights, Camera, Action" has a decent chorus but it isn't really about anything. "Tiger Style Crane" is the same typical Redman spit lyrics over beat and repeat. "When the Lights Go Off" is another boring track as is "Lift It Up" even though it has a generic but energetic Southern beat behind it.

Overall, Redman is his normal self. His album suffers from the lack of movement/progression, and is more some songs thrown together. This is the Redman style but it has grown old long ago. His similes lack freshness and the amount of features that are just like him leave a lack of flavor on the album.

Rating: 1.5/5

Check this out over at Madconceptz...

A fellow blogger over at Madconceptz made an interesting post about Nicki Minaj called Is Nicki Minaj coming at the end of Female MC prominence in hip hop? Now I have to say I was thinking of doing an article similar to this and I still might, but this one is definately worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

Breaking it down in 5 year periods (80-85,85-90,90-95-95-00 etc) you can actually chart the growth and progression of female rappers in the music. Like Bonnie with Clyde, female rappers have been on the scene since the beginning with Lady  B being the first solo female rapper to record a studio record in 1979. Even then she was not alone as there was The Funky Four + One More, the one more being Sha Rock. Funky Four was the first rap group to feature a  female MC.  But women really came into mainstream hit charting prominence by the mid 80s. With Roxanne Shante, Salt N Pepa and L' Trimm. By the late 80s those numbers grew with new performers like Monie Love, J.J.Fad and Queen Latifah being the most prominent but by no means the only ones of that time. The 90s saw the biggest explosion of female rappers in Hip-Hop ranging from Nikki D and Yo-Yo in the early 90s to Lauren Hill and Lil Kim  in the mid 90s to Eve and Rah Digga in the late 90s. Again these ladies weren't the only ones shining throughout those years. There wasn't a time in that decade where no less than four or five women were charting hits in both of the 5 year periods (90-95, 95-00). But its after the turn of the century where we began to see a sharp decline. As I said earlier, every so often in a five year period or so there's been an introduction of new female rappers that in essence, take the reigns from the previous class and advances the music further. And usually that new class comes in clusters or groups. You can look at any five year period in Hip-hop and see at least 3 or 4  new faces (or groups) emerging.

But after 2000, there seemed to be less and less new female faces. Most of the mainstream hit makers of the early and mid 2000s were from veteran rappers of the previous decade like Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina and Rah Digga. The few new faces that you did see didn't last long like Remy Ma, Jean Grae, Khia or Jackie O. And in the late 2000s particularly in the last year, two years the only prominent female name that's being heard in mainstream rap today is..Nicki Minaj. That's it.

What happened?

 Make sure you head over to his site and check out the post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Album Review- Twista- The Perfect Storm

So Twista is a rap O.G. . He is one of the first national artists from the Midwest who was also known as the world's fastest rapper. He's a guy whose rapid fire style can be hard to get with on a consistent basis. He has however achieved a reasonable amount of success since performing "Slow Jams" with Jamie Foxx and Kanye West, but never achieved true mainstream success.

This new album continues Twista's tradition of using album titles that involve the theme of destruction. Tha first song is "Darkness" with Dawreck, in a song with a classic beat for Twista to rip and he does a good job using his normal topics of guns and drugs. "Up To Speed" has a similar beat and Twista continues flowing at a high speed about how ill he is. While he doesn't use many metaphors or similes he manages to keep the 'lyricism' to a decent level. Lil Play is the guest on "I Do" with one of the distorted voice samples that seems like it would be found on a Ludacris album. He also moves away from his trademark flow, trying to break the sound of the album up to keep things fresh.

One thing Twista always does is dedicate a couple of songs to the women and this album is no exception. "2012" with Tia London is the same type, but only the overall theme is based around the idea that tomorrow is the first day of 2012. The first single from the album is "Make a Movie" with Chris Brown and its pretty much about making a sex tape. "Call the Police" with Ray J is also of the same type but it talks about the love making as a public disturbance, banging the wall so hard it sounds like domestic violence. it works well and Twista shines in this type of song. "Sweating" featuring Scotty is the least unique of these songs though all are only different within the hooks mainly, but this is the one to skip.

Twist's more thugged up raps come as well. "Back to Basics" is back to basic raps about being 'gangster' and the iller killer than the next man. "Hands Up Lay Down" features Wacka Flacka and "Cocaine" with Yo Gotti are trite songs that just serve to appeal to the core street rapper set. Especially the latter where Yo Gotti once again delivers the same tired type of rap about selling Cocaine. "Three Minute Murder" just fails to deliver overall as Twista tries to drop his lyrics on the listeners head.

Overall, it's a decent album from Twista, solid but not spectacular. His singles are a bit too safe and he follows the same format for the album. The beats are all too much alike, though he does vary his flow so that your head doesn't explode trying to keep up, using his skills in a good way when its time to keep you listening. Too much just sounds the same in the end for this to be a really successful album.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some things have to stop...

So a few years back, Beyonce sort of created something when she said that she has a different identity when she was performing, the now well known Sasha Fierce. She wasn't the first person to bring up the alternate personality thing, In hip-hop you had my man Tracey Lee with the album Maney Facez, which if you check me enough you know I like because I have referenced it several times. I'm also pretty sure it has been brought up behind the scenes to some extent. It's fine I guess, but I think now, people are trying to take it too far. T.I. is exactly the same as his alter ego "Tip" from what I can see. Now you have Nicki:

She claims to have several, basically for every type of punchline I guess. Nicki is the run of the mill, but that persona (who I thought was supposed to be her) is broken down into Barbie- when she makes the little girl voice, and Roman- a gay guy who is her aggressive voice. Now I guess it could possibly work if any of them actually stood on their own but when they are all intertwined within the same verse on a song, it just is a lame excuse for why you're switching things up in the song. You don't need to have all of these personas, especially since what they do in effect is cancel out the "real" Nicki by taking all of the edges of her personality away. Look, just let the shit go and stop it with the personality thing because countless girls are getting into their club gear, catching an attitude and then claiming to be be in "Barbie" mode or some other retarded shit. It's cool for you as an artist but remember there are regular people copying this shit and think it's just okay to be asinine like this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Album Review- Diddy Dirty Money- Last Train To Paris

So it's been well over a year since Last Train To Paris was supposed to be released. Remember "Angels" and the whole wtf factor for Puff when Jay-z released D.O.A.? Yeah it was that long ago so this album has been gestating for a long time and should be a banger, I mean it is Diddy right? But not necessarily, I mean the idea that Puff is going to spend parts of the album singing in auto-tune doesn't inspire much confidence.

Point blank, this album is party music, the first song is produced by Swizz Beatz and features Grace Jones vocals. The singing itself works. It's good solid r and b. The same with "Ass on the Floor" which is a good part song whose weakness is Puffy's verse. In Fact throughout the album, the weak point is Diddy himself. I especially like "Looking For Love" which features Usher. "Someone to Love Me" might be one of the few songs that Puff doesn't ruin or make skip-worthy.

Puff takes a page from kanye's book of overkill on "Shades" which features Lil Wayne, Justin timberlake, Bilal, and James Fauntleroy which accomplishes nothing for all of the talent assembled. Of Course, there is "Angels" which also features Rick Ross, and a totally out of place Biggie verse plus Puff on auto tune. Fail. "Strobe Lights" is the second song with Lil Wayne and it too doesn't find the sweet spot. "Hate You Now" would of course, be better if the ladies were allowed to carry the song by themselves. "I Know" with Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, and Seven of Richgirl is alright.

The strongest songs on the album all pretty much have been heard, "I'm Coming Home" is another song that almost over-exposes Puff but should have been the only other song he should have been on. "Loving you No More" with Drake is probably the best song on the album and shows where it could have been had it not been a forced ego-stroke of an LP. The album version of "Hello Good Morning" (wow this album has some old songs on it) only features T.I., and "Yesterday" with Chris Brown is decent too. Trey songz features on "Your Love" which has an outside chance to become a single though it is pretty explicit.

Look, this album is better than I thought by far. I am glad Puffy was pared back a lot but he is still too much of a part of this album. It's infuriating because it shows he can still direct and come up with a solid album but the thing is he needs to be directing and creating artists. This album has had 6 videos in the past 16 months, he has done every major show from SNL to American Idol to promote himself and this album. If I see one more damn Ciroc commercial I'm going to scream. Meanwhile, I couldn't even get to the Bad Boy website without being forced to watch the fucking Angel's video. It's this selfish shit that irritates me. Isn't Red cafe on the label? Janelle Monae? I mean what does it take to get something done over there other than having the last name Combs? If this album were from Danity Kane, or anyone else without Puff shoe-horning himself into the songs, it would be even better.

Rating: 2.5/5

Album Review- Sheek Louch- Donnie G Don Gorilla

So I'm backed up on reviews but I did get to listen to the latest solo effort by the third member of The Lox, my man Sheek Louch. Now most people are busy talking about how nice Jada is or how real Styles keeps it, but I've always preferred Sheek verses to either of them.

The album begins with the "Rhyme Animal" intro and Sheek's bars are sharper than they have been in the past. See he talks that goon street rap but it is more polished than his counterpart Styles and more realistic and original than Jada. "Get it Poppin" has a simple but good beat that brings you in with the bells it incorporates. Now subject matter, he's not breaking new ground, he's got money, runs shit, and holds it down etc, but this joint could get spin in a more moderate club. Now "Club Jam" with DJ Webstar also has a simple beat that has some decent drums and generic club rap but it doesn't fit the Sheek persona as much. "Party After 2" with Jeremih is the more 'mature' club song and though you can tell Sheek is trying for specific sounds instead of stumbling onto them naturally, it isn't a bad joint.

Caseley sings the hook on "Blood and Tears" which is the required street album song about making it and being a 'success' now. "Make Some Noise" is typical Sheek and features an average feature from Fabolous. "Out of the Ghetto" is the song about what it says, but Sheek lets a little thug emotion out you could say. The hook is handled by Kobe Honeycutt. Sheek takes it down south alongside Bun B with "Ol Skool" and "Nite Falls" is normal East coast rap, both of which just seem like filler. "Ready 4 War" is the same but the singing hook works and offers up a change of pace. Grimey classic hip hop with Jada, Styles and Bully is on "Dinner Guest" and the fact it is just what you'd expect is overlooked because Sheek has to have this on his album and the song is set up to keep you interested. The album ends with "Clip Up Reloaded" with Styles P and Jada for the streets. "Picture Phone Foreplay" with Kevin Cossum is the song most unexpected even though it isn't too big of a stretch for Sheek, the idea is a little more than I expect.

Now song wise, we all know Sheek has a small box within which he is going to work and he moves around that box with ease. I prefer listening to this than anything that Jada has put out recently. The songs with his Lox brothers are all strong and he manages to throw in some new sounds and tricks to keep the album from sounding like one long song too often. The beats definately hold Sheek down and while his lyrics are never going to wow you, they are more solid than you might think.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Album Review- Joell Ortiz- Free Agent

So Joell has been one of my favorite emcees for the past couple of years. He has blessed plenty of beats with his raw skills and even dropped a mixtape I liked where he rapped over classic tracks. However, I have been worried that he wouldn't be able to translate the lyrics into cohesive concepts for an album though I have been hoping the Slaughterhouse cd was a reflection of what he could do on his own.

Joell starts off just how you would expect with a straight up verse on "Intro" letting you know what you should expect. He does this again when he rips the sick beat on "Battle Cry" with line after line of fire. "Call Me" with singer Novel which was the lead single is where Joell shows he can make an actual song chronicling an adolescent relationship and he paints a vivid picture. On "Good man is Gone" Joell reminisces about some of the people no longer in his life.

He also goes with a themed track on "Cocaine" which is solid but nothing too original. That can't be said for "Checkin For You" where Ortiz adopts the persona of an old head dropping knowledge on a young dude in the club. The first listen was a little odd but it quickly grew on me. "Nursery Rhyme" doesn't really work for me, Joell just raps over the track and tries to make it stand out with unique pre-chorus' that use nursery rhymes. It's not a real hook on the song to speak of but the beat is funky. "Oh" is more of the same as is "Sing Like Bilal" though the beat for the latter is boring now, we've been hearing the same sounds for 15 years now let's give them a break. I enjoy "So Hard" even though the song doesn't have a real concept to it.

"Put Some Money on It" features the Lox and sounds like an older mixtape joint. It's a cool throwback but I found myself getting distracted multiple times throughout because the lyrics just didn't grab me though on this song they needed to. Fat Joe is featured on "One Shot (Killed For Less)" and does his normal coke rap thing and Joell has a little less personality and perspective on this song than he normally has. "Finish What You Start" with Royce da 5'9 on the awkward hook doesn't work because I just heard the verses on a freestyle Joell dropped on Toca Tuesdays with Tony Touch so it just sounds like I heard it.

(Something Like this needed to make the album)

My first couple of listens left me wanting more from the album. I have been waiting to hear Joell take some of the concepts he has applied to his freestyles over the past few years to his own project and he didn't completely come through. While he does do some good things liek "Good Man is Gone" and "Checkin For You" which come out of the expected box somewhat, I was more let down by "One Shot", "Oh" and "Sing Like Bilal". He didn't seem to have a unique way of attacking the songs and it kind of showed with a lack of direction and his verses seemed a little generic compared to the slaughterhouse album. If you like lyrics you should definately buy this and give it a couple of listens because there are some bright spots, it just needs a little bit more direction.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Record Sales Matter

Now I'm pretty sure that at some point in the past couple of years I posed the question of do the record sales actually matter. To me, they don't because there are so many extra things that go into the actual numbers when it comes to sales, some of which I will get into as I detail this post even more.

As a consumer, sales don't matter to me. You could say Nelly or Mase who both sold great numbers were two of the weakest rappers ever, but their numbers show they have what it takes to make money for the big companies who need to move huge numbers to make a dent in their bottom lines. Does that make any of their albums classic worthy or that they are two of the greatest rappers of all time? No. There is a different set of criteria for that, and unfortunately, just being nice, or able to craft quality albums doesn't automatically turn into units moved. Bottom line some of my friends might say, this is a business and the business is going to go with what accomplishes their goal, getting money. Trust me, that's real "gwop" so if you think Rick Ross is doing his thing, think about what the guy who has pressed up all those cds and who's name is on the letterhead of that company that Ross has on the back cover of that cd makes. In some respects I can get with it, that's what you do then make money. But there is a thin line between being a responsible business and just leeching off of the people.

You see for Nicki Minaj who moved almost 350 thousand units in a time where the average artist can hope for 100k max it was a validation of her 'sold-out?' persona and goofy antics and gimmicks. Listening to the album, it also ignores the idea that her album needed to have some lyrical step-up if you will to placate hip-hop fans like myself who want to see some nods to the mid-90's when hip-hop became king of the charts. In short, it validates her entire existence. You know who else needed those sales, Baby aka Birdman. This allows him to milk the spotlight and Universal for even more money because at the very least, the sales of the Nicki and Drake albums will at least get those two artists second shots and more money that comes with it.

That in a nutshell, is why sales matter. If you can get the sales, you can get the opportunity to get your vision to the world. Now why your album sells or doesn't has more to do with outside influences than what music you create. Look at Trey Songz, he had a solid track record but both of his first albums came out with Chris Brown or Ne-yo within two weeks in either direction. Trey didn't dance like C. Breezy nor did he have the polish of Ne-yo and wasthisclose to becoming the next Jaheim. Lyor Cohen came into Atlantic took over and made it his business to get trey to the next level. Conversely, look at a guy like Joe Budden who had a monster first single, yet due to label politics and promotion, never got a second, never got a second major label release and almost disappeared before the internet made it possible for him to have a career. But Sales still matter.

Hell, even Nelly can't get promotion even more and just 6 years ago, he was the hottest thing out. Someone over at Motown figured just slapping Nelly on something was all the money they were going to spend on radio and visual promotion and whatever happens happens. Guess what, he hasn't sold squat. Now I know a lot of people have been looking at this very blog to read about Nelly's album so he has a serious fan base but itunes singles, couple with a lack of knowledge and promotion have already placed this album behind the eight ball. Sales matter, especially when you're used to getting a lot of them.

Hell even the popular feeling that you are a decent rapper is affected by sales numbers. No one wants to be the person left out of the loop so when you hear Kanye just sold half a million records, you are more likely to get yourself a copy if you haven't already. Hell in No Limit's heyday, 30% of the record sales were from people who just wanted to know what B.G. song everyone else was raving about. Sales matter.

Bottom line for the artist, is the more records you can move, not only do you get bigger checks from the label, but then you can charge more for shows, book more, and sell more licensed merchandise.  Getting your song on Madden or being picked to be on American Idol because you have that large appeal leads to mo' money mo' money mo' money. So sales do matter for artists as well.

But one thing has changed the game, Itunes. Singles are once again the king. I remember when you could cop a single on cassette for like 3 bucks and the whole album was 10. Highway robbery right? The labels alwas throw an ill B-side  on it to make it worthwhile. Then cd's became king and no one was walking around with all those damn discs and cases so the single died until itunes came along and made it reasonable to just grab the song that you like from an artist and keep it moving. So while album sales are way down, singles are driving the industry. I don't know anyone who has a Flo Rida album but dude is making money some kind of way.

I know, I'm not the person you would be expecting to read saying that sales matter because the implication is that I'm saying that sales are important. They are, but not the end all be all for a fan of hip-hop music like myself. Having a high selling album doesn't mean that it is the best album or that you are the better rapper or artist. Likewise, not being able to sell doesn't always mean that you are a great artist but unappreciated. It's saying that you didn't sell. Some of the greatest sellers I would consider to  be sub-par rappers but more goes into sales than just you and your rapping ability. But at the end of the day, if you're also trying to make a living you're going to need to move some type of units.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Problem with Dissing Nicki pt. 2

Look I'm not the biggest Nicki Minaj fan because I think she is very talented but lazy like Vince Carter or the young Mike Vick. She has the skills to be great but since at this point no one is really pushing skills she reacts the same. However, the newest problem I see with dissing Nicki, is that none of these broads coming out have the credibility or ability to fuck with her on any level.

Point blank, a chick is going to have to hit the mixtape circuit hard, get some features and kill the, without throwing shots at Nicki. That means whoever she is, is going to have to be extra careful to avoid talking about Barbie dolls, colored hair, or making funny voices and faces. Now if another can establish herself, then she can go at Nicki in about 2012-13 if they make it that far. But right now, the random shots coming from everywhere now that aren't even addressing anything new about Nicki and are point blank weak don't help the game. Keys was first, so she gets the pass, and Kim is established though her beef is more with the fans. However, Khia? why the hell are you even still in existence? I don't even know if it's a diss or if she just threw some little shit in at the beginning to get attention.

Then just look at this garuguman/brontosaurus right here:

The one dude on her right most of the video never even looks at the camera. It's like he's thinking the whole time what a waste his life is becoming. Look, you want to diss Nicki, that's fine, but you better be good and have a damn point.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Album Review- T.I.- No Mercy

So T.I. may be back in jail again but his new album is 'free'. The Long awaited follow-up to Paper Trail which was released originally two years ago, an eternity in the new rap game, hits shelves just in time for the holidays. Following a mixtape that had two lackluster singles, No Mercy is Tip's attempt to climb back to the top after his forced hiatus.

The album begins with "Welcome to the World" which features Kid Cudi and Kanye West. Cudi covers the hook in his odd voice and Kanye adds a very uneven verse where he says a lot of stuff he figures he can get away with just because he is Kanye. T.I.'s verse is more about how he is going to introduce you to the world of balling excessively, which pretty much is the theme for the album. Scarface and single Michelle'L guest appear on "How Life Changed" a song that's a retrospective about starting out broke and getting to a successful life. Although the subject matter is well talked over, Scarface's verse isn't bad and T.I. does a decent job as well. However, this is followed by "Get Back Up" with Chris Brown who is back and could have used this song last year some time.

(I was watching this video and the first half of the verse I read the lyrics and was impressed but he quickly fell off into more run of the mill nonsense)

In a head scratcher, Tip asks for forgiveness and understanding then goes into "I Can't Help It" which features Rocko (I know, wtf!) as he talks about how he can't help getting money, your chick, and balling. He even gives Rocko a verse. Once again, Eminem gets on a T.I. album but it sounds like something leftover from Relapse that Em's people managed to flip for a couple grand. It's out of place and could have been left off because neither artist does a particularly good job. Jake One produced "Salute" where TI tells about his credentials and takes his King persona up a notch. "Amazing" with Pharrell is another weak offering with TI focusing on wilding because he is rich and disrespecting someone's girl. "Everything on Me" is the same exact song with a different beat.

"Big Picture" is the same story, I have money, get bitches and run shit, yadda yadda yadda. "lay Me Down" with Rico Love is about females loving him up then loving him down and it sounds dated. "Poppin Bottles" is about guess what? Drake is featured on the song but the verse is talking about him and Wayne which is sort of odd on a song with T.I. . "Castle Walls" with Christina Aguilera is the most in-depth song on the album and is the only one that reminds me of the Tip that forced me to respect him no matter how many mistakes he made. But my favorite song on the album is "Strip" with Trey Songz and Young Dro who has my favorite verse on the entire album. "No Mercy" , the title track, features the Dream and T.I. tries to make some solid lyricism in his verses and it works for the most part, although I am irked that he is trying to catch an attitude because the public seems to be irritated and nonchalant as far as feeling sorry for his situations.

This album was yet another letdown from a big artist. While he manages to have some solid tracks i am lacking the slight growth I had gotten from Tip on his past albums. He is focused on continuing to portray his party image when now might not be the best time to talk about that with his continued struggles and legal problems. Including more of that would have made the album more 'realistic'. In addition, he tries too hard to get the banging singles he is known for and falls flat. The order also suffers slightly because there is no way the song with Chris Breezy should have come third in order. It shows a lack of understanding and just an overall laziness and bad judgement by the execs involved with this. Eight or Nine of the fourteen tracks are just listen once and never again and that's way too many for a guy like this.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bugatti Boyz? Give me a break...

Honestly, Puff maybe I need to write you an open letter about your coonery. This shit has got to stop. Remember when people used to crack jokes about naming your kids after things you couldn't afford? That's what this nonsense is. I understand you actually can buy a Bugatti but who the hell are you to call yourself the Bugatti Boyz. Honestly, why can't you be original? Especially since your boy Ross has this "Maybach Music" thing going on.

Then is every Puffy video going to be a Ciroc commercial? Way to play that shit out faster than Sean John hoodies Mr. Combs. Then these verses suck terribly. We can all tell that Rick Ross wrote them but Puff cannot deliver in the same manner as "the Boss".


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