This may seem to be the opposite of how I seem to preach at times here on this blog, but in truth you have to have other things other than the technical ability to put lyrics together. This really came to light while listening to J.Cole's album. Now Cole can rap, fine. But ther eis nothing about J.Cole that makes me want to bump his music or feel where he is coming from. The same with Big Sean and Drake. You may say I just don't relate but honestly, I relate to these guys much closer in type, education, and upbringing than that of a Jay-Z, DMX or Beanie Sigel, yet these guys don't appeal to me, why?
It's the passion, now X is not the most lyrical guy ever, neither was Pac, but you will always love them because they brought the passion and emotion to game that made you overlook their shortcomings. You can understand where they come from in their music because of that intangible magic they have that cannot be quantified or measured. Just listen to "Get Rich or Die Trying" and tell me that by the time you get to the end of that album you don't feel like Curtis Jackson. You cannot help it, he makes you.
My favorite artist right now is Joe Budden. Why? Because he has amazing lyrical ability, and not in the 'I know more words than you so that's lyrics' style, but in a I can put regular shit together better than you to describe how I feel right now. I can't relate to a lot of the stuff he says on a 'I've been through it' level but he paints a picture so vivid I have to see it. Eminem does this too, only he uses one very long metaphor or extra descriptive simile that you have to kind of remember and go back to the beginning to understand at times which is what makes his music good for rewinding. At the end of the day I get something out of it that is more than whats on the surface.
I'm not saying that Cole can't rap but nothing on his album is remotely as revealing or as deep as fellow newest school rapper Wale who put out a really good almost great album last year. What he does strike me is is a guy who would make a good accountant or something in a 'regular' job. Not to knock professionals like myself of course, but why not be that rather than be an average type of guy just because you can rap technically. I understand, there are dope boys out there rapping who you are way better than, but they have something, they represent something, they have a personality and identity and a passion for what they're doing. Why not just go and be something you can be great at? I get it, because you just want to be seen and try to be some sort of star because you think you're owed it because someone else is. Find your lane, and generally, it isn't sports, and it isn't entertainment, most people aren't that special. There is nothing wrong with taking the road less traveled.
Same thing with the D-boys, so don't think I'm trying to pick on 'wholesome' guys like Cole or maybe a Soulja Boy who just keeps putting enough out until something sticks. Nah, if you are this big boss drug dealer you claim to be and you can't rap, I'd rather you continue to sell crack. At least you're only going to destroy your local community with your nonsense and not spread it through out the entire country.
To sum things up, rap seems easy, and technically it is, just like football and basketball are 'easy'. You don't have to be a genius to understand them. To be great there needs to be something else, another intangible besides the ability to write lyrics to be an artist, especially a great one. Some guys are Vince Carter- all the talent yet no ability to translate it to what it needs to be, some are Kobe- ultimately talented with a matching work ethic and creativity, while others are Kendrick Perkins, maybe not the best but they work hard and put everything they have into what they create to make an impact.