Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mythbusters (Hip-Hop Edition)

Good albums are finally starting to drop (on my list: Prince, UGK…and dare I say, The Dream?) and with a great slate of dope music coming out, we’re gonna be talking about our favorite mainstream artists for a while. Perfect time to clear up some myths I’ve heard or either had in my head the last year or two.

For the record, I'm not gonna mention Lil Wayne because I already spoke on him last year as well as gave him props in my Year in Review. Besides, everyone's got an opinion on him that they've expressed anyway. Now on to Mythbusters: E-TV style

MYTH: Eminem has lost it. It was way premature to put on the greatest rappers of all time list. Encore was trash and the game has passed him by. *insert race-baiting comments here*

FACT: Marshall Mathers fell victim to the curse of most hip-hop artists having a questionable fourth album in their discography (Ice Cube, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas and Jay-Z to name a few). Encore was an inconsistent album with some garbage on there but it still had solid songs (“Mosh”, “Yellow Brick Road” “Toy Soldiers”). Unfortunately, it means these next two albums are going to be critical for his legacy. If it succeeds, it’s the biggest comeback since Nas. Here’s why I think he’ll succeed.

1) Best friend died. Proof (RIP) will be inspiring his friend in spirit.
2) Personal life. Em’s one of the best at writing great songs relating to his personal turmoil and with all that’s happened, he’s got a wealth of inspiration
3) Legacy. Shady’s a student of the game and he knows what’s at stake. Hence why Dr. Dre is producing most of this album and if you heard that “Relapse” freestyle, you know he’s still got it.

If he makes stuff that’s more like his verse on Game’s “We Ain’t” instead of Akon’s “Smack That”, you don’t have to worry about Relapse being a critical success. That’s all I care about – screw sales.

Unfortunately, he's gotta do better than this. The video is hilarious but the song reminds me too much of his old 1st solo joints. I need to hear more.

MYTH: Black Eyed Peas got wack when they added Fergie. Y'all are exactly who Ice Cube talked about in the 2nd verse of "True To The Game." Y'all ain't hip-hop anymore.

: It's partly true (at least in the minds of hip-hop fans, where they got booed at Rock The Bells here in SoCal last year despite only performing joints from their 1st album). Listen to stuff like “Weekends” “Joints and Jams” and “Cali to New York” and imagine if you can hear that same group doing “My Humps” “Let’s Get It Started (as opposed to the original Let’s Get Retarded)” and “Boom Boom Pow.”

BUT at the same time, you can’t just write them off as sell-outs either. Pop success didn't completely change them.

I actually bought Elephunk on the day it came out solely based off their past ("Weekends is still my joint") and "Where Is The Love" before that song became a Top 10 hit. It’s a good album – especially the singles. Hey Mama sounds more reggae than the calypso-sound of this single, Let’s Get Retarded (It Started) has a much better sound that unfortunately got diminished by adding more drums to the single version. “WITL” has a great message that fit in completely with who they were pre-Fergie. Not to mention good jams like “Anxiety” “Latin Girls” and “Hands Up”…

Too bad the radio screwed the singles up - and in no coincidence, they became more popular.

As far as Fergie goes, when she raps/talk-singing, she’s terrible. When she actually sings, she fits in better (see Latin Girls, Fly Away and her live version of Heart’s “Barracuda”). Thanks to Polow da Don she made think I was hearing “Time After Time” when I heard “Glamorous.” All that said, I'd still steal more than a glance at her for obvious reasons.

Take away the terrible two singles on Monkey Business (“Don’t Phunk With My Heart” “My Humps”) and that last song with Sting and you have a decent album. May not be your cup of tea, but it’s better than some of the crap since it dropped. Had they completely sold out, you wouldn't hear joints like "Like That" or that song with James Brown.

BTW, is hit or miss as a producer/songwriter (and frankly who isn't - even Dre/Primo/RZA have bad joints) and he’s got some heaters in his resume (ask Nas, Game, Sergio Mendes, John Legend, Talib Kweli and Common for starters).

BEP has never been the best lyricists in their era but their dedication to the hip-hop culture is still real. They're also great at live performances but too bad they had to add Fergie to get some attention from these pop fans. Will I buy this new album, prolly not, but I'll give it a listen.

MYTH: 50 Cent is only good for dissing, not rapping. He went from the rapper who brought back that grimy sound and re-introduced folks to the mixtape game to a walking publicity stunt.

FACT: 100% true. Quick, name the last meaningful song that 50 has made in the last five years. “I Get Money”…DING DING DING. Before that…”Just a Lil Bit”

Let’s face it, he’s only been famous for his business moves and starting feuds. He tried to battle Kanye for album sales supremacy but forgot to actually make a pop hit to combat “Stronger” (Ayo Technology flopped hard, regardless of what Billboard said). He tried to battle Camron but nobody really cared after a while. Now he’s battling Rick Ross and merely showing how much better/craftier/ruthless he is at dissing than rapping since Ricky is lyrically beneath 50 – that porn movie was in terrible taste though, Fif.

We almost forget that his album is supposed to come out this year. We almost forget that “Shut Your Blood Clot Mouth” reminded me of the 50 I heard back in 2002. Actually I did forget all this because of this battle with Ricky – which I lost interest in after the first video. Face it, 50, you’re falling from grace faster than our economy and believe me, hearing you rap is no longer a high priority on our radar.

Enjoy that Hollywood money. (Sidenote: G-Unit may go down as the last successful crew to impact hip-hop...unless Slaughterhouse crosses over)

*Coming up - has Kanye West lost it? will Lupe, Wale and the new Kidz on the Block save hip-hop?*

1 comment:

  1. Mockingbird was on Encore and for that I love Encore. I've only heard We Made You a couple times, but so far I like it. It reminds me of early Eminem.