I am the biggest Hip-Hop fan in my circle of friends, this is largely because my circle of friends consists mainly of caucasians in their late 20’s and early 30’s, not exactly Hip-Hop’s key demographic. Playing this position amongst my friends and family means that I am the one they look to for answers as to why Cam’ron would not report the whereabouts of a serial killer and whether or not Detox is ever coming out. Normally, I enjoy this role and take pride in knowing what’s happening in the industry, turning people onto new MC’s and posting reviews of shows and albums (coming soon!) on this blog, however, every once in a while rappers do and/or say things that are so asinine it makes it hard for me to justify their behavior to my less Hip-Hop aware acquaintances.
2008 has been a solid year for today’s most relevant form of popular music: Jay-Z sold out The Garden five times, TI and Ludacris squashed their beef and Nas released an album that was lyrically and sonically compelling regardless of the title. However, several things happened that not only were hard for me to explain to my people, but actually made me embarrassed to call myself a Hip-Hop head. The following moments fall into this category:
Rick Ross’ Past: I was never sold on Rick Ross as a rapper-his drug dealer persona has already been done better by several more talented MC’s, his lyrics are embarrassingly simple and his “hits” rely heavily on production and hooks as opposed to anything resembling substance. However, in the summer of 2008 information surfaced that “The Biggest Boss That You’ve Seen Thus Far” and the guy that knows the Real Noreaga spent his late teens and early-20’s as a Corrections Officer in the Florida Prison System. This information was disturbing on several fronts, first, he clearly fabricated his entire drug-dealing past (the fact that we live in a society where someone claims to have sold drugs instead of having a career in law enforcement because the narcotics trade is more respected is a topic that deserves extensive study). Secondly, he continued to lie about his pre-rap career to his fans and supporters for several months and only broke down and admitted to his previous vocation after photographs and a Dade County Corrections Department badge were produced. Finally, how stupid is he and his management team to think they could get away with a stunt like this in 2008? Vanilla Ice got exposed as a motocross racer and not a stick-up kid in 1990 and that was before websites, blogs and 24-hour entertainment reporting were dedicated to making celebrities look like buffoons, fooling the public on this level in this day and age is impossible, no matter how much “Hustlin’” the artist and label are willing to do.
Young Buck Crying: To signal the official ousting of Young Buck from G-Unit, 50 Cent “leaked” a recorded conversation of him and Buck having a conversation in which Cashville’s finest broke down into tears and sobbed “I’m wrong!” dozens of times. 50’s decision to tape and later distribute this conversation shows a man of questionable character, but Young Buck’s antics are completely unforgivable. The man responsible for “Straight Outta Ca$hville” and stabbing a man with a dinner fork at an awards show should not be breaking down into tears over financial stress.
Labels could not figure out a way to market the following MC’s:
Joe Budden: Joey Jumpoff got dropped from Def Jam and became a free agent, only to release mixtapes directly online with little or no promotion (the equivalent of a former Oscar Winner making straight-to-DVD horror movies). Budden is a BEAST lyrically and makes some of the most personal and introspective music in Hip-Hop, the fact that a label can not find a way to make him a bigger star than Flo-Rida is mind-boggling.
Joel Ortiz: The sickest MC to come from the east coast in years (probably since Joe Budden debuted) can not catch a break. He released The Brick: Bodega Chronicles in the spring of 2007 to rave reviews and respectable sales, then signed with Dre’s Aftermath label and it seemed as if he was going to be the next 50 Cent. A year later, he has left Aftermath and not signed to another label even though he is possibly the year’s most consistent freestyle/mixtape artist, offering even more evidence of RA The Rugged Man’s claim “Every record company in the world sucks d**k.”
Papoose: This guys’ life is almost a Shakespearean tragedy-two years ago he was signed to a major, had backing from Busta Rhymes and Kay Slay and was undoubtedly “Next.” Now he is married to an inmate serving time for a shooting (Remy Ma), has no project on the foreseeable horizon and releases music sporadically at best.
Saigon: After debuting at an MTV battle almost a decade ago (2001) and signing with Just Blaze, Saigon made the tragic “mistake” of playing himself (in the actor sense, not the Hip-Hop sense) on one of the most popular shows on TV. Today, instead of being one of the key figures to bring New York back, he is viewed as “That rap guy on Entourage.”
Crooked I: The best rapper from LA that doesn’t have a personality disorder, absurd body art and an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Dre has been crushing mixtapes for years, but has yet to release an album. Maybe labels are shook of his former association with Death Row, but this guy deserves a shot at national exposure.
David Banner: He seems like a nice enough guy and he raises a lot of money for good causes (Katrina victims, education, housing, etc.), but his musical output is embarrassing. He will literally do whatever is hot at the moment to have a hit and for some reason people accept this. In 2003 when crunk ruled the charts he forgot his up-lifting messages and partnered with Lil’ Flip to release the misogynistic “Like a Pimp.” In 2005 he jacked The Ying-Yang twins whole style to release “Play” and this year he jumped on the ringtone/teeny bopper/disposable trend of by partnering with Chris Brown and one-hit-wonder Young Joc to record the barely listenable “Get Like Me.” He is like Snoop Dogg since 1998 if Snoop was a heavy-set southerner with zero chance of acceptance by a mainstream audience.
50 Cent’s Reality Show: It is unbelievable that the man that became rich (instead of dying) by being a middle finger to the music industry(debuting with a song about robbing established rappers at gun point, operating outside the industry by releasing a series of heavily bootlegged mixtapes that made him famous before signing a contract, beef’s with the biggest stars in the game and signing with Shady/Aftermath) can now have a Survivor-like reality show. His peers are no longer rappers, but reality show fools like Puff Daddy, Paris Hilton and the cast of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge...way to go!
“It Ain’t Trickin’ If You Got It” : YES IT IS! This phrase has been uttered by everyone from T-Pain to TI and could not be more bullsh*t. Just because you have money does not mean you can not be taken advantage of by a woman. If you buy a women a car, house or jewelry and she’s playing you, you are a bigger fool than the working dude that buys a random girl a couple of drinks with the hopes of taking her home.
The Musical Based on the Life of Jim Jones: I don’t understand how the following events will be stretched into a 2-hour stage play: Born in Harlem, Met Cam’Ron, Bought some tight jeans and T-Shirts with skulls on them, made “We Fly High,”... The End. This guy’s life story would be done more justice as a Twitter Message (140 characters or less) than a stage production.
Busta Rhyme’s “Arab Money” : Even if you are willing to overlook the fact that the track sounds exactly like Ron Browz’ “Pop Champagne,” this song is offensive to Arabs, people with money, Hip-Hop fans in general and the other three members of Leaders of the New School.
Young Jeezy and Nas “My President is Black” : In the spring Jeezy appeared with Usher on Saturday Night Live and he made the unfortunate mistake of being photographed with Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain. He then spend the rest of the year apologizing to the Hip-Hop community that was outraged one of it’s own would even entertain the idea of not supporting Barack Obama. This 6-month long apology culminated in this collaboration with Nas (whose verse is acceptable) that supported Obama, luxury cars and drug dealing all in one massive package of ignorance.
Jim Jones Claiming he Invented “Swagger”: The Dipset Capo is only a few thousand years late on this one. “Swagger” has been around since the beginning of time (well, maybe not the very beginning since Adam got fooled by Eve, and being a sucker-for-love-ass-trick shows a complete lack of swagger, but right after that). Here is an abridged list of the thousands of guys that had swagger before Jim Jones: Julius Ceasar, Alexander The Great, Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Jim Morrison, everybody in Wu-Tang Clan and Jay-Z.
Soulja Boy Shouting Out Slave Owners: There is nothing left to be said about the level of buffoonery in this statement, so I won’t.
Honorable Mentions: Plies’ “Please Excuse My Hands,” Vibe calling Plies the future of Hip-Hop, Lil’ Kim’s continued dealings with bad plastic surgeons, Rapper’s kids on MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16,” the poorly handled promotional campaign for the solid “Murs for President,” Prodigy going to jail, T-Pain’s entire existence.