Thursday, June 18, 2009

Over and Under Rated 6 (2009)


Pop songs with “Secret Meanings”

Multi-layered metaphors are fairly common in Hip-Hop (think Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R. or 2Pac’s “Me & My Girlfriend”), however pop stars are now trying to follow the lead of rappers by incorporating double entendres and extended metaphors into singles in an effort to generate buzz and keep people talking...needless to say, these attempts often end with embarrassing results.  The trend was started last winter with Brittany Spear’s ridiculously titled “If U Seek Amy,” which when sung sounds suspiciously like “F.U.C.K. Me.” The song fails because the identity of “Amy” and why people are looking for her is never addressed, the song doesn’t make any sense unless the listener hears “F.U.C.K. Me”  There simply is no double meaning, it is just an obscene song with a poorly spelled titled. “All of the boys and all of the girls want to...If U Seek Amy” 

You sure about that Brit? It’s not 2001 anymore. 

This trend is being continued by Beyonce’s “Ego.” Am I really supposed to believe lyrics like “It’s too big, it’s too wide, it won’t fit” are about anything but a penis? And while Brittany’s infraction is somewhat acceptable because her songs are written and composed by employees of a media conglomerate with a keen eye towards things like “demographic research,” “focus group responses” and “radio playability” with absolute disdain for artistry and expression, Beyonce is married to one of the greatest song writers of all time.  It is hard to believe someone that lives with the man responsible for metaphoric masterpieces like “Rap Game/Crack Game” could release such a clumsily worded single.  

These “hidden messages” cater to the lowest common denominator of society and only generate controversy with teeny-boppers and soccer-moms, but if it gives them something to talk about while driving to a strip mall in a minivan to buy a Big Gulp and some toquitos before American Idol starts, well good for them.

College Graduates Aspiring to be Housewives

There seems to be an ever-increasing segment of college-educated females that long for the stereotypical “Prince Charming/Happily Ever After” life that comes from marrying a rich professional, business man or dude from a family with money.  I am not referring to the typical hood-rat or “video vixen” that tries incessantly to get impregnated by a rapper or athlete because they have no other means to support themselves besides their looks (I have strong feelings about these women too, but that’s for another day), I am referring to girls with degrees and skills that have no desire to accomplish anything but supervising the cleaning lady and watching “The Tyra Banks Show” three times a day.  

I know that working sucks. I know that most jobs are meaningless, unrewarding and in most cases lead to nothing but stress and a diminishing 401K, but if these women never wanted to be a part of the workforce, why did they waste the time, effort and money on a college education? A bachelor’s degree costs minimum $40,000, I don’t care if you went to a technical school with two directions in the name (i.e. North West Kentucky Tech), nobody gets out for less than ten grand a year, after books, meal plans, parking tickets and a D.U.I. lawyer are added up.  Conversely, about $10,000 (about a quarter of the cost of college) in plastic surgery, beauty treatments and clothes can turn the worst skank in the world into somebody on Maxim’s “Hot 100”, or at least the hottest chick in the bar on a Wednesday.  And to keep it 100% real, a female with fake boobs, expertly styled hair and Jimmy Choo’s has a much better chance at landing a rich husband than some normal looking chick with degree in Criminal Justice.  

Chain Emails

They are never funny and tragedy does not ensue if you don’t forward them!  The internet has been a big part of American society for over a decade and people have not figured out how to not be buffoonish with the technology.  Further, I am Italian and from New Jersey and I am sent emails on a weekly basis mocking those two facts (i.e. “10,000 ways you know you are from New Jersey” or “Ginny’s at the Beach!”), I am not easily offended but I find it hard to believe other groups receive these emails with the disturbing frequency that I do.  If I was overweight I am willing to bet nobody would send me an email titled “You Know You’re a Fat Ass If...” I know I’m Italian and I know I’m from Jersey, I don’t need to take a quiz or read and asinine list to confirm it.  


The Stupidity of Mariah Carey

The most successful artist of the ’90’s fell off after “Glitter” and made one of the biggest comebacks in history with 2005’s “The Emancipation of Mimi.”  Then in 2008 she flopped with the underwhelming “E=MC2.” She is now attempting her second comeback of the decade by dissing Eminem on the autotune-heavy “Obsessed” written by The Dream.  First, the song is not that bad and has probably already sold thousands of ringtones since it was “leaked” on Tuesday. And the song does have some redeeming qualities: it was written by The Dream and it is a diss record (two things I really like), however it also uses auto-tune and disses Eminem (two things I hate).

There are so many reasons why this 40 year old pop star should not have responded to Slim Shady’s “Bagpipes From Bagdad” that they are hard to count (she is not a rapper, her fans don’t care about Eminem, she could sell millions of records without ever addressing this, “Bagpipes From Bagdad” is not even a single, if she released a big powerful ballad like “We Belong Together” the general public wold forget about this whole thing).  But the biggest single reason she should not have responded to Em’s taunts are his track record.  Marshall Mathers ends careers...period.  The only way to withstand the sh*t storm that ensues when he mentions your name is to sit down, shut up, keep your eyes on the floor and hope it passes like a bad thunderstorm.  It is kind of odd that Brittany Spears is one of the few celebrities to have figured this out and she is still selling out arenas and having massive hits (regardless of how stupid the lyrics) because of it.  Unless Mariah Carey wants to be in the “Where Are They Now” category with Limp Bizkit, Moby, Canibus and Benzino she should retract the song, put out a disposable, overly-produced, 80’s-sampled dance record and keep it moving. 

NOTE: There is also a remix of “Obsessed” featuring OJ The Juice Man.  The idea of Shady attacking him and other non-lyrical southern goons is infinitely more exciting than another song about his affair with Mariah. Further, the use of auto-tune could be viewed as a swipe at Jay-Z (see “D.O.A. Death of Autotune”). If there is one person that can get in the ring with the two best rappers alive, it’s obviously Mariah Carey.    

The Stupidity of the Current Class of New Rappers

Every few years a “New Class” (shout out to “Saved By The Bell”) of MC’s emerges to take the crown from the previous generation.  Every class has winners (the class of '98 had DMX, Pun, Cam) and every class has losers (the class of 98 also had Canibus and Silkk the Shocker), but the current group of emerging artists engages in behavior that is so stupid and so at odds with becoming major players in the industry it is hard to believe they even want to “get on.”  This behavior is even less acceptable because these guys are all in their early 20’s, so they grew up with Hip-Hop as a multi-billion dollar, international industry, are fully aware of the power of technology & new media outlets and in some cases they are being mentored by some of the best in the game.  Despite all of these resources the following has already happened in 2009:

Asher Roth: Refers to his female fans at Rutgers University as “Nappy Headed H*s” on his twitter page.  Clearly the way for a white rapper that many think is a novelty act to sustain a career in Hip-Hop is to insult fans and identify with one of the most reviled men in the African-American community. 

Kid Cudi: “Day N Night” had people losing their minds last winter and was the unofficial theme song of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.  After being invited to perform at a party sponsored by Reebok as his introduction to the national spotlight (even though the song was bubbling for a few months, most people didn’t even know what he looked like), this guy behaves in a manner so imbecilic that Reebok employees have to taser him before he performs and the show is cancelled. 

Slaughterhouse: These guys get the internet going nuts at the idea of 4 sick MC’s in one group (and the videos of Joey Jumpoff’s girlfriend) and then start an asinine beef with legends before the album comes out.  I understand that all publicity is good publicity, but I am confused as to how dissing Method Man, Redman and Busta Rhymes is good for Slaughterhouse, their upcoming album or Hip-Hop in general. 

OJ The Juice Man: Make’s his first potential crossover appearance on a song dissing Eminem...brilliant.

Charles Hamilton: Here is the abbreviated list-makes a song about “Brooklyn Girls” even though he is from Harlem, releases numerous viral videos espousing a bizarre affection for Sonic The Hedgehog, gets publicly humiliated in battles by legends (Rhymefest) and newcomers (Serius Jones) alike, got knocked out by a girl on camera and started a baffling beef with the entire city of Detroit about his relationship with the deceased J-Dilla that resulted in a tongue lashing from Dilla’s mother and a complete ban from the entire Mid-Western region of the United States. 

With this being the new crop of MC’s to carry the torch for Hip-Hop, I am forced to quote Jay-Z’s “Thirty Something”....”I’m afraid of the future.” 

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