Saturday, January 23, 2010

Over and Under Rated January 2010


Master P’s Business Acumen

In the late 90’s No Limit sold an absurd amount of records (in the tens of millions), produced several stars and was instrumental in establishing the “Dirty South” as a hotbed for commercial Hip-Hop. However, all of these achievements pale in comparison to the business sense of Master P.

Master P was able to somehow create one of the most powerful brands in Hip-Hop with some of the worst music ever created in an genre. In retrospect it is hard to believe songs like “Make ‘em Say Ughh,” “It Ain’t My Fault” and “Down For My...” had any kind of cultural impact whatsoever, mainly because they are so bad they are actually hard to tolerate a decade later. While other Hip-Hop moguls like Puffy, Dame Dash, Russell Simmons and Suge Knight may have had more success or lasted longer, they all had the comparatively easy task of selling high-quality music to a fan base that was already accustomed to their version of Hip-Hop.

Also, only ten years after the end of No Limit’s prominence there are virtually zero No Limit classics that still illicit any kind of response from former fans. To test this theory request any song from Mr. Serve-On, Mia X or Kane & Abel next time you are in the club and if the DJ still has it in his collection you will see people rush off the dance floor like roaches with the light on the second the confused party-goers recognize the song.

Aesop Rock

2010 marks the ten year anniversary of “Float,” the Mush Records release that placed Aesop Rock in underground Hip-Hop’s collective consciousness. In the last decade Aes has signed to indie powerhouse Def Jux, released four classic albums and several well received EP’s and side projects, become an in-demand producer, toured extensively and has become one of the central figures in underground/independent Hip-Hop.

Clearly, Aesop Rock’s dense, metaphor-filled and somewhat cryptic wordplay combined with his ambitious beat selection and an affinity for addressing themes far removed from the typical Hip-Hop record, places him miles away from current fan favorites like the New Boys or Gucci Mane, but his insistence on artistic integrity and an ability to spit rhymes that have fans debating hidden meanings a decade after release should place Aesop Rock at the forefront of discussions about the best MC’s of the last decade.

“Good” Sampling and Remakes

Most people bemoan rappers for “stealing” old school records when they sample them to make new hits. These protests often become even louder when the sampled song is not an obscure jazz riff from the 40’s, but an obvious re-appropriation of a big hit from the not-so-distant past that people still remember. However, while using obvious samples from easily recognizable songs is somewhat of a short cut to recognition (if people liked the original, why wouldn’t they like the remake?) sometimes, it works exceedingly well. Snoop Dogg’s “I Wanna Rock,” Jaheim’s “I Ain’t Leaving Without You,” and Styles recent collaboration with Green Lantern are all examples of taking the original and adding some new flavor to make something bigger than the sum of it’s that’s Hip-Hop.

NBA All-Star Kicks

From Scottie Pippen’s red Flights in ’94 to the Kobe and LeBron variants coming out next month, NBA players and shoe companies bring their “A Game” to All Star Weekend. The unveiling and ensuing rush to get these limited editions is one of the best parts of a weekend filled with boring skill competitions, family-friendly musical performances, athletes behaving badly around strippers and a mediocre pick-up game.


The Knowledge of NBA Fans

The idea of fans controlling the All Star game is a great theory.

How many times do players that have been injured for the entire season (Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming) or just not that good anymore (Allen Iverson) have to be selected by the fans before the league steps in and takes control? The NBA doesn’t have the kind of rabid, stat-obsessed fans of MLB or the NFL and the overwhelming majority of “NBA fans” would be classified as casual at best (they watch the Lakers vs. Cavs, know the Knicks are horrible and will only go to a game if they get free tickets). This creates a situation where voters pick the only guys they have heard of whether they are averaging 30 points a night or riding the bench with a torn meniscus.

Man vs. Food (Travel Channel)

Some dude travels the country taking food challenges at local eateries. Examples of his exploits include consuming a 14-pound pizza, massive burgers and absurd quantities of chicken wings. Not only does this kind of foolishness promote and canonize the kind of gluttony that has made obesity and it’s related complications the biggest health issue in the United States, the guy usually fails at the challenges.

The host stuffs himself to the point of exhaustion, usually resulting in what he calls “The Meat Sweats” and does not coming close to consuming the amount that would result in a free T-Shirt or a polaroid picture on the bulletin board. Haters that like watching unmitigated failure (like myself) should skip this exercise in futility and watch the New Jersey Nets instead.

Rapers with Hard-to-Pronounce or Buffoonish Names

Rappers that are trying to blow-up should have names that are easy to pronounce and are not embarrassing to say in public. Wacka Flacka Flame, Ab Liva, Pharaoh Monch, Plies, Rza, Gza and Titty Boy do NOT fit into this category.

Motion Controllers

In late 2009 both Sony and Microsoft announced plans to release Motion Controllers for their respective home consoles. These peripherals will come out a full four years behind the release of Nintendo’s Wii and will most likely be met with compete apathy from consumers. Anybody with a burning desire to play video games standing up swinging a remote control wildly like a broad sword in their living room has been playing the Wii since 2006 and has no need to buy another silly controller for other video game systems.

No comments: