They’ve got their little categories, like ‘conscious’ and ‘gangsta’. It used to be a thing where hip-hop was all together. Fresh Prince would be on tour with N.W.A. It wasn’t like, ‘You have got to like me in order for me to like you.’ That’s just some more white folks trying to think that all niggas are alike, and now it’s expanded. It used to be one type of nigga; now it’s two. There is so much more dimension to who we are. A monolith is a monolith, even if there’s two monoliths to choose from. I ain’t mad at Snoop. I’m not mad at Master P. I ain’t mad at the Hot Boys. I’m mad when that’s all I see. I would be mad if I looked up and all I saw on TV was me or Common or The Roots, because I know that ain’t the whole deal. The real joy is when you can kick it with everyone. That’s what hip-hop is all about. … They keep trying to slip the ‘conscious rapper’ thing on me. I come from Roosevelt Projects, man. The ghetto. I drank the same sugar water, ate hard candy. And they try to get me because I’m supposed to be more articulate, I’m supposed to be not like the other Negroes, to get me to say something against my brothers. I’m not going out like that, man.
I’ve already posted and reviewed most of these songs throughout 2013, so if you want to hear a song and/or read my commentary just click the song title. I invested a great deal of time and thought into putting this list together, so I hope you enjoy it and possibly discover some new music that went under your radar.
My all time favorite hip-hop documentary isBazooka Tooth, which centers around the legendary alternative/abstract/indie hip-hop label Definitive Jux and the profoundly talented artists that defined its early formation. If you’re a fan of Cannibal Ox, El-P, Aesop Rock, Def Jux, or underground hip-hop in general, this is a must see. Bazooka Tooth was recorded back in 2001-2002 when Def Jux was first starting to really take off and Cannibal Ox had recently released the label’s all time best selling album The Cold Vein (in my top 10 favorite hip-hop albums).
You may have noticed that our URL references Hip Hop Fights Back, a different blog about rap run by an asshole. Why is Jake Bourey an asshole? Why is Hip Hop Fights Back a misguided hive of condescension? Let’s break it down.
Jake Bourey is, without mincing words, racist and classist in his assessments of rap music. He praises the boilerplate assortment of conscious/“lyrical” artists to the exclusion of more popular artists, denigrating them based on intelligence. He thinks a J. Cole-type is superior to a Nicki Minaj-type because J. Cole uses more vocabulary.
J. Cole, however, is boring. You can hear what J. Cole is doing in the work of a dozen other artists. Plus, he thought this line (link warning: heterosexist slurs, wack lyrics) was a good idea. Nicki, by comparison, is carving out her niche in an oft-misogynist industry and rapping her ass off at the same time. Among two technically proficient rappers, Jake Bourey will err toward the one that fits with his preconceived notions about brains and skill.
Here’s the problem with that. When you insult a rapper because their rap isn’t intelligent, you’re making a racist assumption.
Rap, since its inception, has been split between MCs and party rappers (terminology cribbed from the excellent documentary Beef). When you say that Lil Wayne, for example, isn’t a rapper, you’re ignoring the art form’s roots and showing your ignorance. It’s baffling how a white guy can get away with presenting himself as a discerning authority on an art created/chiefly practiced by POC.
The same thing happens when you reduce a rapper to a lyricist. For instance, Jake Bourey doesn’t like Lil Wayne. He hears his rhymes and puts him in the “not lyrical” category. This ignores the factors that go beyond the words: cadence, delivery, all the unseen factors beyond writing a rhyme and saying it. Just because you’re rapping fast and you’re white doesn’t make you good.
What he doesn’t realize is, Chief Keef isn’t a bad rapper. Drake isn’t a bad rapper. Juicy J isn’t a bad rapper. They just make music for people who aren’t you. The failure to recognize this prompts Jake Bourey to disdain them, and equate a lack of lyrical complexity with a lack of quality.
Jake Bourey is trying to run a rap blog as a person who doesn’t consider half the genre’s music authentic. This blog may be run by two white people, but at least we see ourselves as we should: rap outsiders. Kids on a blog sharing songs they like. Jake Bourey thinks his opinions matter, when they’re really just the underdeveloped thoughts of a kid with a lack of understanding, and more importantly, a lack of respect.
This is honestly one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard. I really hope Game fucks him up, but he’ll have to be careful because Zimmerman might claim ‘stand your ground’ law after popping some shots off. As a side note, Game has a tattoo of Trayvon Martin on his leg, which explains a lot as to why this spectacle is happening.
“I would not be boxing for me, I’d be boxing for the legacy of Trayvon Martin and for his family. I would box him to knock him out. I would definitely take pleasure in it. It’s legal, and I want to show him you can solve your disputes without a weapon.” - Game