Friday, February 14, 2014



 Me and my goon was real lit one night, bottle-breaking drunk, swerving through traffic in a vintage Dodge Dart.  With a crooked smile and a long swig of Mad Dog 20/20, I put on an old CD-R mix of Clear Channel rap I'd paid $5 for in middle school.  SILKK THE SHOCKER and TRINA's "That's Cool" started rattling through the sound system.  "This is fantastic," saith my goon, as he located it on iTunes for the reasonable price of $.99.

When we awoke from the revelry we were locked in an uneasy embrace, our limbs flecked with scrapes and scratches of mysterious origin, the Dodge Dart lodged firmly in a ditch.  "Why did I download this garbage?" he whined.  I excused myself from the situation and left my buddy to his automotive difficulties, but the SILKK track still remained in my memory.

I found still more bounty in the video.  After an establishing shot of snow-covered mountains, SILKK smirks through a wink-wink nudge-nudge explanation of the video:  "No, not in Hawaii, not Cancun, not on the beach.  I'm bout to do this thing in Juneau, Alaska!"

The beat, a typical early-00s rap pastiche of vaguely Asian influence, begins as three desperados on snowmobiles tear-ass over a bend of snow.  They proceed to release Hell upon the slopes throughout the video, performing gnarly blowouts and perilous mogul carves, while SILKK joins them via green screen.  His looks are on-point: fur-lined parka, chic skarf, an impressive assortment of knit hats.

What defines this as a product of its era, however, are the goggles resting on his forehad.  We all remember the curious run of goggles as fashion accessory in mid/late-'90s hip-hop, but in this situation SILKK actually needs them.  What do we make of this?  Is it a knowing send-up of the uselessness of Rap Goggles, obligatory realist prop, or merely an off-the-cuff gag?

Intention doesn't necessarily matter, for the goggles signify multitudes, as does the video.  It's a fish-out-of-South-Beach recontextualization of the Bad Boy style rap video, just as much as it is goofy fun, just as much as it is an admission of the same style of video-making's exhausted possibilities.  The automobile and video hoe tropes have been done so many times that the only way to burnish them with some degree of newness is to place them in an outlandish locale.  The cycle continues.

Also, TRINA is a good rapper.

Friday, February 7, 2014


So yo, lately I been noticing an alarming trend in certain schools of Rap Music Thought: distaste for the DJ who be yellin all over the tracks.  You know what I'm talkin bout - the "GANG-STA GRIZZ-ILLZ" and "DAAAAAMN SON, WHERE'D YOU FIND THIS?" loudmouths of the world.  Really tho?  U really wanna go out of your way to find a version wherein those not-so-subtle joys are eliminated?  Yo, that's like eating a bunless burger, kid.

I'm sure smarter minds than me could argue that the DJ is a commentary on the multimedia cacophony of tha postmodern/digital age, but I ain't about that Ivory Tower fuckboy shit.  I'm sure more research-oriented minds than me could research the shit outta the bloviating DJ, trace the thread all the way to the precursors of hip-hop - catch me at the soundclash - and show how it's an essential part of the culture.  But yo, I ain't that dude.  I just think listenin to a DJ-free version of a rap cassette is anemic, and moreover, just a bad look.  It's like watching a 3D movie without ya specs.  Like rockin an tailored suit without the pocket square.  Like eatin French Onion Soup without the gratinee. Think about it.