Tuesday, March 31, 2015


IDK man, I like the idea of To Pimp A Butterfly more than the record itself.  When I put on my critic hat and examine the album like a specimen pinned to a table, I know exactly why boners is poppin for this shit.  Kendrick made the album he needed to solidify his status as rap's Serious Artist and Social Critic.  He really said "something."  It was very ambitious, and for that I doff my fedora.

Thing is, I don't subscribe to the theory that music has to be important to matter.  A lot of the best raps of all time are entirely self-referential, conceptually ludicrous, or scattershots touching on a hundred little things but focusing on nothing in particular.  Now we could rap all day about music and the Cartesian divide, but I'll leave that to the experts over at Rap Retard.  Suffice it to say that critics overvalue the "intellectual" in music because that kind of person tends to favor the intellect in general.  To Plump A Butterball is like the musical equivalent of The Ten Commandments.  Very important and big and ambitious, and you know you're supposed to like it, but Les B. Real--kind of boring.

This is music for grad students and Whole Foods shoppers, and all the focus on the album as a sociopolitical statement disregards an obvious fact: it's not very innovative.  Mos Def, Common, and Q-Tip have been flogging the same reheated soul, funk, and jazz moves for years, to a justified lack of critical acclaim.  Changing direction from rap conventions to already-established musical forms does not equal innovation.  Andre got the same kind of misguided acclaim for The Love Below, his self-indulgent love letter to Prince and a forerunner to Butterfly's glorified pastiche.

The most odious thing about the cult of Butterfly is its Oprah's Book Club vibe.  There's an inherent grandiloquence and imperiousness that seem to have future Salon.com thinkpieces in mind.  And as much as I wanna hate on that, I realize his reach transcends the rap fans and hipsters that generally consume this kind of music.  He's trying to position himself next to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the Black Star LP on the shelves of people who kind of like rap music, but only when it wears a medallion of profundity on its dookie rope.  It is what it is, and I'm glad Kendrick can legitimize the form for the NPR crowd.

Despite the furor surrounding its release, all the earnest conversation about the album's lofty intentions seems to have fallen by the wayside.  The pace of today's music-media industrial complex is a nightmare and farce.  In the days following its release, people talked like To Primp A Bouffant was going to cure racism and unite the world in a collective recognition of humanity.  But the content machine grinds on, SXSW promotional gimmicks need coverage, and the dialogue dwindles until this landmark of rap and culture itself is resurrected for year-end lists.

I wanna say this is the last time I mention Butterfly, but that corny 2Pac interview is rife with comic potential.  Still, I ain't bumpin this shit or nothing.  This album is like when you was a kid and your mom says, "Eat your brussel sprouts!" except I love brussel sprouts.  Shout outs to brussel sprouts.  I been fuxing more with the Earl Sweatshirt joint, which is far from perfect but a needed antidote to the pompous maximalism of Butterfly.  If Kendrick dropped the rap game Ten Commandments, Earl's album is what we in the biz call a "smaller, more personal project."  Shout outs to projects.


At one point Rocky had wanted to give up rapping and focus on other things — modeling, making beats — but Yams persuaded him to stick with it. 

Been following Yams's death because I loved his Complex list so much, and retroactively realized he was the fella behind Real Nigga Tumblr, which admittedly I never understood.  RIP Yams, a true rap music visionary.  This post, however, concerns his semi-handsome protege A$AP Rocky.  Now I won't front as if I didn't like the LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, but I liken that to a Group Home album.  The beats were so dope and zeitgeisty that they really only needed a passable MC to not fuck anything up.  Clams Casino was hot in 2011 or whenever the fuck that came out, and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise.

But if I were Rocky, I would keep burying my lack of charisma beneath 2Chainz hooks rather than going the Marky Mark route.  Some rappers claim they can't leave the streets alone, but Rocky's heart remains on the catwalk.  The Jon C. NY Times article says he lives in Soho, which makes sense.  He lives in the dickwad fashionista capitol he embodies.

Monday, March 30, 2015


"Learn some game, buy you a JT tape, study relentlessly.  It's the only way to go..."

So yo, back in December I caught my ho in flagrant delicious with the septic tank technician.  All the sherm I was smokin at the time was makin me paranoid, so I didn't jump to conclusions till saw them bumpin uglies in my racecar bed.  I ran screamin all the way to my mom's house and started bumpin some badass shit like Staind.  Mom duke throws a cassette of JT Money's Pimpin On Wax at my head as rivulets of tears soak my Versace wifebeater, talkinbout, "I didn't raise you to fall to pieces over some raggedy ass hoe!  Sucka for love, you got some female traits."

Following Mumsy's lead, "Ho Problems" and "Playa Ass Shit" soon became my life's manual.  Future might mope around and fill the void with drugs, but JT offers a different path: resignation, acceptance, and cold-blooded self-preservation.  I used to see the pimp shit only as a cartoon audiodrama of amorality and callousness.  Now it was as if I had a scoundrel uncle tellin me painful truths he learned the hard way, Obi Wan by way of Rudy Ray Moore.  Finally I appreciated the truth of this stoic's mantra: sometime ya just gotta let a ho be a ho!

Now the oldest defense of rap misogyny is when a rapper says he's only talkin about a "certain kind of woman," but I ain't even gotta trot out that wack cliche.  Pimpin' - the pop culture version, not the venerable profession of sex-monging - is just another approach to manhood, ya dig (tho ladies is pimps too)?  Just another way of surviving the endless miseries and indignities of life.  Rather than being vulnerable to love and its potential for pain, JT advocates closing oneself off to the world and sayin, "No one comes in, STAY OUT!,"  but doing so in a way that engenders inflated self-esteem and the illusion of agency.   The real target of these songs is men who can't take responsibility for their mistakes: misandry using misogyny as its vehicle.  And yo, isn't contradiction a mark of great art? 

What if your girl let another nigga hit it?
Would you accept it or would you cry like a bitch?
You'd probably try to kill her then kill yourself
Sayin she wasn't real but you ain't real yourself

The first lines is actually mad feministic, he basically summarizing Andrea Dworkin or some ho, i.e. men don't have the right to control a woman's sexuality.  JT then suggests that the bitch he is addressing - you, the listener and pupil - would kill his girl and himself upon discovering her infidelity, an astute if caustic reminder of the prevalence of murder-suicides involving domestic partners.  In these situations, the male is overwhelmingly the killer.  Decidedly not some playa ass shit.

Cuz you knew she was a ho when you met her
But the pussy so good you just wanted it forever
And it hurt you to know another nigga got it
But tell me dogg, what could you do to stop it?

Yo, it's true!  I knew she was a ho when she sucked my dick in a Carl's Jr. parking lot for some onion rings, so I only got myself to blame for the outcome.  No man can tell a woman what she can or can't do with her body.  JT just shows that pimps were pioneers in sex positive attitudes.  In the words of John Donne, "E'ry pimp, a romantic formerly was / When in love gained clap / Thence his knob dripp'd pus."

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I ain't sayin he's Pharoahe Monch, but people underrate Future's skill as a rapper and lyricist.  And as much as I'd like to, I can't cast blame or name names on that oversight.  Though one of my favorite rappers of recent memory, I can only understand maybe 75% of what he says through all the autotune and mumbling.  Everything is steeped in an abstruse ATLien argot, which can make it hard to tell what's a non-sequitur and what would be intelligible to an insider.  For once, I can't hate too much on the shortbus jockeys over at Rap GED.  Future's world can be disorienting.

Monster and Beast Mode were received with a strange lack of enthusiasm, but their best parts hinted at the pervasive darkness of 56 Nights.   "Codeine Crazy" is an addict's diary, even if lazy listeners just read the title and assumed it was another love song to purple drank.  Ain't sure if Yams's last tweet was referring to that joint, but Future is one of the few voices honest about the costs/benefits of the candied heroin.

Future always made music for the night: now his nights are bleak.  The sadboys made depression into a zany lightweight meme, but Future's subtle way of redeploying old tropes makes 56 Nights more than coffee-house whining over 808s.  Although he raps about the same fast/high life shit, he consistently undercuts the lifestyle with the kind of surprising insight that established him as writer of uncommon emotional complexity.  He ain't really enjoying the rock-star life anymore, the pursuit of stimulation having now hardened into monotony and dependence.  In the quaint days of Astronaut Status he was braggin 'bout havin a bitch in every city, but ya mans ain't swashbucklin like that no more.  It's a record of self-disgust and morning-after regrets.  If I was a therapist I'd say, "Yo, Future, when you bonin all these skeezers, I think you're really trying to plug the hole in your soul," then I'd look up from my notepad with my eyebrows arched in a provocative manner, a pen resting on the corner of my creepy smirk like a phallic symbol.

The title track is the apotheosis of 56 Nights' jaded self-destruction, a litany of dissolution wherein our narrator fucks 56 crazy broads in one month; gets "too faded" off Xanax, drank, and molly; hangs out with crack babies; and rides in the back of a paddywagon feeling numb.  There's more to it than this, but the downer raps of 56 Nights capture a very specific break-up fallout: when you're going out every night getting wasted and you wake up in a bed with a stranger whose name you can't remember and shame coursing through your veins and you know you're destroying your mind and body but nothing really matters anyway so you keep punishing yourself to see how far it can all go before the inevitable day of reckoning.  Rejoice, Future has made a record for that!  Fans of brevity and producer-driven albums will also be pleased.  10 tracks, an intro skit, laced mainly by Southside's bleak industrial soundscapes.

4/5 Crying Van Der Beeks

Thursday, March 26, 2015


A while back I was readin up on Stax Records, and I noticed that a lot of the heavy producers and songwriters were Burt Bacharaddicts.   I already knew "Walk On By" was a Burt joint, but I enjoyed going back and imagining how many of his fingerprints were on Isaac's hot buttered soul.  That's what was ill about these lil' scenes back in the pre-Innanet days.  Isaac probably bugged out on a BB record, pushed it on his collaborators, and slowly the Stax sound incorporated Bacharach moves.

Now we all know The Showboys are the Burt Bacharachs of New Orleans bounce, but how and why did Spanish guitars become a thing in the late-90s/early-00s?  Were they a thing, or am I misremembering their ubiquity?  Magic & Mystikal's "Did What I Had 2" initially brought this schlock back to my attention, and it's also the apex of this micro-subgenre.  On a pop tip, there was "No Scrubs" by TLC, "Maria Maria" by Santana and The Product G&B, and Jay and 'Yonce's "Bonnie & Clyde '03."  Other marriages of rap and sultry acoustic guitar include Black Rob's "Spanish Fly," Nas's "Message," and "Family Business" by The Fugees.   "Slow Motion" has me thinking Mannie Fresh might have fucked with Spanish guitars, but I can't think of anything at the moment.  And while I would have sworn "Flowers For The Dead" had some soulful acoustic flourishes, it appears to have just been some piano tinkles and mournful braying from D'Mingo.

As usual, we can probably blame it all on Wyclef.  Although I wasn't a big fan at the time, I have grown to embrace this cross-cultural exchange for all its well-intentioned cheesiness.   I usually play Jodeci when I'm writing erotic duets in bed with my lover, but I'd prefer dancing inside her to some caliente Latin rap ballads.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Post Malone, WhoLovesMakonnen, dominated two-week content cycle in early February with his blasphemous single "White Iverson."  I don't know where this Dirty Sanchez'd gremlin-dwarf gets off comparing himself to one of the baddest players to ever finesse the parquet, but I'll address those concerns at the next community board meeting.  But this ain't about his musical accomplishments or the fact that he's bitin the ironic durag-chic of A.R.E. Weapons, the Suicide of the gentrification era.  I bring him up for the persistent rumor attaching him to one of rap's two famous T.I.s.  Nepotism and insider privilege make the world go round, so here's a couple of names from a forgotten corridor of pale rap history.

Whooliganz, comprised of a young Alchemist and Scott Caan, were the Beverly Hills charity cases in Cypress Hill's Soul Assassins collective.  Wisely dropping the name Mudfoot, the lil w-word with the dopey grin would go on to produce some pretty good material with Prodigy.  The future New Age Danno went by the name Mad Skillz at the time, which means he can probably claim OG status over rap's favorite novelty historian.

In 1994, boxing analyst Max Kellerman and his late brother Sam dropped a single called "Young Man Rumble" on Ruff House.  Moderately better than Whooliganz, it's an of-the-era Wu-Tang/Onyx homage with, of course, a boxing theme.  Remember this got the video treatment at a time when Jay-Z was still scheduling Big Daddy Kane's pre-Playgirl waxing appointments.

Now I be hobnobbin with the rich and infamous, so I know how this shit can go.  Young Hamilton goes to school with a couple of Doogie Howsers who do that rapping thing, and Papa Viacom sees an opportunity to purchase a new Cambodian child-slave.  So was it their proximity to money and influence that allowed these kids to live out their rap dreams, or were labels just throwin money at any young Caucasian with large pants and basic rhyme structure?  Hip-hop and the monied class been strange bedfellows ever since Raymond totally porked the gallerist ho in Wild Style.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


26 inches and the rims look like pickle juice

Now I know what most of y'all thinkin: "26 posts in one year ain't shit!  Go get ya fuckin shinebox and your sack of nickels."  But we came up in the '90s, boy, we got trophies just for participating in lice inspections.  No milestone, however mediocre, shall pass unacknowledged.

I thought they was overreacting puttin me on Ritalin for zonin out in class (I was just thinkin bout the Striptease VHS cover!), but my sporadic posting over the course of three years seems to confirm the suspicion.  Regardless, this post is dedicated to all the teachers who told me I'd never exceed 25 posts in a calendar year.  Take a look at me now, beeeyoch.  Enjoy this chestnut from Guccirace: wrestling aficionado, current inmate, and the last decade's most influential rapper.

Friday, March 20, 2015


For someone I had pegged as the spiritual heir to Chingy, Ca$h Out has managed to stay semi-relevant in the "Cashin' Out" comedown.  On "Get In The Kitchen," he tries his hand at based anti-rap, delivering his lines with the slurred breeziness of a syrup sipper disintegrating into a gooey mass on his couch.  It's a sub-minimal "trap" "banger" coasting on the bare essentials of genre convention and half-assed free association.

This kind of mannered incompetence is always jarring when it first appears like a turd amidst merely adequate mediocrities, but its advantage lies in the polarizing response it provokes.  Perhaps Ca$h Out hasn't earned the right to jettison the established framework of "good" rapping, but there's something exciting about this perversion of form--the pointless freedom of lacking an apparent goal or standard of success.  The YouTube voting body has steadily voiced its displeasure, but the bizarre trainwreck quality has me watching this video on repeat, as I did with the infamous Brick Squad/Minaj Rap City freestyle and V-Nasty's "Psycho Bitch." 

The video is certain to please anyone who falls in to the following demographics: enjoyers of ass, enthusiasts of dancing midgets.  There's also an old man forgetting his age and giving into the groove, a la Brian Doyle-Murray in "Camp Monk Academy."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


He did it!  On Sunday night, Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp A Butterfly on Spotify, becoming the first artist to successfully pull off a prog-rap concept album: his version of There's A Riot Goin' On, The Wall, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.  I would be shocked if he wasn't a theatre kid in high school.  Check for him performing in a flower suit at Bonnaroo this summer.

The most useless writing of the year will be To Pimp A Butterfly reviews.  They were superfluous from the get-go, since anyone who cared dialed up the ol' Spotify as soon as they heard news of its leak.  I expected to hate this album in all its AOR excess, but after a few listens I at least have to respect the hard work that went into its making.  Respecting it doesn't necessarily mean I like it, but it's sad that a lot of reviews read like Adderall term papers from someone who didn't finish the book.  "On To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar explores many difficult themes.  Posing challenging questions on race, paranoia and identity, he refuses to offer easy answers and instead forces the listener to confront the disquieting issues of our time.  Through the personal narrative of a young black man, he says something about what it is to be American in the 21st century--indeed, on what it is to be human."  Everyone's talkin, but no one's saying anything.

Some very talented and ambitious people worked on this album for over a year.  A "this is gay" Tweet would be more profound than some platitudes and reductive abstractions cobbled together over a 24-hour period.  Reminds me of the time my lil homie and I went to Art Basel and eyeballed everything for five seconds before moving on and announcing, "I get it."

To Pimp A Butterfly's early reviews have the unique quality of being fawning and disrespectful at the same time.  The universal critical acclaim says less about its success than critics' laziness and failure to engage deeply with the "difficult" themes alluded to only vaguely.  Maybe it's because the album dropped less than a day before they reviewed it, and they don't really know what those themes are quite yet, hence the eternal cop-out: "This album is dense."  No shit, B.  For an album that clearly intends to provoke conversation and make its listeners uncomfortable, it's ironic that TPAB has so far inspired only consensus and applause.

For better or worse, these surprise releases put fan and critic on equal footing.  At one point in my life I was naive enough to believe critics labored over advance copies for at least a week, really marinating in the nuances of a record instead of rushing to a snap judgement.  Maybe it was like that at one time, but as the ingenious gonzo-satire of Thought Catalog shows, "New Media" is increasingly an opinion factory that runs on ad revenue, fuck integrity.  Traffic don't wait for considered analysis.

Can we all agree he's not making rap anymore?  This is not a rap album.  Not a bad thing, it just issss...ya dig?

Monday, March 16, 2015


I thought The Cost of Victory was gonna be a guilty pleasure, like when you leave a club full of DTF chickenheads to watch Titanic and hotbox a slanket instead.  Only points of reference I had were the labels "backpacker" and "underground," bad words to me since Fantastic Damage hogged up all the ink Lord Willin' deserved.  Writers who knew their shit broke down that underground chauvinism, but the pendulum swung too far in the other direction.  The ideal is for the street shit to merge seamlessly with the brainiac shit, but it's unrealistic to expect that all the time.  It's healthy to have both, even if they have to operate on separate planes.  In the absence of critical attention, the underground atrophied to where it was just grumpy old men, artsy dilettantes, and unhinged white trash. 

No happy rap / But I'm writin' shit out of anger

Backpack rap is at its worst when it's obnoxiously whimsical (e.g. Baduizm, shouts to Oh Word) or wears the mask of piety (shouts to Hilton Als).  Nah, this guy is pissed-off and cocky.  While Cost of Victory occasionally resorts to lame sermonizing, Vic raps for those of us who feel beleaguered by a game fulla flakers and perpetrators.

It's refreshing to finally hear a good rapper disgusted with wack MCs again.  It's refreshing to hear a spiteful backpacker taking the mantle back from the comic book creeps and precious fauxhemians.  It's refreshing to hear an underdog who's a supreme shit-talker.  All that and some throwback homophobia!  Let me put on my Bubblegoose: I'm headin' to the West Village to bash some fags '90s style!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


As far as I'm concerned, there's two kinds of classics: those minted by the mainstream press (Illmatic, The Blueprint, Good Kid M.a.a.d. City, Hell Hath No Fury) and the sleeper classics that earn their status over time (Uptown Saturday Night, 400 Degreez, Thug Motivation 101, Trap Muzik).  Call 'em the people's classics.

The latter are usually more interesting cause it's more about the strength of the music than fitting into a critical rubric, kinda like how Escape From New York kicks the shit out of Hiroshima mon amour.  Look at Ma$e.  He was a popstar on Harlem World, but never a critical darling.  Double Up flopped and he became a creepy preacher, then a nostalgia act on Welcome Back.  Now people are coming around and acknowledging Harlem World as the imperfect classic it is.

The evolution of an organic classic usually goes like this.  When the album drops, critics and old heads write it off; worse yet, they damn it with tepid praise.  Eventually the kids who actually bought and bumped the album grow up and realize, "Yo, they were wrong.  This my shit."  It's a funny formulation, as much about the quality of the music as the attachment developed from growing up with someone's raps.  It's also about slaying your elders and goin, "You clowned on me when I rocked the shiny suit, but your fossilized ass dropped the ball on this one.  Put on your Karl Kani onesie and go to bed."

It's been 15 years since Life Story dropped.  It's now as old as Radio and King Of Rock were in the year 2000, which blows this young seed's mind.  Notwithstanding its warts, Life Story is a classic, and probably the swan song of New York's cultural dominance.  D-Dot is the backbone of the record: there's a Madd Rapper skit, an excellent Primo knockoff with Charlemagne, and a triumphant post-defection appearance from The Lox.  Even an ill-advised crossover attempt like "Spanish Fly" is vindicated as an encapsulation of the period: those naive days when A&R knobs were still fumbling in their attempts to cash in on the Latino market, and Pitbull was still floating in amniotic fluid in a Little Havana laboratory. 

I got absolutely no objectivity when it comes to Black Rob, but it's all good cause we anti-objective round these parts.  When I first heard "Whoa" I was a snotnose listening to Hot 97 on my transistor like, "Fuck a worksheet, I gotta hear Flex drop bombs."  Before that, the edited version of the "Money, Cash, Hoes" on the "Hard Knock Life" cassingle was probably the hardest shit I ever heard (in my defense, this was the version featuring Beanie Sigel and one of the only hot Bleek verses).  "Whoa" (and its ancestor "Ha") challenged my understanding of what rap was allowed to be.  It was the same effect I got from Ghost's "Cherchez" video: totally over my head, but that's what made it so captivating.

The Black Rob Report was solid, despite an opener that had Rob talking about cleaning his colon.   But the world had moved on by then, Bad Boy's marketing department included.  BR has since taken a post at the conservative think-tank known as Duck Down.  Rap has always been about the Next Shit, but the Innanet makes that attention span even smaller.  Word...Life and To Whom It May Concern were once solidly Rap Canon, but IDK if the janitors still dust off their plaques.  And that's cool.  We ain't gotta read what the nerds say and stew in our voicelessness.  If a borderline psychotic wants to call Life Story a classic, he can just get dial up his 56k and yell it to the world.  That's a beautiful thing.

But maybe the whole concept of a classic is outdated now that the album isn't a meaningful standard.  Was the concept of a classic just a marketing gimmick of the bygone magazine era?  "Top 5 Dead or Alive" is a quaint joke, cause there's always something new on the horizon tomorrow.  Most artists got the message and adopted a release model that flaunts its disposability.  Gucci Mane doesn't have a traditional classic under his belt, but the whole corpus of his work trumps anything Kendrick Lamar has ever done. 

BONUS JOINT:  Did u know a young Black Rob collaborated with Dan the Automator?  This is what it's like when worlds collide!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Earlier this year I declared a moratorium on the word fuckboy.  That still stands, but I'm temporarily suspending it for the purpose of academic inquiry: finding fuckboy's earliest usage.

I originally assumed it was a product of the early '00s, a milder derivative of the common "fuck nigga" epithet.  Disco Rick, however, uses both terms on the anti-curly-perm anthem "Don't Do It Nut" from 1990's The Negro's Back.

Wait hold up! I should be slappin
You in the mouth, and in your face
Fuckboy, get out the damn way!

So help me out, Internet.  What is the earliest recorded evidence of fuckboy's existence?


Remember when people were shocked and outraged by artistic content?  The same stewards of good taste still exist, but now they put their energy into tar-and-feathering offensive simpletons on Twitter.   The Innanet expanded the accessibility of controversial media exponentially, but it's obvs had a numbing effect on peeps.  How we 'posed to be shocked by anything when we watched videos of dudes cuttin off their ding dongs as 12 year-olds?

Back in the day, NWA and Chronic Sick were household names to millions of middle American kids trying to piss off moms and pops.  There isn't really an equivalent anymore.  Run The Jewels are preaching to the converted.  Odd Future made a little noise with their kill people burn shit fuck school sloganeering and rape fixation, but that juvenile stupidity can't compare to a line like "If smoking crack makes you feel good, DO IT!" delivered by an artist whose community was destroyed by the drug.  There's a world of implication when Debonaire tells kids to drop out of school and start a career in larceny, but dumb people can only see the political when they're being told to fight the power.

We're gonna miss the Tipper Gores of the world when they're gone, cause the way artists chafed at her moral grandstanding produced some great dirty records.  At least she started a conversation on art and free speech, 'cause nowadays it's just crusades against straw men and a next-day mea culpa on Twitter.  My mans Bill O'Reilly tried takin it back to the Morton Downey Jr. era with Cam (and Ludacris, bizarrely), but everyone just yawned and made a meme.  Anyone with an Internet connection can download bukkake flicks till the cows come home, but you can just as easily ignore that and look at pictures of cats instead.  Da web takes you world wide, but you can make ya own world as small and personalized as you want it.  Like that bitch in Gatsby said, "I love big Freakniks.  They so intimate and shit."

My boys in Poison Clan were rebelling against moral standards that no longer apply.  I guess that means we're more sophisticated now, but it's also resulted in blander music.  Have we reached the limits of bad taste?  I hope not.  Luke and GG didn't fight the culture wars so we could listen to...IDK, whatever indie band is popular with the kidz.  With that in mind, I officially reverse my stance on Chief Keef.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Ladies and gentlemen, that publicity shot has not been Photoshopped.  He really is holding a fucking censer in front of a rustic mountain scene, probably dropping an "Ommmm" or two for max godliness.  Who created this monster?  Soundbombing nostalgists?  The same peeps who pushed Saigon's Greatest Story Never Released as the next Illmatic?  The hippie who pays for his weed and ponytail ties sellin spiritual books on the street?

"San Pellegrino With Lemon" and "Dear Moleskine" are two of the corniest titles in rap history, but I gave Jay Downbeat a pass when he dropped that "Exhibit C" fire.  I guess he ran out of Deep Thoughts soon after, cause he took his Moleskine home and floated off into Salingerland.   Like Andre 3000, he's spent over half a decade diddling himself on a bed of laurels.  Except he hasn't earned it. Andre has more classic verses in his catalog than this thrift-store shaman has words.

Part of me hopes he's pulling some highly advanced pompousness-as-performance-art type shit, but there aren't enough punchlines for that to be true.  Doesn't he have any friends to pull him aside and say, "Who the fuck you think you is, Father Yod?  Write some raps!  How you tryin to be Sun Ra when you ain't even got an album out?"  Or do they consider it a privilege just to lick this bogus guru's backpack straps?

"Road To Perdition," released telepathically via ectoplasm, "features" Jay-Z in the same way "Otis" featured Otis Redding.  Guess they're trying to make hubris the new 30, but it just comes off like they're givin 'emselves blowies (I bet Jay Electroclash can do that because he is probably a master at tantric yoga, and also I heard his dick doubles as a hoverboard).  His fans been waiting 47 lunar phases for some new heat and all he has is some played-out punning on Big Daddy Kane and Cain and Abel?  Yo, I also thought that "Grindin" line was hot--when it came out like 15 sun-earth orbital cycles ago.  Arm legga legga...

Jay-Z is the classic chump to fall for a charismatic charlatan like Jay IDM: rich, vapid, and willing to part with his money for the greater cause.  Shouts to L. Ron, I see you Kirtanananda Swami.  Even as I write this, I'm sure Jay Dubstep is in a meditation chamber he built with Roc Nation money, desperately trying to levitate and laughing at how easily he swindled America's favorite hustler.  Watch for Jay Drum 'n' Bass's Electric Circus in 2025.

It's painfully transparent that Jay Electronica is trying to cultivate a reclusive genius aura, but I have no respect for that racket.  I give it to artists who put in the work and manage to produce more than one or two puffed-up event singles a year.  These are rap tunes, not scriptures.  This dude might sip on organic Micronesian breast milk, but he gets rid of it the same way we mere mortals do.  [Ed. note: Jay's reps are telling us he actually gets rid of waste through a sustainable system of suction cups, pulleys, and glitter.  We regret the mistake.]

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Pimp C claimed Jeezy used to run around with a backpack and rolled-up pant leg on his Hot 107.9 rant, but what was Gucci doing at the time?  If his rather sizable horrorcore catalog is any indication, he might have been one of the few people fuckin with the Flatlinerz.

He already did a "Vampire" with Trina, but it doesn't hold a candle to the "Monster Mash" goofiness of this new version.  Backed by a Mustard beat that would kill at a New Age yoga retreat,  Gucci croons about an Elvira-type broad he met in the graveyard.  Hanging out in graveyards is always a good look.  Gucci's song concepts always demonstrated his knack for the surreal and absurd, but "Vampire" really foregrounds the campiness of his work.  Gucci gonna be a gay icon soon.

What else?  There's the album cover where he's Photoshopped onto Freddy Krueger's body and the grindhouse blood-and-bondage aesthetic of the "Crazy" video.  Then there's "Poltergeist" with Talib Kweli(!) and "Haunted House" and "Horror Flick" and "Trick Or Treat" and "Feed Me."  Someone get this man a Fangoria subscription!

RADRIC DAVIS #65556019

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


As Kid Rock reinvented himself as Bob Seger for the crystal meth era, so goes Yelawolf.  In a transparent bid for that Macklemore crossover appeal, Yelawolf refines his target demographic to the 21st Century Cool Dad.  This shit is made to be pumped in a Prius as they drop their fauxhawked little hellraiser off at soccer practice, all the square dads totally buggin out on their righteous Sailor Jerry style sleeve.  Earlier he collaborated with Ed Sheeran and Travis Barker, but has since found his niche as the Rap Game Jeff Foxworthy.  I find it highly offensive that he's perpetuating redneck stereotypes for monetary gain, so let's reflect on all the cliches in "Whiskey In A Bottle."

Whiskey.  Countless country artists know: if you wanna get a redneck vibe poppin off, mention whiskey in the title.

Flannel.  Flannel is the whiskey of the fashion world.

Rockabilly haircuts and face tats.
  The rockabilly haircut offsets the ex-con connotation of a face tat, while still leaving open the possibility you got some thug in you.

Choppers.  The Ruff Ryders favored Asian crotchrockets, but Yelawolf and his comrades are fetishists of old-school American craftsmanship.  It's a powerful symbol.  Whereas the crotch rocket conjures memories of beatdowns on the West Side Highway, the chopper represents the paler, more picturesque rebellions of Easy Rider and James Dean.   We at RMH regard all motorcyclists as violent thugs who must be stopped.

Leather jackets, fedoras, and a traditional American tattoo parlor round out this slur against hipster redneck culture.  What, no barber's pole?  Surely some Americana-obsessed yuppie will blast this in his mancave of leather furniture and single malts, raising his glass high as he condescends to the hopeless souls cashing unemployment checks in Walmart country.  This is the most hateful indictment of '50s greaser nostalgia since Reverend Horton Heat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


As much as I liked Bankroll Fresh's Life Of A Hotboy tape, it was little more than a workmanlike exercise in highly competent rapping.  Bankroll (nee Yung Fresh) got skills, but IDK if he has the personality to jump from good to great.  No one's expecting him to have the same charisma of Gucci, but on this 2013 Zaytoven jawn he gets killed on his own shit by Rocko channeling Plies.  The late, flamboyantly eye-patched Doe B also gets in on the action.  Side note: what are the odds that Doe B got shot by another eye-patched dude?  Eye for an eye for real; that's some Spy vs. Spy type beef.

This 2009 cut, again produced by Zay, finds Fresh rapping inna OJ Da Juiceman style.  It's always a good look to bite OJ, the most influential rapper of the past 10 years, but as a creative writing teacher might say, Bankroll, you need to put more of yourself in the work!

"Faces" has Yung Ralph and Fresh goin over yet another vintage Zay beat, with Gucci in the late So Icey Era.  Hearing the exuberance in Gucci's voice makes me miss 2008, before his work took a paranoid turn.  Someone gotta divide Gucci's shit into different eras cause he's on some Picasso shit like that.  Right now he sounds like he's rappin thru a down comforter after sleeping off five gravy-boats of Actavis.  He peeks thru the blinds lookin for thieves in the night, back aching cause he fell asleep on a 40 cal.  Gucci's Loner Period or his Grey Era?

Monday, March 2, 2015


Seems 2014 was the year of RICH GANG with all these crit hoez bending over to get spit roasted by RICH HOMIE QUAN and YOUNG THUG, but why exactly did they become such a cause célèbre?  It seemed to go beyond music, a get with it or get left behind ultimatum on the future direction of rap.  Da Yung Turkz drew a line in the sand, tellin old heads to get with the program or fuck off - a flip of the bird to the conservative coalition, with RICH GANG as the extended middle finger.

Other day I was posted on the corner suckin on a chili dog with my lil homie, just bumping some OG MELLENCAMP and passin a Kool back and forth.  Exhaling the mentholated essence, my patna tells me QUAN is a hipster rapper, totally changing my perspective of his standing in the rap universe.  I felt like 18th century headz pobably did when Galileo dropped his Origin of the Species mixtape talkin bout we evolved from Magilla Gorilla.  It's true, but not in the sense SHABAZZ PALACES or YUNG LEAN are - hipsters like em, but they ain't the sole or primary audience.

Full disclosure: me and the lil homie dipped the Kool in the wet up, so by now I was seein diagrams of the stars like my man Saint Francis Drake when he discovered that Pluto was actually just a cartoon dog.  I thought back to the Culture Wars of '04, when Kelefa Sanneh hit em up with that rockist dis track and Pitchfork realized rap was about more than white dreadlocks and dudes in Che shirts.

Surprising many, hipsters rallied around DIPSET.  CAM's Purple Haze was especially galvanizing.  The choice was understandable if unexpected: THE DIPS pillaged '80s cheese in an ironic way, but they kicked a kind of diddy-boppin Harlem flyness that was new without being drastically removed from East Coast classicism.  They were charismatic, absurd, and visually outlandish, comin off like a hood take on the garish-fabulous David La Chapelle schtick.   It was a radical departure from the rappers presented themselves, and their contribution to rap aesthetics still hasn't been appreciated properly.

These days RICH GANG occupies the same role.  YOUNG THUG and RHQ kick two styles of raps that are equally controversial and relevant.  QUAN is one of the more visible practitioners of the ATL strain of melodic rapping, a particularly troubling development for OGs who see it as the end of straight rappity-rappin.  Everyone knows THUGGA is a weirdo and that's nothin new in hip-hop, but the way he's acting out that eccentricity is.   We had cats like DEL and SHOCK G who made some noise in the mainstream, but at the end of the day they were cult figures standing on the sidelines of the mainstream ball.  On the other hand, LIL B is too much of a self-contained concern, and the underground freaks don't count for quinoa.  WAYNE and ANDRE are the closest antecedents to YOUNG THUG, but WAYNE's weirdness declined once he became a pop star and got off the drugs.  ANDRE is more about kickin knowledge, with a style that owes more to SOULS OF MISCHIEF than KILO ALI.

Where ANDRE was workin in the mainstream and critiquing it at the same time, YOUNG THUG accepts convention only to bend it out of shape.  If he's critiquing anything, it's only implicit.  This could just be a byproduct of the times they came up - 'KAST laid the groundwork for Atlanta rap on an international scale, so there wasn't yet an established idea of what it was "supposed to be" - but ANDRE is an outlier within hip-hop and in pop culture at large.  His subversion is undisguised; THUG is doing something subtler.

On top of that THUG occasionally puts on a skirt, so of course hipsters gonna rally around this shit!  Ol' hatin ass LORD JAMAR would call them beta males (or worse), and what are hipsters if not beta males (or worse)?  It's cool, good music is good music, but let's hope they don't start pandering to the new audience or gettin high on themselves cause that's how you end up with an Idlewild.  I'll accept some Speakerboxxx/The Love Below self-indulgence, but first they gotta drop their ATLiens.