The reason why you like wack rappers…

Most of the rappers you like are not especially nice, nor talented. You don’t think enough about it because you’re too busy listening to the music in the moment. Really now, who told you that it was no longer cool to listen to Ja Rule if you didn’t have too much of an issue bumping his stuff back in 2001?? His music didn’t necessarily change dramatically for you to stop. What did change however, was the tide of popular opinion and acceptance. Is Nas“One Mic” really deep? Or does it just sound like it’s supposed to be? Can you tell me any real point that he was making in that song between talking about a trifling baby mother, a ‘fiend dropping his Heineken’, and ‘cups of virgin blood mixed with 151’?? Or do you just soak it up passively, embracing the idea that because it’s Nas and he’s been labeled the street’s prophetic disciple that it must be poetic genius? What made you stop thinking that Canibus is one of the best rappers alive? And do you really like Young Jeezy? Or do you just like his character, his rep and the beats he raps over? And why isn’t he as popular as he used to be? It’s not like he ever stopped making thug motivation trap music.

Popular vote and co-signs can do amazing things for artists. One Michael Jackson tribute on BET and a couple of tears and overnight, your most shunned industry pariah and tarnished golden boy is allowed the comeback of a lifetime, complete with guest appearances on and from every major urban artist, and he’s also allowed to rap, curse, make gang references and not have anyone bat an eyelash.

I say all of this to say that Hip-Hop music and culture have become so microwavable that the standards are less defined by the talent and success capabilities of its newer artists, but more by how much they are exposed. Think about the last new rapper who you started liking. Chances are that more than likely, after hearing their name or seeing them pop up more and more on sites you trust, you decided to look them up – probably on YouTube, and then discovered their catalogue and maybe saw a video where you felt as tho you related to their perceived steez, or you were intrigued by it. But of course, that person may or may not be nicer or more star-worthy than joe-shmoe rapper whose video may appear on the right hand side of that Youtube screen under the title “related videos”. But you wouldn’t ever get to know that right? Because you’re not going to click on that rapper’s link are you? You didn’t hear anyone co-signing or mentioning them. You didn’t see any famous features. Their video might even be way better quality.

The point is that, in a world where every Black male wants to be a rapper more than they want to be anything else, you only like the new rappers that are out now because someone told you it was okay to like them. Honestly, if you saw Machine Gun Kelly on Youtube without any of this blog love or Bad Boy co-signing, wouldn’t you laugh? Despite his rap skills, the awkward White-boy gesturing and try-hard delivery seems amateur. Everybody CAN rap nowadays. Are Big K.R.I.T. or Stalley really killing it with half-conscious, half-pot head lyrics and styles that have been done a long time ago?? Or are you just pleased to see new blood coming out of Mississippi and Cleveland? Do you really like the way that Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa put words together? Or are you just weed-fiends and you just like that they make music that you don’t have to think too much about when you’re smoking, and you get hyped when they name a new strand in their raps?? Mac Miller? Really??!

Years ago, in 2007, I was taking the time out to browse the Myspace pages of some of the folk who consistently supported my music and my page. I thought I should take a minute to leave something on the wall of this one young lesbian Crip chic in Texas who always showed me love since I hadn’t hit her up in a while. As I wrote my message, I thought it was interesting that this usually hardcore girl had this smooth sounding hypnotic yet bouncy rap song playing in the background by a rapper who didn’t sound decidedly southern but almost like me. I went to her music player to see who it was and clicked on the link page. It led me to a very flashy yet professional page where I saw the banner for a song called “Replacement Girl” by a rapper from Toronto named Drake. I thought that was a cool name because I would always use it as an alias when I was younger. I liked the song so much that I decided to visit his page periodically to see when there was new music posted. I showed his video for the single to anyone who I thought would be interested and figured that the fact that it featured Trey Songz would peak their interest. The response was always solid, but not one of further inquiry. I listened and began to love every song he put up all throughout 2008. I thought he was the freshest breath of air in rap in a long time. I asked a girl who I used to correspond with  and trade music talk with on Myspace from Canada about him and she told me that she’s heard of him, but he doesn’t really get played out there. She said he’s “cool”. How much do you want to bet that she knows all the words to his singles now?? When he decided to put out a full r&b song I noticed that he had started a blog and began to gain some traction by having higher profile collaborations. He quickly went from doing songs with the likes of Little Brother and rhyming over Dilla samples to having a slew of collabs with Wayne and others. He wasn’t a blog darling, but the buzz was building. In the beginning of 2009, I downloaded his mixtape So Far Gone and burned it to a CD so I could ride around with it in my car. Although it received 100’s of thousands of downloads as soon as it dropped, it was a gradual climb to notoriety. I rode around with that CD from winter to summer and would play it anytime anyone was around. My friends would ask me ‘is that that kid from Canada?’ . My ex used to laugh when I played “Best I Ever Had”. Then, in the middle of that summer while I was at a fashion show with her, I heard the dj play what to me was track 8 on my CD. That’s when I realized that this was going to be a hit single. Sure enough, every girl I knew who 2 months ago had no clue what a Drake was, was now putting their hands up and reciting the words to this song as if it were their personal anthem. What I did was take a chance and discover an artist that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. No one suggested him. I didn’t necessarily trust this young girl’s music judgement, nor did she personally tell me anything about this rapper. I listened and checked for him despite the fact that no one around me or none of the trusted media networks that I frequented knew about him. I just based this off of listening. I didn’t need to wait for Drake to get signed to Young Money to like his music. This is what no one does anymore. And it’s not really the audience’s fault. There’s just too many fuckin rappers! When there’s a rapper every second, no one has the time nor patience to sort thru and stumble upon them, let alone support them when they can’t even talk to someone else about them because they’re unheard of.

This is the reality of the hip-hop audience. Now of course, you have to have some ounce of skill to last past the initial co-signs. Someone like Saigon squandered his because he didn’t deliver any memorable songs with appeal. Drake of course, is a rare exception because he’s actually multi-talented and great at crafting radio-ready songs. He is also killing us currently with repetitive subject matter and patterns and an image that is getting more emo-meets-luxury rap by the minute (but of course that’s forgiven because the popular tide hasn’t become one that is tired of this yet – though history says we should be). Yet and still, it doesn’t take much. Especially not at blog level. The majority of the rappers that you see flooding the hip-hop blogs have yet to make a song with any mass appeal and their rise is usually based on how creative their videos or mixtape covers are and how much the editor thinks they remind them of a rapper from the nineties. 85% of the rappers who are popular blog stars couldn’t put on a show without losing their breath every 10 seconds or make a song that could play at a party to save their lives. It’s based on a counter-culture model that allows nerdy rap fans to champion anti-heroes who do the opposite of what they probably should do to make money as a music artist. On the flip side, most of the rappers who are signed and receiving radio play couldn’t rap a decent 16 that garnered a reaction or contained any rewind-worthy lines on their best day. Is this the measure of talent now? Either or??

It’s been proven that the best artists and those with longevity are those who can bring the best of both worlds.

I’m scared to death and disheartened to think that the only difference between me and the rappers that you have now become fans of is that I’m not plastered all over the web, or that no big dj, journalist or better known rapper has told you to like me. These are the things that allow you to go download my 16 track mixtape and have it next to your Jay-Z album in the playlist as opposed to seeing my download link and ignoring it. No rapper out now is better than me on any particular ground or by any particular measure. As a matter of fact, I’m a better rapper than almost everyone out now and I’ll explain why…

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2 Comments

  1. I’m glad that somebody, esp a person like you, understands that these new guys are nothing special. Although, I do enjoy Big Krit’s work. But the rest, I can take it or leave it.

  2. The reason why wack rappers get signed is they can play the game while the so called dope ones don’t so they sit at home and beef


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