Posted: April 5, 2010
A few stray thoughts.
- Riding along the other day while listening to “Beemer, Benz or Bentley”–a song I like well enough–I discovered the crux of my annoyance with the genre’s most popular music. Historically, the MC’s subject matter is overwhelmingly self-centered; this isn’t a knock so much as an acknowledgment of the facts: MCs discussed themselves a good deal as they discussed some aspect of the world around them. As I rode along, I couldn’t really think of another genre of music that was so clearly focused on self, then I considered country, which is very often about Singer X and what Singer X did or didn’t do. Like hip hop, a lot of the subject matter revolves around the same handful of subjects, so what’s my beef with the former? I think my issue is two-fold. Firstly, the hubris, which has always been a staple in hip hop, has gone to a level which is scary. These guys seem to actually believe the things they talk about in a way that is alarming. The hubris is, rarely, balanced out by something that might be described as humility or vulnerability (though I do recognize here that the stuff being played on the radio is not the purview of the artist). Secondly, I think it’s the problem of boring presentation of limited subject and subject matter. The MCs dilemma–should he or she choose to stick to the classic “I” subject script–deserves some attention here. It’s unfair to merely say people just can’t rap anymore (though there are a lot of people who just can’t rap anymore). I think it should be noted that talking about yourself on a diversity of topics isn’t altogether easy. I currently write about myself once a week and find it isn’t easy to parse through what material seems suitable for display (of course you could argue that MCs need to step out into the world beyond themselves, but that’s another discussion.) Where I like the “Beemer, Benz or Bentley”-s of the world, there’s something of a diminished return for similar material that isn’t presented in a clever way (and for those that wonder why Wayne is popular, he’s a guy that is technically proficient and presents material in a more interesting way than most).
- I snapped about this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll do it again because I haven’t said it enough yet: Usher needs to leave the young boys game to the young boys and come out with an acoustic adult contemporary-ish album. Said album should be produced by someone like Babyface or Raphael Saadiq and would want to feature an array of artists across genres and generations. An album without Robin Thicke or the perhaps the chick form Sugarland would be a mistake. As a dude who was in middle school when “You Make Me Wanna” blew up and has been more or less a fan up through the “Confessions” album, I say this strongly: Nothing like “Daddy’s Home” and/or Plies needs to be anywhere near an Usher album.
- Erykah Badu is not Oscar Grant. She’s an artist who took a risk to make an interesting piece of art. She knew the risks of doing so and was brave enough to do it anyway. I applaud her for making a bold music video. It wasn’t cutting-edge or anything, but it was brave, interesting and thought-provoking. In being brave and interesting, in being a badass, you sometimes get in trouble. She (correctly) didn’t want the permits and such necessary because it would have altered the feel and intent of what she was trying to accomplish. Being that she doesn’t appear to be an idiot, she knew there might be consequence for being butt ass naked on the grassy knoll (which is also why she did the video in one take and broke the hell out when they were finished shooting). Taking a risk for your art doesn’t mean you don’t get into shit; it means you care more about the finished product and getting your message out than you do the temporary consequences that may come with it.
- What happened to hard fouls? Watching UCONN’s Maya Moore drop about 30 on Baylor last night, I kept asking myself when someone was going to make her earn it in the paint. Don’t get me wrong; Moore was working to get position, running the floor, etc, but it didn’t seem like anyone was willing to give up “I’ll make you think twice about coming into the paint” fouls. I’m not an advocate of flagrant fouls meted out with an intent to injure. I am saying a hard foul is kinda like brushing someone off the plate: you’re not trying to hurt them, but you are letting them know a bit of courage is required if you want score in these parts.
- Check my Book of Odds post for the week!