Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Curious Case Of Ron Browz

As most everybody has seen themselves pushed back into some kind of 2009 TBD limbo, and the scene has gone more and more stagnant, it only seems right to commentate about the bizarre rise of Ron Browz. What makes his ascension even more puzzling is that the music he's currently dominating radio playlists with is the antithesis of the hard-rock '90s NYC rap he produced for most of his career. The man was extremely influential to the careers of many of the greats, from Nas to Big L. Now "Pop Champagne" & "Arab Money" are no "Ether" or "Ebonics", but they are moderately listenable in their own right.

But, as with everything in hip-hop that is moderately listenable, it is now being cloned for everyone with a few extra dollars. Fat Joe, Capone-N-Noreaga, even Cardan are all now dropping Ron Browz joints, complete with his off-key AutoTune wailing. To clown him for not being as good at using the plug-in as T-Pain is almost besides the point. New York's resentment towards the south has now reached the point where almost all of their artists have adopted stylistic trends from the region, without regard for hypocrisy. Fat Joe probably has more songs with Wayne than Pun at this point.

Every other region of the country constantly has new and bubbling talent about to come to the forefront, but NYC seems to want to cling to all of their stars of yesterday, while endlessly hating anyone coming up, by either comparing them to Hova or B.I.G. You would be hard-pressed to find more than just a handful of spitters from 718 you would want to listen to a full album of. Maino can't even drop an album after dropping the minor national hit "Hi Hater". Saigon's Just Blaze produced debut can't find a home. Papoose has the feeling of someone who has realized his chance to blow up has come and gone, his latest single was a poor attempt to recapture Cash Money's old formula of ending every rhyme with the same phrase, a sad departure for a man that made his name spewing 10 dollar words all over tracks. Jim Jones can't possibly drop another album worthy of the hype. Max B can't drop an album because it's not worth anyone's money to pay Jim Jones the millions he'll demand for his rights. Uncle Murda stands no chance of ever dropping an album. G-Unit seems to have hit that wall where they could drop the next "All About The Benjamins" and no one would listen or care.

Which is a shame, they still drop decent joints, with Banks' new mixtape series and 50's new album sounding much better than Curtis or The Massacre. All of this makes me think that the rap game in NY would be better served if Browz would spread some of his dirty south by way of Harlem joints around to some newcomers who could use the break. Busta Rhymes, Capone-N-Noreaga, Fat Joe, and even Jim Jones have all made valuable contributions to the world of hip-hop. But Busta & Jim still don't even have release dates, and CNN & Fat Joe won't make themselves any new friends with "Rotate" or "Winding On Me".

"Winding On Me" is truly a waste, as it has Browz' least annoying hook, a much more fully rounded beat than most of his new productions, and a 16 from Wayne that's one of the few I've heard him do in months that wasn't AutoTuned, sang, or half-assed. These songs, for whatever they are or aren't, would have been better served going into the hands of the up and comers, kids that would have been benefitted from the controversies of "Arab Money" or the Top 10 potential of "Winding On Me". For obvious business reasons, it was in Browz' best interests to pawn off his new brainchild on all of the old-guard rappers in NYC. Now that he's become a hot name, for better or worse, it would be a good thing to see some new kids get in on the trend, and possibly build a career out of it. Look at people like Plies, Rick Ross, etc. All they do is make halfway decent albums with a few trendy club joints. In 2009, I'd like to see NYC stop acting so cool, support their artists and let somebody new blow up. I'm as big a fan of Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Mobb Deep, CNN, Joe, etc. as much as anyone, but how much do these artists have left to tell us? Just some food for thought.

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