Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Riches To Rags

One of the more underdiscussed developments of the recent rap scene is the fact that Big Boi, one half of arguably the best duo in rap history (I'd also accept Gang Starr, EPMD, M.O.P., or Run-DMC) has been essentially reduced to rubble. This is in no way an indictment of his rhyming ability, just the company he keeps on records and the fact that his album is still stuck in purgatory. Sir Luscious Leftfoot has been on the shelf for at least 2 years now and it obviously isn't a quality issue, just about every leaked snippet has been top-shelf. For one reason or another, the TIs must not feel like a solo album from the more conventional rapper in OutKast is a good investment.

And now, it seems like Big Boi has resorted to the trap-rap cameo circuit in order to gain some sort of "buzz", that magical word that connotates the number of teenagers who think you're, like, totally the shit, dude. Sadly, this is where Gucci Mane seems to have come into play. Daddy Fatsacks has done at least two collabos with Gucci, not to mention Gorilla Zoe & DJ Khaled. Gucci is starting to become a star in his own right, but it seems a little bit ridiculous that a man who had his own role in crafting several classic albums and has contributed his own fair share of scorching 16s would be reduced to permanent Scottie Pippen status in his own city.

Sure, Andre had his own bizarre run where he cameo'ed on remixes for Walk It Out & Throw Some D's, but he spent a good portion of the Unk song telling dudes to buy smaller shirts, better cars and to stop generally being such a nuisance. Big Boi is recruiting Gucci to attempt to jump start his curiously stalled solo album, and rapping on remixes with Da Juiceman to boot. Whatever happened to people actually remembering that someone is actually a good rapper and just being excited for an album of new music from him? Dude has already dropped collabs with 3K & Mary J, what more do people want? Andre could put out a 30 second freestyle over the Make Da Trap Say Aye instrumental and the Internets would all trip over themselves to play fantasy A&R for his solo.

Long story short, if Shine Blockas doesn't get his album in stores, I don't know what will. It is about as good as you could ever envision a collab between two such different artists turning out. Big Boi brings Gucci into his style of songmaking and the result almost comes off as the bumpkin cousin to International Players' Anthem. One can only hope the song and the album get the proper push needed to see daylight in retail form.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MTV's Hottest MCs List: Bang Bang Edition

Once again, MTV decided to rank the rap game's hottest MCs and once again the blogosphere has erupted with criticisms of the list. And for once, they have a point. Without further ado, we will parse through MTV's choices and show where wrongs should be righted.

#10 MTV's choice: Fabolous Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Jadakiss
Fab certainly should have been in Top 15 consideration, but to put him on is to completely forget the year that Jadakiss has had. The Last Kiss far outperformed Loso's Way and Jada has been on a tear in the cameo/mixtape circuit. With appearances on records for everyone, including Busta Rhymes, Red Cafe, Capone-N-Noreaga, Cam'ron, G-Unit, French Montana and Raekwon, 'Kiss has solidifed his spot as the go-to NY guest 16 spitter.

#9 MTV's choice: 50 Cent Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Young Jeezy
While 50 has dropped 2 quality mixtapes, he hasn't dropped an album in 2 years, and his various attempts at a hit single have fizzled. Jeezy dropped one stellar tape (Trappin' Ain't Dead) and has murdered the cameo circuit, lending his raspy tales to Jadakiss, Birdman, Drake, Lil' Boosie, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z, Maino and Rick Ross. Talk about a diversified portfolio. Mr. 17.5 also rode the residual buzz for The Recession, dropping online videos and issuing a Jay-Z remix for "My President Is Black". Jeezy also struck a blow against his rivals Gucci Mane & OJ Da Juiceman with the scathing "24, 23" diss.

#8 MTV's choice: Raekwon Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Rick Ross
MTV including Ross in its Top 5, and omitting Eminem & T.I. from its list are probably the most asinine aspects of it, but who can be certain? If this list had been made a few months ago, Bawse might have cracked the top 5, but now, no cigar. As it is, Ross has had quite a run, making an album that may possibly crack the year's top 10 and flooding the underground with occasionally impressive freestyles and remixes. Deeper Than Rap was the rare album that nearly lived up to the unbelieveable hype. While Ross didn't fare too well in his war of words with 50, the public perceived Deeper Than Rap a success, despite the fact that it sold about half as much as Trilla and a third of Port Of Miami. With the release of the highly enjoyable double disc White Sand mixtape and the upcoming Triple C's album, Bawse might just be able to rise up this list yet, but for now, its #8 for the Bawseman.

#7 MTV's choice: Young Jeezy Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Lil' Wayne
Jeezy was a tad high on MTV's list, but Wayne was astonishingly overrated. A #2 spot for a guy who hasn't released an album in almost a year and a half and has spent a good chunk of this calendar year either singing or half-assing the few raps he's bothered to record, way to go, MTV. That being said, Wayne derserves a spot on this list because he's managed to maintain a presence on the marketplace through his work with Young Money (read: Drake) and the few people still calling him for a cameo verse. Most of the same calls he would have gotten last year have since gone to Gucci. He's also accidentally breathed some life into the female MC game by bringing out Nicki Minaj, who is god-awful. She's been dangerously close to getting her own post, "Itty Bitty Piggy" nearly being the song to make me pull the trigger. If someone can explain her appeal to me in a way that has nothing to do with her T&A, I'm all ears.

#6 MTV's choice: Gucci Mane Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Gucci Mane
Finally my opinion and MTV's intersect. Gucci derserves to be slotted ahead of the fray, but not in with the superduperstars. With countless mixtape hits and guest slots for Black Eyed Peas, Mariah Carey, Lil' Wayne, Busta Rhymes, Cam'ron, Ludacris, Mario, Nelly, Soulja Boy and Wale, Gucci was damn near inescapable this year. (Believe me, I tried.) He also followed in Lil' Wayne's footsteps and unleashed a horrible protege & clique on the world with this OJ Da Juiceman character and these Brick Squad fools. Waka Flocka Flame? Really? As I've always maintained with Gucci, he's not half terrible and does have a penchant for the catchy refrain, but will his style ever translate into good albums and a real (non-ironic) following? I'm very doubtful that will he will ever be much more than he is now, a flavor of the moment.

#5 MTV's choice: Rick Ross Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Kanye West
It seems appropriate to slot Kanye here, being that he hasn't dropped an honest to goodness rap album since Curtis has, but has managed to maintain a certain buzz level through producing and ripping any guest 16s that come his way. Just ask Jay-Z, Clipse, The Dream, Jamie Foxx, Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Q-Tip or Kid Cudi. He also manages to stay in the conversation, real album or no real album. 808s & Heartbreaks, despite being not all that great, managed to scan almost 2 million copies and spawn several radio hits. The beat for "Say You Will" also made its rounds on the mixtapes, with Drake & Big Sean both blessing the track with some of their finer lyrics.

#4 MTV's choice: Kanye West Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Drake
Very tenatively do I place Drake here. But, getting co-signs from Eminem, Jay-Z, Lil' Wayne, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and everyone else who matters helps the process. It doesn't hurt that So Far Gone has several moments worthy of the hype, and even more impressively, is on track to scan at least 200,000 legitimate copies. Low numbers for an album release, yes, but for a mixtape that has been Zshared & Sharebeed to death for almost a year now, extremely impressive. As for whether the kid can rhyme, sure he can, but is he worthy of the hype bestowed upon him? Not really. All he's done is distill the qualities people like best about Eminem, Kanye West, and Lil' Wayne and streamline them for mainstream audiences. When you're taking from three of the most mainstream rappers going and still watering it down even more, that's quite an accomplishment. But, by using Eminem's willingness to go into his own self doubts, in tandem with a rhyme style/flow that goes back & forth between being a descendant of Kanye & Wayne, he will certainly be cashing large record label & Hollywood royalty checks for years to come.

#3 MTV's choice: Drake Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: T.I.
I guess T.I. being in jail is MTV's excuse for not including him. By squeezing out Tip & Em, they made room for Raekwon & Fabolous, two guys who made the best album they possibly could this year, but are in no way hot or relevant in a national sense. Possibly Fabolous, due to his tendency to show up on at least a few R&B remixes a month. T.I. could have had a case for the top spot if not for his incarceration and subsequent failure to put out the Paper Trail reissue. Though it was released in the tail end of 2008, many of the songs played well into 2009. T.I. also kept his name hot doing guest verses for Mary J. Blige, Bobby Ray, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Rick Ross and Young Dro. If his last stint in the pokey was any indicator, Tip will come back with a vengenance.

#2 MTV's choice: Lil' Wayne Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Eminem
This entry corrects two of MTV's biggest mistakes, the overrank of Wayne and the omittance of Marshall. Not only did Em drop a quality album just a few months ago, but he has also been hard at work on a follow-up, due to drop later this year. He also took time out to give Mariah a lyrical beatdown for her depiction of him in the "Obsessed" video and gave Alchemist a classic freestyle to use for his Chemical Warfare album. With the news that Em got some Just Blaze beats in addition to his usual stash of Dre tracks for Relapse 2, anticipation is at an all time high. Not many rappers can claim fans want a whole new album from them just months after they dropped their last one.

#1 MTV's choice: Jay-Z Bang Bang Skeet Skeet's: Jay-Z
This is a slam dunk choice, given the time in which this poll is being released. Of course Jay is the hottest out right now. If this poll is done in March or even July, Jay might not even crack the top 5. With The Blueprint 3 (massive post comparing and contrasting it with OB4CL2 coming soon, almost halfway done) solidifying his place at the top of the food chain, the only question left is what next for Jay? He has been quoted as saying his next album will be an experimental effort, which is necessary, but how will he experiment? If my gut feeling is right and the album turns out to be Hov doing his best Grizzly Bear or MGMT rendition, it could be dope or it could be the worst thing rap's ever seen.

So there you have it, a fairly unbiased view of the actual hottest MCs out. You can also make an argument for Fabolous, Kid Cudi, 50 Cent, Raekwon, Cam'ron, Wale, Ghostface Killah, Lil' Boosie, Plies, or the MC of your choosing, but who do you bump? If a #11 had to be chosen, I suppose it would be 50, but that's more to do with what he's done than what he's about to do.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jody Breeze Vs. Young Jeezy?

And in this week's installment of people going at the throats of people they used to be cool with, we have Jody Breeze & Young Jeezy. Each used to be in the fairly decent Boyz N Da Hood and it could be argued that they each displayed the same level of talent on the lone album Jeezy recorded with the group. Be honest, no one remembers Duke & Gee, and at one point Breeze was one of the south's top up-and-comers right alongside of Jeezy. While The Snowman has become a household name (in Southern households and any household with teenagers), Breeze languished on Jazze Pha's vanity label, releasing several quality singles, but still with no solo to show for it.

Recently, a new Jody track surfaced. Recorded over Drake's "Uptown" instrumental, he lyrically lambastes Jeezy for a variety of offenses, but never really let the listener know exactly why he's upset. In the past few days, more than likely to synch up with the release of his new mixtape Death Of The Hoeman (hardy-har), he has actually released the timeless classic of the pointless beef that will no help no one: the 10-minute long YouTube shit-talking clip. In it, all he manages to offer for a reason for the beef is a unfriendly club encounter with Jeezy's lackeys and a time where Jeezy bad-mouthed him to Block, all stuff that seems really easily to solve if two people just addressed each other like grown men. Whats worse is that Breeze goes out of his way at the end of the clip to point out his affilation with the BMF, Big Meech in particular. I should think neither of these men would want to call any more attention to this association than necessary, especially considering Jeezy's rumored level of involvement in the day-to-day operations of BMF.

Now, instead of Jeezy possibly lending Breeze a hand with his solo career with a verse or a hook (almost certainly the real reason why Breeze has made this sudden ploy for attention), they stand opposed. I'm sure nothing much more will come of this, although Jeezy usually drops a couple subliminal shots here and there on his LPs ("You're a pocketbook boy, a Louis Vuitton fag"), he isn't much for battles, outside of his bizarre & quixiotic quest to destroy Gucci Mane, who is almost a certain lock to self-destruct Boosie-style right when his album drops.

Long story short, these types of beefs never usually end well for anybody, as only the lesser known artist stands to gain from it. Hopefully, Jeezy doesn't say anything back and this dies a peaceful death. Jody Breeze is a talented rapper who can blow up without a Jeezy beef to propel him. Instead of wasting all the time and energy to record a worthless diss song over another rapper's beat, make some original music that can get you meaningful airplay. Get together with some unknown producers and try to cook up that next sound. If that's not your steez, get together with Drumma Boy, Zaytoven, and the like. But this beef is not the anwer you're looking for.