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Posts Tagged ‘Rap’

This morning, after hanging up my Adidas Star Wars Stormtrooper Superskates on my bedroom wall, while slipping into and admiring my laser-etched Jordan V’s and glancing over at my Olympic-colorway Jordan VI’s, Space Jam “Hare” Jordan I’s, exclusive-colorway Kobe IV’s…I realized that I’m NOT a “sneakerhead” — even after scanning through all the ridiculous prices for each shoe on ebay. (I, of course, bought them for much cheaper…mostly at the store.)

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Rap music gets a bad rap these days.:) Some of it is because of poorly constructed puns like that last sentence in the music, but it is more likely due, in large part, to the perceived “thug” or “gangsta” image. I’m not even going to attempt going into the social causes or origins of that. All I’m going to say is that image is something that repulses many from the entire genre. It is one that often portrays women in a degrading manner, can glorify violence, and has a very self-righteous, arrogant attitude on top of it.

And it’s unfortunate this surface image is what keeps some very good music out of the minds of many people. Truly good hip-hop can be deeply expressive, socially insightful, and enlightening as well as entertaining.

There is a poetic, immediate quality to the music where the cadence and rhythm of language and words are paired with the same cadence and rhythm of music. In many ways, hip-hop appeals to me a lot strictly because of the way it can utilize and explore language through music in a way that can’t be done elsewhere. Sure, there can be some great lyrics in rock or any other type of music but your focus isn’t on them. It’s much easier to enjoy a rock song for the melody without even paying attention to the lyrics. Only in (true) hip-hop are the lyrics front and center — a song is built around the lyrics.

And skilled, talented rappers can create some of the most musically powerful and poignant stuff through that structure. Now I’ll give some examples of what I believe is some quality hip-hop. These aren’t necessarily classic, “important,” or “essential” tracks. I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy what I find, and these are just a few songs that prove hip-hop isn’t all about, in the words of Jay-Z, “money, cash, hoes”:

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I came across the topic of this post on Strange Maps last week at work, lost track of it, then found it again today.
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Several years ago, rapper Ludacris released a song that was a big hit, titled “Area Codes,” in which he rapped about the various “hoes” he supposedly has all across the United States. The title of the song comes from the fact that he utilizes area code numbers to pinpoint exactly what regions all his hoes are located in. It’s an absurdly hilarious song.

A studious geography major, Stefanie Gray, apparently couldn’t let this opportunity to inform and educate pass her by. So she collected data from the lyrics of the song and mapped it out. Her diligent work produced this result (click to enlarge):

ludacris_area_codes_big.gif

And here are some of the interesting things she found by analyzing the data:

  • “Ludacris heavily favors the East Coast to the West, save for Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Las Vegas.”
  • “Ludacris travels frequently along the Boswash corridor.”
  • “There is a ‘ho belt‘ phenomenon nearly synonymous with the ‘Bible Belt’.”
  • “Ludacris has hoes in the entire state of Maryland.”
  • “Ludacris has a disproportionate ho-zone in rural Nebraska. He might favor white women as much as he does black women, or perhaps, girls who farm.”
  • “Ludacris’s ideal ‘ho-highway’ would be I-95.”
  • “Ludacris has hoes in the Midway and Wake Islands. Only scientists are allowed to inhabit the Midway Islands, and only military personnel may inhabit the Wake Islands. Draw your own conclusion.”

Go back to the post on Strange Maps for more details — and the very entertaining comments that are posted there.

Songs of the Day:

Ludacris (ft. Nate Dogg) – “Area Codes” /  (album link)
John Mayer – “Area Codes (Ludacris cover)” /  (live/unreleased)

I think John Mayer gets a lot of undeserved bashing. He’s really a decent artist. Here’s another cover by him.

John Mayer – “Kid A (Radiohead cover)” /  (live/unreleased)

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Watch out now. I’m going to flip the routine here to spice things up a little. Today, I’m offering my “Song of the Day” at the beginning of the post. Yeah, I know, I didn’t think you guys would be able to handle it either, at first, but I think it will enhance your enjoyment of the post. So here it is:

Timbaland – “The Way I Are”

Listen to the song if you haven’t heard it yet, then proceed with the post. I’m not even gonna go into length about the grammatically incorrect title…

I’ve heard this fine piece of music all over the place…blaring from radios, cell phones, leaking out of ipod earbuds, I’m pretty sure I recall it was played the one time I went to a club last year, and basically everywhere there was a speaker. It features a bouncing beat, synths, and the signature “yeah”-guy present in seemingly every Timbaland production.

But it wasn’t until I recently downloaded it from a blogger’s end of the year list of “hot tracks of 2007″that I actually listened to the lyrics. And wow…I was shocked. The guy in the song is totally me — if I, for some ridiculous reason, decided to try to be fly and hit up the club scene and find a girlfriend there with the meager funds I have in my checking account. I am sure this song would be the exact result; musically and lyrically, it really captures that situation perfectly. Check out these opening lines:

I ain’t got no money
I ain’t got no car to take you on a date
I can’t even buy you flowers…
…Talk to me girl.

… (YEAH!)

Whoooo! How’s that for a pick-up line? Does T-to-the-Imbaland have you girls just swooning and out of breath? I sure would be if I were a female. (Okay, that “Yeah!” wasn’t really in the song)

Alright, let’s look at the similarities. (more…)

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Plan B

That’s the music video for “Mama (Loves a Crackhead)” by Plan B, featuring himself on guitar and vocals. Plan B (real name, Ben Drew) is a white, British rapper, who grew up in the ghettos (seriously) of London. He started out as an acoustic singer-songwriter type of artist, but after being pigeon-holed as a “British Justin Timberlake,” he abandoned everything and went with his “plan b” and focused on hip-hop (hence the name). But he kept the acoustic guitar and the dude can actually sing, so he does the vocals for his songs as well. He raps in a distinct cockney accent and his songs offer detailed, gritty tales told by a varied group of characters he creates. His lyrics can be very explicit, many have dark, twisted undertones, and some may even be repulsive to many. But there is a purpose behind all that graphic darkness — that’s why I’m still listening.

An easy but inadequate comparison would be Eminem. I’ll say that it is a valid comparison because their music has a similar dark, angry tone to it, they have similar rhyme schemes (heavy use of internal rhyming as well as typical rhymes at the end of lines), and disturbing, explicit nature of the lyrics. But Plan B is doing what Eminem could’ve done with his music. He is Eminem…except he is not self-absorbed; he’s socially conscious and (more…)

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