Archive for the ‘Non-rapper’ category

Kobe and Shaq Are The Worst Rappers of the Decade

March 8, 2009
Rap battle?

Rap battle?

That Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant should share this honor is fitting. Shaq and Kobe were an indomitable force on the basketball court, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. You might say they made sweet, Championship music on the basketball court. Off the court, though, their music was less than pleasing. In fact, their output was so bad, that Kobe and Shaq just may be the Worst Rappers of the Decade.

Shaq, first. At some point, Shaquille O’Neal must have heard someone call him an Everyman and decided that an everyman was a man who did everything. When he burst on the scene in the early nineties, he made it known that he would be more than the guy who shattered backboards for a living. He would be a movie star and a rap star… who rapped about shattering backboards for a living. What’s funny is that people actually gave him movies to star in, which should make you question the very fundamentals of Hollywood’s power structure. Anyone who has ever seen Shaq in an interview knows that 1) he’s charismatic 2)he’s articulate and 3)he drones monotonously. It doesn’t matter how many “a’s” you put in it or how many exclamation points you put after it, “Kazaam!” is going to come out, “kazam

As I mentioned, Shaq also tried his hand at rap throughout the 90’s. Despite having the lyrical prowess of an insurance salesman singing karaoke, Shaq managed to send two albums past the platinum mark. In doing so, Shaq Diesel would create the template for the basketball-playing rapper. 1) Make sure to mention basketball as much as possible and 2) bring your fancy friends along to grant you the cred that you lack from your non-involvement in street gangs and/or crime. Shaq has released a ton of singles that you probably don’t remember. In fact, I’d wager that his most memorable appearance was on a song that wasn’t his: What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock?). That song met both rules. Shaq rapped along side the Fu Schnickens and made sure to make reference to his basketball career.

It’s not that Shaq was horrible–he wasn’t. He was mediocre, but Shaq put out enough material in the nineties that he was able to release a greatest hits album! He did all that in the nineties, the result of the irrational exuberance and fiscal irresponsibility that led to the dot-com crash and our current economic stagnation. His last album, Shaquille O’Neal Presents His Superfriends, was slated to be released on September 11th, 2001, but Osama Bin Laden got it pushed back (and eventually shelved) in an uncharacteristic show of mercy. Let us leave Shaq, there, for now.

Fresh out of high school, Kobe Bryant grew up in Shaq’s considerable shadow on the Lakers. One thing he must have learned from Shaq is that it’s not enough to make people drool with your superhuman feats of physicality. No, you must also make them cringe with your inhumane feats of musicality. Kobe did just that with the release of K.O.B.E. ft. Tyra Banks (yes, Tyra Banks) in 2001.

Uh, what I live for? Basketball, beats and broads

From Italy to the US, yes, it’s raw

I’ma search for the one that make my wealth feel poor

Who can ignore the spotlight like my Grandma

I guess it’s honest, but it’s also artless, and Kobe’s delivery is more wooden than baseball player making a cameo in a movie in the fifties. Actually, it’s more wooden than the bat held by the baseball player making a cameo in the fifties. You should note that Kobe has fulfilled both requirements necessary for basketball rapper songs: fancy friends and basketball references.

Take Will Smith, subtract twenty years of rapping and making hits, throw away the charisma the Fresh Prince has always exuded through your speakers, and add four to five strained basketball metaphors, and you have Kobe Bryant, who actually managed to squeeze out a couple other songs. One is “Thug Poet,” which features 50 Cent, years before Wanksta, and opens with “my microphone is my glock nine” (and you handle them both so well, Kobe!). He also managed to get himself featured on other people’s songs, including a remix to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.

Basically, Kobe spent much of 2001 sucking the charm out of hip hop. For every breath Jay-Z and Missy Elliott breathed into hip hop that year, Kobe’s well-conditioned lungs sucked an equal amount back out. To his credit, he put the microphone down and hasn’t yet picked it up again. He’s a looming threat, but not a clear and present danger.

Shaq, however, has picked up the microphone again. No one in his life is brave enough to tell him that there are some things that are better left hidden in your den, performed in the middle of the night, when Jack Daniels is the only person in the audience. Instead, last year, Shaq grabbed the mic and aimed a freestyle at former teammate, Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe, tell me how my ass taste?” This is probably the most ambiguous diss ever levelled in rap. First off, is this a request for information or a command? A little further…

Check it you know how I be.

Last week Kobe couldn’t do it without me.

I’m a horse…Kobe ratted me out..thats why I am getting a divorce.

He said Shaq gave a bitch a mill…I don’t do that…cause my name’s Shaquille

Freestyling is about being able to be clever, quickly. This fails in both regards, reminding us that basketball players should never rap. Thankfully, Kobe didn’t respond. That freestyle alone was worth being nominated worst rapper.

Shaquille O’Neal created the mold of that basketball/rapper that many would copy. His success encouraged far too many basketball players to waste studio time that might otherwise have been used to record a new Fugees album. Kobe Bryant took the baton from Shaq and ran straight into a brick wall. Shaq created the opportunity that Kobe capitalized upon to show America and the World that basketball and rap only work well together when hip hop is the background music underlying basketball action. Shaq, for the quantity of his mediocrity, and Kobe, for the depth of his suckage, are the worst rappers of the decade.


Hip Hop Harry is the Worst Rapper of the Decade

December 21, 2008

Hip Hop Harry is the worst rapper of the decade. Wait, wait, wait…. What do you mean you don’t know who Hip Hop Harry is? He’s the oversized educational character bringing it hardcore from the streets for the enlightenment and edification of the preschool infotainment audience, fool! Hip Hop Harry is a large, furry Barney-like puppet, decked out in baggy pants, titled cap, and a large gold medallion with an “H” emblazoned on its front. He uses hip hop to foster learning and creativity among kids, which isn’t such a bad goal. After all, education has always been a part of hip hop. Why, I remember when Master P released “Make Crack Like This.” In just a few short minutes, I was able to learn a new trade. Thanks, Master P! Hip Hop Harry has been kicking it preschool for about three years on educational television.

Yes, the educational goals of Hip Hop Harry are noble. As an educator, maybe he’s excellent, but as a rapper, he’s miserable. His rapping makes my dad’s “I said a hip hop skiddlewebop befrop” sound like Jay-Z. It’s really surprising that someone, somewhere, said “Yeah, that sounds enough like rap that the kids will love it!” If the person who did history’s first rap got hit in the head immediately after rapping, fell into a coma, woke up and tried to put back together the pieces of his past, including that first rap, that would be an approximation of what Hip Hop Harry sounds like when he raps on his show. Sadly, he looks exactly like he sounds. Hat to the side, big gold chain, and baggy clothes. A rapper is actually the very last thing he looks like! In fact, I bet Barney would even question Hip Hop Harry’s street cred. What’s even sadder is that there are kids who have to exist within the same camera shot as him. Hip Hop Harry is the probably the first rapper you’d be embarrassed to be pictured with.

That there are kids who have to sing and dance with Harry is the larger part of what makes him the worst rapper of the decade. There are plenty of rappers who are poor lyricists, lack rhythm, or just plain shouldn’t be rapping. Those rappers, however, don’t have Hip Hop Harry’s influence. Hip Hop Harry is teaching a classroom full of kids, by example, about rap and hip hop, and, sadly, that’s what they’re going to grow up thinking rap is! Can you imagine coming off the set of Hip Hop Harry and going to school the next day, rapping “Gulp, Gulp Water?” That’s gotta win you cool points.

The kids on the show are just a fraction of the other kids who are watching on television who are growing up watching Hip Hop Harry. This could herald a dark age for rap and hip hop. Using Hip Hop Harry as a launching point, the rappers of tomorrow all will sound like the insurance company salesmen, scientists, and other nonrappers releasing rap videos on the Internet today. Did you know that once upon a time, the technology required to build a dome disappeared from Western culture entirely. You wouldn’t think that a people could just forget how to make something, but it can happen! If Hip Hop Harry isn’t stopped, he might reduce the ability to rap down to his level for generations to come! Only through the discovery of ancient liner notes will people eventually rediscover what good rap once was. The elders will weep for joy but will fear the eventual demise of hip hop should they not be able to find “The One” who will restore hip hop to its former glory. But maybe I’m looking too far ahead. For the present, Hip Hop Harry is just the worst rapper of the decade–not hip hop’s Angel of Death.

Update– Apparently, Hip Hop Harry’s ghostwriter is 80’s/90’s rapper Def Jeff?

Madonna is the Worst Rapper of the Decade

December 9, 2008

Madonna 3 by David Shankbone by david_shankbone.
Madonna, you just may be the worst rapper of the decade. This is a dicey issue because you are not a rapper. That’s what makes your rapping on your song, American Life, released in 2003, so confounding. In early 2000, there were reports that made us worry. You’d done a Gap commercial with Missy Elliott, and there were rumors that she was teaching you to rap. We laughed because we assumed that that your rapping would be like your pilates and Kabbalah, something you did in a dungeon in a castle in England. We didn’t think you’d have the gall to actually spit your lyrics in a song. We were horribly wrong.

And you were horribly wrong. At three minutes and eleven seconds into your album, also titled American Life, you unleash your mistake, starting with these lyrics:

I’m drinking a Soy latte
I get a double shot (pronounced shot-tay)
It goes right through my body
And you know I’m satisfied

I’m not even going to address your creation of the word, “shottay,” to have a rhyme with latte. No, because there are bigger things here than me and that word. Madonna, you set rap back twenty years with that verse. You set it back, past Teen Witch, past Larry and Balki’s rapping about T.G.I.F., all the way to the embarrassment that is Deborah Harry’s rap in The Rapture. That nonsensical song from Blondie at least had a couple redeeming qualities. It got rap on MTV, it left us The Rapture’s haunting chorus, and it made rap accessible to an audience that might otherwise have completely ignored it. Your verse on American Dream made people want to forget rap ever existed!

The first time I heard that song, I cringed. My face felt flush from embarrassment. I wanted to call people just to see if they were ok. By the time, you made it to the end of your verse, I’d already organized a charity benefit to support the children of parents who nodded to the beat during that rap. That’s how bad that rap was.

The rap-off in this scene is better than your rapping, Madonna.

And that is the argument for you being the worst rapper of the decade. Your verse lasted only a moment, but that moment was like a black hole that sucked into it all the vitality out of hip hop. That rap was a Death Eater that took all the happiness from hip hop, if only for a moment. Only after that song left the radio were we finally were brave enough to scan our radio stations again. I don’t think there was a single worse rap this entire decade.

Photo by David Shankbone