Archive for the ‘West Coast 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.

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Will I. Am is the Worst Rapper of the Decade

February 2, 2009
Courtesy Jurvetson on Flickr

Courtesy Jurvetson on Flickr

When The Hague’s war crimes commission is expanded to include crimes against music, the list of defendants will be long and the determination of who swings and who is absolved will be a grisly, painful matter. Legions of former music industry powerhouses will stand before the tribunal to shamelessly declare their innocence, insisting before god and man that they were nowhere near Kanye’s studio when he first adopted AutoTune, that they were actually opposed to American Idol the entire time, secretly running an indie label dedicated to undermining the regime, or that they were only “following orders”.

And much like the Nuremburg trials, these defenses will probably have some limited success for the small fries, sparing thousands of verified musical monsters from the chopping block, freeing them to start over anew, this time somewhere in South America where copyright law isn’t so strict and former employees of Tommy Mottola can mingle with Murder Inc. underlings living in hiding, without any fear of judicial reprisal. Even so, some crimes will be too terrible to forgive, too blatant to conceal and too aesthetically cancerous to allow to go unpunished. And on the final day, when the instigators of the musical holocaust that defined the last decade are at last punished, first to meet the firing squad will be the Worst Rapper Of The Decade, the Black Eyed Peas’ own Will I. Am.

Before going further, it’s important first to note that term sellout gets thrown around a lot, usually aimed at people who once were once known only to a small number of highly inquisitive music fans, and now have now amassed enough financial success that going to their shows feels like visiting high school again – tons of douchebags who act like jerks. Thing is, this usually isn’t the fault of the band. After all, they didn’t like douchebags either, or they would have formed a group like Puddle of Mudd or G Unit. Better in most cases to be happy that the band you like won’t have to go back to answering phones for Sprint, right?

There’s also the critical semantic failure caused by throwing the term around thoughtlessly – by using is too frequently, you dillute the meaning of the word to the point that it becomes impossible to understand what you’re actually trying to say. In this case, accusing someone of selling out is to literally accuse them of treason, of hypocrisy, of betraying everything they believed in in exchange for some kind of tangible reward that helps them considerably while simultaneously ruining the cause they fought so dearly for. It must be used only when needed and even then very sparingly but as you can imagine, the term is generally nothing more than lazy, angry hyperbole.

If Will I. Am is remembered for anything, it’s going to be forever re-strengthening the term. The Black Eyed are total sellouts. No, they didn’t just sell-out, they sold the fuck out. In fact, I am only using the term at all because there isn’t a stronger way to describe the transformation of the BEP from mediocre but sincere hip hop to the dumbest fucking music of all time.

Like many of history’s greatest road-to-hell paving monsters, Will I. Am started out with arguably good intentions. As the whole world now knows he came up in 1998 as the chief brain of Black Eyed Peas, then the least notable part of the late 90s positivity movement in rap, distinguished from the early 90s variety because it largely was a reaction against the gangsta/ghetto fabulous genres that eventually became the bland, wide mainstream of Hip Hop. Fellow bland luminaries (blandinaries?) of the genre included the surprisingly neuter Jurassic 5, Blackstar (featuring previous Worst Rapper nominee Mos Def) and the Dark Crystal style hip hop dystopia that is every member of the Fugees as a solo artist.

Unfortunately, Resistance was futile. The fact that both Eminem and 50 Cent have starred in their own biopics (an honor previously shared by Muhammed Ali and Audie Murphey) – while Lauryn Hill is… somewhere. Doing, um, something? – is evidence enough that this well-meaning attempt to stop Hip Hop’s douchey decline failed, utterly. Most of the affiliated artists moved on as best they can. Lauryn Hill joined her fellow Fugees in devoting all her time to hating her former bandmates. Mos Def is now better known as an actor who wastes his talent rather than a rapper who wastes his talent. Jurassic 5 broke up in 2007. The thing they all have in common is extremely infrequent attempts to create music, for which the world is, mostly, thankful.

Not so the Black Eyed Peas, who, despite all odds and against the strict orders of God and man, have become one of the biggest and most successful rap groups in the country.

Here’s what BEP sounded like when they came on the scene:

It’s o-kay. Nothing special but nothing offensive either. At worst, you could say this might be remembered as a well-meaning attempt to redux A Tribe Called Quest. Easily forgotten but at least you aren’t scarred by the experience. The reason Will I. Am is now the Worst Rapper of the Decade is what they sound like now (or technically, as of their most recent album):

Holy. Fuck.

Watch that shit again.

Holy. Fucking. Fuck.

The ways in which this song is terrible are beyond counting, but the most egregious violations of good taste are easy to identify. First, the lyrics are objectively terrible:

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.

That’s the kind of lazy shit I would have come up with in 10th grade when I still thought maybe I wanted to form a rap group. But that’s not the real problem. Junk? Trunk? Drunk? All rhymes. But Love? Hump? Seriously. Seriously. Black Eyed Peas are Multi-Platinum selling artists who get paid to rhyme and they have to resort to a near rhyme, and one that isn’t even cheated a little to make it seem more rhymey? Weak. Olde English weak. Weake.

Come on Will, you’re a rapper! If you can’t even rhyme then what the hell are we paying you for? Look, I consulted a rhyming dictionary, and searched using the word “hump”. I got 61 results. 61! And I’m not even a rapper. Wouldn’t that earlier quoted line sound so much clearer as:

What you gon’ do with all that clump?
All that thump inside your frump?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you pump,
Get you lump mump off my hump.

Still fucking stupid, yes, but at least now it actually rhymes. Of course, that’s not the only problem. There’s also the terrifying fact that the song displays a crucial misunderstanding about basic human anatomy that ought to have medical professionals alarmed:

My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

and:

You love my lady lumps

This is just wrong. For the next 30 years we can probably look forward to a mass die off of 14th century proportions as the muddled Lyrics of My Humps lead a generation of women and men to  falsely interpret cancerous tumors as erogenous zones. Stop and think Will! If you get to feel a woman’s “Lady Lumps”, it means it’s time for a trip to the doctor, not the lingerie shop! YOU ARE PROBABLY GOING TO GET YOUR WIFE KILLED IF YOU DON’T CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE YOUR NEXT SINGLE IS RELEASED!

Reputedly, Will. I. Am wrote My Humps in about 30 seconds. And it shows. And yet, because it came out during the same decade that Americans voted for Bush twice(ish) and actually believed there might be a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Ladin, you can guess what happened: The nation embraced the song it was the second coming of Beethoven, bought up 9 million copies of this crap and made it the BEP’s most successful album ever. Awesome.

Thanks to Will I. Am, we will never be able to enjoy a wedding again. This song has replaced Baby Got Back as the official The Precious of annoying White Women everywhere. But his crimes are worse because in addition to inflicting the worst hit single in modern pop history, he also bestowed upon a weary nation something far, far worse. Earlier, I said that Will I. Am is a sellout because there isn’t a more effective word. I was wrong. There is.

“Fergier”.

Will I. Am is a Fergier.

What, you ask, is a Fergier?

Fergier

-Noun.

1. a person who makes a living inflicting an insufferable, marginally talented entertainer  onto the general public without prior and express consent.
2. (slang) someone who derives sexual pleasure from the simultaneous sexual assault of another person’s ears, eyes and memory. See also Will I. Am.

Now, obviously, Fergie is bad enough to warrant her own entry in this list (and believe us, it will come!), but like global warming, the disease is terrible but the cause must first be identified before a solution can be devised. Will I. Am is that cause. So ignore her awfulness on its own merits, and consider that Will I. Am specifically writes songs for that awfulness.

He also helped Barack Obama jump the shark. Well, not helped so much as kidnapped him, tied him to a sufboard and jumped the shark for him.

Remember how inspiring Obama is? After watching this, how many weeks did it take before you stopped feeling cheesy after listening to him speak.? It took me approximately 3 before I could watch the man without seeing Scarjo’s (superhot but ridiculous) face.

Will I. Am isn’t the worst rapper in terms of Talent. But in terms of his nefarity and evil impact in the world, the answer is clear – Will I. Am is the Worst Rapper of the Decade. QED.

Tupac is the Worst Rapper of the Decade

December 14, 2008

Tupac Shakur, known to many as 2pac, and known to a few others a Makavelli, is the worst rapper of the decade. This will be surprising to most of you since you know Tupac as having been one of the two best rappers of the 1990’s. He went out on top, and by went out, I mean he was murdered in Las Vegas in a case that has never been solved. Tupac was a juggernaut, and even death couldn’t stop his commercial prowess in hip hop. Posthumous mixtape after mixtape and album after album have added millions to the tally of Tupac’s record sales. Ironically, that’s what caused him to Sammy Sosa out in this decade.

Tupac’s talent was undeniable. His writing was immaculate, but his delivery was awe-inspiring. His voice’s muscular ferocity on the Notorious B.I.G. diss “Hit ‘Em Up” was unyielding. That impeccable bravado made the compassion he offered in his performances on other songs seem contradictory. His honesty– or “realness”–allowed his audience to comfortably reconcile those two natures. Tupac’s legacy would have remained a polished diamond had he never released another album after 1996. Instead, he became a retirement plan for anyone with the ability to press a CD.

At first that wasn’t so bad. The production on the early posthumous work was still close to the quality and style featured on the albums in which he participated directly. As the years dragged on though, musical styles and tastes changed, but Tupac couldn’t. Let’s be honest, death presents a severe obstacle to one’s ability to remain relevant. Tupac’s work, this decade, makes that painfully apparent since death left him unable to comment on anything past the first Clinton administration. As scavengers continue to mine the vaults of his unreleased recordings, the disconnect becomes increasingly excruciating. I hear topics addressed in his forthcoming songs include his pondering whether or not to buy a cell phone, pleading with Ross and Rachel to get together, and worrying that he might be killed… in Resident Evil for the Playstation.

Tupac fans like to believe that he predicted his own death. Impossible. If he could’ve predicted his own death, then he could also have foreseen the decade of posthumous albums and songs that would bear his name, water down his legacy, and take all the fun out of yelling “Westside!” (Think about it: when was the last time you or anyone you know threw up the “W” and yelled out Westside?) And if he could have foreseen all of that, he would have moved to Ohio and become a rapping insurance agent. I can already hear his pitch! “When you need to provide for your loving wife/you might wanna consider… Thug Life!” Actually, the saving grace in all this is that I never have to hear anyone utter “thug life” again.

This man’s career that once attracted controversy and acclaim the way his torso attracted bullets is now an embarrassment of bargain bin compilation CDs. Through no fault of his own, that is how Tupac managed possibly to become this decade’s worst rapper.