Danny Brown’s latest album, Old, answers a simple question that too much hip-hop music ignores: why? It’s easy for rappers to talk about their old drug dealer lifestyles, but it’s very rare for anyone to explain why they did that without resorting to simplistic, clichéd answers. This lack of insight often makes the music feel like little more than a celebration of negativity. So while Old deals with very negative topics, Danny’s realistic approach pulls the music above simple glorification, into something much more interesting.
While I was laying back, planning my next album assassination, Big Sean released a song called Control. Normally, such news would not be cause for me to waste any of my words, but this song included not only Jay Electronica, but Kendrick Lamar in his finest controversy starting form. I would say that Sean should be thanking Kendrick for the added attention, but pretty much no one is talking about any part of the song other than Kendrick’s verse. After this embed of the song, I’ll lay out my reaction to it and to everyone else’s reactions:
I’ve been practicing self-abuse in the form of listening intently to J. Cole’s Born Sinner. It’s not that I hate the thing, but there’s nothing that motivates me to listen. His beats are rarely spectacular and his meandering stream-of-consciousness writing style frustrates me because I hate trying but still getting all the way to the end of a song without any clue of what it was about. Born Sinner isn’t plain old bad, just pretty easy to sleep through when I’m tired of trying to listen. So I’m left without much to say about it.
But I do have at least one concrete thought that sprung from Born Sinner. It’s up above but I’ll repeat it:
If You Don’t Have Anything Smart to Say…Shut Your Pie-Hole
I wonder if Kanye even cares about hip-hop anymore. In some sense he probably always will since rapping is his usual vocal style. But for a while now I’ve had the feeling that he thinks he can transcend rap. Like he wants to say to people, “yeah I rap sometimes, but don’t call me a rapper. I’m sooo much more than that.”
I think I’ve been laboring under the unrealistic idea that an album must be perfect for it to be considered classic. As if anyone could ever achieve perfection, even in the context of just one little old album. Even if you have a relaxed definition of perfection where every song just has to be good, not great, such a goal is nearly impossible.
In writing the review of the Demigodz’ great album Killmatic, I realized that it’s pretty rare for a rapper to have a group of his own that’s actually decent. I’m talking about groups that people came up with like Eminem’s D12 and groups they created like Snoop Dogg’s Tha Eastsidaz. Not supergroups where the roster is full of already-famous people. Let’s face it, being successful doesn’t speak to your ability to judge other people’s talents, at all. In fact, I’d venture to say that the average rapper is a horrible judge of talent in others. For evidence, see 90% of rap/sung collaborations. Or maybe these cats are just bad at nurturing the talent they find. Either way, hip-hop history is littered with bad groups fronted by good rappers.