November 16th, 2011 | By Edwin
Browsing: Artist Highlight
Has there ever been a rap artist in hip hop history that has generated as much buzz, animosity, or praise as Lil’ Wayne? The former Hot Boy credited with inventing the word “bling bling” is now an international superstar, with 3 Grammy wins and the often argued, self-claimed, and nearly always disputed title as “Best Rapper Alive.”
Fans seem to divide themselves into several camps:
1) Fanatic and newly minted fan-boys/girls – You know the type. They think he is the greatest but have not yet heard of any his mixtapes, been raised on “Lollipop,” and have not listened to the Carter II yet.
2) Jaded Wayne fan – used to love him, but now not “gangsta, G, southern, hard, etc etc” enough now
3) Hater - thinks Wayne is the worst thing to happen to hip-hop. Commercialism, drug fueled antics, and lack of meaningful lyrics makes Weezy the musical equivalent of a shitty reality TV show on housewives.
4) Simple fan – appreciates his good qualities and wary of his bad. I would be in this camp.
So what makes Weezy the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) or MOAT (Most Overrated of All Time)?
Here is my attempt at an intelligent answer:
Why is Lil’ Wayne a great rapper?
Let’s digest his technique and flow. He definitely established himself as an unique brand. If you have taken any marketing classes before, you need to find a way to make your product easily identifiable. Like it or not, his signature “wheezy” voice, tendency to change pitch and speed randomly, and rapid fire delivery made him sound different from everyone else. Sorry, but a lot of rappers sound alike. The Game and Jay Rock sound exactly the same for example (Am I the only one who thinks this?)
Lyrically, he doesn’t have the poetical dexterity, beautiful imagery, or socially conscious lyrics like Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, etc. But he isn’t trying to emulate them, he is a Southern Rapper. If you look at his songs, they are actually very complex in its usage of double ententes, double meanings, intentionally mispronouncing words to fit unorthodox rhymes schemes, and creativity. It’s like being an absolute God at trash talking. And who doesn’t want to be able to knock somebody down 5 pegs with rhymes? I wish I could do that in the supermarket on a daily basis.
What is Lil’ Wayne’s downfall?
Obviously, songs like “Lollipop” has shown he is willing to sell out to get album sales. It was one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard in my life. I appreciate the fact that he is experimenting with new sounds, but it was a Monster Java energy drink type of failure – a noxious blend of incompatible sounds. It worked with the “fans,” however – Carter III went triple platinum so you can’t blame him that much. Using the auto-tuner when you can’t sing well in the first place is not a smart idea, nor is taking up the guitar when you are mediocre. I do understand that he felt like he conquered the rap world so he is trying to branch out, but few artists do that well (look at Mos Def). Lastly, he is spewing out way too much material too quickly. Earlier mixtapes which used to be solid gold are now mediocre, stuffed with featured artists, and nowhere near the same quality. For example, Dedication 3 was lacking hunger, innovation, and energy, and Prom Queen just sounds terrible.
Those are my two cents on Weezy. What are yours?
I read an article recently that appealed to me, mainly because it contained a strange hybrid of two topics, both which I find extremely interesting: hip hop and marketing. After reading the article, it made me realize that 50 Cent is a lot smarter than what people make him out to be (heck, even what he makes himself out to be) and that he could rightly be defined as a sort of hip-hop marketing guru.
A few takeaways:
1) His street cred, which was carefully cultivated after being shot multiple times, was starting to fade away. Ironically, his two immensely successful albums that center around this street cred started erode his tough image.
2) As typical with a lot of young rap stars or athletes who become immensely rich in a short period of time, hands begin appearing. Palms up. Asking for money. 50 Cent found himself surrounded with people who were only looking for their own interests, and not his.
3) Fifty Cent found that his social circle increasingly consisted of white guys, in suits. Corporate label guys in suits don’t necessarily give you a good sense of new trends in the street, where Fiddy came from.
After some introspective thinking, what did he do? He recorded a track without his label’s knowledge and released to the public and watched for feedback (very Web 2.0). The public wanted harder stuff! He continually shortened the distance between himself and his fans with technology, and his “hustler’s mentality” now applied to Internet marketing with great success. Greene’s great article explains more, but with Twitter, the Internet, and all the marketing knowledge rap stars are now in possession of, the audience has less patience for rap stars who don’t get it. Except Lil’ Wayne, who can do whatever he wants.
Twitter, various local news outlets, and the Internet in general is mourning the loss of one the pillars of 90s G-Funk: Nate Dogg. Nate Dogg (real name: Nathaniel Dwayne Hale) lent his legendarily smooth and pimptastic voice to a huge library of songs in the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, it was practically guaranteed that if you secured a feature with him singing the hook or backing up vocals on your track that it’ll get some radio airplay, commercial success, and love from the streets. After struggling to battle from debilitating strokes in 2007 and 2008, Nate Dogg lost his battle to survive just 30 minutes ago (source: http://www.rap-up.com/2011/03/15/rapper-singer-nate-dogg-dies-at-41/). Cause of death and other details are not yet released. Hit albums include Music & Me and G-Funk Classics Volumes 1 and 2.
RIP Nate Dogg 3/15/2011; you will be missed and you definitely got love from us.
Philly rap is alive and well with the release of some brand new music from MAgoolies, a hip hop group which combines elements of classic hip hop with a new school vibe. In short, they know where they came from and incorporate conscious lyrical matter with beats that make your head nod.
COP their free tracks below as well as their page at:
Watch out for their newmixtapes “Turbo Man X Booster” and “This is Your Brain on Kain” coming soon and follow them on Twitter: @Charethqstory, @joervstheworld, @Mustafahrizzle @BR_EZ, and @KidKain
Recently, I read an article (located here) about Snoop Dogg playing a much different role than his usual weed-smoking, pimpalicious self. He was described in the article as a hard-working mentor to disadvantaged kids who works to keep them off the street. Meet: Coach Dogg.
Snoop has gone through a rather drastic metamorphosis throughout the years, with his early success resting on his reputation as a West Coast Crip OG and his latest successes relying on reality show appeal and ridiculous wardrobe. In his early days, however, he was decried as a horrible influence on the youth of America. His rap songs were immensely popular and frequently forayed into the science of pimping out bootylicious hoes and promoting the benefits of smoking a certain green plant.
Despite this though, a hidden aspect of the Big Boss Dogg hasn’t had quite the same amount of promotion: Snoop Dogg is an active child mentor, football coach and philanthropist. I Googled this when I saw a giant blue “Snoop Dogg” football bus rolling through Whittier, CA one day. Snoop Dogg’s program is unique because the benefits really cut away at gang violence at the roots:
1) The league allows ex-cons to focus their energy into a productive cause – too often we do not give those who have been punished for their misdeeds a chance to actually succeed in society
2) A big factor for gang members is that they do not have a sense of family or belonging from their biological families or they do not have a way to spend their free time. The football program instills strong male role models and solves the problem for both.
3) Gang disputes between rival gangs, such as Crips and Bloods, are left away from the field as a sort of peace treaty. If bitter gang members can do what the Democrats and Republicans apparently cannot, that must be a positive sign.
Snoop also enforces a dress code to get “players out of the hood culture” in order to give them a sense of order. The rapper also is approachable, demands no special treatment and tries his best to have the football league be a symbol of what can be accomplished with a little money and PR. Programs in Dallas and Pittsburgh are interested and I hope it catches on. Play on, S N double O P!