Rhymefest Likens Chief Keef to a Young-Mind-Killing Machine + My Opinion + The Greats’ Conscious Rap Jams
So I found this short Rhymefest piece via my go-to blog (TheHipHopUpdate) about a week ago and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way/words for me to express my feelings here on The Funk. Hopefully you take a few minutes to read my reaction, and then 30 more to listen to hip hop’s response in song. Not much controversy gets by me without my opinion coming out, but I’ll save it until after you read what Rhymefest had to say about some of today’s most popular rap acts….
Chief Keef Is The Bomb
Chief Keef is a “Bomb”, he represents the senseless savagery that white people see when the news speaks of Chicago violence. A Bomb has no responsibility or blame, it does what it was created to do; DESTROY! Notice, no one is talking about the real culprits, the Bomb maker or the pilot who is deploying this deadly force (Labels, Radio Stations). Its easier to blame the bomb. Bombs are not chosen for their individual talents, they are tools used for collateral damage.
To think of the persona of Chief Keef as a person would be the first mistake, he will more then likely come and go without us knowing much of anything about his personal pains, struggles, great loves and ambitions beyond rap. He is a spokesman for the Prison Industrial Complex. Every corporation is expected to grow at least 4% each quarter, many prisons are privately owned with stock being traded on the open market. If these corporations were to do commercials, jingles and promotions who would they hire? You got it, most of the main stream rappers we salivate over like Rick Ross the former correctional officer turned Drug Lord Boss rapper. Waka Flocka Flame gang bang “GO HARD IN THE PAINT” and Chief Keef the newest lottery pick in the “Get paid to destroy young minds, like we destroyed yours” Sweepstakes.
Many people will say “Chief Keef is a young black man making money who wouldn’t have had any other opportunity, why isn’t this a good thing?”. Which brings us back to the question, who is bank rolling this operation and why? This could only be described as an opportunity for this young man if he was recieving artist development, responsible mentorship and counseling for his obvious trauma. By the way, Major Record labels always put million dollar life insurance policies on artist of this nature so that they get paid one way or the other. My suggestion to the rest of us who would love to see the mushroom cloud from this explosion, BE CAUTIOUS! The affects from this type of Bomb can last for centuries. Lets stop giving our intellectual power resources and admiration to destructive forces while ignoring and starving out the good that is being done,sung and rapped about by artist like Killer Mike, Lupe Fiasco, RhymeFest, Dead Prez, Brother ALI, Maimouna Yusef, Invincible, Jean Grey, Mikkey Halsted etc.
In case you haven’t read anything I’ve ever written, I agree with Rhymefest 100%. Since I’m not black I guess it kinda makes it awkward to talk about the social implications of rap and how it affects those who listen to it. But I still have a point of view, and not only would it be bogus as hell for any black, white, or any other color person to tell me my opinion is worthless in the debate, they’d also be misunderstanding the importance of my particular point of view as it relates to the overall goal.
You see, I enjoy intellectualism in rap (and in basically everything else, but we’re talking about music here). Now, intellectualism could be defined based on many different avenues of thought, but overall, I think it would be safe to say that the most prevalent topic covered by intellectual rappers, or in what most would consider “conscious” rap, is black struggle.
….quick necessary tangent: I love the term “conscious” rap. Did you ever think about the derivation of that term? The word conscious is defined by The First Dictionary That Popped Up On The Google Machine as:
1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.
2. fully aware of or sensitive to something
3. having the mental faculties fully active
4. known to oneself; felt
5. aware of what one is doing
I especially like that last one; aware of what one is doing. As if the opposite would be considered unaware, or ignorant, to what one is doing. And that is precisely why I consider the opposite of conscious rap, to be put simply, ignorant rap. So if we make it a point to classify some rappers as conscious, can’t we rightfully get away with classifying those clearly with the opposite agenda as ignorant? I mean, really classifying. Like when a radio DJ introduces an artist it would go a little something like this: “next up we have one thee HOTTEST ignorant rappers of 2012….” fill in the blank for your favorite radio artist. End tangent….
Consequently, I have been exposed to a fair amount of material related to the thoughts and feelings and lives of some really smart black dudes. So even though I’m not black, and even though I’m not from an underprivileged urban neighborhood where most of their inspiration stemmed from, I am able get a small glimpse of what that life is like. Ultimately, if you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes, if you can’t understand where they’re coming from, or if you can’t empathize with any of their everyday pains, then you’ll forever look at those as different people. But that’s precisely what rap has done for me, as I’m sure many others too. Some say “it’s only entertainment” and it’s not the “artists” problem for the way their music is perceived. But it’s not just music. It’s a bridge. Ice-T was probably accurate in saying the reason Barrack Obama is president is because of rap music.
But as much good as it can do in bridging the gap between what people believe to be, and what really is, it can also maintain and enhance negative attitudes in the minds of listeners. I’m not even talking about the affect to the minds of young black kids. I’m talking about what it does to white people (not ALL white people obviously, but I do know a lot of white people). Not because that’s more important, but because that is the perspective I am able to directly reveal. It just reinforces what some subconsciously, as well as happily, prejudice people already expect/want to hear; something stupid that makes them laugh or something that shows how dangerous and reckless they are in their pursuit of money, fame, or sex. They don’t want to hear about what makes them human (aka the underlying factors and feelings that arouse the majority of those actions which actually translate across all humanity), they want to see that extreme character that is easily distinguishable from them. That’s not totally true; they might not even necessarily want to hear that, but it’s been fed to them from the television and their not-so-racially-inclusive parents for so long that they’ve grown accustom to it and now expect it. Unfortunately, people get paid a lot of money to play that extreme character which only magnifies upon accumulating more money.
But some rappers won’t sell out and let the labels and radio corrupt their music. Some are just so talented and special that they are able to balance making hits and spreading intellectual ideas; all the while avoiding selling their soul to a label that has little concern for the casualties of making money. In my mind, those are the only rappers who deserve the title “Great”.
As promised, here are a few of the greats who’ve helped me close that gap between ignorant and aware. Obviously, not everyone is like me and would automatically be attracted to songs like these. But I gotta believe that if these were in heavier rotation and considered more the norm as opposed to the exception nowadays, American’s views of each other, and themselves, would evolve even more significantly.
This first one could possibly be the most intelligent rap song ever, and it fits almost perfectly with what Rhymefest was alluding to in his op-ed. Nas leaves little mystery to the meaning with his prefacing monologue in this one, but listen to how easily he personifies the weapon. It’s as if he, himself, knows what it’s like to feel like…a bomb?
What’s the word for something with a name that doubles as its literal definition? Or am I just thinking of onomatopoeia where something is named after its literal sound? Anyway, if there is a name for the former, Black Thought is that. The dude was trying to put an end to this nonsense before it even really got rolling. Utmost respect for one of the G.O.A.T.s.
“The principles of true hip hop have been forsaken
It’s all contractual and about money makin’
Pretend-to-be cats don’t seem to know their limitation
exact replication and false representation”
“Peacocks strut because they can’t fly. Nobody wanna be an Eagle. Why? Because they shoot Eagles.” I love that intro….Here, Fest asks his listeners what type of dramatic life events they’ve been through to see how much that might allow them to empathize with his own. He also asks one of the most important questions in this entire discussion; “What do you know about the power of the subconscious mind?”
Another Chicago native who Fest actually gives mention to at the end of his piece for leading the way in providing the type of sincere lyricism the game is lacking in the mainstream today. Here, Lupe takes you along his conscious, and sometimes hypocritical, journey through youthful hip hop adoration, while questioning some of the most adored aspects of the genre along the way.
It has to be something about this city for producing all this consciousness, right? It’s probably one of the greatest city’s in the world, and I feel like it’s overlooked even in it’s own country. There’s something that makes it its own though. It’s not too cut throat like New York and it’s not so vain like Los Angeles. Located in the outward facing upper left of the country’s body, Chicago has got heart (i.e. Derrick Rose).
My opinion and views were pretty well set by the time these next two came on the scene, but they undoubtedly represent the promising future for not only a genre, but a generation of kids and up and coming rappers.
As close as Nas may have come, there will never be another 2pac. He’s done more for his particular genre than I think any other artists/band can say; even the Beatles. He found that coveted balance in the rap game between intelligent thug and street prophet, having as much an impact socially as he did musically. Revolutionary.
Wifey Wednesday: RnB Edition! Chris Brown ft Snoop Dogg & 2 Chainz, Jeremih ft Fabolous, Frank Ocean, Miguel, The Dream ft Pusha T, Mario + more
I’ve been waiting for some jams like these for a while now. Maybe I just don’t get after the RnB like I use to, which I don’t, but my timing was impeccable this time around, and consequently I have discovered some heeeeeat-ers. RnB heaters of course, but heaters none the less. First up, C. Breezy who, by the way, I’ve heard has the most
ignorant insane fans in the world….I said heaters, not beaters. I’m kind of over the whole Rihanna thing though. What I mean is, I don’t have a moral problem with liking Chris Brown’s music. It’s not like I ever really supported him monetarily in the past (thank you peer to peer and user sharing technology), and I’m definitely not going to now. Doesn’t mean I can’t still rock to it for free.
Aw shoot. How perfect is that title? Jeremih is back at it. I’m starting to remember why I love Hip Hop/RnB music so much. Fab HAS to be the best one verse surgeon in the game, right? Right!?
Frank Ocean is starting to remind me why I like Frank Ocean so much. As much as I enjoy “rocking” to the “heaters” (what? I can’t mockingly quote my own words?), this is really why I love RnB music. It’s just so damn fresh. I especially appreciate dudes like Mr. Ocean and Weekend and how they’ve led the way as of late to once again innovate the game.
Speaking of innovating artistic geniuses…is it just me, or does Miguel kinda get his Prince on with this one? I don’t mean to offend (if you’re a Prince fan), and honestly I don’t really know that much Prince music in the first place to warrant my judgement. But I don’t know, to me it kinda sounds like something Prince could fuck with. And honestly, If you know anything about Miguel, you wouldn’t be offended. But he kinda Robin Thickes it a lil with the whole whisper song voice too. Ay bitch, wait to you see my dick. Right? Not even a little?
The Dream is not much of an RnB innovator anymore. He did use to bring back memories of 112, once upon a time at least, and is undoubtedly one of the most immense contributors to the current landscape of the genre. The dude is just too good at what he does; why change now? Seriously, The Dream knows how to make an RnB jam. Remember this?
Next up we got my favorite from ColeCo’s EP – El Verano. The collection features a handful of solid remix material from some classic RnB smashes, including the featured, “I Wanna Be Down” by Brandy. Where he came up with “Ricky Smiley,” I have no idea. Remember when RnB wasn’t raunchy as hell and female artists had some
self respect class? When you compare a song like this from the 90’s, to Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake Remix” of today, you gotta feel a little uneasy about the youth/future of our country.
It’s getting late. I thought it’d be appropriate to finish this post off with a slow jam. Mari-Ohhhh! Bring it back middle school dance style. Please, quit your hating and enjoy.
Weekend Rap Up: B.o.B.,The ILLZ, YONAS, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Dave Raps, Nas ft Rick Ross, Pusha T ft. Swizz Beatz, French Montana ft. Drake & Wayne & RossMeek Mill & Wale & MMG + More
How unnecessarily long is that title? Lots of featured appearances in this week’s Rap Up, and more than a couple different styles and sounds at work as well. One particular sound that stands out from the rest is The ILLZ. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a BIG fan of the indie rap movement. You know, that introspective shit over simple guitar strings, piano, and other indie rock samples. They really are a perfect match for eachother. The lyrics are meant to be listened to intently, and the musical backdrop is one that not only eliminates unnecessary distractions but also elicits emotion in of itself. That’s why I dig The ILLZ. The dude reeks of realness. B.o.B. is the same, when he’s at his best at least. Unfortunately being at your best and making money are two separate things these days in the music biz, or at least in hip hop. So you might not find many more like this off Strange Clouds, but that doesn’t take away from great pieces like this.
The ILLZ – Closer (Temper Trap sample)
Yonas is another up and comer you should already be mindful of. He’s been doing his thing in the mixtape game for a few years now, and eventually he’ll have built up a distinguishable enough rapport with his fan base that he can put out pretty much any type of record and he’ll sell some. That’s the name of the mixtape game, right? Love the pre-fame mixtape game (see B.o.B.). YONAS really isn’t on that level yet, but he definitely knows how to take someone else’s hot beat, and no matter how played out, make it his own so that you can listen again.
Freddie deserves a considerable amount of respect for his lyrical game. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t have a tag line to repeat 12+ times a song, and he doesn’t spit so utterly simple and slow that you could teach a 2 year old to
be ignorant as hell follow along. Sometimes it does take a beautiful soul sample like this to truly appreciate him.
Dave Raps delivered one of my favorite songs of 2011 in “Alive” off his mixtape H.Y.P.E. So I copped his latest effort AKA Dave Ruffin and spotted this lil gem. Take a listen.
Ohhhhh boy! Life Is Good is almost here. Nas drops his latest studio effort on July 17th and I can’t wait. Nas is my favorite rapper, hands down. There’s no one like him. We’ll talk more when his shit drops and I get the full effect. In this one, Nas calls out all the fakers out there that really aint shit. Ross delivers an excellent verse by the way. I’m serious. I might be too hard on him. I just can’t get over the fact that he literally only raps about 4 things; cocaine, cars, money, and girls he would never fuck without the first 3.
Since I’m on the subject of Rick Ross, I might as well just jump head first into that m-m-m-m-maybach music. I like this mayback music…kinda. The Meek joint is off his mixtape Dreamchasers 2 and dude does justice to one of the greatest instrumentals/songs of all time; The Fugees – Ready or Not. The Power circle joint is off Self Made vol 2. I must say, that’s a helluva lineup MMG is touting.
I know, I know. I’m not supposed to post shit I don’t truly listen to. But even in this next one’s case, there IS a time and a place. It just so happens that that time and place doesn’t fit into my usual listening patterns. This Pusha joint I can fuck with on the regular though. Does Swizz Beats do anything but drive around in his fancy cars anymore?
The overwhelmingly sense of summertime is upon me and this song is just too perfect in that regard to ignore. The Hood Internet does it again with their insanely smooth mashup bringing together two perfectly dissimilar artists/genres to create a beautifully chill summertime jam. Definitely something to ride out to with the top down. Enjoy. Life.
Wifey Wednesday: Club Edition? Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris, Avicii vs. Lenny Kravitz, Nina Sky, AlunaGeorge (Bondax Remix) + Gotye (Chuck Inglish Remix)
You know how it is, girls just wanna have fun. They like pop music and that pointless up-beat shit. I can’t really be mad at that though. Some of it actually takes me away from my usual deep state of conscious realization of how fucked up everyone/everything is. So is it really pointless music or does it in fact serve a very important purpose? As indirect (and probably ineffective for that matter) as it may be, does pop music actually make our world a better place by uplifting our women’s spirits, which in turn forces us men to pretend to be in a good mood so that ultimately we get what we want from them? I’m half kidding. Well, not about pop music making the world a better place; that I’m whole kidding. In all seriousness though, this shit does actually do a good job of bringing about a better mood. Wifey included, of course.
Did the Biebs release this album yet? Either way, I gotta believe (you like what I just did there?) this one is gonna blow the fuck up. But by me sharing this
illegal free download, I feel as though I am contributing to the “save a young talented dude from becoming an overly rich, arrogant, condescending douchebag fund.” Well, maybe that’s unfair to assume. It never happened to Justin Timberlake. But just like the difference between MJ coming up in the 90’s and Lebron coming up in today’s new instantaneously needy social media and news era, it’s a whole new level of exposure and ludicrous (boom. 2 for 2) adoration famous people have to survive through. And let’s be clear on one more thing; JB, regardless of his insane level of future fame all around the world (stop it!), will never be the OG JT. Just like LBJ, regardless of the rings he will win at some point, will never be MJ.
This is a jam, plain and simple. Starts out slow, but give it a second and let the beat build biiiiiiiiitch. (sidenote: remember when Lil Wayne didn’t suck?). The Lenny sample is pretty key. Did I mention how much I hate strictly instrumental club jams? That’s right. Deadmau5 does about as much for me as Cameron Diaz or Reese Witherspoon. Not a whole lot.
Where the fuck has Nina been? Welcome back, I think? I don’t know, I haven’t really been paying attention. But nice lil joint here.
Download: Nina Sky – Heartbeat
This one should be in an Arby’s commercial or something; good mood music. I can do without some of the distortion, but lovin the piano portion, of course.
This one isn’t as hype as the rest, and maybe doesn’t fit so well under the “club” mantra. But I have heard the original song played at bars, which is really weird and kind of depressing. I mean, I like the song too, but at least play the Chuck Inglish version or another more up-beat remix. Thank you in advance. Err, you’re welcome?
Alright, this is somewhat of an insomnia post, so bear with me if I seem a little off. Yea I know it’s only 10pm (well it was when I started writing. 90 minutes later…), but that’s besides the point. I like my sleep. I was just thinking about this blog and why I write. I go through phases. Sometimes I think people really might be interested in my random thoughts, other times I feel as though it’s pointless. But at the end of the day, more often than not I’m really just thinking out loud in my posts. Well, for a little while when I started sharing my blog with friends and paid close attention to my blog stats, I would think about what people might want to hear or what they would think of me after reading. But after a while I realized that no one wants someone else to think about what they themselves would want and then do it only for that reason, they just want them to do it naturally. Or maybe that’s just what I want, which again just goes back to the point of me doing me…..
From the outside, I might just seem like a “ghetto” white kid, or a white kid who wants to be black. But that’s on the same ignorant shit as saying suburban, preppy, well spoken black kids aren’t “black” enough. And don’t get me started on the over/misuse of the word “ghetto.” Well maybe for a moment; I heard someone at work call Schaumburg, IL “Schompton” (like Compton?) because it’s “ghetto.” If by “ghetto” you mean you once saw a black person there, then yea I guess it’s “ghetto.” On the other side of that though, there’s another dude at work who accuses every upper-middle class white kid of having a trust fund. They’re both jokes (I think…I hope), but it’s just kind of annoying. And maybe I’m a little too sensitive, but with the way our country is diversifying so quickly and the ancient beliefs some people still emphasize, you can’t tell me it’s not a legit issue. Everyone wants to label or profile people/things/music right off the bat. Just give it a little fucking time to let it be…
“White Men Can’t Funk” is more than a clever pun of a movie title about a white dude who can hoop in order emphasize my interest in basketball AND music. Obviously, it plays off the misconception that since Billy Hoyle is white he must NOT be able to hoop. Just like some might believe that white kids, like myself, can’t honestly embrace hip hop, or black kids with rock, without wanting to be something they’re not. Or how dudes that don’t act hard all the time and joke about women being inferior and placed on earth to serve them, must ultimately be weak or just not “real men”…
Anyway, I think that’s all I have to rant about tonight. I’ll be back with more fucked up thinking on our fucked up thinking soon enough. But for now, I do actually have a few joints for you to listen to. I don’t necessarily know the right time to listen to/enjoy these. Probably by yourself. Either way, I thought it’d be appropriate to share these here since they’re just kinda different and don’t really fit any of my predetermined weekly posts. I know, I know. I’m guilty of categorizing also. But it’s just easier t-……fuck.
Ok, first up we got a new radio rip from Childish Gambino. Sheeeeit, a post about white black kids and black white kids? Donald recently when to twitter, or maybe facebook, to vent about some similar racial thoughts. I don’t necessarily agree with him on everything, but I bet I sound like an asshole when I speak uninhibited quite often as well. Really anticipating the mastered version of this one right here.
Ok, this one could probably be placed in my “Rap Up” section, but I feel like that would just undermine how diverse XV’s music is. Yea, he raps, but it’s not your typical bullshit. Man, I’m really starting to resent that bullshit. But let’s not dwell on that. Just listen to Vizzy being Vizzy. This one’s off his latest mixtape Popular Culture. Go get it. And LISTEN.
Let’s wrap it up with some peaceful vibes to help set my mind at ease so I can fall asleep. Literally, just some peaceful vibes….with a nice lil kick here and there.