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.
Weekend Rap Up: Kendrick Lamar ft Busta, Wale ft Rick Ross, 2 Chainz & Trey Songz, Red Cafe ft Trey Songz, Wale & J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa & Snoop, Sway ft Lupe Fiasco, Asher Roth, CYNE + 1982
Sorry for the hiatus, but your boy was in a little bit of a funk. And not the good kind of funk you’ve come to regularly find on the funk. Nah, this funk had me boycotting my Beats altogether. You ever just get sick of music? Shit, that’s hard for me to come to grips with, but that’s kinda how I was feeling.
Rap music really pisses me off sometimes. So in actuality, it’s not all that inconceivable to find myself needing a break. I may have been warming back up to the thought of throwing on my Beats and bingeing through all my go-to blogs to see what’s up in these streets, but then I witnessed the most obnoxiously arrogant, not to mention annoying, encore in live rap show history; Watch The Throne. “N’s in Paris” is not the most amazing song ever. It’s not even the best Jay or Ye song. Therefor, what would warrant playing it over and over as if to achieve the Guinness World Record for consecutive playbacks? The opposite of D. Rose, that’s what. I mean, the show was AMAZING (minus Kanye’s boring Amber Rose dedication set) but I literally ended up leaving the UC pissed off after that shit. It was especially disheartening to look around at the 10,000+
stans fans encouraging this type of behavior in the first place. Moving on…..
I’ve found myself with some extra downtime this weekend and decided it was a good time to get back at it. After a long discovery session yesterday, I have a good amount of new music I’ll have to share throughout the week. But let’s start off with that rap shit.
Now I’m not going to pretend like I know every new artist out there, or equivalently have heard every new song from the up and comers I’ve already been introduced to. But I do know this; Kendrick Lamar is going to be making one of the biggest leaps in the rap game coming up in 2012. Not as big as K.R.I.T., but seriously, listen to this shit. Kendrick is nice as hell.
Kendrick Lamar – Rigamortus (remix) (ft. Busta Rhymes) (right click, “save as” to dl) or @ Hulkshare
I’ve always been a big fan of the soulful scratches from Statik Selektah. Team him up with the knowledge kickin’ Termanology and there you have the underground masterpiece known as 1982. If you’re into the head nodding lyrical shit, check it out.
Never heard of these guys but immediately after hitting play for my first listen, I had to snatch this chill ass shit. I have a real love/hate reaction to short songs like this. I love them because of their simplicity, but I hate them because they always leave me wanting so much more. Oh well, repeat.
Asher and Blended Babies come together again to create that nonsensical head nodding shit Asher’s skill set adhere so well to. Another simple beat with a beautifully rhythmic flow to match.
Asher Roth – Common Knowledge (prod. Blended Babies) (right click, “save as” to dl) or @ Hulkshare
This one comes off Wiz & Snoop’s “Mac & Devin go 2 High School” soundtrack. I don’t really know the details of the movie. Are they featured in the film as well? I don’t really care, actually. I’m not that big on Wiz or Snoop, but this one seemed pretty smooth. Chill shit.
This is the opposite of chill. Following the vibe of his latest mixtape, Friend of the People, Lupe hops on this UK native’s high octane jam sure to get you a speeding ticket if left on repeat in the whip.
Sway – Still Speedin’ Reloaded (ft. Lupe Fiasco) (right click, “save as” to dl) or @ Hulkshare
And finally, we have remixes to two of my favorite commercially appealable jams of 2011 featuring some more popular names from the year. Shout out to the producers on both of these, since beats are basically 90% what we’re talking about when we’re talking commercial appeal, right? Regardless, shit is bangin’.
Red Cafe – Fly Together (remix) (ft. Trey Songz, Wale & J. Cole) (right click, “save as” to dl) or @ Hulkshare
Wale – Bait (remix) (ft. Rick Ross, 2 Chainz & Trey Songz) (right click, “save as” to dl) or @ Hulkshare
Lupe’s mixtape “Friend Of The People” from 2009 is being resurrected & released on Thanksgiving…this is the first leaked track…you’ll remember the Ellie Goulding track if you’ve been down with the FUNK
This is for my fiance…the biggest Coldplay fan I know…new album drops 10.25.11, pre-order here
Weekend Rap Up: Trae The Truth ft Lupe, Big Boi, Wale & Wiz, Drake, G-Eazy, Game ft Dr. Dre & Snoop, STS + Rockie Fresh ft Tayyib Ali
Damn, I don’t know how I missed this in early July. Oh yea I do, I wasn’t paying attention to shit. Anyway, props to dude Bo-ski for puttin me on. Whoooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaooooohhh, im on! I know you recognize that sample…..c’mon Mark Morrison – Return of the Mack! Although it looks like they couldn’t get the rights to the real sample from Mark, but luckily MDMA did a damn good job of jocking the Mack’s style. Check out this all-star lineup, shit’s crazy! Too many quotables in this one to be able to single one out.
I’ve said it before, but I respect Drake because of his self-awareness. Complacency is a common enemy for many of us. It’s easy to get comfortable with something, even if you’re walking a tightrope just waiting for something to knock you down into what could be an abyss. I know I gotta remind myself quite frequently of my strengths and more importantly, weaknesses to make sure I keep myself in a good place. Rappers gotta do the same thing before they lose it all. Although drake only has one album out so far, so he must really be full of himself if he’s ALREADY struggling to keep that hunger alive.
“I might be too strung out on compliments, overdosed on confidence
started not to give a fuck, and stop fearin’ the consequence
drinking every night because we drink to my accomplishments
faded way too long, I’m floatin’ in and outta consciousness”
(MP3): Drake – Headlines
(MP3): G-Eazy – Make-Up Sex
“And I don’t love these hoes, so if they don’t go then girl you gotta say bye
and at the end I hope they see that I’ma be me when they don’t understand why”
Let’s NOT get high off something, let’s get DETOX! Wtf Dre? As a huge consolation, this one is courtesy of Game’s upcoming album release Infrared. Always interested in new shit from Jayceon though, and you know Dre and Snoop gonna bring a lotta hype.
I was talking to my dude Ned the other day about various subjects, but one being this blog. We were on the topic of subject material for The Funk and how sometime he noticed I’ll start to say something, like comparing something to real life, but then leave you with just a fill in the blank metaphor. Problem is, I often struggle with what I really want to share here, and how much. A lot of the time I use this blog as therapy to air some shit out and speak my mind, which is good, but at the same time it can be unhealthy to release all that without knowing/trusting your audience. I was trying to explain the thought process behind that, and I knew there was some simple lyric that could explain it in a more concise manner, but I forgot what it was. Well it came to me a little while later and this one’s gonna be a shocker, it’s off Joe Budden – Sidetracked…
“I wanna stop somebody and keep it real
but know that they’ll understand ‘fore I tell em how I feel”
I guess write a lot about myself though, I’m sorry. But that’s because I frequently think about myself; who I am, what I’m doing with my life, what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, etc. Who doesn’t self evaluate? I mean, if you got everything figured out and are completely self-actualized, then by all means keep doin’ you. But if you aren’t on Maslow’s level like that just yet, and don’t regularly take a look at yourself to figure out how to be a better person, then we don’t think the same. Moving on….
I wasn’t gonna include this one at first cuz then, you know, I’d have to admit that I relate. But I had to include it because Joey represent everything I respect about self expression. He’s telling us EXACTLY how he feels, unedited. There’s no sugarcoating the situation and no downplaying his fucked up thinking. Healthy or not, I really do try to use Joe as a model for the way I write.
This dude Jay just doesn’t get out enough. He puts out a song like once a year, unless I’m just blind, but I’ll take whatever I can get honestly. This beat is so simple, yet so perfect. It doesn’t take away from the lyrics like a lot of that hard hitting shit you hear from Lex Luger or whoever is the producer/flavor of the month. Just that head nodding lyrical shit I love.
“There he go with that song, you may be tired but I spit what I’m inspired
From the Lord of the worlds ’cause the Devil is a liar”
I’m not gonna lie, I thought Chip would come out with a lot more heat in 2011 than what he did deliver. Thats ok though, I’ll be rocking this gem while I’m rolling/riding down whatever for a loooong time. It’s not one to really get the wheels turning like a lot of the shit I usually post, but that just means the beat is so stupid smooth that I can’t ignore. And seeing as Chip can flow with the best, dude really could be speaking another language and I’d still be on this shit. I feel like I need at least one going at once while listening this shit. Definitely keeps the head noddin and even gets me swaying back and forth to the beat. And as soon as that background singers voice comes in? Ooh wee! Love this shit, man.
I wrote it in my original post for this one, but Guy comes out the gate running and never looks back. This is some real hip hop shit. Simple head noddin percussion with some lyrics bragging about his lyrics, not all that other shit that has absolutely NOTHING to do with rap music. Fuck swag. Remember when rappers took more pride in their lyrics than their cars, clothes and jewelry? Anyway, that half-audible line right at the beginning is what it’s all about, even here on The Funk. Wish this shit wasn’t so short.
“Eyes squitin’ cuz I’m printin’ out my visions in my notebook”
What’s this one you ask? Only some killer production from J. Cole alongside some real talk from a smart, young spitter called Fashawn. Dude put out two mixtapes with the title Higher Learning for a reason. I’m obviously not from the ghetto or anything, so it might seem weird that I’m attracted to this type of shit. I don’t know though, what if his habitat was a metaphor for my mind? I’m really glad there are intelligent rappers out there telling it like it really is though. Hopefully it will help some ignorant people outside of those circumstances to understand a little bit about what life is really like on the other side of the tracks. Unfortunately, most of the time only the ignorant shit is what reaches the masses, and so it continues. That line about teachers really eats at me though….Like if you want to make a difference, then make a fucking difference. Quit worrying about the money and being like every person you don’t want to be like….c’mon man, what would Prez do?
“Wonder why my young brother stuck on reefer
Cuz the state refuse to pay good teachers”
Seeing as Lupe got things started for me, I’ll just get into some of my own ramblings that came to mind….
I find it extremely irritating, more like infuriating, when conservative republicans use the bible or their religious beliefs as selling points for any of their political agendas. It is flat out hypocritical to say that gays should not be allowed to marry, or women should not have the choice to abort, because of what was written in the bible and then blatantly choose to ignore the fact it is God’s plan for each of us that we “be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29) when it comes to economic policy. I am pretty sure it was the acts of Jesus that we are to follow. I don’t think I need to get into specific examples, but outside of spreading the word of God, Jesus spent his time feeding the starving, healing the sick, and loving the shunned. Maybe God should have been a little more clear on the fact that “love thy neighbor” extends past the literal neighbors inside your gated community.
I know there are a lot more religious skeptics out there today than there used to be, and this really isnt meant to preach. If you don’t believe there is somethign out there bigger than yourself, then that’s just too ironic in itself. But if you are a beleiver and are going to use God as a cosigner for one thing, then don’t forget about him when you try to justify an economic policy that withholds as much money as possible from the poor, sick and elderly to keep for yourself and your worldly possessions.
There are a couple of dudes you could use against me if you were tryin to be a hater and felt it necessary to call me out for bein a man lover (no homo). First on this list is D. Rose. Second, probably Bill Simmons. Third might be Nas (or Joe Budden). Gotta say 4th is Jon Stewart. And last but not man-loving least, is Mick Boogie. This is the order of the Bromance. Anyway, MB is like the King Midas of DJ’s. I’m telling you, every remix compilation he touches turns to gold. Most of the time he’s teamed up with Terry Urban, whom I have a similar admiration for. Dude’s are legit. I started following them two years ago when they made a full remix album featuring the 2009 Grammy nominees. Following up on that discovery, I went to MickBoogie.com and downloaded every free mixtape he had to offer (you should absolutely do the same). He’s a great DJ, and thanks to the Internet, I don’t need to ever see him in person to enjoy his expertise. Gotta love blogs too. There is no way any one person could get through all the new music that is released on a daily basis in order to find the best songs they like; at least not efficiently. But if you find someone with similar tastes (and a blog of course), you can use them as a filter. And then you find someone else, and they filter in what they’ve found. Hence, the Hype Machine; much love.
Vampire Weekend – Kids Don’t Stand A Chance (Miike Snow Remix) (right click, save as to download)
Groove Armada – Still Going (Will Young Remix) (right click, save as to download)
Florence & The Machine: You’ve Got The Love (The xx Remix) (right click, save as to download)
This new mixtape has a little different feel than the 2009 mixtape (not sure what happened to 2010). Even though the highlights are from different genre’s, they still fall within my realm of listening pleasures (there is Hip Hop on the 2011 mix, I just didn’t include it here). But yea, Mick Boogie and Shame Boogie are pretty much the same person. BTW, the Nas “Paper Planes” remix is still the happiest thing my ears have heard since 2009.
MIA f/ Nas – Paper Planes (Terry Urban Remix) (right click, save as to download)
Radiohead f/ Lupe Fiasco – Reckon a Superstar (Remot/Mick Boogie Remix) (right click, save as to download)
Lupe Fiasco f/ Sara Bareilles – I Got A Love Song (Remot Remix) (right click, save as to download)