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: 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?
Rap Up: Curren$y ft. Wale, XV, G-Scott, Childish Gambino ft. Beck, Meek Mill ft. Drake & Jeremih + Chevy Woods & Wiz Khalifa with Harry Fraud Production
UPDATED WITH ACTIVE LINKS!!!!!!!! 6-15-12
It’s been a minute since I shared some new rap music, so let’s keep this rolling with a handful of jams I’ve been sitting on. I still can’t decide how I feel about Curren$y. I mean, I guess I can say that I’m not much of a fan, but wouldn’t feel comfortable discrediting his abilities. He can rhyme, but I just don’t like his flow at all. I feel like it works on some select beats that match his style, but most of the time it just seems so off to me. Wale on the other hand, oooh weee! How many time do I have to tell ya’ll he’s killin this rap game! This one’s off Curren$y’s debut LP The Stoned Immaculate.
“No bullshit, every
Chishy bitch can get a rose
Meaning arouse, I’m sorry I’m not too good with vowels
I got a thousand bitches I’m not too good with vows” – Wale
We all need to get up on some G-Scott. I say “we” because I’ve only come across a couple of songs and luckily found this gem. But damn, dude can rhyme. I had to share a healthy portion of his mastered craft below just in case you’re one of them fools Jay was talkin bout, skimming through music and shit….smh. This one’s off G’s mixtape Weekend in Los Vegas….currently on the to-listen to (in full) list.
“Verse three, my first two verses connect
An intercourse of my wisdom, my lyrics are having sex
Keep Nikes all on my feet, my motivations in check
my focus’s to succeed, your struggles to suck less
Put my soul on these tracks in hopes that one day I run it
Did it all blunted and kicks us a couple hundred
Eat beats, though I am no Doug Funny
Pork chops these dog days were spent chasin the money
When you don’t got it she saying pleasure to meet her
Soon as she see green she beggin ya to skeet her”
Welcome to the Harry Fraud portion of this weeks Rap Up. I can’t get enough of this dude. I mean, he even gets me excited to listen to Chevy Woods! Well not really, he just makes it tolerable. Nah, that’s not true, Chevy does his thing. I really like both of these hooks though. Harry just provides such a beautiful canvas, I really don’t know how anyone could fuck that shit up. Something to ride to right here….just keep the army guns at home, Delonte. First one is off Chevy’s Gangland mixtape.
Dreamchasers 2 is also still on my to-listen to list (fuckin never ends), but this is a pretty nice single-worthy track to garner some more attention to Meek and the mixtape. Gotta love the church piano & organ combo.
XV is absolutely one of my favorite new school rappers. Just an honest dude who represents himself to the fullest, along with everyone else who would rather be different while true to themselves as oppose to the norm/popular/sheep.
“You watch a throne? I just see a chair
And a crown that I’ma get and not even wear
Cuz before I got on they didn’t seem to care
So I said fuck your circle I’ma be a square”
Real interesting joint right here, specifically the verse from Beck. But it’s different and it works. Also, I think Donald is at his best over a piano instrumental. Diggin’ in.
My Brain and My Music: Wale, NORE ft Busta+Game+Waka, J. Cole, Schoolboy Q ft Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T. [Clams Casino remix] + Outkast [Urban Noize remix]
I oftentimes find it difficult to organize my thoughts. That’s why you’ll see me jump from subject to subject like a lil kid with ADD. So let me outline my thoughts for a second so that I don’t forget to mention the random but semi-related thoughts that had originally popped up in my head on my commute home from work: MTV’s Hottest MC’s list, fads, and hipsters. Go.
To me, being one of the Hottest MC’s is nothing more than being the flavor of the week. The logic that goes into naming someone “the hottest” is the same logic that currently has television producers making god knows how many Kardashian or Jersey Shore reality shows. So please, if you’re excited that your favorite MC made the cut, just realize it really has little to do with their lyrical pedigree. It’s gonna be fun to find out who on that list becomes the next Spencer & Heidi…
Basically what that list is describing, and paying respects to, is how much hip hop is all about fads nowadays. I can’t really get mad at MTV though, because fads dominate our entire culture. Look at all those damn NBA stars with their fucking non prescription black glasses. It’s kinda sad when you look at rap or NBA stars as whole, but then you come to find a guy like D. Rose (or in hip hop terms, Big K.R.I.T.) who stands unfazed as his own man when everyone around him dances like a clown. It’s not so much him being different than most stars that makes him so fucking awesome. It’s more so him being his own awesome self that makes him different…
It’s hard for me to put my finger on the whole “hipster” movement. I wouldn’t consider myself a hipster per se, but I definitely have some hipster qualities. Do I like some things more for the mere fact of being different? Possibly. But more than that, I really just have different tastes and thoughts than what is pumped out to the masses. But honestly, do I hate on Young Jeezy and Rick Ross more than I actually dislike their music? Yea. Do I try to convince Bulls fans to give Boozer more credit despite actually despising many facets of his game myself? Yea. But in a day and age when everyone seems to comply with the same thinking, ideas and tastes that TV, radio and other media outlets constantly shove down our throats, I feel it necessary to implant myself in the opposition to make sure I am still thinking for myself. And while doing so, I figure I ought to provide that other perspective to those who have probably had the same agreeable conversation with eachother not wanting look like the lone fool who actually owns a different opinion. In the end, I will like what I like because I like it. I think it’s just as stupid for someone to like (dislike) something ONLY because its’s unpopular (popular), just as much as for someone to like something ONLY because it’s popular. So don’t call me a hipster because I rag on shit that gets too much praise, and I won’t call you a poser for liking shit that isn’t all that great in the first place. But in the end, I’d still rather be different and labeled a hipster than be the same black frame wearing (mine are prescription) dancing clown (only on the dance floor) that safely fits in with the crowd.
Oh yea, here’s some new hip hop shit I didn’t get a chance to put out this weekend….
Wale – Purple Swag Freestyle (right click, save-as to DL)
N.O.R.E. – Lehhhgooo (ft. Busta Rhymes, Game & Waka Flocka Flame) (right click, save-as to DL)
J. Cole – Grew Up Fast (right click, save-as to DL)
Schoolboy Q – Blessed (ft. Kendrick Lamar) (right click, save-as to DL)
Big K.R.I.T. – Moon & Stars (Clams Casino remix) (right click, save-as to DL)
Outkast – Royal Flush (ft. Raekwon) (Urban Noize remix) (right click, save-as to DL)
This.Is.The Remix: The Hood Internet (Wale vs Kavinsky), Ted Smooth (Drake ft. The Weeknd) & Trae Tha Truth ft. Big K.R.I.T., Jadakiss, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., + more
…or I guess it should read, “THESE. ARE. The remixES.” If you didn’t know, I am quite fond of “the remix.” Even when it’s not quite as good as the original, it’s still refreshing to hear a good song in a different light, or from a new perspective.
First up we got a quality mashup from one of the best. The Hood Internet takes Wale’s Chain Music and throws it over some dark, whiteboy electronic instrumental courtesy of Kavinsky. Never heard of dude(?), but….diggin it.
Next we got this simple Ted Smooth remix utilizing some slowed down percussion from Biggie’s “I Got A Story to Tell” mixed in with Drake’s “Crew Love.” Pretty subtle addition, but new life nonetheless.
Lastly, we have a classic example of the hip hop remix. Whenever someone is lucky enough to snag a beat/hook like this, it’s inevitable that they’ll be at least 10-15 rappers trying to jump on that shit. The original was star studded enough with the likes of Wale, Wiz, Lupe, and Big Boi, but it just got another lift with some even NEWER schoolers (K.R.I.T., J. Cole, Kendrick) and more importantly, the REAL Mark Morrison! WHOOOOOAAAAAAAAAOOOOHHHH!
So I saw Wale perform last night at the Cubby Bear in Chicago and I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty fuckin cool. It was a pretty quick set though. Black Cobain, Tabi Bonney and Chicago’s own Bogus Boys (definitely bogus) also had sets beforehand. I can’t believe Wale hasn’t blown the fuck up. Or at least be at an arm’s length away from J. Cole, but clearly that’s not the case. I mean, that place has a capacity of maybe 800 people and it wasn’t even close to full. I don’t know though, I don’t think it was well advertised out here. Regardless, I feel the need to share a portion of my Wale collection to hopefully enlighten some listeners who aren’t familiar with much pre-MMG material (in descending order below). Get with it. Dude is easily at the top end of my list of favorite new school rappers. I would have included some video from the show last night, but the quality of sound and picture that I got off of my phone gives me a headache.
Wale – New Soul ft Yael Naim (Back To The Feature)
Weekend Rap Up: B.o.B. ft Andre 3000, Ed Sheeran ft Yelawolf, Termanology, Jakk Frost, Fabolous ft Meek Mill + Tyga ft. Wale, Fab, Meek, Jeezy & T.I.
I told ya’ll I’d be back with some more jams tonight. First things first though; how bout my boy Derrick Rose today? My favorite basketball players have always been point guards. Not just because I played PG in my days, but because in most cases, the odds are stacked against them in a sport that creates a natural advantage for those blessed with size. So every time Derrick Rose takes it to the rack, slashing through defenders and adjusting his release while floating through the air so to avoid the outstretched arms of those taller than him, you have to appreciate the skill required more-so than that of Lebron James jumping over lil’ Johnny Lucas and throwing down with two hands. Although, that was pretty nasty, too. As far as the game as a whole goes, with no Deng, no CJ, I gotta say that was one of the most satisfying L’s I’ve ever witnessed. Plus I hit the over for Rose total points (22.5) and Noah total rebounds (9.5), along with 2nd half spread (Bulls +1.5). I swear I don’t have a problem….onto the music…
This one dropped a while ago while I was boycotting being productive. B.o.B. use to be confused with Andre when he first started dropping tracks 3-4 years ago, so it’s cool to hear them go back-to-back. I never really heard the connection, but regardless, I like the combo. Of course, Andre wins in this one. Which I guess means Bobby wins too. This one gets some body parts moving.
B.o.B. – Play The Guitar (ft. Andre 3000) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
This is just a great song. I really like this British (I think) dude’s voice/vibe. And Yela meshes his flow perfectly with that vibe, while his voice is the perfect compliment. Shit is smooth as hell.
Ed Sheeran & Yelawolf – You Don’t Know (For Fuck’s Sake) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
It’s extrememely difficult for me to not enjoy any song utilizing the Play N Skillz “Freaks” sample. Absolute classic. Well, actually in their song they sampled this weird “Moments in Love” song themselves, but to the hip hop community, it’s now the “Freaks” sample. Anyway, outside of the sample, I really like a lot of what I hear from Term. Dude can flow.
Termanology – Speed It Up (ft. Anjuli Stars) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
This is another one I came across a lil while back but just never threw up on the Funk. I always appreciate a verse from Fab, and Meek Mill surprises me more and more each time I hear a new verse. These aren’t your typical lazy coke rappers.
Fabolous – You Don’t Know (ft. Meek Mill) (right-click, “save as” to dl)
This one is interesting to say the least. It’s hard to take seriously because of the hook, but it’s actually some quality storytelling. I really like the quirky beat too.
Jakk Frost – Dirty Uggs (right-click, “save as” to dl)
I posted the Wale and Meek version a while ago, but this one includes some more high profile verses to complete the “official” remix. Tyga got real lucky with this beat.
Tyga ft Wale, Fabolous, Young Jeezy, Meek Mill & T.I. – Rack City (remix) (right-click, “save as” to dl)