Sunday, June 29, 2008

Glastonbury Festival - Hip Hip Videos

Check out a few of the performances from the Glastonbury Festival in the UK over this past weekend. There was a bit of controversy concerning Jay-Z's role as a headliner in the festival, which traditionally does not have hip-hop acts in such a prominent position. Noah Gallagher of Oasis even went so far as saying that hip-hop does not have a place at Glastonbury, and that Jay-Z was responsible for what appeared to be slower ticket sales. Jay-Z responded with a cover of Oasis's Wonderwall to start of his performance, followed by his own 99 Problems (but apparently Oasis isn't one). Check it his performance here courtesy of the BBC.

Lupe Fiasco also performed at the festival (and you can see his full set here, also courtesy of the BBC), where he made some comments defending hip-hop's place and showing that rappers can rock with the best of them.

Also check out performances by Britain's own Estelle and Dizzee Rascal, as well as everyone's favorite rehab non-attendee Amy Winehouse.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crank Dat BullSh*t Beef

I don't know if you're caught up on the latest, but currently the blogs are buzzing about the Ice T vs. Soulja Boy beef. (You can read more about it here). To summarize for the uniformed:

- When asked about the current state of hip hop for some mixtape, Ice T replied that Soulja Boy was single handedly killing hip hop, and told the 17-year old "Crank Dance" rapper to eat a dick.

- Soulja Boy replied with a mildly funny YouTube video calling veteran Ice T for being "old as fuck." In a more serious moment, the ATL based rapper said he was just trying to do it took to make things better for his family, and that T should be ashamed for calling him out like that. He also suggested that instead of complaining, if Ice T thinks that hip hop is dying he should do something to save it, or at least help SB step up his game instead of dissing him over the nets.

- The original gangster Ice T then replied apologizing for his "eat a dick" statement, but maintaining that Soulja Boy's music is garbage. He went on to say that he wasn't hating on SB for being young, but for making wack music (listen to the lyrics of "Crank Dat Soulja Boy" and judge for yourself). T's son closes the video by telling SB to eat a dick (without that annoying age disparity).

- Sometime during this, Chicago rapper Kanye West jumped in to defend Soulja Boy for keeping his music fresh and his do-it-yourself attitude in putting together his album. Along the way, he compared Soulja Boy to undisputed hip-hop great and possible GOAT Nas. The blogs went crazy.

To start with, it is pretty clear that Ice T was wrong to come at Soulja Boy the way that he did. It's pretty hard to imagine telling someone to eat a dick and them not catching feelings, especially in the hyper-macho world of hip hop. On the other hand, I would be the first to agree that hip hop seems to have fallen of lyrically from the days of Big Daddy Kane and Rakim, at least in the main stream. The average Soulja Boy song has about as much lyrical content as a cereal box (less if the box has puzzle on the back). But calling Soulja Boy out like this is immature at best and counterproductive at worst, because this is only likely to give Mr. Crank Dat more press time which most likely means more songs with zero lyrical content.

Well..... before I go to far, I guess I should be honest about it, Soulja Boy makes some damn catchy music. Ignorant, coonish, and misogynistic as well, but definitely catchy as hell. I might be guilty of Crankin' Dat Soulja Boy a time or two, so I have to recognize his music for what it is: mindless party music. It's just a fun song to dance to. I respect the boy's hustle for getting where he has off of his songs, because that does hail back to hip hop's roots when the MC's role was primarily to move the crowd.

In that sense, Kanye is right, the Crank Dat kid showed some remarkable drive in self-producing his first album and having one of the most downloaded songs EVER. And before we bash 'Ye too much for the Nas comparison, how different is Crank Dat from "Oochie Wally" or "You Owe Me." He might be leagues below the God Son lyrically, but their pretty much on the same page as far as female exploiting club tracks go (if you don't follow either you haven't heard "Booty Meat" or you don't really know what it means to Superman dat hoe.)

The point is, Soulja Boy IS hip hop, as reluctant as I am to admit it, and no matter how much I would rather listen to Lupe, Wale, or Pacific Division, I'm much more likely to hear about the latest dance from the A when I turn on the radio (which is probably why I don't turn it on anymore). As long as people enjoy acting a damn fool in clubs and parties, there will be a market for damn fool music, and it's pretty safe to say that market is secure as long as we don't see new ownership at BET or the return of prohibition.

Meaning, that one way or the other, we are going to have to listen to Soulja Boy. If we don't want that to be over the airwaves, then we'll have to take his advice and do something about it. If you still don't think Soulja Boy is hip-hop, start supporting the music that is hip hop to you. If record labels don't see a profit in more lyrical hip-hop, don't expect them to put it on the market (i.e. actually buy the CD if you like the music). To quote Jay-Z: On the Internet they like you should spit it/ I'm like you should buy it, nigga that's good business....

The other alternative is to sit down with Soulja Boy and teach him how to actually rhyme........ but listening to his freestyles, to do that, you'd have to be some sort of well.... superman. But hey you never know, we could have another Lil Wayne on our hands, he went from "wobbly wobbly" hot boy to "star eating" best rapper alive (self proclaimed of course).

So Ice T, if you're listening next time you have a break from the set of Law and Order, take a few minutes to call up Soulja Boy and let him know that saying your name ever other word in your rhymes is not going to cut it if you're trying to be a lyricist. But other than that, you're wasting your words talking to him. I'm pretty sure nobody is considering Soulja Boy a lyricist, and stating the obvious won't magically turn him into the reincarnation of B.I.G. Besides, last time I checked, ring tone rapper is basically synonymous with one hit wonder (if you don't believe me, as MIMS), so keep the spot light off him, and he probably won't be around much longer.