Rap Loopholes

12 March 2011

In the beginning, rap was all about lyrics; beats were simple and image was secondary. The following song exemplifies this aesthetic, and is, in my estimation, the finest display of lyricism in the history of hip-hop:

In today’s rap world, however, lyricism seems to be taking a backseat to production and fashion; consequently, more and more artists are resorting to what I call “rap loopholes.” According to my observations, there are three such loopholes:

1.Quasi-rhymes.

Quasi-rhymes are the alchemy of hip-hop, whereby a rapper tries to make two words that don’t really rhyme sound like they do. For an example of the technique, as well as modern rap’s emphasis of style over substance, I present Pittsburgh’s finest emaciated stoner, Wiz Khalifa:

Wiz, we get it: you smoke weed. How about fewer shots of your bong and more actual rhymes? In case you’re unclear on the concept, the following word pairs DO NOT rhyme:

nothing/money
us/’bruh’
thousand/driving
honest/call it
morning/coughing

This is some weak sauce, and there’s no excuse for it. There are many options available to the lyrically challenged rapper: he can have someone else write his rhymes, rip some verses off from another artist, or employ one of the following two loopholes, which, despite their dubious artistic merit, at least involve technically genuine rhymes. Which brings us to…

2)Spelling.

Perhaps the most well-known and most commonly used rap loophole, spelling words out has served as a crutch for unimaginative lyricists since the birth of hip-hop. The fact that seven letters (B, C, D, E, G, P, T, Z) rhyme with one another as well as many words enables mediocre rappers like Dr. Dre to make virtually any two words rhyme. Consider the following verses:

It’s the muthafuckin’ D-R-E
From the C-P-T
On a rhymin’ spree
A straight G
-“Let Me Ride,” The Chronic

From Eazy E to D-O-C to D-P-G
All started from that S-O-B, the D-R-E
-“Big Egos,” Chronic 2001

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of Dr. Dre, and both of the albums above are absolute classics, but this is some seriously lazy shit. Dre should stick to producing, at which his skills are unparalleled, or at the very least have more talented rappers write his lyrics for him, as is obviously the case in songs such as this:

3)Rhyming a word with itself.

Unlike spelling words out, which is essentially unique to hip-hop, rhyming a word with itself has been a technique exploited by poets and musicians of all genres.  I already pointed out an instance of it in the lyrics of hack “poet” Jim Morrison in this blog’s most read entry. Only in hip hop, however, do we find this device (and just about everything, for that matter) taken to its logical extreme. Back in 1998, Juvenile broke new ground when he realized that he could write an entire song simply by ending each line with the same word:

If you can understand even 25% of what Juvenile says in this song, you should consider a career in linguistics. Nonetheless, it’s apparent that there are very few rhymes in this song. Juvenile subsequently stepped up his game with this classic, in which he cleverly replaced the word “ha” with the word “yeah”:

What a great video; fantastic beats, plenty of ass-jiggling, and hood rats instead of models. This song also includes more legitimate rhymes than does “Ha”; in fact, here I’d argue that Juvenile is applying Euclid’s Second Axiom, which asserts that equals added to equals are equal. In rap, this means that if “wood” rhymes with “hood,” then “wood, yeah” rhymes with “hood, yeah.” You’ve got to hand it to Juvenile for overcoming his lack of talent by discovering the rap loophole to end all rap loopholes.


What have you done with the real Busta?

3 December 2008

Busta Rhymes was a great rapper.  I feel bad saying it.  I really wish I could say that he is.

Listening to a white boy talk about what rap is good and what rap isn’t is sort of like listening to a blind man discuss van Gogh.  However, any idiot could make the observations I’m about to — they’re universal across culture, race, time, and space.  Even a Chinese railroad worker from the 19th century would agree with me on this shit.

Here’s some classic Busta:

This stuff is excellent and if you disagree you’re wrong.  If you want to skip the little “before the song” song, hop ahead to 1:30 in the video (where “Break Ya Neck” actually starts).  Busta’s technique is great.  Entertaining lyrics and great technique — even though he raps fast you can understand what he’s saying; he fully enunciates each word.  

Not to mention, he was wild.

 

Busta probably needed to switch to decaf.

Busta probably needed to switch to decaf.

I could go on, but there’s no reason to when you could just watch the above video.

That being said — I heard a song on the radio recently called “We Gettin’ Arab Money.”  It’s a song about getting so much money that it’s as if you were a sheik selling oil or some shit.  Anyway I looked it up on youtube when I got home just because I was in complete disbelief such a shitty song existed.

The first hits returned Busta’s name, and at first I skipped those links because I didn’t believe it could actually be Busta.  I ignored the search results and searched for like five minutes before I ended up giving in and seeing if it was him.  Much to my dismay, it is.  Here it is:

This video is a fucking disaster.  It’s nothing.  It’s worse than nothing.  Busta would have done much better to just stay the fuck home on this one.

First of all, he looks like a fucking dad.  He seriously reminds me of some of my friends’ parents in high school.  Second of all, the song is absolute garbage.  This needs no explanation.  And finally: why the fuck is the video for this song a party with an average crew of office workers?  It boggles the mind.  He’s doing a shitty, uninspired dance with office workers.   Office workers.   Fuck.

I have nothing more to say about this.  Somebody get him back on speed, on the double.


More On Fashion

27 October 2008

I know absolutely nothing about fashion.  You know how, in the olden days, everyone but the very rich had only an outfit or two?  That’s pretty much my style.  I wear the same cheap, tired-ass clothes day in and day out until they fall apart.  As far as I’m concerned, there are better things to spend money on than replacing perfectly functional clothing.

I’m usually not even aware of fashion trends, and when I am I don’t care enough to comment on them.  But there is a current fad that is so obnoxious that it makes my blood boil every time I see it:

Jesus tap-dancing Christ.  Where to begin?  First of all, what’s with the flat brim?  Don’t people know that you’re supposed to bend the brim of a cap so it conforms to your head instead of perching precariously atop it?  Second, you forgot to remove the stickers, asshole.  Oooh, I’m so impressed that your hat is “authentic!”  I hope you choke.  The combined effect of these two blunders is to make the wearer look like a little kid who just got a cap for his birthday and has no idea what to do with it.

And why the white-on-white color scheme?  You can barely make out the logo.  And if it’s not white-on-white or black-on-black, it’s some other hideous scheme that has absolutely nothing to do with the team colors.  The other day I saw some dipshit wearing a red camouflage Dodgers cap.  I don’t think someone with such poor judgment should reproduce, so I ripped his balls off and fed them to my dog.

How does dressing like a retarded five-year-old become popular?  My theory is that a bunch of executives at MTV or BET were betting one another how ridiculously they could get people to dress. Next you’ll see 50 Cent wearing his underwear outside of his pants in a music video and people following suit the next day.