Producers – Why Are You Rapping?
Friday September 10th 2010,
Filed under: Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion,Unkut Originals
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Respect to the great Diamond D, but he has to shoulder some of the responsibility for the glut of Producer On The Mic artists that seem to be clogging up the game. Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop worked because because the beats were incredible and the lyrics were straight-forward and amusing, but it also seems to have given every second beat-maker having trouble finding a great MC the idea that they can – and should – rap. Actually, let’s keep it 100 – Kanye West is the guy who really blew-up the whole idea. Now we have talented producers like Nottz, Black Milk, 88-Keys and Timbaland dropping bars all over the place, which is fine for a verse or two but it’s gotten outta control.

Remember when Showbiz stopped rapping after the Runaway Slave album? It wasn’t because anybody said he was wack – quite the opposite – but he chose to know his role and concentrate on his job as a producer. I mean would you rather hear another album of Pete Rock rapping or would you rather have him produce a complete project from a a full-time rapper? Just because you’re can string a few verses together and sound decent doesn’t mean you need to go for delf! If you insist on busting lyrics, at least have the common decency to get someone to write your rhymes like Puba did for early Pete or the Flavor Unit did for The 45 King. And why do DJ’s seem to be more gifted at rhyming, as Kid Capri, Tony Touch and Doo-Wop have demonstrated?

Perhaps the problem stems for “Every Man For Himself” attitude that seems to have taken hold. In an era when a sense of entitlement tells every Joe Familiar that he’s a Producer, Rapper, Director, Actor and CEO, could it be that everyone has forgotten how to juts play their role and be the ‘Mack In The Back’? Now you want to be the ‘Chump Up The Front’ too? Or is it a case of not wanting to share the spotlight with a co-star? Maybe the blame should be directed at the rappers themselves, who are so busy chasing beats from the ‘Producer of the Minute’ that they have no interest in being the next Gangstarr? While I’m sure it’s a combination of the above, I suspect that the primary culprit is that bullshit excuse for everything – ‘Swag’. If you have the right look, attitude, walk and sound, the actual ability to rap at an above-average level is no longer a requirement. That being said, be on the look-out for the all-new Unkut Vodka, available from all good bodega’s and liquor stores, for the chance to win tickets to Unkut On Ice, The Musical.


99 Comments so far
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Forgot about Dre?

Comment by Ivan 09.10.10 @

Ummm….Black Milk has improved greatly on the mic.

Comment by Thomas 09.10.10 @

@Ivan: Yeah, Dre’s rapping almost ruined the Efil4zaggin LP for me.
@Thomas: He’s OK but I can think of 20 rappers I’dr
rather hear over his tracks.

Comment by Robbie 09.10.10 @

Black Milk is mad nice on the mic. You right about Nottz…

Comment by Qwermoo 09.10.10 @

@Robbie

I probably could make a list of 20 “rappers” he is better than right now. I guess apples to oranges..

Comment by Thomas 09.10.10 @

@Thomas: Sure, I guess I just can’t fux wit Detroit rap.

Comment by Robbie 09.10.10 @

Shouts 2 Premo…

Large Pro>>>Black Milk

Imagine Eric B spitting after Ra on ‘In Da Ghetto’.

Pete Rock, Rza, DJ Quick and Dre get a pass…

Comment by $yk 09.10.10 @

And Roc Marcy gets that pass 2…

1

Comment by $yk 09.10.10 @

Ninth Wonder is problematic on the mic as well..

Comment by shamz 09.10.10 @

9th Wonder raps as well now?
*jumps in front of train*

Comment by Robbie 09.10.10 @

Rza used to get a pass..not anymore

Comment by dj blendz 09.10.10 @

let’s keep it 100, kanye is the best in the category: best producer/emcee, he’s fresh and super creative; it doesn’t get more hip hop than kanye west. he has SO much passion!!!!!!! his blood is pure hip-hop. 100%.

Comment by 100 09.10.10 @

If you are a musician, you write songs.

hip hop needs more musicians anyways.

q-tip went the opposite way didnt he? rapper then producer
andre3000 and big boi

or what bout sleepy? thats just off the top

Comment by hiphopapottamus 09.11.10 @

Agreed with comment above…

I don’t think he’s the one that set that trend off either. I vividly recall Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beatz, etc. making wack-ass albums before Kanye was even deep in the game yet. It was def. an ugly trend before him, because I remember thinking ‘ah, another producer making an album’ when he said he was droppin’ one.

-D!

Comment by DANJ! 09.11.10 @

i don’t know.it depends.f.e.i always liked pete rocks stoic flow.diamonds style too.never felt dre.
black milk is nice.j love always get props for his projects and them dope beats but his delivery isnt that nice…

Comment by swordfish 09.11.10 @

For the most part, Robbie is right. Black Milk is cool, sure, and yes he’s gotten better, but so what??? STICK TO DOING WHAT YOU DO BEST AND THAT’S MAKING BEATS!!!! And saying there’s 20 rappers that Black Milk is better then is dumb cuz there’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many garbage rappers today.

And WTF, 9th wonder is rappin now??? *shaking head* I have always enjoyed his beats, but I don’t care to hear him rap.

And LOL to the fAG sayin KanYe’s blood is pure hip-hop 100%. hahahahaha Yeah, sure… I guess that’s why 70% of his music is straight fuckin GARBAGE. hahaha Fuckouttahere…

Comment by Shaun D. aka Wicked 09.11.10 @

Erick Sermon. :)

Comment by Ivan 09.11.10 @

tell you who smacks the rhymes tho

SCRAM JONES!!!

Comment by tareq 09.11.10 @

Dre– never better than tolerable– has become a laughingstock on mic; that this isn’t more widely recognized is puzzling.

Dilla was HORRIBLE on the mic, no matter how many Dilla fanboys try to convince us otherwise.

Any/every rapper who ever let Swizz on mic should be flogged– the beats weren’t so great either so they had moral leverage– tho’ I’m afraid we can’t let Biggie off the hook here either for creating a context where we HAVE to listen to fucking Puff Daddy mumble for eternity.

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 09.11.10 @

Where are all these K&%£e W$*@t fans springing from all of a sudden?!? Anyhow he’s a fuckin’ Illuminati puppet.

Comment by vollsticks 09.11.10 @

….oh and I’m gonna say El-P. I know that nowadays his beats sound like a garage full of heavy-duty industrial power tools switched on at random intervals and his lyrics are getting a bit…garbled…but in his day he was fire.

Comment by vollsticks 09.11.10 @

J-Zone, Havoc, Lord Finesse, Lil Fame….

Comment by D 09.11.10 @

gotta agree with u rob, just listened to the new black milk LP… he should have sticked to makin beats… now he only some half-ass rhymes on half-ass beats. its really a shame. i was pretty hyped after his first album, but it only went downhill from there.

u cant fuck with diamond tho! all-time classic!

Comment by boom.bap.fiend 09.11.10 @

I agree with the dilla comment respect due but he could not rap. same goes out to madlib, dre,
pete rock especailly,lord finesse was an exception cause he started rhyming first then went to producing large pro use to be nice but he has gotten wack the last couple of years. dj quick was always wack rapping, showbiz stop in time
erick sermon was good when EPMD is together.
havok now is straight trash both ryhming and producing. same thing goes for RZA to.

Comment by derrick 09.11.10 @

Derrick– Havoc’s two solo albums were indeed awful but… he’s still a good producer AND… I think most Unkut readers will find this a surprisingly strong verse–

Tek + Steele + Havoc–

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8pGsyDJsEk

If H. can hang with what I’m hoping is going to be a scary hungry Prodigy… Could be great.

Props to peak-era Beatminerz for staying off the mic too!

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 09.11.10 @

I agree with money that mentioned Scram Jones.. That dude is a beast. As for the DJs, I think Doo Wop is nice and Tony Touch is ok too but I can’t name many other DJs that I consider to be dope rappers while I think there are quite a few rapping producers that are good rappers as well.

Comment by LEX 09.11.10 @

alchemist raps these days, he was decent on that Jake-one track with Ev and Prodigy, better than most producer rappers but still just average, but yeah producers need to stop rapping for the most part, Warren G was decent back in the day, not so much since, Edan is a good rapper, producer and dj, as for detroit rappers, elzhi is good, black milk is meh and not so good, I think agallah gets a pass for sure, I think the problem stems from producers wanting to save their best tracks for themselves, but their rapping is terrible, so you have dope beats and bad rhymes

Comment by gstatty 09.11.10 @

I liked Pete’s verses. I dig 50% of what RZA raps. Even Show was dope on Runaway Slave. KRS is by far my favorite mc/producer though. And too bad he doesnt produce more. almost all his beats bang.

Comment by cenzi 09.11.10 @

Don’t bring Black Milk into the conversation – his verse on Deadly Medley was better than Royce and Elzhi.

Simmer on that.

And is 9th Wonder actually rapping now, or are we talking about that one verse on ForNever?
‘Cos I think MURS wrote that verse anyway.

Comment by A.S. 09.11.10 @

Alchemist was rapping before he started producing. Gotta say 9th wonder rhyming is horrible, it wasn’t just a one off. He has a alias called 9thmatic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ruwc-cHS0oc

It is getting a bit excessive though the pattern i mean Statik Selektah is just another example.

Comment by Sam 09.11.10 @

What’s the verdict on Madlib’s raps? I personally think he should’ve been mentioned to prove Robbie’s point..

Comment by LEX 09.11.10 @

Madlib’s raps fucking suck tho’ the ** idea ** of, say… a black Frank Zappa type is a good one. (Neither Prince nor George Clinton quite qualify.)

Side Q: I know it’s antithetical to “real hip hop” bullshit proffered by the low-standard turds who think Joell Ortiz or Termanology are “truth” but excessive weed smoking is NOT good for one’s rapping, on either the mental or technical tips. (Thinking again of Madlip, and his inability to FOCUS on his many ideas.)

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 09.11.10 @

Q-TIP IS THE BEST EMCEE/PRODUCER..WELL MY FAVE..
KRS WAS CRAZY..
KANYE THE MOST PROLIFIC..(QTIPS OFF-SPRING..SORTA)
OH SHIT..DOOM..WHEN HE ON IT..
BUT I GET YOUR POINT..

Comment by TYBO2020 09.11.10 @

*RZA TOO

Comment by TYBO2020 09.11.10 @

I don’t think this problem of Producers wanting to rap started w/ Diamond D,..take it back to Big Daddy Kane,who was DJ for Biz And Shante and also writing some(most)of their raps.Then you have cats like I.U. who were also ghostwriting and producing,Grand Puba ghost wrote/produced for(MC Lyte,& Pete Rock) back then.Damn Lord Finesse produces and he can “body”your favorite emcee,..and now that I think of it,Diamond had plenty of time to rap on his debut with an all-star roster of fellow producers lending production and sample ideas-(Q-Tip,Showbiz,Large Professor and 45 King)..but it’s still not his fault.

Comment by R.Jones 09.11.10 @

Yeah 9th is rhyming…..When he rhymes he goes by the name 9thmatic……..AWFUL….

Comment by shamz 09.11.10 @

Tip was doing both at the same time, from the beginning, like Blueprint, Erick Sermon, Thes One, anyone? I feel like no one knows PUTS exists.

And really, Black Milk killing deadly medley?! Over Royce and Elzhi!?= in levels of insanity Ye’s blood being 100% hiphop.

Comment by deacon 09.12.10 @

q-tip is surely the best
i wish showbiz had rhymed on goodfellas, i was so disappointed when it came out, his flow went well with ag, i always like it when pete rock rhymes with cl too.
e-swift, roc marciano, doom.

i’m sick of hearing 9 different producers on albums, how about some new artists produce their own beats. everybody sounds the same now cause they don’t have their own sound.
NO MORE BUYING BEATS, make your own, you’re not gonna make illmatic again

Comment by TED 09.12.10 @

I’m not going to compare Madlib to Doom (who can also hook up a beat) on the mic but I really enjoy listening to Madlib’s rhymes for some reason. He’s just a cool ass dude and cracks me up.

Comment by A'Pex 09.12.10 @

c´mon now, some really dope lyricists has also been producers, Buck 65, Sixtoo, Beastie Boys, Erick Sermon, Redman, Mobb Deep, RZA, El-P, Insight(criminally slept on!), Edan, Dälek, Jehst(UK), Akhenaton(France), the list goes on..

Necro need to stfu though.

Comment by PAS 09.12.10 @

Dilla might have a few “good” tracks on which he’s rapping, but mostly he was extremely average, if not shitty.

Same with Madlib. He sucks at rapping.

Alchemist also sucks donkey ass. Dude sounds horrible, like he’s not even trying.

Milk has improved, his shit was really simple on Popular Demand. His Production on the new LP is crazy, rapping has improved but I’d rather hear other dudes on his beats.

Stop bringing Dre into this, dude got his shit ghost-produced and ghost-written.

Comment by ... 09.12.10 @

Can’t believe Finesse’s name is getting mentioned here cos he was known primarily as an MC long before he got known for production. I think the distinction needs to be made between producers who suddenly want to grab some spotlight on the mic (9th, Nottz, etc) and those who’ve been rapping and producing throughout their career (Diamond, LP,). Oh yeah, Alchemist was rhyming way before producing as part of the Whooliganz, but I don’t know if that gets him a pass.

Comment by Downstroke 09.12.10 @

Best Rapper Producers are Rza,Roc Marciano,Biz Markie,Havoc,Large Pro,Diamond D,Q tip,Krs,anyone not on this list should probably stick to strictly producing

Comment by factual 09.12.10 @

Dilla (God Bless the Dead) was the best rhymer in Slum Village! T-3 sucked and Baatan (God Bless the dead) was a Q-Tip Knock-off. I don’t think you’d compare Dilla to Nas, but he was the best out of those knuckleheads. Now, Elzhi that’s a completely different story.

Comment by Sublime 09.12.10 @

What about Q-tip ??????!!!!!

Comment by trickykid 09.13.10 @

Sublime, nothing but the truth!!!

Comment by oskamadison 09.13.10 @

Tony D, Godfather Don… both decent at both. Large Pro, despite his critics, hits hard on the mic.

What I don’t understand is the point of the article. Kanye rapping and producing is hardly a new thing. I don’t know why Kayne keeps on appearing in articles on this site when he is a pop artist.

Comment by M.Turn 09.13.10 @

Kid Capri kinda sucks too.

Comment by CENZI 09.13.10 @

Deacon, I love me some PUTS! I think most people who read unkut would too if they gave Thes & Double K a listen.

Comment by Trakball 09.13.10 @

Why is it that Black Milk sounds a bit like KANYE and DILLA ? Or is it me? ..
Anyways regardless if a PRODUCER is nice @ rapping/signing pop rap lmao , I agree they should play there part and just stick to producing!

Comment by WHUT:BMK 09.13.10 @

Yeah, Q-Tip was probably the best in this category. That first Tribe album had incredible beats. In fact the first 3 albums had incredible beats. But I think the sampling laws changed and they stopped using loops and that’s when their whole style started to sound boring.

Large Professor was ok on the mic. The Breakin Atoms LP was tight but that First Class album he put out around 2004 was dissapointing. The beats were tight but his rhymes were average at best.

I was never really feeling Pete Rock. He had a few tight beats here and there but I didn’t think he was that great as a producer.

Diamond D was aiight. Honestly I think he gets more props than he deserves. there’s plenty of producers from the same era that were just as good as Diamond.

But yeah, Kanye West is probably the best example of a guy that can produce and write a song. He’s not necessarrily a great freestyle/off the top of the dome MC but songs like All Falls Down and Jesus Walks were masterpieces.

Comment by 5 grand 09.13.10 @

As Robbie Said, Diamond D was nice on the mic and the wax and was ahead of his time. IT was street legal from the jump. The first album don’t have no dust on it in my house. My son knows Diamond D and his friends always want to know who it is when it’s playing.

Dre was alright. If he didn’t rap, I was upset with him.

Kanye, he hits you with some solid pearls every once in a while. But sometimes he overboard with the words spanning more than one beat. Rather annoying. But he so strong with the production, it compensates for his deficiencies in rap skills.
He is in the same boat as Ced Gee back in the day.

Comment by corporatereward 09.13.10 @

um yes Showbiz was a monster on RunawaySlave,
better then Diamond d give it a listen again,
Kane was a Studio Rapper ialota these Dude are Studio Rppers Live show was not like the song or the video
‘i grew up in the Bronx in the 1980′s
Rakim live show in 1988 was Wack, Kool G Rap had a better Live show
GHetto Vader says so

Comment by Ghetto Vader 09.13.10 @

Personally I say do it all if you can but let the talent people like you for or presents you the best be the lead talent you display.

Comment by MalMoe 09.13.10 @

Said it before, I’ll say it again: producers on the mic? Extra P is the GOAT, all day.

Comment by oskamadison 09.14.10 @

On the real, I think Dr Dre is a good rapper. Sure, he doesn’t write his rhymes but 2001 is a CLASSIC in my opinion.

J-Zone, DOOM, El-P, Bronze Nazareth, Lord Finesse, Roc Marcy and even Trem and Prowla are good examples of rappers who make dope producers and vice versa.

Madlib, Necro and Alchemist are the top 3 for me who need to put the mic down and stick to the beats.

Comment by Requiem 09.14.10 @

Comment by Saratoga N. Blake 09.11.10 @

HAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!! Preach.

Post of day.

Comment by corporatereward 09.14.10 @

I don’t mind producers on the mic…at least back in the day. Can’t front on Diamond (who the hell were the Psychotic Neurotics?), The Beatnuts, Large Pro, etc. Oh, and I like Kid Capri on the Grand Puba and KRS-One songs that he rhymed on and produced.

Comment by turtle 09.14.10 @

Joe Cooley is a dope rapper and a better DJ than any of those New York dudes to do it- Most of them cant even scratch

Comment by D.Baskett 09.15.10 @

RZA was doing it way before Kanye

Comment by Jhon da Analyst 09.15.10 @

PUTS is inconsistent, but they have a grip of heaters for sure. OST was probably their best LP.

Godfather Don, Lord Finesse, Havoc, Roc Marciano, Diamond, Frankenstein, MF Doom, Beatnuts, Tony Touch, are my picks for double threats. RZA, Pete Rock, and Dre have their moments on the mic. Dilla makes me cringe. Kanye jumped the shark awhile back, so I’m not sure how to assess him.

Considering how rare it is for a mainstream rap artist to have a clue about making beats (or DJing), I think we should recognize that most rapper/producers are usually pretty deep in the culture, and that’s mostly a good think imo.

Comment by eric 09.15.10 @

only hip hop could create a dude like kanye west. what is hip hop? is hip hop what it was in the late ’80s and early ’90s? nope. shit evolves, you dudes are stuck in time capsules man.
kanye is a monster. it’s only ‘pop’ because it’s popular, that doesn’t mean he’s not hip hop. he has some of the dopest verses/beats ever. he’s has some of the wittiest/most clever rhymes out there now. he pushes creativity everytime.
you dudes think noreaga, killa sha and shit are nice, kanye is a million times iller than those cats. once anyone makes it big, yall jump off the nut sack. i can’t wait for that new ‘yeezy album!!!!!!

Comment by yeezy! 09.15.10 @

^^^
ahha… flame on!

What’s next?… Are you going to argue that jazz hit its creative peak in the 1980s?

Comment by eric 09.15.10 @

^^ u cant tell me nothin’!!

Comment by yeezy! 09.15.10 @

Kanye rhymes like the beat is non-existent. That’s not a compliment.

Comment by A'Peks 09.15.10 @

Comment by A’Peks 09.15.10 @

lol.

kanye, the andy warhol of rap

Comment by feeblemind 09.16.10 @

yeezy still winning, you can tell by the number of haters. that’s why he’s in hawaii making any type of music he wants. not stuck in the hood @ 40 years old rapping about block life (prodigy, etc.)hahaha. grow up.

Comment by yeezy! 09.16.10 @

“And why do DJ’s seem to be more gifted at rhyming, as Kid Capri, Tony Touch and Doo-Wop have demonstrated?”

Prolly becuz they listen to the lyrics in records more. A lot of producers only listen to their beats and could care less about the rhymes… maybe the hook at best.

Comment by Kid Captain Coolout 09.16.10 @

100% co-sign with the 2 or 3 ppl here that realize that Kanye is that dude right now.I was @ the park jams in the 70s in the BX. & still appreciate underground (that’s why I come to this site). A lot of ppl here are stuck exclusively in the late 80s-Mid 90s.Yall sound just like the older heads (bout 55 and older)who never felt hip hop. A true hip hop junkie evolves with the times without forgetting their roots. Most of our fav artist from back in the day cannot hang with these kids now because they lost their passion & took too much time off between albums and came back weak. They dismiss the new artist on the way up & eventually get replaced (except the older artist that fight to stay relevent).

Comment by kenny Patt 09.16.10 @

@ 5grand, yeah on Tribe’s 4th album(j dilla produced) i was kinda bored with the beats(plus it had cons). Same thing with pharcyde’s 2nd album(dilla on some tracks).

Comment by Dee 09.17.10 @

Beatnuts #1 all day!

Every kanye album sucks but he’s still nicer than every radio rapper…and lets face facts, the underground ain’t exactly pumping out classics either at this point

Comment by dockevoc 09.17.10 @

@kenny

Hip Hop pioneers and leaders have generally been guys who were deep into classics of funk, jazz, soul, etc. Your generational characterization doesn’t apply to guys like Premo, Pete Rock, Madlib, Dilla, etc.

Dude, the music has changed. If you think hip hop is just as good now… lucky you. Personally, I’m more likely to be checking for new dubstep or some other electronic or just digging for classics.

Ya, a lot of people criticized hip hop when it first came out. And you know what, I think they could see that it wasn’t laying a strong foundation for the future. It discourages kids from learning instruments or learning how to sing. And that is the core of the music. If you don’t have a strong understanding of how to play a traditional instrument or sing… your foundation is weak.

To be honest, I think it was a miracle that hip hop was as vital and creative as it was, because sooo many of these great producers had limited musical training. But they did have the ear because they grew up in the REAL golden era of the 1960s/1970s.

But now the kids are just so far removed from where it all came from.

Comment by eric 09.17.10 @

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CO SIGN eric!!!!!

Comment by J-Lajikal 09.18.10 @

@ eric…hip hop doesnt discourage anyone to not sing or play instruments. Hip hop is a product of the late seventies nyc school system which took arts out of the budget(no music in schools). The kids had to express themselves so they took the only music they had which was their parents records and made music with that foundation.

Comment by mercilesz 09.19.10 @

whattup mercilesz.

If you ask ANY producer on this page, they’ll all tell you the same thing: they grew up with soul, jazz, and funk music as part of the daily experience. Without that “education” they wouldn’t be able to do what they do.

Unfortunately, those who grew up with hip hop as their prime musical influence never seemed to get a comparable educational experience. And, no surprise, the further we get from the 1960s/1970s, the less great hip hop gets made. Of course, there are many other factors, but musically, this is huge.

Another major factor was the breakdown of traditional music education. And there have been some demographic factors at work too. But I digress.

Comment by eric 09.20.10 @

I probably could have phrased it better than saying “discouraging”. How about “hip hop doesn’t do much to promote live instruments or singing.” ;-)

Comment by eric 09.20.10 @

@ Eric…I can truly say hip hop does more to educate people about other forms of music than any other music group. The amount and variety of samples in the records we grew up to in the eighties taught us about different genres and who and what to look for when we got older.

Comment by mercilesz 09.20.10 @

S.I.D. was pretty good with the rhymes same goes for Lord Digga. Say what you will but I believe Kanye has taken mediocrity to new heights.

Comment by Brooklyn 'Lo 09.20.10 @

@mercilesz

I totally agree about the diversity of influences on hip hop. We DJs will give just about anything at least one listen, right?

But as far as the beatmakers and the audience, I don’t think the openmindedness of DJs and a few producers was enough to counteract the reality that the music became more and more self-referential. It started to eat itself.

But, ya, if the hip hop audience and the radio and magazines did nothing but promote “real” hip hop, things might be different. But even then, I would argue, I think the lack of music education is a formidable barrier to passing along those traditions.

I challenge anyone to name a single music artist — pre-1980 — who influenced music that didn’t sing or play a traditional instrument.

Comment by eric nord 09.20.10 @

black music has always referenced itself. Answer records are black music phenomena. As for the instrumentation turntablism became a new form of expressing ones self. I dont see any difference in cutting than playing an instrument.

Comment by mercilesz 09.20.10 @

OK, all genres must reference themselves… or they aren’t genres. But Black music has always looked to a wide range of influences. And Black music has always put a premium on innovation. It would seem that the core hip hop tradition hasn’t evolved much since the mid-1990s. And this site is a reflection of that. Now, I think there are new music movements that ARE innovatin, but I wouldn’t call them hip hop, per se.

It is now 2010. How different is hip hop now, as compared to 1990? I would say it is not that different. But compare the popular Black music of 1990 to 1970. It’s a dramatic difference, both in the how the music sounds and how it is created. I’m not saying music has to change to be good. But I’m just showing that music changed dramatically, and so when people talk like “it’s all the same thing, just sounds a bit different”… I think that’s ignoring some strong evidence that the music has changed dramatically.

I agree that a turntable is an instrument. But it’s not a substitute for the 99% of other instruments. Most producers use software and keyboards to make beats, not turntables.

I’m not even saying the tools need to change. I think computers and keyboards are perfectly capable of making great music. BUT, but but but… there is no substitute for knowing music fundamentals. That’s why the best music conservatories require you to play either piano or guitar, in addition to your core instrument. I’m not saying a person has to learn instruments and music theory to be a great musician. But total ignorance of music history and instruments is no a recipe for success.

OK… so you can chop drums… great. But if you don’t have a good understanding of structure, melody, harmony, etc… your music will be one-dimensional. Which is what most of the music on the radio is right now.

Comment by eric 09.21.10 @

By saying that turntables are not substitutes for instruments you are basically saying that all the rap records that were made using samples(the majority) werent songs at all and followed none of your rules for music theory. These songs are some of the most popular songs of the last 30 years around the world and they do follow music theory. Its just produced in a diferent way because those who made it had no access to instruments or an education in music theory. The kids from the bronx turned the turntable into an instrument so much to the point that the entire world now wants to copy their format and become djs. not every music references itself the way black music did/does. You have to think about the “answer record” which created some of the best known hits in the world. that format of making a record is strictly african american and later adopted by the jamaicans and we all know reggae is probably even more popular in the world than rap. Heres some examples of the answer record.
you aint nothin but a hound dog by big mama thornton is answered by bearcat by rufus thomas. Tramp by fulsom is answered by tramp otis redding and later papa was too by joe tex. Ima roadrunner is answered by shotgun. superbad is answered by supergood. we got more soul is answered by we got latin soul. the bridge is answered by south bronx and then again by the bridge is over. Roxanne was answered by roxannes revenge. the show was answered by showstoppa. fly girl was answered by fly guy.Im a man was answered by im a woman. the list is endless and it is this referencing done by black culture…and Only black culture in popular music which created careers to many mention and kept the music thriving. Not destroying it as you would want people to believe.No black kids grow up in america with only hip hop.All black families listen to r and b/soul/jazz/disco/funk etc. This is where our music comes from. Our parents.This is where our samples come from..Our parents. I agree that nothing has changed from 1990 to now…hip hop is still filled with trends/styles/slang/fashions etc. Its just that its not our aesthetic because we are older now.Its still a young persons music.the reason why there is no complexity to modern music is that the companies dont want to promote anything but the simple stuff they are selling today and it is the company that controls what is on the radio or the tv.not the public. Michael Jackson the King of pop had to take mtv to court to get them to play billy jean which was on the biggest selling album of all time.They wouldnt play it because he was black.not because it wasn’t good. I hope you can grasp what Im saying to u. peace

Comment by mercilesz 09.21.10 @

format of making an answer record is african american is what i meant that to say.

Comment by mercilesz 09.21.10 @

Damn, i was just thinking about this the other day when i heard some of the Gangrene stuff. Al needs to stay in the lab.

Comment by Kors One 09.22.10 @

point taken but i think if a dude really loves to rap, and he can make his own beats, nothing should stop him from doing something that he really loves. he can def be criticized, but if u love it, u gotta stick to it.

Comment by fredMS 09.22.10 @

oral tradition? cmon now. Africans invented writing so Im not even gonna go there. Think Beatles? There 1st hit which put them in the pop scene was a record which had been in the pop scene for almost a decade already in the US was a cover record of the Isely Bros Twist and Shout. There is no MPC or SP or S950 without the turntable because thats where the sounds come from that they are playing in the machines u mentioned…those are not keyboards. As for getting high how many rock muscians overdosed in the sixties til now? Rhythym is what makes the world love black music and in black music it is integrated amongst the harmonies melodies and narratives which u are so fond of. Lastly the british invasion was nothing but white groups from the uk selling old black music to the white kids of america who lived in a Segregated society. Black records were called race records and never got play in white media i.e Michael Jackson. You really don’t know much about the music you claim to like the most and where it comes from. Its all gravy though but I see you have alot to learn about this culture you want to be a part of. peace.

btw eric i dont have alot of knowledge about answer records I have knowledge about my peoples music and culture in america since I live here and have black parents.

Comment by mercilesz 09.24.10 @

I finally see that this is going nowhere.

I thought about responding to what you wrote, to address what I meant by oral tradition (grassroots and decentralized) and why the late Beatles albums (like Abbey Road) are still relevant. But now I see we aren’t really having a conversation. And since you want to act like I am trying to be your white groupie, I’m gonna peace.

Have a nice day.

Comment by eric 09.24.10 @

wow….didnt even know u were white. and we couldnt really have a conversation since you dont really know much about popular music(black music). U should research it more and find out why u think its gettin stale now and the history of white corporations controlling what white people listen to in this country and the history of BMI and ASCAP and their racial beginnings. peace out

oh yeah Oral Tradition does not mean grassroots…it means people who cant write which is a term europeans have been saying about africans to justify slavery since the 1700′s so you may not understand what you are saying when you say that to an African American but it’s very disrespectful since Africans have the oldest culture on the planet and the oldest books/buildings/ and religions. just for future reference.

Comment by mercilesz 09.24.10 @

Dude, by oral tradition i simply meant person-to-person (thus grassroots). my grandma told me stories that were never written down. and that doesn’t mean she can’t write.

How about the Freestyle Fellowship reference to “Innercity Griots”… is that offensive too? Griots were an oral tradition. Off-the-top freestyle battling is a good example of oral tradition. Freestyle rhyming is all about face-to-face interaction. Even at the height of hip hop’s popularity, freestyle rhymes were rarely released commercially. Hence that side of hip hop was largely an oral or grassroots tradition.

And I would say answer records are also part of the oral tradition because you have to be deep in the culture to be able to trace it back and understand the references. You can’t simply listen to Symphony 2000 by EPMD and automatically know that it started with the Juice Crew (who of course were inspired by the roll call style that was also primarily an underground phenomenon).

Not that I know anything about hip hop. ;-)

And if you want to know where I first learned my offensive concept of “oral tradition”, it was Wendell Logan…

http://new.oberlin.edu/home/news-media/detail.dot?id=2152279

I definitely agree that corporate supremacy and white supremacy have been and are still a huge barrier to progress of all sorts, but that has been true since WWII. And I agree that pop music IS Black Music. And it got played because it was undeniable. The music wasn’t played on the radio because Whitey was being open minded. It got played because the fans DEMANDED it. And now I am arguing that Black culture no longer creates music that has that power. And so it doesn’t matter that corporations and whitey control the media. They always have. In fact, I would say that with the internet, the barriers are waaaaay lower now, and any 2-bit movement like Jerking or Juke can get huge international exposure. Saying it’s all whiteys fault is just retro victimhood excuse-making. We are way past that. If the shit is dope, people are gonna spread it.

Comment by eric 09.24.10 @

If u say so…..matter of fact we as humans are so passed it that black people own media outlets and publishing companies and major record labels and major distribution outlets…oh wait no they don’t. Good try though. Like I said be4 do ur homework and then we can discuss BMI and the payola that it took to get black records on white radio. as for your oral tradition cop out….stop it. It means what it means. have a great day

Comment by mercilesz 09.24.10 @

thanks, i will.

Comment by eric 09.24.10 @

yo eric,b u still arguin with this doofus nerdiless?? c’mon b evryone kno all this dude does is b on his mom’s comp wackin off to the latest porno and gettin on ppls. nerves let that shit be yo just ignore that nerd god kno we all do on this side lol

Comment by Unkut 09.24.10 @

ahh… no doubt. whattup R! Ya, I’m gettin played like a King Tee piano. but nerdilesz is cool. i know he’s crazy. but i’m krazy too. With that said, there’s no sense polluting your fine establishment. i’ll shut up now and let you take back this stank breath microphone.

Comment by eric nord 09.24.10 @

thats why i don’t rap ! don’t think i got it .

Comment by John Melbs 09.24.10 @

I don’t think the conversation is even relevant. Some rappers are good, some of them suck. Some rappers in either category happen to make beats. Hip-hop period is more accessible than ever which causes a surplus of artists (producers, djs, rappers, singers, engineers, toy ass graffiti writers, whatever). Whether or not any of these guys practice more than one “element” is besides the point.

Comment by Pain 09.24.10 @

How the fuck we get from wack producers on the mic to slavery? I must have assed out for a bit. Anyway, how the fuck is someone gonna say Lord Finesse? He is the motherfucking man, all around. And Q-Tip was nice in all aspects. I like Dilla and Pete Rock’s beats, but their rhymes were lacking. The Beatnuts are classic…..”Tossing bodies off boats(complete with sound effects)…”

Comment by BIGSPICE 09.24.10 @

lol nerds.

Comment by mercilesz 09.25.10 @

Lord Finesse = Dope Producer, dope DJ, DOPE emcee.

Comment by J-1 09.27.10 @

@eric nord: That ‘Unkut’ dude isn’t me by the way, but you’re always welcome to stink this spot up regardless.

Comment by Robbie 09.27.10 @



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