Gangsters Don’t Dance and Rappers Don’t Rap

by Brandon at No Trivia

Rappers aren’t rapping anymore. That’s not the grumble of an old-school fan or knee-jerk disappointment upon hearing say the Kanye/Lil Wayne/Jay-Z/T.I track “Swagger Like Us” or the rap-less “Love Lockdown”, it’s just a fact. Most of radio’s rappers are doing as much singing or club-ready chanting as rapping, and the few guys still rapping are lrapperayover from the late 90s/early 2000s or are named Lil Wayne and Kanye West-and the “talents” of those two are for some reason, still up to debate.

Sure, there’s plenty of rapping in the “underground”–which at this point, just means, not one of the like 12 artists that can still get rap radio support–and the so-called “hipster rap” trend/sub-genre offers some genuine rapping, but really, rappers just aren’t rapping anymore and it’s a bummer, but it also just makes sense.

The height of rap “lyricism” (a term that means nothing but everyone reading this knows its meaning) was during the early-to-mid-90s when hyper-poetic rappers like Wu-Tang and Nas and Biggie ruled the radio. Since then, every rapper’s tried to occupy that same space and failed, not for a lack of talent, but because it’s a pretty much perfect era that was able to function at a pretty high-level of visibility with a relative lack of corporate interruption…and then it ended. The death of Biggie and Tupac, Wu-Tang’s dissolution, enter the era of Puffy–all the stuff you’ll one day read about in a music textbook on the history of rap– but most importantly (and word to Dart Adams) The Telecommunications Act of 1996.


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Racism With A Beat

from imagine 2050.comwhiterapper

Recently, Turn It Down – a national campaign against white power music – was asked to contribute an article to a magazine overseas regarding the existence and potential of white power hip-hop here in the United States. Several European nations are seeing a sharp rise in racist and nationalist hip-hop,..

“I’m a conservationist Conserve America, ’cause the white man created it
Other races are defacing it. Soon they’ll be renaming it to Aztlan…
This is how every civilization has fallen.”

–Politiko, “NotSee”

Here we have one example of what most culturally literate Americans would consider unthinkable – a white artist using hip-hop to spread racist hate. (Go ahead. Take a moment to get your mind around it. We needed to do so ourselves.) But if you think WE find it hard to stomach, you should read the chatter among white racists on the subject.


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GrownHead Check: 29 -35


Grownheadz is a community of lovers of hip hop who came up in the Golden Age through the Renaissance, and does not condone discrimination against young bucks, old heads or the other man. But you can only truly call yourself a grownhead IF….

29….you can sing the words to the Jeffersons, Fame, Different Strokes, Good Times, AND the Love Boat.
30….at one time the only country song you knew was the theme from the Dukes of Hazzard (Just some good ole’ boys/Never meaning no harm…)
31….you know the words to “Double Dutch Bus” (izza-yizza-yizzay)
32….you know the profound meaning of “Wax on, Wax off.”
33….you and your cousins got in trouble for mimicking the moves you saw on Kung Fu Theater every Saturday afternoon
34….you remember watching UltraMan, Space Giants (Goldar Silvar and Zan), and SpectraMan afterschool
35….you dream car was the Mach 5 that Speed Racer drove

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Oh You Thought That OTHER Guy Was Bad?

by Angel Navado for Heavy Writes The Pen

When Rappers Aren’t So Bad

I remember when Nelly first came out with “Country Grammar,” I’d tell anyone willing to listen that he was the devil here to destroy the very essence of Hip-Hop. And when I was convinced that music couldn’t get any worse and the downward spiral bottomed out, Chingy got a record deal. badmusic

After him it was definitely over, right? Then Yung Joc got his first video. And it’s continued as such to the point that we’re now crankin’ out Soulja Boys. But he’s too common of a target, so I’ll leave the kid alone. And truthfully, I really don’t hate the kid; I find him funny. So I’ll set my sights on Plies. I heard “Bust It Baby,” recently and in my heart I hoped for a new Young Jeezy single.


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ODB Was On A Hip-Hop Vision Quest

by James Parker for

“Creation is original freshness related to God,” said Ol’ Dirty Bastard. No, wait—it was St. Thomas Aquinas. Could have been ODB, though: No one doubted his original freshness, and the entropic rapper was quite as prone to a theological outburst as he was to one that was deranged or dirty-bastardly. Inducted as a 10-year-old into the Scholastically complex systems of the Five Percent Nation—the breakaway sect founded in 1963 by former Nation of Islam ministerodb Clarence 13X Smith—Dirty in his short life would stray wildly from the path, but the teachings stayed with him. Always at his fingertips were the Supreme Alphabet, the 120 Degrees, the Nine Basic Tenets. “The black man is God!” he proclaimed at the end of a 1994 performance on The Arsenio Hall Show. And to an interviewer in 1997: “I’m God. That’s my identity, one of the low gods. One of the earth gods—one with a lot of wisdom.” Was he high? Almost certainly. But neither afflatus nor clinical grandiosity were at work here: For the Five Percenters, otherwise known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, these were the proverbs of a simple piety.

It’s a stretch to call Jaime Lowe’s new Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB a spiritual biography—Lowe is as concerned with Dirty’s place in hip-hop as she is with the progress of his soul. But as the narrative deepens into disaster, it’s hard not to see this story in the light of a doomed pilgrimage, a religious journey that went wrong.


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Quick Hits


Just some things we had laying around that you might find kinda interesting.

With the release of “Notorious” this interesting post asks two questions. When the HELL did Bad Boy Records fall-off AND how was the music A.B. (After Big)

It seems like we hear the same samples again, again, again, and again. Instead of just remembering the last rapper to sample a song impress your family and friends with the song and original artist. Yes you can be a hip hop scholar. The most overused samples in hip-hop.

Now that Obama is in office. Some of your “other” friends will try to impress you with how down they are. Here then are some of “their” favorite songs.

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IMO: Madd Rapp Fan: Dumb Is Not The New Cool

Yo, it’s your friendly neighborhood MADD RAPP FAN on a rant again.
Is dumb cool? No, mofos, it’s not. Some love to not know, Chris Rock said in his classic stand-up special. This phenomenon is not just in hip-hop and niggadom, it’s a part of general society. For a great reminder, look at last year’s election.

First hip-hop. For the last ten years, hip-hop has had a lobotomy. Back in the day, MCs used to shout out their schools or frat (i.e. Run DMC and Saint Johns). Now they shit out they’re a fool with a gat. Where did we go wrong? I say the geeks will inherit the earth, not prom royalty. Rappers emphasize their jail time rather than the time they were on the Dean’s list. Many rappers are smart, but hide their intellect more than women did in the ‘50s.

This dumb act has been happening around the neighborhood for as long as I can remember. It was cool to beignorant dumb. Jocks in high school hid high GPAs like pretty girls would hide their glasses and lower their vocabulary to impress the same dudes for the same reasons—they assume that guys would be intimidated by their intelligence.

What else is at work, when platinum-selling rappers deny that they went to college and had a government job (I won’t name any names, but his rhymes with Dick Floss). He isn’t the only one; a lot of rappers are hiding their credit hours. Instead of shouting out Lil’ Junebug that’s doing a dime up state, give a shout out to to Big Kev for finishing his master’s at Michigan State. Don’t get me wrong, a few rappers grew up in the hood, but most grew up on the mean streets of -insert suburb here- and need to stop fronting.

And what’s wrong with being smart? I don’t want the prom king and queen running the government, I want the chess clubbing, debate teaming, yearbook staffing, student council president son of a bitch that can talk to anybody.

Back in December, Republicans weren’t just acting dumb, they were good and proud of it. Grandpa Munster and Caribou Barbie were the last of any class, hiding their ignorance in the “just plain folk” chatter. It was a celebration of not knowing. Thank God we got Obama, that combination of Steve Urkel and Stephon Urkelle, with his finger on the button.

My fellow hip hoppens (members of the hip hop Nation), dumb is not cool for you, rappers, or politicians. MAD RAP FAN out!! P.S. If you’ve got a hotel room or just a play cousin in D.C., holla at your boy—I’m ready to sleep under the kitchen table for the inauguration!

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HOT 5: Five Rappers Smarter Than Their Lyrics

5 Rappers Smarter Than Their Lyrics

DJ A-See and me had just finished dinner at a friend’s house over the weekend when she pulled out the hip-hop karaoke. Now, if you’ve never had the unfortunate indigestion that comes of seeing the lyrics to This Is Why I’m Hot in print, you want to thank your stars and keep the brain space. It got us to thinking, no way these rappers are really that dim. They’re just lazy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Or they don’t want to complicate things for the listeners. We took the 5 biggest offenders to task for their sins. They’ve gotta be dumbing it down. They’ve just gotta be—don’t they?

5. 50 Cent
Back in 2007 when it was rumored that Fiddy made $400 million dollars off his investment in Vitamin Water (even though it was more like $100 mill), everybody had to say Whoa.

50cent1Mr. 50 Cent is one of the reasons we had to start Grownheadz. His songs, monotone tales of guns, drugs and death, made hip hop a little less interesting and a whole lot more immature. But on the business side, Fiddy is a grown-ass man.

Curtis was doing the usual rapper business model: Start your own label and sign your boys. Check. Start a clothing line. Check. But while other rappers were making Pimp Juice and Crunk Juice, 50 invested in a company he believed in because he drank it when he worked out. Unlike his predecessors, he kept the venture low-key and initially didn’t promote his connection to the firm, quietly banking shares and making bank.
In interviews, 50’s been heard quoting The 48 Rules of Power by Robert Greene—he even inspired me to pick up the book, and it’s thick, y’all—so he’s got more than coloring books in his library. But if he truly wants to impress, he needs to stop rapping about shooting up the block and talk about his investment strategy.

4. David Banner
What does a former president of the Student Government Association do with an undergrad degree in business from Southern University (HBCU’s in da house) and a master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland? Why, become a rapper, of course!

Levell Crump, a.k.a David Banner, is by all accounts is an educated man, with the proper bourgie credentials to makebanner1 him eligible for all sorts of mature blackman stuff. You know, Grown and Sexy Sundays, good credit, hell, he could be a principal at somebody’s school. Instead, we get lyrics like:

Bend it on over, lemme see it from the back/Work your thumb in it girl, I love it like that/
Freaky ass hoes, lil’ freaky ass men/Lemme work ya slow, lemme see it going in

Hold up, big cat! I thought you was edu-MU-cated. In his defense, David Banner told Vibe the public had a choice . He gave the world Cadillac on 22’s heartfelt lines:

Lord, they hung Andre Jones/Lord, they hung Reynold Johnson /Lord, I wanna fight back but I’m just so sick of bouncing /Lord, I’m sick of jumping, Lord, just please tell me something

And also Like a Pimp. And the winner is? You guessed it, and David’s been dumbing it down ever since. But come on, Dave. You’ve been in a few movies, you get good money for producing, and you have by now established your street bonifieds enough. Give the public one mo’ chance, please! We promise, we’ll do right this time.

3. Jay-Z

When you go from street hustler to being president of one of the most storied record labels in the industry, you gotta know something. When you and your partners build a multi-millon dollar independent label AND fashion company, you gotta know something. When one of those partners goes broke and files for bankruptcy (cough *Dame* cough) and you still got yours and a whole lot more, you GOTS to know something.

In 2008, Hovah was #7 on the Forbes Celebrity List. Keep in mind, this was not the rappers list, not music list, but thejay01 Celebrity List, which put him in the ranks of Will Smith, Oprah, and Tom Cruise. I repeat, YOU HAVE GOT to know something. Hov even admitted on record that he dumbs it down on purpose:

I dumb down for my audience/And double my dollars/They criticize me for it/Yet they all yell “Holla”/
If skills sold/Truth be told/I’d probably be/Lyrically/Talib Kweli/Truthfully/I wanna rhyme like Common Sense/
But I did five Mil/I ain’t been rhymin like Common since

Sean, now that you got the money, do that artsy, lyrically dense, deep, mature hip-hop album you’ve been running from for the last ten years. You made your dough. You can just do it for the fun.

2. Tupac
Not to offend all the Thug Lifers, but Tupac is one of the worst offenders of dumbing it down—he might even be the poster child. Resident Alien just calls it treason.

We all know the story. Pac’s momma was an elite Black Panther; she even did time for the cause. With Geronimo Pratt as his godfather and Assatta Shakur as his aunt, Pac was revolutionary royalty. Granted, revolutions don’t pay, so hepac1 grew up poor and his childhood had more than its share of challenges. But he was conscious, attended a performing arts high school, and you know he knew better.

He launched his solo career during the last vestiges of hip-hop’s Black Power movement, so Tupacalypse Now’s songs about revolution, empowerment, and social ills made, if not hits, at least impact. But after Strictly 4 My Niggaz, somebody started believing his own rhymes.

Pac truly seemed a case of mo’ money, mo’ problems, but instead of a therapist and valium, he got into frontin’ and self medicating with indo and Henny. He went to jail for some dumb, brutal mess that SHOULD NOT have happened (you know the story) and even in that situation, he knew better.

Enter Suge Knight and DeathRow Records. He sprang ‘Pac and just like that, Mr. Shakur was back to poppin’ glocks and hittin’ switches out west. He knew better. He became a rapping Mitt Romney, refuting everything he used to stand for. Killing, beefing (the first, I believe, to truly make it personal) and a whole lot of weed. In the verbal battle for his soul, Pac threw all his weight on the devil’s side. Three words: he knew better.

1. Master P

That’s the first thing I think when you say M
Of all the names on this list, he is hands-down the worst rapper in the bunch. When you saw his videos or heard the records, it was hard to believe that THAT guy was the owner of a label that had over 20 gold and platinum plaques. Like a lot of cats, I couldn’t stand Master P, but couldn’t hate on the hustle.

masterp1According to Wikipedia, P’s empire included No Limit Records, Bout It Inc. (a record management company), No Limit Clothing, No Limit Films, No Limit Sports Management, PM. Properties and Advantage Travel—not to mention the restaurant and gas station. No Limit Sports Management made a big splash when P signed Ricky Williams right after he won the Heisman Trophy.

Adding insult to injury, No Limit Films shocked Hollywood when Bout It, Bout It made millions. P was doing the Tyler Perry thing, only with gangster tales and guns. Even though No Limit filed for bankruptcy, P ain’t missing no meals. In fact, he’s been giving seminars on how to build generational wealth and wrote a book called Guaranteed Success: When You Never Give Up. Now, if only he had put some of those smarts into writing rhymes.

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I Just Gotta Say: Run’s New House, The Rock Hall of Fame

rundmcIt’s official, Run-DMC are going to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Really, it’s no surprise. Of all the rap groups that have come and gone, even of trailblazers like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five who were inducted last year, Run- DMC is definitely MOST deserving of a Rock Hall of Fame invite.

If you’re a Grownhead, you remember ‘Rock Box,’ and hell the second album was even called The King of Rock. Practically every song on that album were big beats and power chords, you know, rock songs. What’s really amazing is the fact that black folks bought it.

Can you imagine a rapper today making an all-rock record and not being considered a sell-out? OK, Kanye, but did you cop it? Thank you.

When King of Rock dropped in ’85, hip-hop was NOTHING like it is today. It hadn’t crossed over yet and was no MTV Raps or Rap City, or even radio play. Because of Run-DMC, every rapper back then felt obligated to have at least one rock song on the album. And lest we forget, Kid Rock, Limp Biskit and Rage Against the Machine basically used King of Rock as the template for their entire music careers.

I’m not going to get into a big discussion and list all of Run-DMC’s milestones that littered their careers (there are just too many to name), but I will touch on one that in my opinion is one of the most bittersweet. After their third album Raising Hell was released, along with the maelstrom of hits, publicity, appearances and endorsements that followed, the Grammy Awards realized that rap had truly arrived. They made a Rap Category.

This was unquestionably a good thing. When they have to make a Grammy category for you, you have definitely hitkingofrock the mainstream. But what makes this all so bittersweet is the fact that the group most responsible for hip-hop’s recognition would never again be big enough or high-profile enough again to actually win a Grammy.

Raising Hell would be Run- DMC’s zenith. Tougher than Leather dropped (and ain’t really that bad once you go back and give it a listen), but Run and Co.’s sales would continue to dwindle. But let’s not end on a sad note. Profile recently released the first four Run-DMC albums, all remastered with a few bonus tracks to boot. So why not pick one of them up and remind yourself (as if you could actually forget) why Run-DMC will always be the kings.

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