Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Recession for Rappers

From the Dutty Artz Podcast, "Recession Proof Wallets":

A few weeks ago, I saw a financial analyst on MSNBC who said that instead of worrying and despairing because the US economy is spiraling downward, Americans should be excited and imaginative, because it is easier to be the winner in an environment where so many people are loosing. In most of the rap world, it's forever boom-time and the global economic crisis is nonexistent. Openly masking human suffering and frailty with good old fashion American hypermasculinity and boasts about one's net worth has been the approach for radio-friendly rap artists for years, regardless of the current economic malaise. Even when the world around is crumbling, these artists look beyond, ignoring immediate circumstances and continue to paint pictures of excess. There is no such thing as absurd, excessive balling.

To paraphrase something Hugh Masekela said - if you don't talk about your people, their plight, injustice, struggle and you're using their music to get rich and famous, you need your head examine, you will end up in a bad, bad place... well, a lot of people are living in that place already. (emphasis mine)

After posting that Young Capone track, and listening to the Rick Ross album (which has some surprisingly good and memorable moments) I was compelled to look at the other side of the trap/the majority/what is considered the norm to most rap listeners, or what has larger representation, Hot97 radio-playability (not to say Young Jeezy's "Circulate" and Cam'rom's "I Hate My Job" didn't get played, because they did, but you are more likely to hear flamboyant and splurgy raps and attitude towards the recession.); But this batch of tracks also features some relatively unknown/regional/up and coming rappers.

So here it is -- Recession Proof Wallets for your listening pleasure. It is pretty nauseating. It slows down in the second half, but really there's no relief, except for the last track by UGK adding a degree of levelheadedness and unquestionable swag, everything else here is bloated and unreal, insane, American--; so there, considered yourself warned.

Doesn't this remind you of the Asher Roth comment that's been blowing up the hip-hop blogosphere right now:

...'You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what's going on in this world right now?' All these black rappers ? African rappers ? talking about how much money they have. 'Do you realize what's going on in Africa right now?'...It's just like, 'You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.'"

Now, Asher Roth got a LOT of shit for this comment. But y'all KNOW he has a point. Whatever happened to hip-hop being the voice of the people? Anyway, I'm not going to talk too much. I want to hear what everyone else thinks. Especially about the writer's assertion that this kind of attitude towards hard times is "American".


  1. Asher Roth is full of shit. He glorifies college debauchery, fratty dickwadness, weed and alcohol poisoning.

    But he has the balls to call out someone for rapping about making it rain. Most black rappers do a whole fucking lot for their local communities. WHat has Asher Roth done, apart from refusing to shut his self righteous hipster gab?

    And I'm sorry but linking African Americans to Africa is fucking played out. There are starving kids in Ireland and a bunch of those Soviet break-offs. Maybe we should tell Asher Roth to raise money for those kids.

    That Obama shirt on BET was a nice touch but Asher Roth needs more people.

  2. I'm gonna have to agree with the above comment... ol boy needs to sit down and shutthefuckup.

    It's interesting though - I'm taking a music class at the moment and my professor brought up the idea that starting in the 19th century/Romantic period (I know I sound like a total dork, but allow me) there was a division between "entertainment" music and "political" music i.e. the music written with some greater moral message behind it, commenting on the state of humanity and whatnot. I guess you could say something like Soulja Boy's "Swag On" fits in the former category, and The Roots' "Don't Feel Right" in the latter. I look for/expect different things from both artists, because I see them as different kinds of music.

    In summary, no be by force say make rappers dey do like dem dey hungry. If na money and bling bling dey wan show for video, na dem own. Not to dem I dey look for inspiration.