Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Much to Lord Jamar's chagrin, progressives still long for the emergence of a gay rap planet. With due respect to Le1f and Caushun, the first gay rapper was a woman (no Latifah). He was transgendered (no Big Freedia). He also didn't exist.
Much has been made of DJ Screw's avant-garde pedigree; less has been said about his experiments in gender deconstruction. As a young pimp on the ski slopes of Jackson Hole, one of my bunnies introduced me to a now well-worn explication of lady rappers. "Ayo," she said as she shredded some buttery pow. "Lil' Kim is dope cause she rap about the same shit a man rap about. She appropriating machismo 'n' shit!" Mind: blown. I nearly skied into a tree.
By now, expressions of lady loin-lust are taken for granted. But it still gives pause to hear a hardened homothug outta Brooklyn talkinbout, Could he come over right fast and fuck my pretty ass? / I'll pass / Nigga, the dick was trash. Inverted, the anthem of a woman asserting her right to cunnilingus becomes a campy gay song about eating ass.
Call Screw an avant-gardist all you want. The argument bears out, but it's applying a European tradition to a wholly American artist. The avant-garde is a German in pancake makeup wearing triangles on his head. It's contrived weirdness. Screw was more nuanced because he worked within a folk-cum-popular vein. And as with the invention of a nonexistent transgender rapper, it's what made him a truly transgressive artist.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Talk slander on RAP MNUSIC HSYTERIA! all you want. We are, and will continue to remain, the number one source of BallGreezy news and analysis on the net! This post is gonna get a little Coconut Grove Grapevine on ya ass, so we're going to divide it into digestible components. Chuuuch.
BallGreezy returns with his best song since "Shone" or "Jook Wit Me." Or does he? On repeat listens, it sounds more like a world-weary "Lifestyle" rip than escape from jook bastille. Jim Jones plays wingman, proving once again that he needs a Cam or Biggavelz to bring out the Capo gold.
REAL MIAMI? WHAT REAL MIAMI!?
It's a cliche that rap videos are full of lies and cliche, but ya bougainvillea can bring out concrete evidence in this instance. In the over-long intro, Jim Jones trots out the ol' "Yeah, y'all been to South Beach, but you haven't crossed that bridge and seen the real Miami!" trope that Trick Daddy and Trina seem to love so much. Only Trick Daddy was talking about real hoods, whereas the "Feel My Pain" video is shot in some of the nicest neighborhoods in Miami. Here's BallGreezy driving down scenic Coral Way (FIG. I), which is simply a MUST if you want to see cool overhanging jungle trees and shit.
After taking in all those banyans, Greezy ends up in the hardscrabble Roads district. Next thing you know he's lavishing bae with ice water AND straws at Mary Brickell Village (FIG. II), an upscale mall in a rich yuppie neighborhood.
Throughout the video he's tooling around Wynwood (FIG. III) on an ATV. Wynwood is an art-themed planned community designed by Tony Goldman, a late real-estate tycoon also known as the architect of SoHo. It's also where the vast majority of Miami rap videos are shot, because it's full of colorful "street art" and has become the new South Beach for Miami's bright young things. Wynwood was once a crack-infested Puerto Rican neighborhood, and still borders on some rough neighborhoods, but for all the capital it generates and receives, it might as well be a galaxy away. Or IDK, it might be Midtown, which is the same thing as Wynwood except dumber. So what "real Miami" is you really talkin' about, Jim Jones?
NO MORE GRAFFITI!
Speaking of which, rap video directors need to stop trying to create "grit" by filming their subjects in front of graffiti. In almost every major metropolis, the graffiti hotbeds are neighborhoods populated by hip, young college graduates with a good amount of money and friends who went to art school. Rap video directors continue to use these neighborhoods because (a). they live in these neighborhoods, (b). they are stupid, (c). they are both.
This is BallGreezy standing in front of an abandoned, graffiti-ed motel-style apartment complex, which is probably the most authentically Miami thing about this video. To the right of his glorious dreads (also authentically Miamian), you can see the weird, ugly graffiti of UNIQ, who was recently conscripted into a beef between some New York and Miami writers. Elements of hip-hop, B! Graffiti has as much in common with acid-rock as hip-hop, but whatevskis. There were a few days of entertaining cross-outs, and a lot of barbs were traded on Instagram and YouTube, but it wasn't exactly CAP MPC vs. NYC. The beef was ultimately squashed in an electronic fashion, proving once again that adult men who write their nicknames in bubble letters on other people's property are basically stupid.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Does anyone actually miss the Old Kanye? The whole thing is a hopeful meme-in-waiting cooked up by the PR department of his Meet Dave brain trust. The Benz and a backpack concept was cool in theory, but it also meant he was palling around making terrible music with Talib Kweli and Mos Def. That turned into making terrible music with John Mayer and Daft Punk, which turned into terrible music with Hudson Mohawke and the Travis Scott replicant, so basically there's been a linear progression from Old to New. It's the least compelling rap dichotomy since T.I. vs. T.I.P. When you look back on the way he dressed, you realize he was just a fedora away from hanging out in the manga aisle showing off his rare Magic The Gathering cards. And yoooo, did the Old Kanye even exist??? Or was it just a wishful figment of our 'maginations? Ima wait for you to pick ya jaw up off the floor.
He can keep his leather pants and kilts. The only blip on the Kanye kontinuum I miss is the one where a Trick Daddy collaboration wasn't an insane proposition. It sounds exactly like the cut-and-paste job it is, but if you put it close to your ear like a seashell, you can hear it for what it was...a golden era! I'll take Trick's "Can't Say No" over Ian Connor's any day.