I originally wrote this in February and spent a looooong time editing this with David Drake to post on So Many Shrimp. But, it didn’t end up getting posted, so I am posting it here and just so David Drake doesn’t feel like his editing went to waste: The last 2 Chainz lines quoted are from the song “25 Lighters”, so that sentence is a bit of a moot point.
2 Chainz has finally tipped my personal scale in his favor. In 6 months, he has gone from: “Who cares about this unfunny Atlanta trap rapper” to “I’ve been saying ‘Imma start a riot’ a lot today” to “Man, his verse on ‘Fuck Em’ is great” to “I MUST TO TWEET EVERY LINE FROM ANY NEW 2 CHAINZ VERSE”.
Originally part of the duo Playaz Circle, Tity Boy started releasing solo mixtapes a few years ago, and started calling himself 2 Chainz after someone probably explained to him that a radio DJ isn’t going to be shouting out to a rapper named “Tity Boy” too often. I never really listened to Playaz Circle; I found his early solo stuff pretty unmemorable; even his latest mixtape from late last year with DJ Drama I thought was pretty middling.
2 Chainz is a pretty solid rapper; he isn’t limited to one flow; he has a good ear for beats and isn’t as one note topic wise as a cursory listen of his work might say. But, as David Drake pointed out a few months ago, at least in terms of carrying the tradition of being a leading Atlanta rapper, 2Chainz is by no means a step up or even too much an evolution of what Gucci Mane was doing before getting locked up multiple times and bottoming out recording a mixtape with V-Nasty.
On New Year’s Eve, I listened to “Riot” enough that mind was saying “Imma start a riot, Imma start a riot” for the next month. Then Rick Ross’ Rich Forever came out and during his verse on “Fuck Em” 2 Chainz was able to justified downloading that overrated mixtape by claiming his father figure was Too Short and coming up with one of the best disses of the year in “My shit, that fire shit, and your shit, boring”. That particular line succeeds with crucial intentional pauses that 2 Chainz gives to each couple of words holding back till the eventual punch line. David Drake referred to this as the “Wink Flow”, which describes a lot of 2 Chainz best lines, and might explain why they are a lot funnier to listen to than actually read. But, there are also lines like “What you know about walking into the Gucci store and they salute” that are delivered with little of that inflection, yet it’s lodged in my brain by providing one of the more ridiculous images involving the always much rapped about Gucci brand.
So, with no one really challenging him 2 Chainz has become the number one go to guy for rappers who need a “Big Name Feature” for their new single or remix. Big K.R.I.T.’s single “Money on the Floor” was a great throwback track and 2 Chainz’s final verse runs with the line “25 to lifer” into an image of him with a stack of 25 bibles. His successive mention of “25 ______” could strike some as lazy, but once tuned in with his humor it becomes hard to not at least chuckle at each of his successive ridiculous boats. But, I think Gucci Mane’s “Okay With Me” is probably the best litmus test for 2 Chainz, because if the line “Shawty got them crab legs, I got that Old Bay with me” and the accompanying visual don’t get a laugh, listening to rap 2012 is going to be a long eight more months for you.
re: tom b.’s review of ‘mr. zone 6′, on the scale of pfork rap scores it got a pretty great rating, but i wonder why tom always insists on making a point of what he perceives to be gucci’s “stupidity”, or at least the “stupidity” of his punchlines. i’m of course not accusing tom of being a region racist, as his writing on southern rap speaks for itself, but this gucci review is almost like the snake eating its own tail (or maybe two steps forward and one step back would be a better analogy). obviously tom has to write these reviews knowing that there’s still a segment of people (rap fans and normal pfork readers alike) that think that gucci (and any southern rapper of his ilk) is a joke, and of course tom mentions this in his review, and yet he still seems to hedge his bets by flogging this idiotic “stupidly awesome….. OR IS IT AWESOMELY STUPID?” line of thinking and quoting lines from the tape that are gucci at his most crass.
Hey! That’s Me. This is my first post on So Many Shrimp, which if you’ve read this place you know I have enjoyed reading for years. So, it is pretty cool to see my name on their site. If I post or contribute there I’ll probably reblog Drake’s post to provide a link to it.
But, more importantly. Listen to this song. It doesn’t even have a 1000 views, which is a terrible terrible thing.
chaseaftersomething asked: who are your favorite music journalists/bloggers ?
In regards to the original question, I am not going to list my favorite music writers or journalists, because let us be honest clearly the blogs I read before I started writing here were Cocaine Blunts, So Many Shrimp, and No Trivia, so honestly I do not really feel like going through just listing those guys in some stupid list alongside some New York Times and New Yorker writers. Instead, I am going to post some articles that are the backbone of how I think about rap music (and most other music for that matter) or at least I feel influenced how I write about music.
So here we go:
David Drake The 30 Best Gucci Mane Track of 2008 Intro: In Ben Westhoff’s book Dirty South towards the end he talks about Gucci Mane and the high amount of respect he got from certain rap blogs; he points out that some of the hype and praise Gucci Mane might have gotten a bit out of control, which even with a dozen Gucci Mane mixtapes on my iPod I understand. But getting back to the piece by David Drake, it is one part calling out the music community for overlooking Gucci Mane and another part explaining why you should care about some heavy accented trap rapper from Atlanta. A lot has been written about Gucci Mane in the last few years, but this piece captured what was so exciting about his peak 2008 run: an audible love of rapping, a pop sense most musicians could only dream of, and releasing all this music without caving into major label or internet blog pressures, which is something he hasn’t really come close to matching in the following years.
Sean Fennessey (Pitchfork) Hell Hath No Fury Review: In ninth grade, everyone in my school had laptops, so this was when I came across a site called Wikipedia. So, I spent my computer science class looking up different rappers and bands eventually coming across a site called Pitchfork. So, on the recommendation of this review I ended up getting Hell Hath No Fury, and listening to it on a cold February night lying on the floor hearing the falsetto sung “nightmares” as I was staring up at the ceiling. In the next few years, I would see people complain about Pitchfork’s rap coverage, but I never understood why as the first album I bought on their recommendation remains one of my favorites.
Andrew Noz The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit Post-Rap Side Projects: 100% correct. Noz mentions that he cringes at the tone of the article; I can understand why as it is pretty angry considering it’s talking about a Gnarls Barkley record, but the main point of the article is undeniable. Noz comes back to this idea in a lot of his writing, as it is a firm foundation that looks for innovations and uniqueness in all of the different forms of rap music and is not willing to be stuck in what “real” hip-hop sounds like.
Brandon Soderberg No Trivia’s Song-by-Song Breakdown of 808s and Heartbreak : 11th grade was a mild year for me of too much school work, constantly visiting colleges, and actually having friends. So, 808s and Heartbreak never really emotionally hit me, but I still fucking loved the album and cemented Kanye West as one of my favorite rappers—even though he never rapped on the album. So, when I came across notrivia.com and came across Brandon’s breakdown of the album; I instantly favorited his website. Originally reading reviews of 808s and Heartbreak, I thought the album was getting dismissed as a superstar going crazy, and releasing an album that no really wanted; Brandon actual wrestled with the issues of the album, and considering the way that rap has gone the last few years this one-off album was clearly pretty important.
Kelefa Sanneh (The New Yorker) The Eminem Show Review: I’ve quoted this review before, and honestly the more I think about this review of the more it rings true for me. Not all music needs to be able to be able to bang out of a booming car system, but if I don’t want to turn a song up to 11 then part of me wonders why listen to it. In rap music, if you turn it up loud of enough you can feel the bass of a Waka Flocka Flame song but at any volume I will feel moved listening to Outkast’s “Spottieottiedopaliscious”. This review explains why I do not connect with Tyler the Creator’s Goblin or seek out the rap that inspired it, because I don’t want feel it in my chest and I don’t feel anything I want to feel, when listening to it at a reasonable volume.
Sasha-Fierce Jones (The New Yorker) Wrapping Up: Hey, did rap music stop being relevant in 2009? Well, not really but Sasha-Fierce Jones was very much on to something to start setting the grave marker for big time rap stars and the system that propped them up. I really enjoyed his original piece, but it was the discussion and other articles that it sparked that I probably enjoyed more. As different rap writers stepped up explaining why rap was where it was, and taking the extra effort to find music worth praising instead of dismissing it.
That was fun. I already quote pieces I enjoy, so anyone can go through the achieves to find other pieces I find worth reading, but I like explaining why I like and respect certain works—also I did not include any books—so I will definitely do this again.
"Player’s Ball Freestyle"- Big K.R.I.T.
Live from the underground railroad/
won’t fall in the same trap/
that these niggas fell for/ Industry cats ball but really they are barely paid/
I rather keep it real than be a slave/
See they got you caught up in this maze of money cars and bitches/
chains you’ll never wear and clothes that barely fit you/
niggas dying with ya/ because you got ya some bread/
ya think shawty feel for ya cause she gave you some head/
now she as best seller cause she wrote about your secrets/
how you ate her out when you claimed to never eat it/brung her breakfest in bed/
claimed you never feed nother but bubblegum and dick ain’t that your bit/
now your record ain’t selling/Bill? folk callin/
Bently ain’t free/ you’ll be damned if you walkin’/so you drove? sellin’ again/
same game that took you out the hood is puttin’ you right back in/
but you flossin’ and stunt where the cameras at/
later on handing all of that jewerly back/ frontin’ cause scared without that/
because ain’t nothin but a human being strivin’ for something/
Shit, super heroes don’t exist/ only on comic strips/ Mind, brain, times flies wondering where it went/
now you 808 heartbroken goin crazy confused about your life because you ain’t felt the same lately/
as you did when you did it for the love/ recordin in the closet play it back for your cuz/
writing about the truth about being a nigga in the minors on their way to the bigs/
telling all your family that you gottem and they good/
and when this advance hits your bank you gonna gettem out of the hood/
buying fancy cars on the chrome and with the candy/
red carpet treatmeant take them all to the Grammies/
man that’s atleast what the A&Rs said/ at table with the cheques and the label execs/
you always did your best and your family understood/
the first few years you could not do half of the shit that you planned/
damn you never ever home/
the city think you wrong because you family is fucked up and you ridin on chrome/
cribs got you house on blast sercret compartments/
and you brother can barely afford his one bedroom apartment/
on the gutter side of town niggas can barely eat/
but still keep it trill and go and purchase your CD/
upset because you ain’t did a mil in a week/
mad at your street team because they ain’t deeper in the streets/
think all of your hard work has payed off/
you own your own company never get layed off/
go party with the rich folk that feel your pain/
as lonely as you wishing they ain’t never changed the game we in
Big K.R.I.T. describing the past, present, and future careers of too many rappers.
"Starships and Rocketz" by G-Side
"Think I can’t see through the smoke screen
I’m in an eighty-eight, blowing out smoke rings
Nigga talk about big paper, get paper, then forget why we get paper
Like they lose touch with reality, no love I ??? is a formality
You can’t fuck with the real, if you don’t know how to be
We ain’t the same, we from a whole nother galaxy
One of the realest nigga you know
Ice cold on these hoes call me Pluto,
And NASA trying to make it Mars, I mean NASA trying to make it Mars
While ghetto kids, got their faces to the stars,
Praying to God, wondering if they were gone make it a star,
They just playing their cards, we on the block
And we ain’t never seen an astronaut
So I looked up to the nigga with the fattest knots”
"While ghetto kids…..if they were gone make it a star", G-Side (Music & Career) distilled to a couple lines.