Politic, ditto: First-Quarter Rap Music in ’08

ghost-face-1.jpg
Ghostface’s skullcap gets really sweaty

Here is some guidance through these troubled rap times…….

LISTEN to The Big Doe Rehab. It’s still good. Ghostface’s umpteenth critically lauded solo record isn’t a novel thing to write or read about, I know, and just typing the words “Ghostface” into a WordPress blog feels vaguely wrong in some way at this point — I’m joining a chorus that’s already kinda deafening — but this record still sounds fresh and immediate. NO ONE who was making rap music in 93 can say the same about their current output.(Wait, is that true?? Nerds/fruitflies, if you’re out there, come correct me!!) The only rapper who comes frustratingly close is Nas — Nas rapping will always, always sound good, despite being his being a ponderous blowhard and all. (At least Ghostface reserves his old-guy bellyaching to interviews.)

Seriously, though. This is a stupid point — I’m going to make it anyway, but it’s a stupid point — but I’m always just astonished at how many WORDS there are on a Ghostface album. THe man has rapped the great social realist/postmodernist novel of the 20th century — and he’s not even done yet. Like any great storyteller, he repeats himself without repeating himself. “Yolanda’s House” on Rehab is a great example of a song he’s done a million times — the break-in, the panicked chase through the projects, the quick and unceremonious seduction — and yet Ghost comes to it all fresh, as if he’s never, ever rapped about this stuff before.

Plus, every word that escapes his mouth feels torn from a man who just arrived on foot from a murder scene. That helps.

MP3: “Walk Around,” people.

LISTEN to Clipse We Got It For Cheap, Vol. 3 as well, but don’t pay too close attention — you might risk realizing that the Clipse are masters of a cheap art, the punchline hocus-pocus. Still, their needle-sharp voices — Tal Rosenberg provided the most eloquent description when he noted they were “high but weighed down” — are still a pleasure, and you still get “Ill with the composition I’m Mo-ZART/You don’t want the fifth to start spittin’ so don’t start” and a thousand others. Pour it in a punchline-heavy blender with Lil Wayne’s exhausting/awesome Da Drought 3 for a particularly grueling treadmill run.

Oh, and keep listening to Liquid Swords. The answer’s in there somewhere…..

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12 Comments

Filed under blogosphere echo chamber, Posted by Tyco, RAP MUSIC, Stream

12 responses to “Politic, ditto: First-Quarter Rap Music in ’08

  1. Another blogochamber, nice! Thanks for the reminder, though, seriously, ’cause I NEVER listened to Big Doe, somehow.

    Some one MIGHT argue Prodigy, RE: ’93 rappers worth a shit now.

  2. tyconightglow

    Meh. I mean, I liked “Return of the Mac,” but otherwise he’s not a strong horse to hitch an argument RE: relevant early-90s rappers. Dude is currently G-Unit’s lowest priority now that they dropped M.O.P. (without even releasing an album or single! Least productive major-label tenure ever!), and that’s not a great place to be.

    I mean, even Olivia got some shitty single with Shabba Ranks or someone recently.

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  5. Look, 2008 has actually coughed up some hiphop, but you’ve got to loosen up a little from the repetitive Ghostface/Liquid Swords contingent if you really want to hear it.

    Akrobatik’s Absolute Value is more thoughtful than anything Talib Kweli or Slug have done in years, and he’s not a geek like his boy Lif. He raps like a concerned middle-class liberal, but he doesn’t whine. His beats are really jerky and tuneful and working-class. Play that.

    Lil’ Mama’s album is good, lightweight. I see no reason to ignore it if you gave Rick Ross an hour.

    The Roots album is one of Black Thought’s grumpiest, but he shares it with a ton of other dudes, and ?uestlove puts up some of his hardest, bluntest sounds; lots of cool synths. The political framework could’ve been more thought out, but so could “Georgia Bush.”

    None of these will blow your mind lyrically, but they’re still good pieces of music.

  6. rap

    doorknobs :

    i did not listen too. but after this post i will give it a try.

  7. well lets see what it is!

  8. Clipse will always be some of the top rappers ever to come from Virginia…even if they aren’t REALLY from Virginia.

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