Rappers Are Not To Be Trusted

(Case in point…)

The other day, I was browsing the hip-hop music section in a used book store I frequent when I came across a Naught By Nature CD, “Poverty’s Paradise.”‘

I had recently bought their self-titled classic on cassette from Goodwill and fallen in love with it, especially the Queen Latifah-assisted “Wickedest Man Alive.” I hadn’t heard of “Poverty’s Paradise” before, however, and wasn’t sure if I should buy it or not. I ultimately didn’t. Why? Because, unfortunately, I’m not a rock fan. Rappers are not to be trusted.

Unlike, say, AC/DC or whatever else rock fans listen to, I cannot simply stroll into a store, grab a CD by a rapper I like, and go buy it. Unlike most other genres of music, rappers are ridiculously inconsistent.

They don’t even make so-so follow up albums, many of them drop a classic and then turn bad. Think about it – how many hip-hop artists can you name, just off the dome, who had great debuts and awful follow ups? How about Raekwon, Nas, Jay-Z, Big Pun, and The Pharcyde?

These are legendary artists – I even go so far as to call Pun the greatest rapper of all time – so why can’t they bring it more than once or twice?

Of course there are exceptions  – Biggie, KRS-One, Scarface, and Ghostface Killah come to mind – but the overwhelming majority of hip-hop artists, as Jay-Z said on Takeover, had a “spark when [they] started, but now [they’re] just garbage. Fell from Top 10 to not mentioned at all.”

What’s the reason for this? And why is it exclusive to hip-hop? Shit, I could go pick up literally any Prince album right now and I guaranteed I’d love it. Same with James Brown, John Legend, John Lennon, Rick James, etc.

One can never be sure, but I think it may have something to do with hip-hop’s “reality fetish.” I own one of those shitty QD3 DVDs (notorious for recycling the same interviews ever movie), “The Art of 16 Bars” where one artist – I wish I could remember his name – brags for a while about having no imagination. “I wish I could use my imagination and just make stuff up, but I can’t.” Apparently he could only rap about his own concrete reality.

In any other genre, he would get laughed at for saying that, but not in hip-hop. It’s the only genre of music where the fans expect everything said to be true. It’s dangerous to be a rapper, where using a gun metaphor can inspire people you’ve never met to step to you.

Look at the consistent artists I mentioned before – you’ll notice they’re also the ones who have the best imaginations. Biggie commited suicide on record, Scarface did a song about being a psychopath and one about being a ghost, KRS-One did a track about being a blunt, and Ghostface penned Underwater, a trippy fantasy where he meets mermaids and Spongebob, ultimately finding Atlantis.

You could say it’s because artists aren’t as hungry after they drop and get rich, but I suspect that’s because they run out of ideas after the first album, which is sort of a culmination of their entire lives up to that point. They just don’t no where to go after it. It all seems to come back to a lack of imagination.

Or am I missing what it is? Speak on it.


1 Response to “Rappers Are Not To Be Trusted”

  1. September 7, 2008 at 3:11 am

    I don’t think it’s so much that they lose their imagination or they aren’t hungry, but it’s that on their second album, they try a bit too hard. think about it…

    kanye’s first album was a fucking classic; that’s unarguable. He had a cocky attitude that we weren’t familiar with yet and sick beats that we only heard Cam’ron attempt to rap on, not to mention sick collaborations with artists that don’t hand out verses or hooks like it’s nothing (i.e. Ludacris & Talib Kweli). Then, Late Registration dropped. You probably went to Sam Goody (before the bankruptcy) and copped the CD only to be disappointed.

    You looked at the tracklist and said to yourself, ‘This is going to be sweet!’ You then go to, let’s say, Crack Music featuring The Game (who wasn’t as giving with verses / hooks with non-West Coast artists like he is now) and you were ready to be blown away… Wrong! What did we end up listening to? A waste of a verse from The Game (face it- the dude said three words) and a political track that could have been a whole lot better.

    And why did this happen? It was because kanye tried way too hard to drop ‘the perfect album’… again. For example, he let the dude from Maroon 5 hop on a song to show that he didn’t have to rely on rappers and r&b singers; he could take a dude from a popular easy-listening rock group and put him on a track. But, like I said- he tried too hard to make things work. Personally, I think John Legend would have fucking killed that hook, and with him coming off of Ordinary People around that time, Ye would’ve benefited from this.

    Also, we saw the same cocky-ness, only this time it wasn’t new; it was annoying. It was the kanye we see at award shows bugging out, not the one who is trying to make a name for himself.

    Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not putting kanye down. I am, however, showing you what happens when a rapper wants to please his fans again, and just can’t make it happen. What’s the old expression? Lightening never strikes the same thing twice… unless you’re Urkle on Family Matters

    Oh, and that doesn’t work for every rock group… Compare Weezer’s (Blue Album), which was their first, and (Red Album), which is their newest. To make a loooong story shrt, rock groups, like rappers, often cannot be trusted.

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