Posts Tagged ‘american gangster

10
Oct
08

An Open Letter to “The Source” Magazine

Dear “The Source” Magazine,

I apologize for the tardiness of my response to your most recent issue – I would have written you sooner, but could not find the address for reader’s letters anywhere in your magazine and didn’t care enough to further investigate.

Now that you’ve “re-launched” and are “new and improved” after providing us with years of stunningly bad journalism, you seem to be on some sort of strange, afrocentric, faux-intellectual trip, a la Nas (although the new issues are new and improved, I’ll give you that).

I noticed this mostly in your piece about how Black people are almost never on TV shows. You listed Black America’s great hope, a motherfucking cartoon, and then made a list of 10 TV shows to check out if you want to see “us” on TV, as if your readership isn’t 90% white.

I found it beyond hilarious that you put a show like BET’s “American Gangster” on that list.

Come on, is that really what cats like MLK Jr. were out there marching for? “Oh, I have a dream… that some day my children will grow up to on a show called ‘American Gangster’ and that it will be the best portrayal of Black people on TV…”

I can’t help but wonder how you put a show called “American Gangster” on your list of “empowering” shows but neglected to mention the shows that have been “empowering” Black America¬†in a a similar fashion for decades, like “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

On a slightly unrelated note, what’s the deal with that official relaunching issue with mediocre has beens like Nas and LL Cool J on the front re-reviewing a gang of old CDs? That’s bullshit. It would have been far more interesting if you had just reprinted how you originally reviewed the CDs (well, except maybe for the Marshall Mathers LP). I say this as a head who has spent hours on your POS website searching for some classic reviews. I really don’t care to read a dozen reviews that all say the same things (anyone else noticed that stanning reviews like your new batch aren’t half as interesting as negative ones?).

Also,¬† how in the fuck is Get Rich or Die Tryin’ one of the best albums of all time? Give me a fucking break.

So, in summary, welcome back, Source.

But fuck you, too.

19
Aug
08

American Gangster vs. Ego Trippin’

A while back, on NasForum.net, I made the following comment regarding recent albums better than Jay-Z’s “American Gangster”:

Just for fun, [here’s] 5 albums from 2008 that are better than AG:

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Ego Trippin
Nas – Untitled
Bun B – Ill Trill
Rakim – Lost and Found
Fat Ray & Black Milk – The Setup

And that’s just off the dome…

I’ve since had people bring it up to try and discredit me and my opinions, talking about how stupid an opinion it is.

So here’s my breakdown of why Ego Trippin’ is better than American Gangster. Time to end this shit.

I broke down the songs by type and compared them. The better track is awarded one point, and, in the event of a tie, both albums are awarded a point.

I also created some categories regarding the albums overall, not just track-for-track comparisons.

Let the games begin.

THE INTRO

I can’t front; Jay-Z has a better intro. My main problem with Snoop’s is that the whole thing is him instructing me to “press play,” followed by “no, really, press play!”

Whenever I hear it I can’t help but think “If I pressed the play button right now it would put it on pause.”

So it’s really nonsense.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 0

THE OPENER

Jay-Z’s opener, “Pray,” has bangin’ enough drums, which is essential for an album opener, but Jay’s lyrics are too simplistic and sound like the off-the-dome spit they probably are, with obvious rhyme patterns like “enemies / me / inequities / me” which end the kind of bars you would expect from a Sound Click rapper’s freestyle.

Jay is occasionally inspired, with the deviant from the wave of the mediocre being “I’m trying to beat life / Because I can’t cheat death.”

Snoop has the superior beat, for sure; it has a similar vocal wail in the background and equally bangin’ drums, but the Snoop production shines due to the intricacies present which Jay’s track lacks, with guitars, horns, congos, psychedelic synths, vocoded voices, and funky bass licks flitting in and out without sounding slightly sloppy or excessive. On the other hand, Jay’s track is produced from about 3 instruments, all of which are wasted by the unimaginative producers behind the board, LV & Sean C, who ruin this album’s production as well as most of the production on Ghostface’s “Big Doe Rehab.”

Then look at Snoop’s rhymes: “G’s in the ‘Lac / Weed in the back / DPs in the act.”

His rhymes are just flat-out superior to Jay’s.

The only way you could like “Pray” more is if you thought Snoop’s song was too shallow or didn’t try to make enough of a message. This is just a matter of personal taste – the bottom line? Snoop’s track is just plain better.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 1

THE PHARRELL COLLABO

A trademark of both artists, but one that works out better for Snoop (always – see “Drop It Like It’s Hot” or “Vato”) than Jay. Always.

This time ’round, Jay decides to jack Rakim’s style and Pharrell decides to jack two of his previous beats, Clipse’s “Mr. Me Too” and Snoop’s own “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Play “Blue Magic” back to back with “MMT” and “DILIH” and you’ll notice that they are all essentially the same, rearranged beat with slightly altered melodies.

Snoop and Pharrell this time came up with the ethnic-themed “Sets Up,” a Crippin’ anthem heavy on ethnic percussion and with Pharrell singing on the chorus (trust me, it’s a lot better than you’d think).

As always, Snoop brought out the best in a talented producer. As always, Jay bored the fuck out of a talented producer and unleashed some god-awful verses and an even worse chorus to make us wish he would just retire already.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 2

THE SAMPLE-DRIVEN PARTY ODE

Jay flips a lounge-jazz song – potential completely wasted, trust me – and lays down some more of his amateurish faux-freestyle rhymes that are mind-numbingly bad.

Snoop himself drops some particularly weak rhymes, mostly just namechecking an assortment of celebrities.

Both have disappointing lyrics, so what it comes down to is the beat and how the sample is utilized.

The Jay sample seems to be too slow for the drums, or perhaps Jay is going too slow for the sample. Either way, it sounds incredibly awkward and clumsy.

Snoop, on the other hand, flips the sample into an upbeat, wailing, piano-driven ditty that can’t help but put a smile on your face.

Besides, their are few things more enjoyable that hearing Snoop boss around some hoes regarding the handling of deeez nuts, as he does midway through “Deez Hollywood Nights.”

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 3

FOR THE LADIES…

Beyond the beat to Jay-Z’s “I Know” being boring as hell, I honestly believe that hearing Jay deliver the unbelievably awful line “Cold sweats… occur… When I’m not… With her” is one of the worst musical experiences of my life. Honestly.

Snoop’s “Sexual Eruption” is the opposite, a soothing, cleverly penned sex song accompanied by a hilarious retro video.

Which is better is not even a question.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 4

COLLABO WITH A LEGEND

Jay and Nas collide again on “Success,” which uncreatively loops the same organ loop over and over and over until you get sick of it. Hov bites Eminem, yells “blah blah!” to imitate gunshots, and generally makes an asshole of himself. Nas does his best to salvage the song, but it’s a nearly impossible feat, and you almost feel sorry for Nas as his meager 8-ish bars crumble under the weight of a sinking ship.

Fortunately, Snoop’s legendary co-star, The Gap Band’s own Charlie Wilson, is as good as he ever was, and, even more importantly, Snoop spits some furious flows, including my favorite rhyme on Ego Trippin’ – “It’d probably be a gun instead of a pen in my hand / Probly be doin a dubb in the penn with my man.”

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 5

THE LYRICAL TRACK

On his “Let It Out,” admittedly infeior to his previous album’s “Think About It,” Snoop combines his silky smooth flow with some spitfire lyrics and a surprisingly gangsta refrain to create one of the album’s hottest tracks, almost effortlessly.

Jay, on “No Hook,” decides to rhyme “at” fifty times over a plodding beat, with his newly deteriorated flow.

Now, I love Snoop, but ask yourself, could he have outrhymed Jay-motherfucking-Z like this ten years ago?

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 6

CREATIVITy

Jay attempts a narrative about the rise and fall of an American gangster, and actually has songs called “Success,” “Fallin’,” and “American Gangster.” Which is ridiculously uncreative. All of the so-called narrative points are stilted and obvious, making for an album almost as condescendingly stupid and boring as one of those shittastic “Hood” movies where a bunch of ten year olds in blue rags wave guns, smoke blunts, and play tag with wads of cash.

It’s just plain stupid.

Ego Trippin’, on the other hands, shows Snoop spreading his wings like never before and pushing his limits further than ever, covering Morris Day, producing his own shit, and doing a country song dedicated to Johnny Cash.

It’s an innovative, fun album that always leaves you guessing.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 7

OVERALL PRODUCTION

American Gangster is produced predominantly by LV & Sean C.

‘Nuff said.

American Gangster: 1

Ego Trippin’: 8

CONCLUSION

That’s enugh, I don’t want to drag this out more than I need to.

Ego Trippin’ > American Gangster