Tag Archives: B.G.

I’M ROLLIN’. LIKE I’M BOWLIN’.

Reeve flattered me the other day in the comments to this post, claiming he’d “polled the readers” of DRIVE SLOW and the “consensus” was that they wanted my opinion on this track.

Iamsu! – 100 Grand (feat. Juvenile & Kool John)

I have my doubts that there is a large number of people out there that Reeve is in touch with that are anxiously awaiting my opinion on specific obscure rap mixtape tracks, but I’ll humor him on this one because it actually is a pretty cool and interesting track.  I wrote a post back in April about Juvenile‘s push to regain some of his fading relevance and my mixed feelings about the results, and I unfortunately feel kinda the same way about the stuff I’ve heard him put out since then, too.  Rejuvenation didn’t really do much for me, not that I felt betrayed or that it was a total waste of time or anything, it just felt like Juvenile forgot all the things that make him sound like himself.  It’s like he became convinced that his own style isn’t enough so he adopted this obviously weaker, more watered down, and basic style just to distance himself from what he used to be doing.  I’m not one of those dudes that thinks that artists need to stick to the styles they start out with forever, hell I even stuck up for Snoop Lion when that stuff came out, but I just like it when the changes feel genuine, and Juvenile’s stuff lately doesn’t feel that way to me.  It feels like he’s trying to rap like somebody else, which, as I mentioned in my previous Juvie post, isn’t doing anybody any good.

That said, “100 Grand” is still an awesome song.  I’m sure Iamsu! was stoked to share a track with such a legendary artist, I’m totally happy for him about that, he deserves it.  And Iamsu! sounds great, the beat is great, and Juvenile’s verse is, well, fine.  It gets of to a little bit of a rough start, and hearing him talking about buying stocks feels a little strange.  But there’s still some lovable Juvenile in there peeking out the whole time; his voice is still captivating and his flow, while a shadow of its former self, is still pretty good compared to a lot of other rappers.  I just can’t get as excited about it as I would be about tons of his previous material.  Like here is a track I chose at random from his back catalog that I had in my collection.  Tell me this doesn’t grab you 500% more than verse 2 of “100 Grand“.

Juvenile – A Million and One Things (feat. Lil’ Wayne, Young Turk, & B.G.)

I hope this satisfies my breathless readership, you all just let me know if I can offer my opinions on any other pressing topics.

Tagged , , , , , ,

WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE, DEAR RAPPER

It’s so unfortunate to see this narrative of rap’s history still being pushed by prominent leaders.

Minister Farrakhan responds to questions from Big Meech, Young Buck, & B.G.

I find it interesting, first of all, that Minister Farrakhan spends the most time talking about rap history while responding to the only question that didn’t come from a rapper; he must have just been really eager to bring up these arguments against the kind of rap he doesn’t like.

Every time I think that maybe this “the first rappers were the conscious rappers” fantasy is finally being discarded at least by those who should know better, I see something like this.  This analysis of hip hop history would have been slightly more excusable in the late 90s (which is apparently when Minister Farrakhan stopped paying attention to rap, judging by the way he drops 2Pac and Biggie references like current events), although no less untrue.  These kinds of beliefs were very prevalent in that time period, back when the subgenre “Gangsta Rap” was the dominant voice on the rap airwaves and rap beefs were reaching some admittedly unsettling levels of intensity.  But drawing that bright line between “conscious” rappers and “gangsta” rappers was as fallacious then as it is now.  You don’t need to go any deeper than track 2 on Biggie or 2Pac‘s debut albums to hear how blurry that line is in reality.

But this imaginary line drawing is only one part of the problem with his view.  To frame hip-hop as a movement that was initiated for the sole purpose of exacting large scale social change, and was only populated by artists who spoke explicitly and directly about these social changes, does a great disservice to music history and black culture.  Hip-hop is, at its foundation, party music.  That doesn’t mean that that’s all it has to be, but we have to be real about these kinds of facts because the basis for these arguments Minister Farrakhan brings up lies in the misconception that rap that doesn’t have to do with fixing societal problems is some kind of betrayal to the foundation of this music.  The origin stories that frame rap in this way have no factual basis.  Hip-hop started when DJs (one interesting Jamaican born DJ in particular) started figuring out ways to prolong (loop) certain sections of popular dance songs to allow more time for the dancers at the parties they were DJing to do their choreographed or unchoreographed dance routines, heightening the energy of the party and making people want to dance longer, harder, and with more creativity.  Then these DJs started incorporating some spoken/chanted/sung vocal routines into their DJ sets as well which served the same purpose that their beat juggling did — to increase the energy of the party and make people want to dance longer, harder, and with more creativity.  Everything that has happened in rap since then has grown from one or both of these traditions, neither of which has anything to do with preaching a message of social equality to the black youth of America.  The early MCs of this era didn’t find choice loops of Afrocentric slogans or pump the party up with “THE WAR ON DRUGS IS DISPROPORTIONATELY HURTING OUR COMMUNITIES!” chants, it was funk breaks and party-vibe couplets combined in a way to make people have a good time on the dance floor.  It is true that the first raps weren’t about homicide and drug dealing, but they also weren’t about uplifting the black race to its deserved equal position.  Both of these movements grew out of these innocent dance party roots.

It would of course be foolish and shortsighted to claim that there were no parts of early hip-hop culture that had socially conscious elements.  Many of the early hip-hop groups were founded on the kinds of principles that Minister Farrakhan and other critics of modern rap culture champion.  But the point wasn’t to always be preaching these ideas in every song, the idea was that  engaging in these creative activities kept the kids involved in hip-hop off the streets and out of trouble.  Hip-hop was a vehicle to embrace creativity as a force into your life to develop your mind in ways that would dissuade you from getting caught up in the endless pitfalls that a life in poverty inevitably puts in front of you.  That doesn’t mean that everything you say while engaged in this creative endeavor has to be about racial equality and social justice, it just means that choosing to engage in creative endeavors in your life will have positive effects on your outlook and decisions.  It’s the Inner Jihad, not the Outer.  The real cultural change comes from the act of making hip-hop, not listening to it.  If, while engaged in this creative pursuit, you find that what you have to express naturally has elements of social consciousness, then by all means you should express those feelings and ideas as fully and masterfully as you can.  I am by no means opposed to speaking about social and cultural issues in rap, it’s a very understandable, natural, and moving subject; but so are many other subjects.  Not every person that engages in this activity is going to have these positive, uplifting ideas on their mind foremost, nor should we expect them to.  This idea that artists should be incessantly socially conscious in every creative decision they make is not applied to any other genre of music other than rap.  Social problems exist in every race and stratum of society, but we don’t smash rock, country, jazz, techno, reggae, or any other genre albums in the street  because they’re not consistently speaking about the “real issues” that “matter” to “the community”.  For some reason we demand this rigorous moral attitude from our hip-hop artists, but from no one else.

Don’t let anybody tell you the kind of stuff Minister Farrakhan is trying to tell you about rap, it isn’t true.  Of course a lot of rap music has problematic subject matter.  What do we expect from an art movement?  Are we really going to discard it because it frightens our delicate sensibilities?  Resist these oversimplified and blatantly fictional arguments, they won’t lead you to any great understanding or appreciation.

Tagged , ,

TAKE MY ADVICE AND SEE YO WAY OUT THE GROVE

A few weeks ago Matt hit me with an email simply containing his 5 favorite songs at that moment, and asked me and a few of our friends to reply with theirs.  I’m not the kind of dude that picks favorites usually, but I enjoyed the challenge of selecting just a handful of songs out of the infinite music in the world as my favorites, at least for the time moment.  I’ll spare you the full list, even though I gotta say it was pretty good, but I wanted to post this one because it’s really remarkable on a lot of levels.

B.G. – From Tha 13th To Tha 17th (feat. Baby D)

The first thing you need to know about this record is that the D in “Baby D” is short for “Dwayne”, and the second thing you need to know is that the rapper you and I know as Lil’ Wayne was born with the name “Dwayne Michael Carter”.  The album this song was lifted from was from a time when the rapper you and I know as B.G. (known as “Lil’ Doogie” on this release) was in a group with the rapper you and I know as Lil’ Wayne, and the name of their group at the time was “The B.G.’z”, which stood for “Baby Gangstaz”.  In this case, the “Baby” part of their name was not a reference to the co-owner of their soon-to-be iconic label, it was more likely a reference to the fact that B.G. and Wayne were only 14 and 12 years old, respectively, when they recorded this music.  That’s young even by young rapper standards.  But they don’t let their limited time on this Earth keep them from having a surprisingly masterful handle on the genre.  Their styles are both remarkably similar to the styles that made them famous, and you can hear the characteristic elements of each of their flows starting to emerge out of their obviously Bounce-influenced rhymes on this album.  Hearing this album really made me realize just how much of Lil’ Wayne’s style lies in his pronunciation of individual syllables.  He’s possibly more conscious of that one parameter than any rapper I can think of.  You can really hear, even in this super early example, how he’ll exaggerate, downplay, elongate, or shorten certain sounds and syllables throughout his verses and the dramatic effect it has is undeniable.  The sheer musicality of his pronunciation is really a remarkable feat, especially from a not-quite-teenaged kid from Hollygrove.

The other thing about this song was something I didn’t notice quite as quickly: the piano part in the background of this track is actually not a repeating loop or sample, it’s really someone just soloing on the piano setting on some cheap keyboard for the entire songAnyone that knows anything about hip-hop (or dance music in general) is that it’s built on repetition.  Bass lines, chord progressions, melodies, rhythms, whatever the song is built from, it’s built from short patterns that loop.  Not here.  Usually, we only get hip-hop songs with prominent improvised solos in specifically branded “jazz rap” subgenre stuff, the fans of which would most likely turn their noses up at this less refined Southern version of the identical concept.  I mean when it comes to raw elements and approach, what’s the real difference between “From Tha 13th To Tha 17th” and, let’s say “Black Ego“?

Digable Planets – Black Ego

Tagged , , , ,

DAAAAMN…. CLASSICAL MUSIC

I finally finished watching this monstrous Mannie Fresh interview, and there were so many times I wanted to stop and make a post about whatever he was talking about at that moment cuz he covered SO much crazy territory, but I knew I’d never finish it if I did so I just pushed on through ’til the end and I’m so glad I did.  He talks about so many amazing subjects that he has a very unique perspective on;  he talks about the history of rap in New Orleans, he breaks down Bounce music and tells its history, he explains the progression of his own sound and how Back That Azz Up was his attempt at fusing classical music with New Orleans Bounce, he talks about meeting and working with artists like Lil’ Wayne and Juvenile when they were first coming out, it just goes on and on.  He even talks about how when he heard the Jay-Z remix of this song I wrote about a little while back, that he knew that he’d made it in the industry.

The thing that seemed most appropriate for me to write about here though was this little thing, just because it shows how music that seems so far removed can often times be super connected (see my previous post for evidence of this).  He was talking about the song Bling Bling, which was of course a huge song for Cash Money and for hip hop in general

B.G. – Bling Bling (feat. The Hot Boys & The Big Tymers)

But you would never guess where he got the inspiration for the beat from.

Jonzun Crew – Space is the Place

And the best part is, that song also takes its inspiration from an extremely unlikely place.

Sun Ra – Space is the Place

Wait wait, weren’t we talking about Bling Bling?  Yeah, we were.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: