Tag Archives: Pimp C

HOW GREAT?

Jesus-Coloring-Book

While I was examining shards and glimpses of the black church in Spodee’s recent material, apparently the rest of the Internet was basking in the floodlights of Chance the Rappers’s much more overt gospel-rap project.  Oddly enough it never occurred to me to speak on the church’s influence in rap while listening to Coloring Book despite all the blatant talk about blessings and appearances by Kirk Franklin and the Chicago Children’s Choir.  Realizing this made me pause and wonder why such an obvious train of thought passed straight through my brain without making a stop, while songs like “All I Want” that bear  no obvious resemblance to any form of gospel music spark that idea in me instantly.

To satisfy my confusion I revisited Coloring Book alongside all the music I referenced in my previous post, as well as my own writing about it, to help me discover the subconscious forces at work in these thoughts and connections I have, or don’t have.  The moment that finally revealed the answer was rereading the three words that I associated with the particular Tree/Spodee flavor of gospel/soul rap, the words that for me sum up the basic elements tying these two distant relatives of music together so closely – conviction, levity, humbleness.  I make no effort to use these terms to define the black church or its core values; in fact I would not attempt to use any words toward that purpose, since as a white non-Christian it is simply not my place to make such claims or evaluations.  These are simply the concepts, dare I say “virtues”, that I have most valued and resonated with in my experiences attending black Protestant church services and the music that has emerged from that wellspring of culture.

My experience of both gospel and rap has always been abstracted from the explicit claims of either genre.  The overt, superficial subject matter of these musics rarely resonates with me directly, it is only through metaphor, comparison, and emotional extrapolation that I’ve learned to decipher the more essential feelings and values expressed in this music.  It’s only through this lens that I can listen to a song about murder and hear a song about loyalty, or listen to a song about eternal damnation for the unrighteous and hear a song about the urgency of doing good in the world.  Chance’s recent efforts stick much more closely with the superficial characteristics that define gospel than Pimp C or Boosie – choruses of exuberant Kanyes singing “We might as well give it all we got”over untainted major-key horn stabs tracks pretty closely to a surface-level scan of a black gospel performance.  But the underlying elements that, for me, are so vital to that genre are mostly absent, yet I find them regularly in songs like “Forgive Me For Being Lost” or “The Game Belongs To Me”.

I’ll admit Chance hits pretty hard on the levity scale, and that side of him has always appealed to me ever since I first saw the video for “Juice”.  I’m always struck by how playful and funny ministers in the black church are, and how much wisdom can be transmitted through this playfulness.  And an argument could be made in favor of his humbleness based on the subject matter of some of his lyrics – “I know the difference in blessings and worldly possessions”, but others aren’t as modest – “Ain’t no blood on my money” is not as humbling and does not ring nearly as true for me as UGK’s “No matter how you make it, it’s all dirty money”.  And aesthetically speaking, this project is actually quite grandiose, self-indulgent, and unrestrained.  Overall it is much more victory lap than it is mid-race tribulation.

Most of all, what’s missing for me is the conviction, and, if I may add a fourth element to this formula, urgency.  Nearly all the featured artists on the tape seem to be present much more for talking about than for what they actually contribute to the song they’re on (“yo he got Yachty and Jay Electronica on the same album CRAZY”).  The features act more as decorations rather than pillars of the songs they grace.  Jeremih is the most stylistically appropriate complement to Chance’s style and actually makes the song he’s on better with his presence, unlike most others, but I’ve yet to hear anyone mention his contribution as noteworthy to the project.  Sure Chance mentions heavy themes like death, belief, and becoming a father on this effort, but his delivery of these lines doesn’t actually make me feel any feelings about these concepts.    My mode of listening is so shifted toward abstraction that the overt subject matter washes straight past me and the depth that I hold so dear in the best rap and gospel music is simply not there in the execution.

In that way, Coloring Book is probably the most apt title Chance could have chosen for this project, and I don’t mean to portray this project as a failure in its mission.  It’s a fun album in a lot of ways, and his raw rapping prowess is still impressive at many moments throughout.  But it crosses the line from being playful to just playing around – it’s the minister’s jokes without the wisdom they subconsciously instill.  And I must reiterate that this is not a reference to the overt lyrical content, he certainly makes a concerted effort to include “wise” passages quite often, but I don’t see him demonstrating this wisdom aesthetically in the execution of the album, thus these wise messages evaporate instantly upon hearing them.  At the end of the tape I find myself unchanged, and thus unsatisfied.  I know Chance is capable of immense emotive power, I’ve felt it on “Acid Rain”, “No Better Blues, “You Song”, even “I Am Very Very Lonely”.  These songs transform me like a good sermon or poem;  Coloring Book has only about as much effect as its namesake.

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I’M TRYING TO TURN SOME HEADS

My favorite logical fallacy is the fallacy fallacy – which assumes the conclusion of an argument is false because the arguments used to support it are logically flawed, when in actuality a conclusion can be completely true even if all of the evidence and arguments that are given as support are wrong.  Allow me to illustrate with and ESG song.

ESG – Don’t Touch My Car

The argument goes like this:

Don’t Touch My Car” combines “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “The Message” in an attempt to make a good song.

Combining “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “The Message” is a terrible idea.

Therefore, “Don’t Touch My Car” is not a good song.

NOT TRUE!  Even though those songs have no business getting twisted up together like they do in this track, the result is somehow undeniably great.  Cedric raps his ass off on that grimy Daz ripoff beat, evoking both Scarface and Pimp C and even anticipating Boosie a little bit but still sounding perfectly like himself doing what ESG does best – keeping your attention through every verse with dexterous wordplay and enthralling delivery.  There’s even a weird Queen reference thrown into the mix midway through verse 2, another seemingly poor idea executed perfectly to dispel any lingering doubt that a piece of art could be more than the sum of its parts.  It’s a good thing no rapper will ever run a song concept by me before executing it because I would have scrapped “Don’t Touch My Car” before they even plugged in the drum machine.

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PUT A GOOD WORD INTO THE LORD FOR ME

After being introduced to Quan’s incredible ode to his father after he was shot multiple times last September, I’ve been trying to keep a mental list of rap songs dedicated to fathers; a remarkably more difficult task than spotting the more plentiful mother-oriented rap song. This song knocked me on my ass when I was doing the dishes yesterday, and rival’s Quan’s in its staggering emotional power.

Pimp C – I Miss U (feat. Tanya Herron & Z-Ro)

So far it seems like the only way to get rappers to talk about their dads in a positive light is after a tragedy (remember Wayne on “Everything“?), but if Quan, Pimp C, Z-Ro, and Wayne’s stories didn’t provide you with enough remorse for one sitting, follow this storyline from the video for the original sample.

Aaron Hall – I Miss You

And here’s a little bonus Lil’ B in the spirit of the most recent RAP JOURNEY.

Lil’ B – Never Going Back

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NO INTRODUCTIONS NEEDED

When I see a track with a lineup like this, I always get really excited right at first, and then almost immediately really worried that it won’t be able to live up to the sum of its parts.

Big Boi – Gossip (feat. UGK & Big K.R.I.T.)

In this particular situation, you’ve got a lot of potential pitfalls: one of the dudes on the song has been residing in the spiritual world for the past four and a half years, two of them are very established, approaching middle-age rappers from different parts of the south, and one is a young and aspiring artist from yet another part of the south from everybody else.  Ideally, with a song with this many strong talents on board, it would be best for all of them to spend some time in the same room together to get on the same page and get all of their comparably genius creative minds pointed in the same direction, but in this case, that would clearly not be an option (see reasons above).  But in my opinion, aside from the Pimp C verse sounding a little uncharacteristically unsmooth and out of the pocket, this track actually does a pretty good job of living up to its lineup.  Plus, Big Boi in the first verse makes reference to one of my favorite non-Soul Food Goodie Mob tracks.

Goodie Mob – They Don’t Dance No Mo’

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RAP JOURNEY #14 – FROM RAKIM TO PLEASURE

I thought of this in the shower today, I was feelin real rested and carefree cuz I haven’t had to go to work in a while, and this little loop was just spinnin’ around in my head cuz it fit just right with how I was feeling.  It’s one of the most laid back, start-of-a-good-day-feelin loops around, and playing it in my mind to myself while I was gettin’ soaped up made me want to find out where it came from.  I first heard it way back in the day on this Rakim song from his first solo album.

Rakim – Remember That

A few years later, when I was getting more into southern rap, I came across this track that actually predates that Rakim song by about 3 years.

UGK – It’s Supposed To Bubble

It’s cool to hear a Houstonian and a New Yorker flip the same sample but treat it slightly different because of how the sound in their area is, I really feel like those two songs have a surprisingly different feel to them even though the meat of the instrumental is totally the same.

When I started trying to track down the common ancestor to both those songs, I discovered quite a few other tracks that also came from that same song, some of which even predate one or both of the previous rap versions.  Crazy.

Big Daddy Kane – Give It To Me

Then this one that came out around the same time that UGK version happened.

Main Source – Only the Real Survive

The thing I didn’t know was who K-Cut, Pimp C, Spark Boogie, Mister Cee, and DJ Clark Kent were all listening to in the mid-90s when they made these beats.  Until now.

Pleasure – Thoughts of Old Flames

And here’s this Guilty Simpson song, that seems to be unrelated sample-wise but is called the same thing pretty much.  I dunno.

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PIMP (OK)C

There probably isn’t a more guaranteed click from me than the title of this video.

You’ll have to fast forward to about 31:00 before Pimp C comes out.  Amazing.

 

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GRILL ON THE FRONT, TRUNK STEADY HUMMIN’

I got a real sweet phone call from Simon today letting me know he’d publicly endorsed this humble blog as a prime spot to listen to and learn about new (and old) music on the various social web zones he inhabits, and I think I might have gained a few new readers out of it!  Beautiful!  So I got home today and I was like “man I gotta do some kinda post for him to say thanks” but I couldn’t think of what to do.  So I was kinda flipping through the events of the day that I could remember, searching for inspiration, and this little article that Andrew showed me today came to mind.  It’s a collection of 10 Pimp C lyrics that “Will Make Your Momma Faint” in honor of today, which would have been Pimp’s 38th birthday (RIP).  So now I’m like “fuck, now I’ve gotta try to pay tribute to my everlasting homie Simon and at the same time honor the beyond legendary Pimp C at the same time??  This can’t be possilbe.”  But then it came to me.

See back in the day when me and Simon used to DJ on the regular at Turqoise (back when Turquoise existed), he used to throw on this 45 real frequently, and it just made me melt every damn time, I swear.

Aaron Neville – Hercules

I feel like that song could make anybody melt, personally, but it was especially effective on me because of this track, which has some killer verses and is produced by… who else?  Pimp C.

UGK – Chrome Plated Woman

So at the intersection of Pimp C and Simon Goetz lies Aaron Neville I guess.  Hm.  I guess that makes sense.  RIP Chad, long live Simon!

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CAN’T LET GO

Here are 2 songs called “Can’t Let Go” that are really great.  Cuz sometimes you just can’t.

Sleepy’s Theme – Can’t Let Go

Anthony Hamilton – Can’t Let Go

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IF YOU GAVE HER A DIME, NIGGA SHE GAVE ME A NICKEL

I’ve been gettin real into these Andrew Noz interviews lately, and after reading the one with Boots Riley from The Coup (who I’d completely never even heard of before), I decided to check out some of their music, and it is real tight.  It definitely feels real west coast; real funk-oriented and smooth but with some surprisingly politically-oriented lyrics at times, which is a cool combination.

The first song I heard was Fat Cats, Bigga Fish (you GOTTA check that video if you haven’t seen it) and I really dug it so I got the album that song is on which is called Genocide & Juice.  I just turned it on right now for the first time and the intro had this little guitar part that I recognized from a Pimp C song, but I could tell Pimp didn’t sample it, he just used the same melody for his track.  But I knew the Coup song was older, so I figured there was probably an even older song that was sampled in that intro track to Genocide & Juice and then also reappropriated for the Pimp C song I’d heard before.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down a streamable version of that Coup track (like I say it’s just the intro, and less than a minute long) but here’s the Pimp C song and the original song I eventually tracked down as the source for both.  I’d strongly recommend checkin’ out that Genocide & Juice album though, it’s hittin me in the right way right about now.

Pimp C – I’sa Playa (feat. Bun B, Twista, & Z-Ro)

Patrice Rushen – Givin’ It Up Is Givin’ Up

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THIS COUNTRY RAP TUNES DOWN HERE, NIGGA

I just read Andrew Noz’s interview with Pimp C from 2007.  I’d recommend reading the whole thing, but I couldn’t help but post this excerpt up, with some links added by me.

N: What do you think causes that divide in hip hop?
C: What causes a motherfucker to just straight up be a hater on these streets? What causes a motherfucker that you went to school with your whole life to want to shoot you and rob you? Jealous, envy, greed, wicked men, deceitful hearts, females with penises. Bitch ass niggas is what causes this shit…  That’s why I see there’s so much division. Let me tell you something man, I don’t hear certain motherfuckers tripping off coasts man. If niggas having money I don’t hear them dissing the south. I was just on the phone with Cam’ron. Cam’ron ain’t trippin on the south. Cam’ron’s opening up a record company in the south. I don’t hear him complaining. I don’t hear Jay-Z on his record dissing the south. I don’t hear Fat Joe dissing the south, in fact I see Fat Joe embracing our sound. I don’t hear Scarface on records talking shit about the west coast. I don’t hear real niggas on the west coast like WC or Ice Cube dissing the east or the south. It be pussy motherfuckers with this bullshit. They keep saying “You niggas fucking up hip hop.” Man let me tell you something, everytime a man spit a rap, don’t make them records hip hop records, we making country rap tunes down here. And everybody want to be mad at D4L and Dem Franchize Boys. Guess what man? What’s the difference between them records and [Rappin’ Duke’s] “Da Ha Da Ha”?

N: It’s just party music.
C: Exactly. What’s the difference man? What you so mad about? We need different genres of this music so that it can keep expanding and so that it can stay at the forefront and we can keep eating. It’s got to change. Everything can’t be ice water and cool, everything can’t be hardcore all the time, everything can’t be one tempo. We need different genres of this thing called rap. Mary J. Blige is just as much hip hop as Notorious BIG as King Tee was as Rodney O and Joe Cooley.

UGK – Quit Hatin’ the South

Better yet, maybe we can just quit hatin in general.  RIP Pimp C

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