SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Voice

Gangstarr

Gangstarr had a song that spoke about how the uniqueness in your voice is one of the things that got you attention in hip-hop. A distinct voice is just as important as a distinct style (i.e. Q-Tip, B-Real, Kendrick).  Sure there have been rappers with similar vocal tones but, in 2013/2014, I feel like there are waaay too many.

Each rapper brings something to the table that separates him or herself from the other.  It’s just hard to tell when they sound so much a like.  They target the same audience.  Somebody’s not going to eat. It  doesn’t matter who came first, they all came up together.

I was listening to Childish Gambino’s new album when this became ever so clear. Nothing against him but he sound/feels like Drake, Big Sean, & Lupe Fiasco all rolled in one. Maybe that’s the hook? IDK. It becomes increasingly hard to tell the difference for the uninformed.

Nobody has bass in their voice? Only in interviews? I don’t understand. Unfortunately, it all comes down to the marketing of this style. Everybody wants what is charting. Once upon a time artist would get signed because they had a  unique sound.  Now they get deals because they sound the same.

I will always remember Russell Simmons saying he didn’t sign Nas back in the day because he sound too much like Kool G. Rap.  If that were today, not only would he have signed him, he probably would have a roster full of them.

It all just sends a uninspired message to the up and coming hip-hop artist. “Why be you when you can be them?”

Here is that Gangstarr song I talked about (side bar- I didn’t like it but it’s the truth. Lol!):

Re-Release Tuesdays “Kick, Push”

Man, when this track came out I was like damn…that is a dope record. Bought the album day one and had mixed feelings.  I soon grew to love it. While some dudes rap about the same things all of the time, Lupe proved that hip-hop still has many faces. This week’s Re-Release is Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push“.

Chicago-based MC Lupe Fiasco (born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) began rapping in junior high school and joined a group called da Pak several years later. The group signed to Epic, released one single, and split up, all before Fiasco reached the age of 20. Thanks in part to the vocal support of Jay-ZL.A. Reid signed Fiasco as a solo artist to Arista, but before anything of significance was able to happen (only a promo single and a couple guest appearances were set up), Reid was fired, leaving the MC without a label. Fiasco eventually landed at Atlantic. Preceded by the single “Kick, Push,” as well as several mixtapes and an appearance on Kanye West‘s “Touch the Sky,” the album Food & Liquorwas set to surface during early 2006, though an unfinished version leaked during the spring, pushing its official release back to September instead. The album earned the cerebral rapper three Grammy nominations; “Daydreamin’” won the award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. A highly conceptualized follow-up, The Cool, was released in December 2007. Despite four additional Grammy nominations and gold sales certification, Fiasco met a number of obstacles on the way to the release of his third album, Lasers. The process culminated in a petition signed by over 30,000 followers who demanded that Atlantic release the long-delayed album, which was followed by a fan protest outside the label’s New York City offices. Lasers was finally issued by Atlantic in March 2011… -Allmusic.com

“CHECK THE RHYME”

I’ve been waiting to see this film for a while now. A lot of interesting views being touched on in this trailer. A lot of younger artist will look at this and think one thing… “HATING”. Open up your vocabulary, ears & mind…and understand what this information means to your existence as a hip-hop artist or fan. Check the trailer…

LASERS

Let me start like this… When a new album leaks ahead of it’s release date, I download them. This is how I decide on whether or not I want to buy a record. Raekwon’s “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang” and Lupe Fiasco’s “LASERS” both leaked to the net this past week. One of them has already been deleted ;-)

LASERS, as a whole, is wack. There is just no better way to put it. What made it worst was the fact that Raekwon’s album seemed to exceed my expectations, Lupe’s missed the mark by a long shot.

The album (musically) is CLEARLY aimed at radio. From auto-tune to that neo-euro-tight-pants-rocker-hip-hop-cheesy-80s-sound-shit. It’s the same sound that Eminem, Kanye, and Jay-Z all used on their latest albums. It kind of worked for them. Lupe? Not so much.

The internet has been going in on him, his label (Atlantic), and this album. It’s bad. So bad, that you can almost feel the depression in Lupe’s latest Tweets:

There has been much debate about who really created this album. Did Atlantic force Lupe to create this radio-friendly toilet paper? Or did Lupe decide to compromise his sound for the sake of the albums release?

After this album was shelved, and then brought back to life by fans & a petition… It’s hard to believe that that’s what really happened. I feel like this album probably contained different hooks and beats. I feel Lupe’s last album “The Cool” had a lot to do with what this album became. From the cover, to the concepts, to the end results, The Cool wasn’t aimed at radio…at all. Other than, Superstar, radio had no problem not playing songs off of that album.

Atlantic wants Lupe to dwell amongst the Drake’s of the world. Lupe is a conscious artist PERIOD. This is probably the best thing about LASERS. The music is mostly wack, but the lyrics/messages are dope. That first impression is a powerful thing. If a track comes on sounding like throwaways from the Twilight soundtrack…chances are the skip button will get some love.

Lupe has nothing to be ashamed of. Wack albums happen to everyone. Just release a mixtape full of the music your fan base has grown to love. There are a couple songs worth a single download on I-Tunes (i.e. All Black Everything).

I’ll go back to listening to Food & Liquor.

THE DIFFERENCE (shots fired!)

I want to take the time out to speak to those dudes that love to debate. I know dudes that have very different taste from mine when it comes to rap. Different is always good. I do different.

For a long time I couldn’t understand how anyone could like (MF) Doom. Recently, I’ve grown to appreciate his music. It’s purely about artistry. It’s not about trends and charts. There is, essentially, nothing like it. That’s when “different” is good.

Lupe Fiasco can be considered another one of those “types”. It’s more than rap. I’d be lying if i said i liked everything he puts out, but it’s a good vibe. It’s a art I feel safe in supporting.

What I can’t get with is rappers (and more so their fans), that base their careers on “different” without the artistry. If you have to preach about how unlike the mainstream your are, well…you haven’t said shit to me.

Some fans of this kind of music and mentallity carry the same trait. It’s the, “I was up on them when no one f@cked with them.” mentality. Phonte said it best when he spoke about the lack of mainstream success for the group Little Brother. “Some just want to take us home and keep us in they little box.”

I keep my mind open to anything, but if I’m not feeling it…I’m just not feeling it. iT’s not hate or regional bias. You don’t know how many times I’ve been told to check out this ” ” artist. My thirst for hip-hop is never quenched, so I do so eagerly.

The end result is some “Dj Cat Show Shirt Wearing Ass nigg..”. His objective is usually one of the following:

- Angry Thug/Political Activist mad at people for dancing…

- Microphone Scientist who tosses big words around (with little to no point); and anyone who isn’t feeling it…just doesn’t understand.

- Mainstream reject who aims for radio play with every song but just sounds like a parody of it all.

Am I asking for too much? I too search for “different”, but I am a little more cautious in my investing. I discovered the music of Jay Electronica and Joell Ortiz a while back. They are nice! And that will not go unignored in any case. Those are good refferals for hip-hop fans.

That wack shit some dudes hop on is just a reflection of their own shame as an social outcast. (Boooom!!!)

We all have “different” taste. I respect that, but when it’s up for debate…YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTIME.

Sincerely Yours,

VEGAS