The King of New York!



Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

Related Post Roulette

14 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    KL’s verse on “Control” was such a big deal that even I knew about it the night it happened. When I saw it blow up on my Facebook feed (which is hard to ‘blow up’… I only have 100 or so friends there), I knew something was going on and reached out to Chris about it. He informed me that “Black Twitter” had similarly blown up over the verse.

    A few days later, I was camping with a friend who is a rap-afficionado and a friend of his who is certainly not. In telling them how I – he who is late to all things pop culture – knew about the verse, I mentioned my conversation with Chris.

    The friend-of-a-friend’s response: “There is a ‘Black Twitter’?!?!?!” Which led to a whole other conversation.

    I have to confess that I probably don’t appreciate or enjoy KL as much as others do. Which is not meant to be a slight at him. Rather, I am genuinely less concerned with the lyrical content in rap and more with the flow and musical stylings. It is why Kanye is such a favorite of mine and why I preferred “My Dark and Twisted Fantasy” (more wall-of-sound) to “Yeezus” (far more minimalist). It is why I like Lil’Wayne, who has a melodic nature to his flow and a unique voice that sounds like a musical instrument. You know Kanye or Weezy as soon as you hear them where KL takes a moment to recognize the genuine brilliance in his lyrics. This is why I will never be a true aficionado of any genre, as I tend towards liking songs that make my ears feel good. Which is exactly the sort of approach to music that draws the ire of real music fans. I also haven’t heard a ton of his stuff, meaning less opportunity to really appreciate the intricacies of it. This post will likely change that.

    Nonetheless, KL is pretty remarkable and I respect anyone willing to call out the guy WHOSE SONG HE WAS RAPPING ON!!! And seeing as how many of his targets seemed to take it the way I understood it (More “Step up your game” than “You suck”) and did, indeed, step up their game, it was pretty dope. We need not return to the legitimate rap wars of the 90’s which left two of the game’s greatest artists dead, but a little healthy competition is good for the industry.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      R is a huge Lil Wayne fan, and she loves Drake too. She does not like Lamar, even though she recognizes that he’s spent the last year working his ass off (he did something like 6 shows in 3 days at SXSW this year). She once told me that she doesn’t think Lamar is a hip hop artist at all, but a “song stylist.” And if you’d heard the tone in which she uttered the phrase “song stylist,” you’d know she didn’t mean that as a compliment.

      So it’s certainly possible to be a genuine hip hop fan and not like Lamar, and there may be enough of a difference between Lil Wayne and Lamar that a lot of big fans only like one or the other.

      I will say that I love both My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus, but for entirely different reasons. MBDTF is as big as hip hop has ever gone (it makes “maximalism” seem like a ridiculous understatement), but at the same time it’s so incredibly personal. Yeezus is Kanye stripping everything away except that giant, giant ego (he plays god on the album, un-ironically!), and that is awesome too.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        MBDTF had so much of what I love in music, I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy it. “Is that a drum line? AND HORNS?!?! Holy shit, a female singer with pipes! ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!” Like, if you made a recipe of musical stuff I’d like and threw it together in the hands of a brilliant musician, it’d be that album. I mean, “Drum Line” is actually one of my favorite movies ever and I still enjoy ska-punk music. What are the odds of finding a hip hop album that does all that?

        It is also why I enjoy Outkast so much and really, really enjoyed Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx. And why I can say, “I get why Nas is so highly regarded, but he doesn’t grab me by the shirt collars and tickle my ears.”Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      And seeing as how many of his targets seemed to take it the way I understood it (More “Step up your game” than “You suck”) and did, indeed, step up their game, it was pretty dope. We need not return to the legitimate rap wars of the 90?s which left two of the game’s greatest artists dead, but a little healthy competition is good for the industry.

      And that’s exactly right. Here are some of the early Twitter responses from other rappers, including some he called out:

      Big K.R.I.T.: “This is Gladiator Shit”…Gotta give the people what they want .

      Big Sean: @kendricklamar so mad on that song, ha ha… Sheesh @JayElectronica on there like a scientist! Thanks u rappin ass n….

      Trinidad James: I don’t feel like @kendricklamar dissed anybody. He just has moved up to another level. Y’all late overly dedicated n____! Bruh been fire!!!

      Bun B: Every rapper is supposed to feel like Kendrick feels as far as wanting to murder n_____ on the mic. That’s why I wrote my “Murder” verse.

      (I got those from here, which I found looking up the Lebron Tweet. Notice it also has one of the Desus tweets. Follow him!)

      I think most rappers understand that this is the game they’re in, and they don’t take it as an insult but as a challenge. After the initial chaos, most people were concerned with a potential Lamar-Drake feud, since it’s reasonable to say that they are the two biggest young rappers on the planet now, and they had previously seemed to be friends, and had recorded together more than once. And while Drake was clearly not happy about it, he understood it too.

      I think the biggest difference between the coastal feuds of the 90s and today, besides the fact that everyone in hip hop is aware of how out of control that got, is that the industry itself isn’t encouraging, even promoting in-group/out-group nonsense and real escalations.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Semi-related Drake story…

        I used to work out at a gym in downtown Yonkers. I called it the prison yard because there seemed to be more face tattoos than treadmills. Anyway, it was a pretty intense place with a predominant black and Hispanic clientele. I loved it. They used to play music over the loud speakers and show the accompanying videos on the TV screens. A Drake song came on a guy nearby remarked, “This guy is really good. But, ya know.” “What do you mean?” “He was on that show and played a gay dude.” “Oh yea. I didn’t see the show but apparently he’s a really good actor.” “Yea… so, ya know… he’s good but, ya know… he played that gay dude.” “Well, it was acting.” Yea, but still…”

        It is the only time I really heard that sort of criticism offered, but it made me wonder if it was more widespread. I don’t know how much DeGrassi (I think that’s what it’s called, right?) permeated the mainstream and how many people really know about Drake’s involvement. But I do know that African-American urban culture in general and hip-hop culture in particular are not on progressive on homosexuality as some other groups. Which made Drake’s willingness to take on the role all the more interesting and me all the more curious about what, if any, fallout it has had for him amongst hip hop fans.

        Then again, he’s Canadian, so who knows. I still insist that America offers our greatest hockey player to Canada in exchange for Drake. It seems silly that one of the best young rappers out there is Canadian.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’m the guy who confessed ignorance of hip hop culture, and I totally dig all the hip hop posts you do, @chris . Feels like I’m getting schooled right.

    Sometimes when perusing the selections I find myself trying to listen for the lyrics (especially when you call them out) and sometimes I kind of let go of what’s being said and can sort of drift along with the meter and the rhythm. When I don’t pay as much attention to the lyrics, and the artist busts out with the n-word or something approaching its gravity, it kind of disrupts where I was at with the beat.

    This isn’t just me being sensitive, is it — I’m not alone in that experience?Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

      @burt-likko – I have a draft out there on something old-school, that may bypass that problem…I’d been wanting to do it for a while and you just reminded me.

      @chris – if you have nothing planned yet for this Friday night, would you mind if I post the draft entitled “GOAT!”?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

      @burt-likko , I do not think it’s an unusual experience. That is one of the few words in the English language that, if you are not used to hearing it, it will immediately grab your attention and likely produce an emotional response. That’s a good thing, really, because it means the use of that word is rare. I am sorry it disrupts your experience, though. I’m trying to think of ways around that. Maybe Glyph’s post will get you there.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      One of the first scenes in “Scrubs” (one of the best shows at dealing with racial issues out there, if you really pay attention) has JD asking Turk if when they’re singing along to a rap song together it’s okay for JD to say the N-word. Only he doesn’t even get that far into his request before Turk, seeing where he’s going, informs him bluntly that no, he can’t.

      I will say that I have caught myself singing along to certain songs in the car and glossing right over it and other times running up against it like a brick wall. I don’t know how this experience compares with others and I’m not sure what it says about me. I was exposed to the n-word used colloquially a ton growing up, so it doesn’t seem as jarring to me as it probably does to most other white folks. I also listen to a lot of over-the-air radio, all of which currently censor the word, which may impact my disparate response. But there are times where it is much more subtle and rolls with the flow and times it acts as a period to us fairer-skinned folks even if it is the middle of a verse.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

        A year or so ago, I was sitting around drinking, listening to hip hop, and singing along with R. and a few of our friends, all of whom were black. As I was singing, lost in the moment (and slightly tipsy), I sang a line straight, with the n-word (I’d usually skip it or just skip the whole line that contained it, even when I’m singing it by myself in the shower… yeah, I do that). I had a brief moment of sheer terror, but when I looked around I saw that none of them cared. R. has known me for 14 years, and our other friends for about 10. They know me. They know I don’t use that word, they know I am, as R. frequently says, “pro-black,” and that even if I did use that word in that context, it wasn’t meant in a negative way. And they probably knew that I felt bad about it, and would probably never do it again.

        But damn, for maybe 5 seconds I thought I might have a heart attack.

        And I know they noticed, because a few months later I was riding in the car with one of the friends, listening to hip hop, when a line with that word came up and she said something like, “Be careful!” and then laughed her ass off.Report

  3. Avatar Herb says:

    “I hope that, even if you’re not a hip hop fan, you’ll give Kendrick a listen.”

    With my nephew living in the house, I have no choice. I have not been impressed. I cannot dispute that he’s the best rapper in the game right now, but from what I’ve heard Lamar doesn’t depart from the formula enough to be considered truly ground-breaking.

    Which is sad. Hip-hop could be a very vibrant art form, and is in miniscule, carefully curated doses. But for the last twenty years, it’s been stuck on the same subject matter in the same style with the same tone. It’s kind of like going from 1970 thru 1990 with nothing but Beatles clones. No Led Zeppelin. No Black Sabbath. No Van Halen. No Guns N Roses. No Metallica. No punk rock. No new wave. No grunge. Just twenty years of “Let it Be.”Report