Posts Tagged ‘This Week in Hip-Hop’

Lupe Fiasco Now Selling Verses For $500

He's back at it...

He’s back at it…

Ok, since we did a think piece in my last post, this time out, we’re going to go light (relatively). After being called “arrogant” by battle rapper Dizaster, thus continuing their long-standing “feud,” news came that Lupe was going to venture into the world of Fiverr-like gigs. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an actual feature, that’ll run you a smooth $50,000 (which isn’t all that much, considering it is Lupe, but still). Nope, these $500 a pop verses are personalized one-verse-songs for people willing to part with Benjamin and his four other brothers. Think those Valentine’s Day bears with the recordable message feature, but with Lupe’s face plastered on the front.

Or something like that…

We all know some random rapper’s still going to try to make it a “featured” song, though (contract be damned). So, this is going to be fun to see play out. Now, I’ve had my issues with Lupe (still think he’s dope lyrically, but not always on-point in other ways), but this is actually pretty inventive. I personally wouldn’t drop $500 on a personalized verse, only because there are more important things to do with that money. Plus, I could use that to help someone else out who hasn’t already made it. I’m just saying. I support my favorite artists, but there’s a limit, you know?

On Sagas in Hip-Hop

On Sunday, I brought the musical saga I started a couple of years ago with #OneYearLater to a close with the release of Death of the King. While that album is epicness (what, you expected me to say it sucks?), it got me thinking about other sagas presented in hip-hop. Here are a few of my favorite “sagas,” to lighten the mood.

Lil’ Wayne’s Carter series (2004-201x)

Kendrick Lamar’s story (O.D., Section.80, and GKMC)

Jay-Z’s Blueprint series (2001-2009, thus far)

Big K.R.I.T.’s story (from K.R.I.T. wuz Here to King Remembered in Time)

Lupe Fiasco’s “Michael Young History” story (explained in-depth by the good folks at The LUPEND Blog)

If you haven’t had a chance to check these sagas out, please do so. They act as time capsules into these artists’ lives and the lives of those around them during the time of each album’s release. It’s fun to revisit, and also imperative to ensure that we learn from the mistakes and transgressions each artist has spoken on, so we can ensure a brighter future. As always, this is just my opinion.

@SpeedontheBeat

::cues up Kanye’s “FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME!” outro from “Touch the Sky”::

Greetings, all. Did you miss us?

Earlier this week, I came across Bauce Sauce’s “0 to 100” freestyle, the aptly titled “0 to 140.” If you’re not familiar with Bauce Sauce, he’s a writer who’s made some pretty big waves these past couple of years. Using his irreverent humor and his website, Mostly Junk Food, Mr. Sauce has worked his way to a pretty sweet gig at Complex. So, what better way to announce to the rest of the world that you’re here than to let them hear you spit hot fire…or something. While Sauce has been rapping for a while, apparently, this track is what’s got him dealing with the masses en masse.

BAUCE

The song “0 to 140,” sarcastically, was called the hip-hop killer, possibly because Bauce Sauce is a kind of nerdy-looking white guy going ham over a Drake song about how his blogging contemporaries just can’t see him. Kind of like John Cena, but replace wigga-like mannerisms and a can-conquer-anything attitude with self-depreciating humor. And that’s all it took for some of the hip-hop world to turn on this guy quicker than, well, the WWE “Universe” has turned on John Cena (unless, of course, you “get” it–but even still). Which brings me to my point: in hip-hop, sarcasm and parody tend to not translate that well.

Weird Al got into a long-standing beef with Coolio over the “Amish Paradise” song. Heck, I have been in some weird confrontations because what I said went over people’s heads. Is it because hip-hop, even with its long list of metaphors, is an art form where people still take things at relative face value? Perhaps, considering there are individuals who believe Rick Ross actually has a billion dollars. It’s also potentially that, and I really hate playing the “race card”, because Bauce is a nerdy white dude, some purists unfairly attack this (somewhat out-there) comment of “I [messed] around and ruined hip-hop.” Is it out of line? Kind of, considering that hip-hop, to some, is considered sacred (in other words, no one can make fun of it, unless you’ve been accepted in the culture. And even then, it’s still looked at sideways). But, did it warrant the guy getting threatened to be robbed for being a clown?

In the immortal words of Keith Cozart, nah. Plus, it gives me a reason to post this gif:

Until next time, guys and girls.

****

(Shameless Plug Alert)

For those who forgot, I do actually dabble in this rappin’ thang myself (woot, woot). With that said, be sure to check out Death of The King when it drops Sunday, August 17th over at SpeedontheBeat.Bandcamp.com and on iTunes and all that fun stuff.

Warning: Both video clips use excessive language in the lyrics. NSFW!!

(Contains NSFW lyrics)

Long ago, when rappers didn’t rock with each other (keeping it PG-14 here), and it hit a fever pitch, they ended up on a Beef DVD and engaged in RAP BEEF (Hence the obviously NSFW Boondocks clip). The series, for those that don’t remember, spoke on some of the biggest beefs in hip-hop–and some not so much. Beef III, per Wikipedia, was released in 2005, followed by a short-lived BET series, then left in the early-to-mid-2000s like snap music.

(But, even snap music had beefs. Contains NSFW lyrics)

These days, when rappers don’t rock with each other, instead of dropping diss tracks and/or appearing on camera slugging it out, they’ll usually hop on Twitter and spew their disdain, then drop the bars. Part of me is like “cool. If it keeps dudes from killing each other over stupid ish, let the boys cook on Twitter, drop some IG bars, and keep it at that.” But, I’ll be honest. I miss those old days when rappers would actually go at each other on tracks if there was animosity. Heck, I even miss the days when artists would knuckle up, beat their differences out of each other, then get back to their business(es). Now, I’m not condoning violence in music. Nor am I saying that artists should beat the crap out of one another every time they’ve got a problem. There’s enough black-on-black violence in the world. But artists should–oh, I don’t know–hash out their differences artistically!

Twitter Novels and “artsy” selfies (ugh) be damned, we know that Twitter isn’t (that) artistic, y’all.

Perhaps the root of this “Twitter Beef” rap era still falls upon the deaths of so many hip-hop artists because of overblown beefs, rivalries, set trippin’, etc. Artists, as angry as they are at each other, they don’t want to live and die for their music. That’s commendable, as it’s often not that deep of an issue to kill over someone going at you on a track or whatever. But, at the same time, wasting energy to tweet “oh I don’t eff with Rapper B” when they could’ve used that time to make music or what-have-you? It comes off as sneaky and disingenuous, kind of like a troll in a message board who types racist ideologies just to get a rise from people.

I’m the type of artist that’d rather use whatever fuel you give me to go harder on a track, so I just don’t understand tweeting about not rocking with someone. Can someone out there explain it to me?

…”or nah?”

Until next time.

Speed on the Beat

Greetings all,

As promised, I’m dropping my review for the Fly Rebel Society’s newest collection reFRSH (finally). For those who are unfamiliar with the collective, check out some of my previous coverage of them.

 

The first track, “reCAP,” serves as an introduction and, well, a recap of who they are (Lega-c, Ryda Black, Cooley, TeeJay, and godlymC), what they bring to the game (five distinct, but well-meshed sounds) and why listeners should pay attention to them. The next two tracks from the collection, “Wake Up” and “Introverts Theme Song” feature some sick jazz-rap production. Perfect for that smoking session (that I don’t necessarily promote, but if that’s you, do you), both tracks still drop some gems of knowledge and overall dopeness. One sampling of lines that stands out to me goes as follows:

Need more ‘Good Times’ ‘fore I’m cancelled/
Need to clear my head like a sample/
Dismantle each beat, I’ve got problems I can’t handle
[Shoot], with the Scandals, I don’t watch TV unless I’m on it…

That group of lines in some ways summarizes the album as a whole: fun rap, emotional rap, and retrospective rap all in an hour-plus collection.

From the jazzy Tribe-like flows, listeners are blown away by bass and bravado-heavy tracks such as “Grind,” jazz-meets-heavy-rap tracks such as “She Hearts Raps,” and tracks that fans of artists like J. Cole will rock with such as “Rearview.” This project has a song for every type of listener. Also, with FRS, listeners are given a cohesive group that shines individually and collectively. reFRSH is no different from this formula, considering there are “solo” tracks and posse cuts, and both shine just as bright as the previous track. Overall, the collection has something for everyone, and is a great early summer release. The only grievance I can think of is that the constant switch between styles may take some listeners by surprise. But, at least it’ll keep listeners on their toes.

#SkiesAintSafe.

K. Michelle vs. Perez Hilton and Iggy Azalea (Or Something Like That)

iggy-azalea-billboard.com

Now, I usually try to stay away from gossip and the like. But, since it does deal with some things I feel are big issues in music, I’ll speak on it.

For those who missed it, K. Michelle got a bit heated about Iggy’s southern rap flow (and subsequent Australian accent). Perez came to Iggy’s defense, which sparked a war of words, including some not-safe-for-work terms and suggestions. Now, I’m not a big fan of Iggy Azalea. Big KRIT warned us about impostors jacking Southern ways and appropriating them for their own use. Secondly, Iggy’s got some moments, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before from a slew of other artists. But, she’s a character, exaggerated for “Joe Listener” to both identify with and laugh at/with. With that said, I’ve got to ask a few questions:

  • Should we be mad at Iggy for adopting a Southern persona?
  • Should we be mad at executives who feel that parading a woman from Mullumbimby playing the role of Southern pop-rap-meets-gangsta-rap princess as “authentic” is the right thing to do?
  • Or…should we shut up and enjoy her brand of pop-rap–or turn it off if we don’t rock with it?

Honestly, I’m a bit “ugh” or what-have-you over her appropriating what she views as southern culture. But, by the same token, she’s not representative of Southern culture as a whole (just one eschewed subset of it). And, if listening to Iggy Azalea can introduce a legion of teenyboppers to “real” Southern artists and “real” rap, I’m cautiously, for it. Notice, however, that I removed race from the equation. Yes, part of Iggy’s appeal is that she is a blond white Australian woman who raps like Diamond from Crime Mob. But, these days, I’d like to have a conversation about a black person and a white person without their race being the reason why I’m discussing them.

Maya Angelou Passes at 86

maya-angelou

I know, I should have saved this for another post, but I’d rather not overwhelm people with Speed musings. Dr. Angelou’s impact on myself and artists worldwide can never be measured. I could take up pages upon pages upon pages gushing over Dr. Angelou’s amazing gift(s). However, I’d like to talk a bit about her late 1950’s album Miss Calypso (which, unfortunately, you can’t find using typical means and either have to buy from third-parties or stream from YouTube). Considering a lot, it’s a pretty unique find. It’s both haunting and just “cool” to hear/see a different side of such an esteemed person. Haunting because her poetic voice shines through and makes even a “simple” calypso song resonate and “cool” because it’s Maya Angelou singing.

Chuck Brown lovers have to appreciate her cover of the song Chuck covered himself, “Run Joe.” While I prefer Chuck’s cover, it’s amazing to hear Dr. Angelou’s voice do this song justice.

 

Until next time guys.

Greetings, all.

Monday, I was informed by my handler over on Boi-1da.net, the lovely Erin Ashley, that Jay Z dropped a DJ Khaled song (and that we were prohibited from posting about it because of the Drake barbs, which makes absolute sense. It’d be like me posting a True God diss track on my page). But, I decided to listen to it myself. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad, right? It’s new Hov! New Hov always disgraces everything!

“They Don’t Love You No More,” featuring Jay, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, and an auto-tuned French Montana, is, to put it lightly, a cluster****.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

I like the artists featured. Meek and Rozay usually hit on all cylinders. And many of Jay’s “dumbed down” bars usually trump what’s hot on the radio. But, the track just comes off as an attempt to recapture the catchiness and anthem nature of “Started from the Bottom.” Perhaps that’s because of the topics covered in this epic. Or, maybe it’s the fact that “SFTB” and “TDLYNM” both feature production from OVO signee and affiliate Mike Zombie.

Jay’s verse in particular stands out to me. Granted, Jay can probably end my career thrice over with the push of a button, but that doesn’t mean he gets excused for lazy couplets. Examples of such include “Got hella options, like a college team/Hit these bootleg n***** with the Heisman.” It ain’t “rocket science” Hov that we’ve grown used to, which brings me to my question.

Even though he’s still doing big things, has Jay lost (lyrically)?

Listening back to some of his latest projects, especially MCHG, he still has moments of greatness. The title track of that album still gives me goosebumps, even when I skip over Justin Timberlake’s chorus(es). But, it seems that Jay’s gotten comfortable in his crowned spot, rehashing what we’ve grown accustomed to from him (gun talk, richness, his taste in fine art, et cetera). There’s limited growth at this point, perhaps because he’s pretty much done it all.

You know how a one-hit wonder continuously tries to recapture that glory? Jay’s beginning to come off that way. But from some, he’ll forever receive a pass due to the legacy he’s created. This is kind of like the man Jay’s often compared to, Michael Jordan.

But even MJ knew when to walk away, even if he still had the fundamentals down pat.

I have all the respect in the world for Shawn Carter as a businessman and an artist. But it may be close to the time for him to walk away from the mic. But, that’s just my opinion. And like mics these days, everyone has one. 

Turk Drops a New Mixtape

Well, that’s something I didn’t think I’d say again. But, in 2014, we’ve got a new collection of tracks from Turk, The Da Real Thugga From what I’ve heard (I’ve only given it a once-through), Turk’s still got it. It is, however, kind of weird that the EP has the radio edits on it as well as the uncut versions. Be sure to check out my brother True God and the rest of #TeamDAR interview Turk over on TeamDAR Radio (accessible by clicking the logo below; interview considered NSFW). In it, he clears up the rumors of Turk dissing Young Thug among other questions.

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

Lil’ Jon Lives!

Lil’ Jon, your favorite crunked-out DJ/rapper/hypeman has found new life as, well, a DJ/rapper/hypeman (this time, with more of a trap-hop dubstep-influenced feel). His newest track, the “Turn Down For What?” remix, is, as a good friend of mine said, “happy ignorance.” It makes you want to just, you know, do wild and crazy stuff, but not kill everything within a ten-block radius. We need more “happy ignorance” in rap. Can we get a new album, Lil’ Jon? The streets world needs one more crunked-out tape. (Track has some NSFW lyrics, especially French Montana’s verse)

K.R.I.T. Iz Here (to climb “Mt. Olympus”)

As long-time followers of me know, I’m a big Big K.R.I.T. fan. Heck, his music inspired me to do tracks such as “Death of The King,” the title track from the upcoming Death of The King album (double shameless plug alert; NSFW as well).


So, when I heard his newest track, “Mt. Olympus,” my eyes legitimately lit up and I had the screw face on the whole time. The first single from Krizzle’s Cadillactica album, “Mt. Olympus” goes hard. And when I say it goes hard, I mean it goes hard. Considering he pretty much eviscerates “Control’s” impact on him and rap in a few bars, it’s safe to say K.R.I.T.’s not playing around. I think that these few bars sum up the feeling of the track, one where The King Remembered in Time is making sure we remember him, in spite of some listeners downplaying so-called “country rap.”:

“God could physically come down and say ‘he the greatest/
My favorite, y’all should listen, he have potential/
To outlive the heatwave I’ma send through this mother[…]/
And rebuild for a whole ‘nother other culture’/
And that wouldn’t be enough…”

(NSFW track)

Man, it’s been a busy week in hip-hop. And I didn’t even get to Lord Jamar talking about blacks and the need to buy the Clippers from Donald Sterling. Since I’m sure Mr. Sterling’s remarks will still be in the news, perhaps I can save that for next week.

Greetings, all.

So, after last week’s WCW-influenced cluster-you-know-what, let’s switch some gears here.

August Alsina’s proper debut Testimony dropped this week. To be honest, I’d somewhat forgotten about Alsina’s ghetto gospel-tinged tracks since “I Luv This S***” didn’t get as much play as I thought it would thought that his style was a bit too gritty for R&B. I mean, Tha Product 2 was a beautiful mix of real life themes and hip-hop-based bravado. It’s like someone took The Weeknd’s honesty, took the “fun” from it and added in the story of, for instance, a Yo Gotti (who Alsina worked with, coincidentally enough, on Testimony). So, I put Alsina on the back-burner, because as much as I looked forward to his full-length debut, I feared it. Why? Well, tell me the last time an R&B album that wasn’t really a traditional R&B album, but instead steeped in hip-hop, came out as well as it should have.

And no, Kiss Land doesn’t count. That album was on another level. Plus, it wasn’t exactly “steeped in hip-hop.”

Testimony begins with “Testify,” an atonement of sorts. It sets the mood for the album (so-called real n**** s***” sung over strip-club-friendly production) and acts as Alsina’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro. But, after lofty expectations from the intro, the album stays in neutral for a lot of the sixty-one-or-so minutes it exists. It doesn’t steer too far from familiar topics and doesn’t really offer that much more insight into this young man’s life. Essentially, if you’ve heard Tha Product or its sequel you’ll have heard this album. That’s not to say it’s not worth a listen. It’s a solid full-length debut and he’s improving in his songwriting…and not relying on four-letter-words to get his point across all the time. Just don’t expect anything “brand new.” I still recommend you check it out though, especially the Pusha T-assisted “FML.”

(Album stream is the edited deluxe version on Spotify.)

 

On another note, of course, it’s the 20-year-anniversary of Illmatic, the GAWD CD. I’ve nothing to say about this except, if you’ve never heard this CD and call yourself a rap fan, I feel ashamed for you and your family. The XX edition features some remixes of the original album (mainly three remixes of “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”) and is pretty cool to see this CD hasn’t exactly aged horribly, as even the boombap feel has started to come back (thank you Joey Bada$$ and more). I think it’s safe to say that Nas has not–and will not–lose with this one. If you put out an album that’s still heralded as a classic twenty years later–and still inspires artists to drop some bars (shameless plug), you win.

(Album stream below is NSFW; edited version not available on Spotify at the moment)

 

To stream Future’s new album Honest courtesy of MTV.com simply click the album cover art below. Unfortunately it is unsafe for listening on your office speakers, so you may want to plug those headphones in if you’re at work. The album is surprisingly good. Although, as with Alsina’s album there isn’t much new ground broken, but it keeps you intrigued. I mentioned this on Twitter, but Future’s Dungeon Family heritage is starting to shine through with this one, as it’s a great mix between turn-up anthems, lover-man Auto-Tune rap-sung songs (although “I Won” is a bit too pandering for my taste) and hood stories. In some ways, it complements Alsina’s Testimony perfectly, as one tells the story of the young man trying to make it (Testimony), the other tells the story of the older man who’s already made it, but still sees the world as ripe for the picking (Honest).

vibe-future-honest-cover

Wow, three thumbs up in one week. Either I’m losing my touch or music’s starting to just get better.

Until next time.

-Speed on the Beat

Greetings, all. It’s been a while–or at least, it feels like it. In the past week or so, a lot has happened in the world of hip-hop. However, instead of creating another post on Lil’ Boosie’s release and the ramifications of celebrating his release, or a post on his track with C-Murder, I’ll direct my attention to two more big happenings this past week or so.

boosie1

Sorry, Boosie. Not today.

Pharrell dropped G I R L. Yes, the album with possibly the most catchy song this side of “The Macarena,” the 24-hour-video-inspiring “Happy.” I went into this album with low(ered) expectations. Why? Well, as much as I love Pharrell’s music–and I love his music–I find sometimes that his production overpowers his lyrics (rap and otherwise) and makes the lyrics seem somewhat simplistic in comparison. This album, in some ways, is no different. It focuses more on the production than, you know, “deep” songs. But, that’s what makes it work.


(Spotify stream of G I R L. Songs are pretty safe for work.)

G I R L is, well, songs about and for women. Women aren’t complicated, regardless of how much men try to make them seem. In some ways, I’d compare it to John Legend’s album from last year–only because both albums were conceived and released around the time that both artists were tying the knot. Plus, they’re both solid albums that deserve to be checked out. However, where John Legend’s somewhat syrupy musings still draw you in because of his conviction, Pharrell’s falsetto wears thin from time to time. Plus, as mentioned, the production values, while amazing, overpower the lyrical content (or lack thereof, at points). But, as I said, it’s not all gloom and doom for this album. I loved Pharrell musically flipping conventional thoughts of women on their head. For instance, with the song “Gush,” it starts out like one would expect it to. I won’t go into many details (let’s keep it PG-13 here), but you probably know what I’m getting at. And then it switches into more of a sensual, almost Prince-like feel. Pharrell isn’t a lyrical genius on this one, but he accomplishes so much.

Overall, I’d recommend checking it out if you’re a fan of not-so-heavy soul-pop music and a fan of R&B that probably won’t get played while a dancer is twerking in front of you. I just wish that Pharrell didn’t use the word “bae” in one of the songs.

On the more gritty side of things, Rick Ross released Mastermind, an album that, in some ways, spits in the face of Freeway Ricky Ross’s lawsuit against The Grunting One. I mean, the intro track pretty much says “hey, a ‘mastermind’ can take other people’s experiences and get rich off them.”


(Spotify stream of edited version of the album)

My gripe with Rozay’s music is that Ross has a few subject topics: drugs (selling and using), sex, and violence. Oh, and money. Lots and lots of money. What made God Forgives, I Don’t an almost classic album is that he spat every bar with conviction and power. Even though it was way past album one, he still sounded hungry. On Mastermind, it seems that even Ross doesn’t really believe what he’s speaking. He sounds bored almost. The production is still pretty solid, but that’s expected. It’s “M-m-m-maybach Music!”

At least Ross teams up with The Weeknd for a pretty decent track, “In Vein.” Considering Ross’s history with date rape-like lyrics (the “UOENO” bar wasn’t the first time) and Weeknd’s history of making music that sounds like he’s under the influence of a few molly’s and whatnot, the song creates an uncomfortable vibe. It’s Weeknd at his finest, honestly. And that’s what keeps Mastermind from completely failing: guest appearances from artists such as Scarface, The Weeknd, Kanye, Jay Z, a reunion collabo with Jeezy, Mavado, Lil’ Wayne and more.

Listen for the guest voices and don’t expect Ross to break new ground.

Until next time.

-Speed on the Beat

HipHopDX

On the heels of promoter Damon Feldman’s decision to cancel “that” fight (then potentially reneging on that decision), I began to think a bit about how far Dark Man X has fallen over the years. When I was younger, though I probably should have been listening to something more “kid-friendly,” DMX was one of my favorite artists. I thought, even though he was darker than your average mainstream artist, that his career would burn brighter than some of his contemporaries. His way with words, his bluntness on tracks, the unhinged aspect of DMX’s delivery. All of those things, to me, were keys to success. Heck, some of them inspired my own musings. But, alas, like many tormented musical geniuses, it was not in the cards for Mr. Simmons to become as legendary as his early discography would have one believe.

Somewhere along the way, between The Great Depression and (maybe?) knuckling up with that Floridian, he lost it. Granted, DMX was never really an artist that had it all figured out, as his rap sheet is longer than his rap accolades. But, it’s a sad descent nonetheless. With arrests ranging from using indecent language at a concert to speeding to animal cruelty, you’re probably asking me “Speed, why the hell do you feel sorry for this man? Why do you wish that he’d get it together? He’s obviously a lost cause!” And while those things could very well be true, DMX’s descent sticks out in my mind for a couple of reasons.

First, I grew up in Baltimore during the late 1980s and 1990s. I came from an environment where I’d see DMX-like situations pop up almost daily. So, as much as I loved his music, I wanted to do more than just sell dope or rob people or whatever. In some ways, I felt that, somewhere deep down, he spoke on all these issues to shine a light on them. In other words, “don’t do these messed up things if you actually want to get out and make something of yourself.” Which leads me to my second (obvious) point: I wish that DMX would’ve practiced what he (subconsciously) preached instead of practicing what he consciously preached about (in other words, doing a ton of dirt and ultimately, getting screwed up because of it). DMX could have had a Jay Z-like career (in terms of relevancy and the like), but instead allowed his demons to take him under.

Artists, if you take one thing away from this, know the following. Yes, you can come from dirt, you can start from the bottom. But, eventually, you’re going to have to keep yourself from dropping back down to the bottom, regardless of what it takes. If it means switching up your whole demeanor, your circles, or whatever. You want to succeed in this game and not allow yourself to be an artist with infinite potential–and infinite criminal charges against you? Look at DMX’s life as a motivator to do better.

It may be, in some ways, too late for him, but it’s not for you.

Greetings, all.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple days, you’ve probably heard the news about Macklemore taking home everything but the kitchen sink quite a few Grammy Awards this past Sunday. This post isn’t about Macklemore’s win. More power to the guy, even though I’m not the biggest fan of The Heist. This post is more about two things. First, the Grammy system and then the average hip-hop fan. This is going to be a mouthful, so bear with me.

Welcome to Speed on the Beat's "Understanding the Grammys."

Welcome to Speed on the Beat’s “Understanding the Grammys (Kind Of)”

In order to speak on the Grammy system, we must know how it works. I won’t go into every nook and cranny, but here’s the gist of the main process. The Recording Academy indicates that, for this past cycle, the eligibility timeline was between 10/1/12 and 09/30/13. After that date, the Committee filtered through the submissions and began the nomination process around November (these sorts of things are usually capped off with a big concert shown on CBS). After the nominees are picked, over the next few weeks, nominees are voted on again (a person can only vote for 20 individual fields and the “Big Four,” Album/New Artist/Song/Record of the Year). Once all votes are cast, ballots are “tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Deloitte,” to have the winner revealed at the Ceremonies.

Personally, I’d like to see the timeline changed to reflect a calendar year. For instance, the 57th Grammy Awards in 2015 would showcase releases from the calendar year 2014. That way, albums that were released at the end of the year can be considered just as much as ones from the beginning. Sure, it’d push the awards back a few weeks, but a simple Google search shows earlier ceremonies (even up until the early 2000s) took place anywhere between late-February and early April. So, it (potentially) wouldn’t take much to allow this change. Heck, CBS could even show the nominees show around the Super Bowl season to maximize on viewership (that time is usually a dead time for broadcasters anyway, due to midseason breaks, etc.)

Secondly, after the overhaul of 2012, many awards were merged together. For instance, most R&B album categories were combined to create the blanket “Best R&B Album” and “Best Urban Contemporary Album” categories. What that means is that Rihanna will appear in a category with Tamar Braxton (Urban Contemporary). This is not meant to be ageist, even though it undoubtedly will sound such, but Tamar and Rihanna are on different planets (no matter how much Tamar you hear on WKYS). Heck, you could even argue that Rihanna’s album(s) have been more pop than anything. This argument actually gets to the root of my issue with the Grammys. They’re not racist, per se, but the way categories are voted on and put together is archaic. Yes, we can lump ten categories into one to save time, but it ultimately perpetuates a mindstate of conformity. It also paints artists with broad strokes, rather than honor them for what they did with their works. It limits the open-mindedness of the audience, as listeners will begin to believe that all “urban contemporary” sounds like Rihanna (or even a Tamar) and shun acts that don’t conform to that idea.

Thankfully, almost any artist can register to become a member. So, if you’re an artist that doesn’t like the way things are going down. Make sure your liner notes are on Discogs (that’s something I need to do myself) and that your albums are available for worldwide consumption. After that? Submit your application, hope you get accepted, then enact that change.

Hii-Fivver

…and hopefully, you’ll get to high-five your way to success(fully changing the mindset of our world)

Now, my next point? I’ll keep it brief, but I’d like to talk to my hip-hop heads. Yes, you, the ones that are fake mad at Macklemore for beating Kendrick Lamar. Let me break it down to you like this. Even if we get a Grammy Selection Committee that’s full of people like me and you, there’s a chance that your favorite album will still be ignored. Why? Well, to be honest, it’s a numbers game. You, my friends, have to support your favorite artists (buy their music, tweet about them, tell others to buy their music, etc.) or no one else will. These artists, they’re doing fine with or without a Grammy. But, if we, as fans/fellow artists, want to see change and see more recognition for “The Real,” then we’ve got to recognize it ourselves. Plain and simple.

Finally, be sure to check my own new song “Thanatos (Stories Through Music)” out. A portion of all sales/paid streams from it will be donated to charity efforts in the DMV, such as Will Rap 4 Food, Inc., and to promote education efforts in the area (including a college fund for my own little one). Like I’ve said time and time again, we’re all we’ve got. So, be the change that you seek.

Until next time.

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Greetings and saliva, folks.

Hope your hangovers are recovered and your ready for some real spit (see what I did there?), because it’s time for Speed’s Wishlist for Hip-Hop in the Upcoming Frame of Time.* I used to do these annually on one of my older blogs, but that site was lost in The Great AOL Disintegration of the Mid-2000s. So, without further ado, here are some talking points that, if followed, can only bring peace and awesomeness into the world of hip-hop.

First, can we stop trying to sound like Chief Keef, Future/Rich Homie Quan and/or Migos? I mean, come on! I get that music is one of those things that goes by the philosophy of more is better and “if it worked for them, it’ll damn sure work for me because I’m better and more real than them.” But, if I’ve got to sit through one more faux-sung, over-AutoTuned track about trapping, thots/t.h.o.t. (a word/acronym that must be sent to pasture–and soon), and the lot with that “Karate Chop” flow, I swear that I’m going to start throwing chairs. And we all know what happens when people throw chairs (Ed. Note: link contains a use of “the n-word”). Now, I can’t lie. If I’m in the club, and I’ve had a couple…ummm…sips of Sprite, I don’t want to hear Immortal Technique, Nas, or Lupe. Heck, I don’t even want to hear my music when I’m partying, so everything has its place. But, get out their lane, random up-and-coming rapper 217291.

Secondly, I’d love to hear a female rapper (sorry Jean Grae, there is still a socioeconomic need to differentiate between male and female rappers–even if I don’t necessarily agree with it) to drop bars without referring to their sex or referring to themselves as female dogs (keeping it PG here). I know that people try to “reclaim” words and re-purpose them as strong, pro-cause terms, but I still can’t see much too “awesome” about being a dog. Maybe I’m missing something.

Ya...don't say, Speed?

Eh…nah. (Had to bring this one into ’14)

Third, can we stop the Drake jokes? No, this one has nothing to do with some upcoming news I’ve got for everyone the fact that I’m also writing for Boi-1da.net now. It’s more so that the jokes are repetitive and dated. It’s like watching an episode of Two and a Half Men. On repeat. For a year. You can see how that may make a person go all Robot Chicken (Ed. Note: Viewer’s discretion is advised as this video is from the show Robot Chicken). Better yet, if we’re gonna do Drake jokes, it’s like watching Degrassi: The Next Generation for a year and only getting to watch the episode where Jimmy gets shot. Yes, I watch(ed) Degrassi. In high school, and oddly in college, it got me into some…great situations. Now, some people, like Big GhostFASE and the like, they made their name off calling out some of the more…ahem…emotive rappers out there, and that’s awesome. But, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to/can do it as effectively.

This. Must. Stop.

This. Must. Stop.

Fourth, can conscious rappers get off their high horses? If there’s one thing that gets my goat more than anything, it’s that sort of you-know-what. I mean, seriously! It’s bad enough when Fake Deep Twitter talks about stuff they don’t fully comprehend. It’s even worse when you’ve gotta listen to entire albums of that gobbledygook, which brings me to my next point.

DOUBLE SEGUE!

DOUBLE SEGUE!

Fifth, can rappers get back to, oh I don’t know, rapping?! Between Joe Budden giving out relationship advice, Lupe tweeting books, Kanye “ranting” but kind of making sense, and so on, I had a headache. We get it. You’re bored and have down time like regular people, so you want to do something random. That’s cool. That’s great, actually, if it’ll keep you out of jail. But I want more music, guys and girls. Get to that, then we can talk about your extracurriculars.

Sixth, and this one is kind of local. DMV artists, let’s try to make history by having a year where we all get along and don’t start beefing over “he said, she said” tomfoolery. Because honestly, almost no one outside the DMV knows who any of us are. Heck, people have found out more about Wale through who he’s wanted to punch in the mouth at Complex than his music. Let’s not even get started on the Baltimore hip-hop scene (and yes, there is one. And no, it doesn’t just have Baltimore Club Music heads in it). If we, as an area (and don’t give me that “I’m bigger than DMV” shtick when people in the DMV the block where you stay have no idea who you are), can actually put our heads together, get off our self-imposed ego trips and actually make, oh I don’t know, music…we’d get somewhere. Beef’s are a real part of life and not everyone will love everyone else, regardless of how much easier it’d make things. But, for the love of apple pie, at least try.

*changed from “year” on request of those that are in the “it’s just a year” camp. Even though, you’ve gotta admit: focusing on just one year is a bit corny.