Rise Of Lil B And Odd Future Both A Gift And A Curse
So you've written the greatest song the world has never heard. You spent a good two-and-half hours on those brain-melting metaphors, and another three laying them on wax. Every bar requires repeated listening to fully digest. Your ad-libs are on point like Chris Paul.
The beat knocks harder than steel-toed brogans. It's sick enough to make Nas jealous. This one's a sure shot, you tell yourself. But after playing this game-changing song for some pudgy label honcho, you're not so sure anymore. He rubs his eyes and takes a sip of coffee to shake off the slumber. He tells you your song is of middling quality.
"This is OK," he says. "But where's the, uh, shock 'em.?"
"You know, you gotta shock 'em these days. You gotta smack 'em on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Like Odd Future, Lil B, and these guys. You gotta have that shock factor, you know."
Rappers, welcome to your future.
It's one where record labels will demand more gimmicks, more weirdness, more shock 'em. If this grim forecast isn't it what awaits you, may these be the tastiest words we'll ever eat.
It used to be that you needed a story to survive in the music business. Take Rhymefest, for instance. He kicked Eminem's ass at the '97 Rap Olympics, helped write Kanye's "Jesus Walks," and won a Grammy before he dropped his first album.
Yet all Interscope Records wanted to know was if Rhymefest had some kind of story to back up his talent. A fuckin' story. No story, no career.
Today, shock is the new story. Lil B the Based God seems to remind us with every move he makes. He calls himself a pretty bitch, threatens to "fuck Kanye West in the ass" if Kanye fails to acknowledge his Royal Basedness, and titles his new album I'm Gay.
"I'm gonna do the most controversial thing in hip-hop," Lil B said onstage at Coachella. "Ya'll heard it first. And I'mma just show you that words don't mean shit. I'mma make an album called I'm Gay, right."
That's right, Lil B sat down, probably smoked a few J's, and thought to himself, "What's the most controversial thing you could possibly do in hip-hop?"
The emergence of rappers like Lil B and Odd Future's Tyler, The Creator is a gift and a curse to hip-hop. On one hand, they're showing hip-hop the doorway to the future through independence, creativity, and flat-out weirdness. Lawd knows hip-hop hasn't been this interesting in a minute.
On the other hand, their gimmicks make it tougher for MCs who were taught to rely on sheer talent to thrive.
But this isn't about those super-lyrical types and their brain-melting metaphors. The problem is that many of these new-generation MCs are better promoters than they are rappers, an imbalance detrimental to hip-hop's overall health.