Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 - The Year We All Got Fired & Went Broke

This year was a MESS!

Before I go in on the crap ending to this crap decade, let me acknowledge the obvious.

A few really great things did happen in 2009. In music and elsewhere.

Music aside? The biggest, and perhaps only, truly great event of 2009 was the very existence of President Barack "Barry" Hussein "Who Want What?" Obama. My man! Initially, after the inauguration, many grew discouraged. Job losses mounted, banks whined, right wing nut jobs rambled freely on the airwaves. But now the jobless rate's turned around, the banks are good, the stock market is great, and universal health care is one day away from passing the Senate!

Yeah the ice caps are melting and we're still stuck in 2 wars. And the jobless numbers are only starting to go down now because me and everyone I know has been fired. At least once this year.

Twice, sometimes!


Yes. I got fired twice this year.

Heh. I'm a born overacheiver.
I'm okay for now though, just living off random consulting gigs (which is to say, not really.)

Good: Wale dropped! Slaughterhouse released their debut! Cam'ron made a loud return!
Bad: All three of those albums bricked.

And many others underperformed. 50 Cent and Rick Ross both have yet to go gold; amusingly, Officer Ricky moved just over 400k, 50 just over 300,000. Most critics are heralding Kid Cudi's Man In The Moon debut as the best album of the year- it barely did 200k. Boom bap purist favorite, Raekwon's Bret Favre-esuq resurrection, Only Built For Cuban Linx II!...barely moved a hundred grand.

My favorite music from 2009 universally flopped, with the exception of the Blueprint 3, which like, the Return Of The Jedi, truly belonged to the earlier era of its trilogy.
The industry of music, of sales of recorded music, is dying.
Very close to dead.

"But HOW?"

How? You really don't know?

The end times are here, that's how. Over the last decade, hip-hop fans ages 18-35 stopped buying music. Our demographic has mastered the internet! How can we pay when we how to get it all for free? The effect has been gradual. This year is the worst on record, but only going downhill from here. There are country folks, twelve year olds and guilt-ridden Boomers still paying for their music, but as the technology gap shrinks in the next decade these groups will learn how to steal and stop buying too.

Yeah, iTunes is great. It traffics, what, 10% of what the illegal downloads do?

Moving on.
In other bad news, lots of funerals. Some even called 2009





(tm I assume)

Unlike all the other years of human history, in which people have also died.

Uh. Yeah. Lots of celebrities died, probably as a result of all the poverty and despair going around. Most bored me. MJ? Be real, you guys, the MJ we loved died years ago. Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze were sad, but sick for years, the surprise was minimal.

Only two deaths really freaked me out. Brittany Murphy, most recently . Maybe I only feel that way because it just happened last week. Or maybe hot girls my age SHOULDN'T BE DYING! For drug-rumored, unexplained, shady-husband-caused reasons!

"Sunrise is such a buzzkill!"

(I agree.)

Brittany Murphy is probably the reason I've had a lifelong fetish for girls
with dark circles under their eyes. Her, and Liv Tyler. (Nothing
happen to Liv Tyler for the next 40 years, please.)

The other dead celebrity was not a celebrity really. A hip-hop legend, though, both in terms of reputation and literally. Like Lauryn Hill, a shattered genius who wandered away for years. But he came back and things were looking so promising!

I'm talking about Baatin of Slum Village. Slum Village is the Greek tragedy of indie midwindy backpacker boom bap. Between Dilla, label drama, and Baatin flaking years ago, events conspired to kill SV before the group could taste success, Baatin in particular.

Now, on the cusp of their reunion, he was back and focused. The disc was a wrap by the end of July. A couple days later, Baatin turned up cold and stiff. Only 35 years old.

Rest In Power B.

His best known verse:

More to post, soon come! LISTS! Even a full blown outbreak of THE LISTICLE! Maybe. My best, worst, and most hilarious or strange in 2009 will make its appearance here. Soon! In the next week or six. That's a promise. Um. If I don't get too busy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Slaughterhouse...Or, Why Internet Fans Ain't Worth A Damn.

2009 is proving to be the worst year for hip-hop record sales ever. (I think I heard with digital downloads, 2009 has just missed being the worst year for overall music sales so far, but there's still a few months left for that to change.)

I try not to be like these other hip-hop stans, watching first week sales like baseball standings. But while I try to ignore bad sales news, I had to laugh when Jim Jones bricked with 43k his first week out. Then my interest was sparked when his former boss, Cam'ron Giles (a god MC in my opinion) came back from retirement a few months later...and only sold about 43,300 HIS first week. With a good album! (Check it again, haters.)

Dip Set members aside, though, established stars have been doing better than new acts. Eminem gets this year's Lil Wayne Award for selling music on a pre-broadband level. Jadakiss, Fabolous, Officer Rick Ross, all did respectable numbers. DOOM actually sold more than anyone expected.

But the freshman class dropping 2009 debut albums has underperformed all the expectations. Asher Roth (see previous too-long rant) sank softly with less than 70k sold his first week. Guess "Lark On My Go-Kart" wasn't a good followup for that Weezer sampling singalong. This dude Dorrough has MTV Jams AND the radio station on fire with his single "Ice Cream Paint Job," but when he dropped last week? Scanned a trifling 12,600 copies.

So the news that Slaughterhouse only sold 18-22k the first week out shouldn't surprise me. These guys get no radio play or label promo. On the other hand, they got the internet going nuts. But once again, as with Asher, the hard numbers prove internet popularity is worth little when it comes to sales.

Internet popularity + some residual fanbase = decent results (Jadakiss etc.) Or, internet popularity + a label push gets OKAY returns (Asher Roth). But when you have no movement whatsoever aside from broke bloggers? These are approximately how many of them turn out & pay up. I would guess there are some heads, like me, who download music but then turn out to see the music live. Show money is the real money, right? Cash in rappers' hands, no label recoup BS to worry about?

This may not work as well for Slaughterhouse because none of those dudes has sex appeal, apart from possibly the rapidly aging Joe Budden. Many girls who claim to be "real hip-hop heads" only want to see dudes perform they find attractive- my girl dragged me to a Cudi show, and Wale gets that kind of female love too, but on the other hand, that same chick literally recoiled in disgust when she saw Joell Ortiz's face on a flyer. She asked me "Is that Sinbad's fatter cousin?" (No shots!)

They do sell out shows on the East Coast, though, don't they? It would be good if Slaughterhouse was economically viable, despite these tough times. That album is a beast, and we need more real boom bap in the hip hop universe. Sean Price, Jada & the other old heads are good, but we need new new...even from "new" old head supergroups like Slaughterhouse & the Undergods. You guys think the Slaughterhouse cats are eating? At an income level approaching middle class? I hope so.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Asher Roth: The Hip-Hop John Rocker?

(yo, Drugs Bunny here, the following is a guest post by one of my boys. i do not share Semi-Semitic's opinions necessarily, i liked the homie Asher's new album but I can't cosign the strange racial comments he's been making lately...Semi vented in some comment section and I told him I'd repost that rant here, cuz it's blogworthy. see for yourself.)

Asher Roth: The Hip-Hop John Rocker!

A Semi-Semitic Drop

"All these black rappers? African rappers? Talking about how much money they have? Do
you realize what's going on in Africa right now?"
-Asher Roth, Associated Press Article, April 28th

can i just say, by way of introduction, that as one of the many jewish/cracker/hiphop heads in the Lurkforce, i have always disliked asher roth.

yes, he can spit. but only now and then. he drops a respectable 8 bars of wordplay roughly once every 4 songs.

most of his beats are wack. (slick rick joint aside. yes i too love weezer.) his choice of flows to match the beat is also poor.

dude appeared out of nowhere when his label pushed that wack mixtape onto every blog last year, and repeated the strategy with the always-looked-like-it-would-suck "Asleep In The Bread Aisle."

he keeps giving interviews where he defends biting em's flow by implying he's only the second white dude to ever attempt a hip-hop career. like, "i sound like em cuz i'm white, let another white rapper get over!"

ORLY? here's a short list of white rappers with flows and rhymes WAY better than A. Roth:

Eminem, Everlast, El-P, Remedy (Wu Tang), Sage Francis, Slug, Eyedea, Aesop Rock, Ill Bill, Bubba Sparxx, MC Serch, Mac Lethal, Buck 65, Classified, Paul Wall, CAGE (the original for eminem's xerox), Hot Karl, Edan, Paul Barman. just off the top of my head.

.....they had a whole show of crackerspittin on VH1, remember?

every bit of white rapper shtick was played out by those dudes well before Mr. Roth joined the industry. Paul Barman in particular patented the jewish college kid rapper with an overactive vocabulary thing.

so yeah, forget Em, ash is in a very crowded lane, and like all the other dudes i mentioned apart from Em, he's hitting the wall.

okay. so I already can't stand the guy. now he's lecturing people? black people? his fellow rappers? he called them AFRICANS?


i'm a jew and only slightly less pale than dude, but i grew up on the south side of chicago, and from there I moved to baltimore city. mainly because I stay broke, I've always lived in black/latino/mixed areas, and one thing you learn as a fishbelly in the hood is, don't discuss other folks' race or nationality.

it's bad enough i get a free pass from cops, employers, and other racist authorities. white don't get to talk about other nationalities unless we are asked first. even then not really.

so ash? from one vanilla hebe hip-hop head to another, please, from now on, when you do press, just speak on your music. i've read your interviews. you come off badly when you discuss the general culture. it's not your fault. you're sheltered/from the burbs, white, rich, and 23. you need more life experience. until then, nobody wants to hear your take on racial relations. I promise.

the Braves had a relief pitcher named John Rocker, back when you were 13. i'm guessing you never heard of him. you seem like a lacrosse player to me. sports illustrated interviewed him for a feature. "do you like pitching in new york?" they asked.

his carefully thought out response: "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"

sure, he was an openly ignorant cracker. but you're almost worse, a walking, talking cliche: the ignorant cracker who wants to enlighten the world with his deep understanding of race relations.

you don't think that's a racially biased attitude, but it is. rocker didn't consider himself racist either.

rocker was gone by the next season. i'm just saying.

Semi-Semitic rant over & out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

But WHY did he pick the name "Jay Electronica"?

....I guess it's a conversation starter.

Every time the man leaks a hot track, or when he dropped that hot mixtape awhile back, I try to put some of my boys on to the lyrical mastery and quirky mystery that is Jay Electronica.

"Hey, check out this cat's new song, he's got some bars!" I will say, or tweet, or IM. (That jawn leaked yesterday, and it's sick for days. Song's called "Exhibit A: Transformations." WTF? I agree.)

"What's the dude's name?" they'll ask, and I mumble..."Jay Electronica." "Jay WHAAA?" is the inevitable response.

The name makes you think he's either a) a trance DJ, or b) one of those horrible jungle MCs you see at raves (no disrespect, J Magik). The only thing good about that name is it rhymes with gay electronica.


And that's only good if you were tryin to battle dude, in that it's funny.

Jay Electronica


Gay Electronica (lol I assume)

Those who know he's a rapper but ain't give him a listen probably assume his flow is some weak hipster jive, based again off the name. Jay's actually much more of a lyrically gifted, punchline inclined MC with some genuinely weird tendencies. Like 3 Stacks or Mr. West Mr. West. (Both of whom have indulged their weird tendencies way too much in recent memory.)

So I wish he'd change it up. I know Jay and Uncle Murda are both in the same boat here...your name is unmarketable, even as your career starts taking off.

Murda been trying "Uncle M" lately. How bout "Jay Electron?" See, it's still weird, without referencing an entirely different style of music just to confuse people. Better!

But seriously, give that song a listen and tell me he ain't have god MC potential.

And if you want to see just how weird dude can be, check out the strange, trippy video he made for his strange, trippy song "Dimethyltryptamine." Which is a psychedelic drug. I never messed with all that, but the video is what I imagine being on it is like.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Best Post-Inauguration Banger So Far!

"Chris, I owe it all to Head Of inspire me, son! (pause)....NAHHHHH. RIP Bernie tho."

so yeah, I have yet to post my worst/most ridic of 2008. I maybe probably never will get around to that. See previous rant about why lists suck.

but the list i've been making in my mind is hiLARIOUS, so i'm not ruling it out yet.

in the meantime, here's my nomination for best post-inaugural Obama jam to date.

Scram Jones ft. Rhymefest & Saigon - Yes We Can

Rhymefest totally steals it with the first 16, but I expect nothing less. Quotables: "So I flip the script/no more Yes We Can, it's Damn, We Did!" and "Everything higher, prices from Fila to Prada/a bag of weed's the only thing still cost ten dollars." (Sure, that downtown brown...)

Saigitty also gets some rewind action with "No, it ain't just cuz he black we put hope in 'em, Al and Jesse ran but we ain't vote for 'em!" Scram Jones is outshined, sorry dude... he mentions "Because of my convictions, I can't vote..." and the rest is a blur. But the song? Crazy banger. Beat is dope too. Fest, when you gonna bless us with El Che or whatever it's now called?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Few Bests, A Few Worsts, A Few Links To Better Lists

"Dear Kanye, I like the 808s, cannot stand the heartbreak. Please revise."

I hate comprehensive end-of-the-year lists. THE best 5/10/25 songs. the absolute WORST 5/10/etc. Which rapper had the Bestest Year Ever? Which one fell off the hardest? (Although, in fact, AllHipHop's List Of Who Took The Biggest L In '08 is hilarious and on point.)
Overall, hip-hop in 2008 kept me entertained, but not too many groups or artists really blew my mind. only a half dozen releases this year had me on that whole press rewind, memorizing the lines, bump in the whip daily tip. here they are, in no particular order:

The Recession was, to my surprise, my favorite album of the year. Maybe it was the excellent time of the album's theme. Maybe, like Tom Breihan, I love Jeezy's crazy hoarse/creaky/old man delivery so much that it overcomes my distaste for his corny (at times) punchlines. I wasn't a big fan of his first two albums, tho I had love for several bangers on each.
But you can bump the Recession all the way through, it's an old school long-player like that,like College Dropout or One Day It'll All Make Sense. The similar production style on nearly all the tracks enhances this effect. And Jeezy really hangs with the Clipse on the coke rap here, especially all the paranoid end-of-Goodfellas stuff in "What They Want" and "Who Dat." And "Circulate." Actually, maybe I just love it like I love coke rap in general. Mr 17.5 has never been shy with bird flipping specifics, but he really goes in on that stuff throughout the album. Favorite Joints: "Who Dat," "Circulate," "By The Way," really everything except "Put On."

Prodigy released H.N.I.C. Part II in several versions, and I got all four; like his first solo tape, Alchemist went crazy with all kinds of old skool never get cleared for release types of samples. Some of them are missing even from the official-ish (linked) release; "My World Is Empty Without You" is a five mic masterpiece, and whoever denied that sample hates good music, pure and simple. But nearly every song on the tape went in. Favorites: "ABCs," "New Yitty," and most of the rest.

Scarface says he's hanging up the mic after this final drop, Emeritus, and it's a sad day for hip hop. First week sales confirmed dude is in a post-commercial situation right now, but on at least a half dozen tracks here he absolutely owns that Texas/depressed/paranoia/gangsta mindset that "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" arguably invented. Forgot About Me with Weezy and Bun B. spittin fire, and High Powered viciously putting snitches on notice, are bangers despite AND because of their downbeat lyrical content. And "Soldier Story" passes that particular torch to Z-Ro as both dudes hold it down for rappers with clinical depression and sick, sick flows.

Favorites: Those three tracks, "Emeritus," "Redemption." More?

I'll pick this up later tonight...if I can. Lots of drinking to be done! But my worst and most surprising of '08 are yet to come! Stay tuned, my 3 or possibly 4 readers! There will be more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To Young Berg: Fall Back, Fam! Love, The Go.

barry's kickin back with his feet up. me too...

Three weeks have gone by since that crazy, awesome election. It's hard to believe, even now, that our own skinny, nerdy Senator from Kenwood (post gentrified Kenwood, but STILL) has taken over. A dude who came up in the wild hunnets is now PRESIDENT!
It figures, this being Haterville, that a playa from the chi has made it all the way to Commander In Chief, and STILL! We don't have one real homegrown hip-hop success to claim.

Common And Kanye are the biggest names repping the CHI. And they grew up here, it's true. But they don't count.

Rashid & Ye Tudda weren't stacking paper when they stayed around the way. They had to move to NYC to get their careers off the ground - haha, Newark, in 'Ye's case.

That's how it is here in Haterville. Chicago can't support a scene for some reason. Philly has a dynamic local scene where rappers get money and build their reps. Miami has that crazy nightlife supporting them, Khaled et al. LA and SF do they regional thing. Even St. Louis was able to break Nelly, Chingy and Murphy Lee! And they never had to move away. But Com and Ye couldn't make it at the crib. They honed their skills here, but they both skipped town as soon as they had the money for tickets.
"...chunk up a deuce and let's be out!"

Who else could claim to put the city on their back? Rhymefest went gold, I think. He also relocated to the East. Da Brat? Haha ok, but she left out to the west real quick once she got the chance, even if she broke out initially at home.

The biggest name never to leave? Twista. Lyrically, dude's an unrivalled underground legend, always my top five. His career, tho? A one hit wonder initially - saleswise, dude fell off post Adrenalin Rush. Then, he made the best of that John Travolta esque career revival, thanks to Kanye's collabos, cameos and beats. After that, dude tried to make it with cheaper producers, and that album went brick. Last I heard, he was banking on an endorsement deal with McDonalds, and then that fell through. Ouch.

Haterville haters, please!
Calm yourselves!

I know, there's fifteen to twenty dope, semi-popular local MCs that could go on this list. Several have or had deals. But none have emerged nationally, not yet. Cool Kids & Mickey Halsted have shown, but have yet to prove.

Which brings me to Yung Berg. Sadly, until Obama, Berg was the biggest thing from the Go in 2008.

(This picture of Berg is from a few years ago, when he was a Bad Boy draft pick - before he hit puberty?)

At first, I didn't hate the little dude. I starting hearin him back in February, when that "Sexy Can I" joint bubbled. At the time, most people I know dismissed his Juelz-lite flow and appearance. He seemed forgettable, a baby ja rule with less wailing.

He fell off my radar until May. I wake up one afternoon to find the hip hop gossip blogs all aflutter, cuz Berg got all caught up in some fake YouTube beef nonsense, takin shots at Brisco and Flo Rida? It's a hip-pop-soft-rap civil war! LOL. Somehow, Berg actually came out looking worse. We hoped he would stay gone for a minute.

But joe returned to public embarassment in July, when he told a talk show host on the radio that prefers light skinted ladies, hates seeing "dark butts". Fall back, fam! No one needed to hear about your racial sex fetishes. He tried to clarify his nasty statements half-heartedly, but still sounded like an immature clown. By August, people were done with Berg's silly ass.

In a case of terrible timing, his debut dropped August 12th.

"Sexy Can I" was a platinum selling single. His album, "Look What You Made Me," did 19,000 in the first week.

DAMN. Those are Hell Rell numbers.

So things can't possibly get any worse for Berg, right? (He had to be thinking, anyway.) He's got a show in Detroit Saturday, August 23rd. Decides to show up in Detroit Friday, and start drinking. Runs into Trick Trick, Eminem associate, a hardbody individual. Trick sees Berg's hilarious Transformers Chain, and takes it away, D-Bo bike style.
This was all over tha internetz within hours.

("It's like it's both ours, D-Bo!")

Following this episode, Berg lay low for a few weeks. Then, in early October, Maino ("Hi, Hater!") encountered YB at the club out in ATL and delivered up some hot, fresh, humiliating pimp slappery! Berg apparently just sat there and took it.

So what does IceBerg Jr. do now? Sales have bricked, his rep is ruined....he need to see if UPS is hiring. Is this the right time to
drop an Alfamega collabo and attempt to SPEAK on your recent experiences?

NO! No, it is not. Fam, fall back. Lay low for a minute or five. Step away from the microphone. The Go don't need this right now. We're in the global spotlight thanks to the election! We need to defend our hardbody Capone era rep, so people know Barack is not to be trifled with. The President, joe! You're embarassing the President!

Lyrically, this track is a new low. Previously, dude had sex rhymes, boasts about his hustle, and...more sex rhymes. Now he's got...boasts about being bitchmade? "I told Flo Rida I was wrong, dog that's the bottom line..." WTF? "Y'all like the raps, just wait until you hear the R&B." Career change in the works there?

"No need for pistols, my success gon kill em." Hahahaha, bruh....that platinum plaque wasn't lost in the mail. "Ninjaz hate on young'n but these bitches fuckin' wit me" is your punchline? My dude. Take a hiatus, seriously.

RHYMING ABOUT HOW YOU GOT PUNKED? Even Officer Ross, for all his denials, never tried to justify his bitchmade nature IN RHYME. Don't speak on that chain or that slap, ever again. I beg of you. For the city on your back.

For your own good.

Happy Holidays, kids!