Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let Me Teach You About The Future Of Rap

Wow, it's almost a new decade! This was a big one - successful in all the fields covered by this blog (all the fields that matter). Ice Cream plateaued a while ago but, from 2000-2009, did not get any less delicious. Sports are a little more steroidy but overall, still really fun. Rap music made the biggest jump. More than an early Elaine to late Elaine jump. More than a Season 1 of The Office to Season 2 of The Office jump. More than a...okay, I'm only thinking of NBC sitcoms, but the point is that the jump was big. It went from one of a few big genres to THE genre in popular music. Go rap go!

So as we look at rap's second decade as top dog, it seems like rappers are going to be classified by new standards. Guys (and ladies) looking to hit it big will be influenced more by the biggest stars of the 00s - the guys who kept rap on top of the pop charts - than angrier MCs from the 90s like Ice Cube or old school acts like Run DMC. So let's examine the three biggest, most important, soon-to-be-most-influential rappers this decade: Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. Each became massive by completely embodying a different, unique characteristic. Please direct your attention to the chart below:

I saw Jay-Z at All Points West and at one point he asked us all to put our diamonds in the sky. We did and he just turned around and faced the band. I saw Kanye on the Glow in the Dark tour where he was full of himself enough to think we would care about his one man show about space travel and we did. I haven't seen Wayne's live show but it probably involves scary drugs and his trademark ever-shifting cadence (cuh-raaazy!). Those guys are all the best at being themselves.

So what I'm suggesting is that we can place all new rappers somewhere along one of those purple lines. Few will fall on that cocky/crazy side, most will set up shop on the cool/cocky axis. Great rappers like TI and Jeezy all the way down toup and comers try to work with some kind of spin on what has become the standard cocky/cool image. So in the teens it's going to become a little hard to do something fresh on that side. That's why that third side is where things are going to get really interesting.

If this Drake plays his cards right, he could dominate that third side. I have faith in this guy! A year ago, if you told me some Canadian kid from Degrassi would be doing interesting things in 09, I would have said, "TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE. DO I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND?" But once Lil Wayne took him under his wing, all bets were off. This could go anywhere. Rap is like some type of secret underground prisoner cage match battle royale: you never know what is going to happen when you throw a crazy person into the mix. Let's listen to "Best I Ever Had" (video's kind of NSFW, jeez). First of all, that video? HUH? But, the song: his voice change at 2:16? Awesome! That Andy Griffith line? This man could take us to strange new places.

Listen, children reading this blog, you will be tempted to tackle that cool/cocky angle. You think it will lead to women, to parties, to other things I am scared of. But if you want to really make your mark and influence rappers in the Roaring Twenties Part II, you are going to want to be a little crazy. Because you want to be rappers so you can get guys like me to write blog posts about you in between long rants about Ben and Jerrys flavors, right?

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