Thursday, September 12, 2013

Featured Rappers Showing Up Everywhere Except on Their Own Album

I have a made a universal observation about rappers, hip-hop singers, and their albums. This fact cannot be denied. They perform on almost every album released in any given year. Jesus, it seemed like every other album had Rihanna or Beyonce doing a solo on it. Jay-Z was supposedly retired to run Def Jam, but you heard him more on other people's albums than you probably did on his own albums at the end of his so-called active rap career. I mean what are you to make of Kendrick Lamar going on another guy's album and basically calling him out. If I were Big Sean, why in the hell would I even want to put this on my own record? I know there is a history here of mixtapes and collaborations and rap battles, but can you say overexposure? The Beastie Boys did not make an album for 5-6 years, but you never heard about them making numerous guest appearances on other albums. I am not singling out rappers alone because sometimes this has happened with rock stars like Dave Grohl. Do we actually need another side project from him? Yet, in rap, it seems to be part of the culture. Their albums are always thought of as solo kinds of projects, but are they really that solo? Are you really making a true solo artistic piece of work when you have 8 other guys on it? Hell, the only time you don't hear from a rapper for a while is when they go to prison like Lil Wayne. In comparison, you really do not see this in rock and pop music. What do you attribute to this? I really could not provide a true answer. Perhaps, it is because rappers are like Lebron James and need a little help from their friends. Perhaps, it is the culture in that rappers just invite rappers to partake in their albums. I find it hard to believe that with this collaboration that goes on everywhere that violence ever erupted anywhere over rap lyrics. Perhaps, it is the artform itself. Singing, playing guitar, playing drums simply does not lend itself to the enormous amount of collaboration that we see in rap on a consistent basis. For me personally, I think that not enough attention is paid to the concept of the album. Too many rappers see the album as less of a cohesive concept and more as simple a group of multiple tracks. For whatever reason, the incredible amount of guest appearances is pretty staggering. I will sit there and say to myself: don't these guys want to keep any credit for themselves? Don't they ever want to work on something without anybody else? Or is this simply not a realistic scenario in today's rap and hip-hop world? Go out and get as many big names as possible before starting because that sells records. What if the Killers brought in Julian Casablancas for guest vocals, Dave Grohl for guest drums, and Jonny Greenwood for guest guitar on their next album? This not be unheard of in any sense, but it rarely happens in rock. My running joke is that I don't need to buy a rapper's album because he will just make some guest appearance next week on another album. Also, they may make a mistake and forget to rap on their own album or list themselves as guests on it. I simply find it as a bizarre trend in popular music and I do have a theory about it. These rappers want to be in a band. They all want to join together and be in a band. I say, why not...I say, more power to them.  Let's start an NYC band  called the HOVA West Boys and it will be Jay-Z, Kanye, Mike-D, and Ad-Rock.  I know there have been rap groups or bands before, but there have not been that many. I am talking about 50% of the current rappers joining bands. This all makes perfect sense. How about a band called Emimar with Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and Eminem. Watch the Throne was only the first step because rappers need to start bands as soon as possible, which will rid the world of these silly guest appearances on every other album, except their own.

Friday, September 6, 2013

When Saying You Made a Good Album Goes Wrong

I just finished skimming the new Arctic Monkeys review on It brought an interesting conundrum when it comes to album reviews. I have not heard this album yet and I like the Arctic Monkeys overall. Thus far, I have only focused on how reviews can negatively help influence how one objectively perceives a listening experience. Yet, this can work the other way around as well. This particular review gives the album a perfect 10 saying it is pure genius and the best album to come out in the last ten years. I highly doubt that. The comments following the review are near unanimous in this diagnosis. This is not the greatest album of the last ten years. Most people who have followed this band say it is a great album, but they will not say it is a perfect 10. This brings up a couple of issues with me as a serious music fan. This review has somewhat diminished or partially ruined the album for me. Previously, I was comparing this album primarily to Suck It and See, but now they are going up against Kanye, TV on the Radio, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers. The reviewer has created heightened expectations that will be hard to compete with and the Arctic Monkeys don't deserve that because now the band must live up to such expectations. It will be impossible for them to surpass those expectations because they are not new. Arctic Monkeys have been around for a few years, which always means you will have critics. Bands always have critics. The only ones who don't have critics are the ones who have not been around long enough for reviewers to actually care two shits about them. Throwing around the term genius is for writers analyzing the legacy of someone who rocked 20 years ago like Bowie. You don't use that term in the present because that can be misinterpreted so easily. The other issue at play here is a serious question that threatens the credibility of the article itself. Is this reviewer just a fan boy? Is he worshiping at the altar of Arctic Monkeys? This needs to be answered before we start to look upon this album as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now, I saw this band in 2009 and I have heard their other albums, so next week I will listen to this album and see if it the best album of the past ten years. If I had known 5 years ago that this band was genius about to create the greatest album this side of 1999, then I would not have done all that Vicodin that night.