June 2, 2005

The Concept Album

Lots of true hip hop is based around the idea of a concept album. Some artists just create a character for themselves and stick to that one persona. This is how gangster rap began, similar to creating a character in a movie. Kool Keith made the concept album popular as he released albums related so several characters he created. His character Dr. Doom is an evil villain that is on an album. The next album is about the crazed Dr. Octagon who kills Dr. Doom at the beginning of the album. Keith was one of the first artists to create different identities for his albums and to wear costumes both on stage and in his videos. His style of rapping is very abstract and strange. These concepts have been used today by a variety of artists (watch an Eminem video).

In hip hop there are a large amount of concept albums. Handsome Boy Modeling School was originally a sketch on the Chris Elliot Show, and was turned into two albums by Prince Paul and Dan the Automator. Before working on these projects, Prince Paul created the first hip-hopera; a story about a boy growing up in the ghetto with aspirations to rap but finding drugs, jail and eventually his death blocking his dreams. One of my favorite concept albums is Deltron 3030, collaboration between Del the Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala, and Dan the Automator. In this album each artist takes on a futuristic personal and raps about the build up of technology and the destruction of the planet. This style of writing is very creative and brings a fresh perspective to the hip hop style.

Posted by lars1396 at 3:11 PM

The Rap Battle

There has been a lot of press in the last few years related to the rap battle. This is related largely to radio artists who have ‘beef’ with each other and do this vocally in their songs. It also became noticed because of the movie “8 Mile” starring Eminem. The rap battle originated decades ago. The old battles were not violent, but inspired by creativity and trying to one up the other rapper. This stems from emcees competing to prove they are the best. This eventually turned into freestyle competitions where emcees were given a certain amount of time to come up with the best battle rap. There are a variety of these battles held yearly in different areas of the country. Two largely known events are the Blaze Battle and Scribble Jam. There are always rappers who rap gangster style, but they typically do not win. The champion is typically the most creative rapper. Eminem is widely known for his battling prowess before he started his career. Eyedea from Minnesota is also known as a phenomenal battler who won the Scribble Jam in 1999 and the Blaze Battle in 2000.

“yo, I’ll grab the mic and disconnect your face,
its your turn but you got second place” - Eyedea

Posted by lars1396 at 2:48 PM

Cash Money

Most people who have seen MTV, BET or listened to the radio recently are familiar with the “bling bling” style of rap. The rappers who are a part of this movement rap entirely about their money or possessions. This can be cash, jewelry, cars, clothing, houses, and more. This has always been present in rap music, as there is an element of competition involved. It used to be used as a punch line but now many rappers use this as their only content. The label The Cash Money Millionaires is made up entirely of rappers who use this style. My assumption is that people are drawn to this because of the superstar power it emphasizes. In reality it is just a lie that is being sold to the public. Many of these groups write their first ‘bling’ album before they actually have any money. It is the audience that is making them rich, so they have more material to write about. It also has a negative effect on society. People try to make as much money as possible and end up squandering it on unnecessary items such as necklaces, watches, and spinning rims. This style of rapping is even shallower than gangster rap. The majority of these artists have very little or no skill.

P.s. If you would like to give me all your money, I’d be happy to tell you what I spend it on.

“Diamonds worn by everybody that’s in my click
Man I got the price of a mansion 'round my neck and wrist” – B.G. “Bling Bling”

Posted by lars1396 at 2:19 PM

May 25, 2005

Whats in a name?

Naming your band or group is a very strange thing. It's funny to look at different genres of music and the names that they pick. For many it’s about marketing, and so the majority of the groups in a genre have similar names. Sometimes it’s just the artist's actual name or nickname. Does it make a difference? Will people buy a record or like an artist better because of the name? I'd say that it has a huge influence on the public's perspective, and will help sell a record. Let’s take a look at some names:

Heavy Metal Group names usually have something very aggressive as their name this marketing fits perfectly with the genre.
(Alice in Chains, System of a Down, Cannibal Corpse)

What I find really amusing is that so many of them are only one word and are often monosyllabic. I could make up hundreds of potentially successful names!
(Metallica, Megadeth, Slipknot, Slayer, Poison, Orgy, Korn, Tool)

Country music most often uses their actual names or a stage name. I assume this is because they are really trying to sell the person here, which is true of the radio-pop music as well.
(Country: Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw)
(Pop: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake)

Mainstream rap music is most often a “cool” nickname of some kind, sometimes derived from the artists’ name. They also use misspellings of words.
(Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Lil’ Jon, Nas, C Murder, Notorious BIG)

Underground rap music is relatively similar to mainstream in their naming, however many are slightly more clever (strange?) variations on names or words. These names usually don’t sound too tough.
(Del the Funkee Homosapien, Slug, Eyedea, Brother Ali, MF Doom, Pep Love, Aesop Rock, Cunninglynguists, I Self Devine)

This should help you create your own perfectly marketable name! Let’s see I think I’ll go with …

Posted by lars1396 at 4:41 PM

May 23, 2005

Hip Hop vs Rap

Hip-hop and rap are often viewed two names for the same thing, however their methods differ greatly. When Hip-hop started as an art form, it was a way for a culture to identify itself. This involved much more than just emceeing (rapping). There are four elements to the style: emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti writing and deejaying. The rapping style grew and took on different genres. The writing style of the original emcee was similar to any poet, any topic was acceptable. As records began generating large sums of money, the gangster rap style emerged as the most lucritive. This is where the difference between the term rap became widely known among the general public. The gangster rappers were often not involved in the hip-hop movement. This is what the average person does not understand, and concequently gives many a negative opinion of the music style.

Posted by lars1396 at 5:07 PM