Dec 16 2013

Stuff to ponder

Category: Wild thoughtsseaqxx @ 12:10

So I was reading this article about how Macklemore might win the Grammy for the best album and about how his messages might be perverted because his hip-hop is too … nice.
At the end of the article, the author complains about thow other hip-hop artists that deserve the big prize, might lose it because of “marketing considerations” and because some “above the line entity” might want to promote the positive messages in Macklemores lyrics. The author says that:

The Heist isn’t even the best rap album on the Album Of The Year list. Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city is a transcendent listening experience, and one of the best rap debuts of all time. The album tells the tale of a day in Compton where socioeconomic factors, poor education, and peer pressure turn an honor roll student into a child lost in the street.

And I went right to youtube to listen to the so much better album that would deserve a Grammy according to the author. I did this because if the album was so good I would recommended it to my boyfriend, because he started listening to a lot of rock music recently because he said no good hip-hop is made anymore. And while listening I got pissed off a little. Why? Because Grammy Album of the year award is given for the quality of music. Also, we are talking about Album of the year, not Hip-hop album of the year. At least that’s I thought, so please correct me if I’m wrong. Keeping this in mind, meaning – the quality of the music – the album mentioned by the author is mediocre at least. While listening the album I recognized a lot of hip-hop cliché elements (sirens, shooting, nigga random dialog, etc) and I am pretty sure I have heard before some of the instrumental parts, in older hip-hop songs. Yeah, the sin of being born too early.

All this considered, I think Macklemore’s “The Heist” should win the Grammy for Album of the year and the main reason for it is that is a damn good album. It is not the Hip-hop album of the year though. Because if Hip-hop means all I mentioned earlier + the dark message, we might say that Macklemore does not do Hip-hop actually. He just raps. :D

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3 Responses to “Stuff to ponder”

  1. Dragos says:

    I’m not a hip-hop fan, or a rap specialist of any sort but I do like the Kendrick Lamar album and I do think “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is an amazing album. I tend to like albums that have an underlying story and this one does have one and it’s a tremendous one. It’s also social commentary about the extreme lack of choices for kids from poor neighbourhoods, that can be “good”, but will ultimately end up living a life of violence and criminality, because it’s the only life that they see, know and recognize as possible. Take a look at the timeline of the album, read the lyrics (and the annotations) and try to see beyond the appearance of another simple gangsta rap album. There are songs about being young and stupid and having that bravado (Backseat Freestyle), about alcoholism (Swimming Pools (Drunk)), about the choices you have to make when living in such an enviroment(Sing About Me) etc. The whole story is puctuated with little skits like the family calls, family representing for Kendrick a grounding point in such a volatile medium. Musically it’s pretty great too, the beats are a tad restrained and not as luxurious as in other contemporan hiphop tracks, his rapping style changes from character to character, all of it being put to work into telling the story, to present the moral dilemmas and the universe of a good kid in a mad city.

    It’s about all these things and the messages aren’t pretty or uplifiting, there are no solutions presented, just observations hidden in hip-hop tracks. There’s no positivity or optimism here, except that if you really want to and you’re lucky, you can make it out. Sure, Macklemore sings about making it when everyone is against you(especially record labels), about being happy and positive. He talks about other things (not being homophobic and respecting the choices of others) and his messages are often literal, pedantic and a little forced. That’s why in my opinion an album that makes you get a feel of the tough, choiceless life of kids from bad hoods is preferable to canned, cliche ideas packed up together just to sound positive. It might be the leftist in me, or the pretentious prick in me, but I do think that “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is an amazing album and a far superior one to the Macklemore one.

  2. seaqxx says:

    The dark sad story and everything you said about “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is exactly what is wrong about it. Having a very poor and dark background myself I do not like to be reminded of it and motivated to think that somehow I was lucky that I escaped. I was not lucky, my choices got me where I am. I was poor and unhappy and sometimes abused, but instead on choosing to hurt myself and my future, I chose to learn, to fight and to escape.

    Alcohol and drugs are the refuge of weak people. You want to survive, get smarter and stronger. This should be the message, because that’s what hip-hop has always been for me. A motivation to fight the system, fight the injustice, fight the people who said I should behave as expected.

    This kind of hip-hop that just makes observations and tells you that “shit happens, get used to it because that’s the way life goes” and giving you all the gruesome details is not real hip-hop, it’s just 5 o’clock news.

    And you would not give the 5 o’clock news a Grammy, right?

  3. Dragos says:

    I think you kind of missed the point of the album though. Sure its’ story is grim and violent to a point, but it alludes to a cycle of death and violence, going on uninterrupted in the ‘hood. However the message here is that it shouldn’t be that. That is doesn’t have to be all that. That you have to find a way to break that cycle of violence and death and you can “escape”. So it’s still about fighting a system, the weird, violent, often deadly system of kids growing up a tough hood.
    I’ve had a tough childhood as well(maybe we should trade stories at some point?). But I’m doing ok now, having intellectual discussions about who should win a Grammy for best hip-hop album. And furthermore you can’t really compare situations, you haven’t been in his shoes (or even in Macklemore’s shoes) and he probably hasn’t been in yours. Life in high crime neighborhoods in the States is quite different to whatever we have here. I’ve had my share of neighbors that were in jail at some point, I’ve seen my share of fights and violent behavior, but I wouldn’t exactly call my home neighborhood dangerous or violent. I suggest you should watch The Wire. It’s a TV show that shows pretty well how high crime area kids are hardly making it “out” and how the war on drugs is affecting the society and mainly the poor communities in the States. Yes, sure, you’re right to a point, but you need to realize that a lot of these kids aren’t actually making informed or rational decisions when they’re 10 years old and start dealing drugs or join gangs, coming from severely disorganized families and with no standing example of what’s “right” or what their alternatives are.
    Again, I think that the Kendrick Lamar album is awesome, one of the few hip-hop albums I’ve actually cared enough to really try to understand it all. It’s a culture clash, as I’m thousands of miles away and quite different culturally from Kendrick, but I’m clearly passionate about to advocate it in two of my lengthiest blog comments ever. As for Macklemore, I like the sampling on a few of the tracks, I don’t really like his rapping style or his lyrics, I’m all for tolerance, using your money responsibly and other positive messages. I just think that Lamar’s is better art, that’s all. And anyway, at the Grammy’s everybody will win something.

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