Monthly Archives: March 2012

Best Current Rap Crew: G.O.O.D. Music vs. Young Money

Power tends to be consolidated in rap… Rap has always had great crews/label rosters.  What gets to be the most fun though is when to groups come to dislike each other and lob disses at each other.  While there have been a few minor dust-ups between these groups (Common vs. Drake most recently), I don’t think it’ll flare up.  That doesn’t mean we can’t debate, which group is the best now and which has the best future ahead of it?

Have to head to the Tale of the Tape for this one and discuss the most notable members of each crew.

Young Money (YMCMB)

Established Under: Cash Money Records (Baby & Mannie Fresh)

HEADLINER (FOUNDER):

Lil’ Wayne

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Resume: 3 #1 albums, 4 Grammys (10 Nominations).  One of the most famous rappers of all-time.  9 studio albums to date.

NOTABLE CREW:

 Drake

Hometown: Toronto, ON

Resume: 2 #1 albums (his only 2 albums).  4 Grammy nominations (all for first album, second album to be nominated next year).  Arguably the most popular rapper out right now.

 

Nicki Minaj

Hometown: Queens, NY

Resume: One #1 album (only album out, second album due in May which will debut at #1).  One of the biggest current stars in music.  Turning into a pop superstar (performed with Madonna at Super Bowl halftime).

Tyga

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Resume: Newest famous member of the crew.  1 studio album.  Current single “Rack City” in Top 10 of Billboard.

VERSUS…

G.O.O.D. Music

Established Under: Roc-a-Fella Records (Jay-Z)

HEADLINER (FOUNDER):

Kanye West

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Resume: 4 #1 albums (out of 5 total, his debut album peaked at #2).  18 (!!!) Grammy awards.  One of the most famous rappers and producers of all-time.

NOTABLE CREW:

Common

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Resume: 1 #1 album (1 #2 album).  2 Grammys (11 nominations).  8 studio albums.  Rap legend.

John Legend

Hometown: Springfield, OH

 Resume: 9x Grammy winner.  3 studio albums (peaked at #3, #4, and #4 on Billboard).  One of the most famous young singers in the world.

Big Sean

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Resume: Newest famous member of the crew.  Debut album opened at #3.  Single “A$$” went double platinum.  One of the brightest young stars in rap.

Kid Cudi

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Resume: The most eclectic member of the group.  3 Grammy nominations.  3 studio albums (Debuted at #3, #3, and #4 on Billboard).

Breakdown: It really comes down to what you like… Young Money is more of a top-heavy crew with Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj being legitimate superstars while only Kanye West is the only superstar from G.O.O.D. Music.  However, G.O.O.D. Music has 29 Grammys compared to Young Money only having 4 (all from Lil’ Wayne).

Do you like style or substance?  If you like style then Young Money is the bet.  If you like substance, go with G.O.O.D. Music.  It’ll be fun to watch how this plays out with each empire continuing to grow with new artists yet to establish themselves.

What do you think?

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The Value of Being the Musical Enigma: The Weeknd

Recognize him?  Most people don’t.  But if you follow rap/R&B you definitely know his name… He’s The Weeknd.  He’s a beautifully-voiced singer named Abel Tesfaye from Toronto who delves into the darkness of drugs and women with incredibly eclectic production.  Example A:


He’s released three critically acclaimed mixtapes (AKA free albums) to fans and his buzz is growing exponentially…

Exponentially is just hyperbole right?

Well, not when the top rapper in the game right now (Drake) is aligning himself with you and featuring you on his newest album:

Annnnd when he’s apparently already turned down a $7 million dollar record deal.  I come to wonder when I see that number……. how much of that has to do with the insatiable fans he’s created by being such an enigma.

With the internet making people superstars, he’s done an amazing job of becoming a star by not really existing on it except in grainy interviews and old studio videos.  He has ZERO music videos online.  He has ZERO interviews.  No one really knows anything about him and one has to wonder if half the buzz isn’t from fans just trying to figure out more about him.  This is the best interview video you can find, and he doesn’t even turn around:

This is the best video of him (in terms of actually being able to see him) on the internet and it’s from 2008… and it’s a cell phone video from a bus of him singing “happy birthday” to someone:

With all of this buzz and the lack of info on him, I hope he cashes in. Half of me can’t help but wonder if he’s going to become less interesting once he hits it big time… Or if he’s always going to play himself as an enigma like Prince.

He’s got the talent… He’s created an immense amount of value…  I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Obligatory Post About Sampling — Frank Ocean’s “American Wedding”

As this is a rap-centric music blog, it wasn’t going to be long before we had to tackle the issue of sampling.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “sampling”, it’s when an artist uses another artist’s copyrighted recording for their own song.  This can be done with or without permission (I’ve done it without permission numerous times and not been busted… *knocks on wood*).  Essentially when an artist samples another artist they need to get permission and most likely will owe them a base fee/royalties based on the commercial success of the recording.

Sampling is the foundation and backbone of rap music (though it isn’t limited to the genre) and certainly remains a controversial and litigious issue.  The latest controversy stems from R&B and Odd Future crooner Frank Ocean and his song “American Wedding”:

Sound familiar?  Some readers may have spit out their coffee/water in outrage!  Why? Well it’s basically just Frank Ocean singing over the instrumental of “Hotel California” by the Eagles:

As you can tell, Ocean’s version takes the complete master recording of “Hotel California” by The Eagles and even borrows their melodies for much of his singing.  Though the song was not released on any album and no profit was gained, The Eagles were none too happy about it.  Their publicist released this statement shortly after the song leaked:

“Frank Ocean did not merely ‘sample’ a portion of the Eagles’ Hotel California; he took the whole master track, plus the song’s existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own. This is not creative, let alone ‘intimidating.’ It’s illegal. For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should. Any further questions regarding this matter should be directed to Warner Music Group as it is the entity that currently owns the master recording and made the contact with Frank Ocean’s representatives concerning his infringement of the master recording.”

Mr. Ocean responded with his own side via his Tumblr, feeling incredulous over the entire ordeal and specifically called out The Eagles leading man Don Henley:

“Don Henley is apparently intimidated by my rendition of ‘Hotel California’. He threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think it’s fuckin’ awesome.”

He went on to say…

“I guess if I play it at coachella it’ll cost me a couple hundred racks. If I don’t show up to court, it’ll be a judgement against me & will probably show up on my credit report. Oh well. I try to buy my shit cash anyway. They also asked that I release a statement expressing my admiration for Mr. Henley, along with my assistance pulling it off the web as much as possible. Shit’s weird. Ain’t this guy rich as fuck? Why sue the new guy? I didn’t make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything I’m paying homage.”

And this is exactly why we have a controversy over sampling.  Did Frank Ocean break the law?  Yep.  If I was Don Henley/The Eagles would I be angry?  As an artist myself, I would say probably yeah.  Did Frank Ocean have a point about not making a dime from the song and seeing it as paying homage?  Definitely.  Does that matter when it comes to the law?  Nope.  Is the request for a statement expressing admiration of Don Henley a weird request?  Yep.  Where does this leave us?  Who knows at this point.

So we have yet another controversy about sampling.  What’s your take on this?  If Frank Ocean isn’t making a penny off using their recording, should it matter?  He’s obviously gaining promotion from the use but putting a dollar amount on how much is hard to quantify.

And what about the artistic angle?  Do you think he’s paying homage or had his own motives?  Do you see this as stealing or simply building upon the past?

As usual with sampling: lots of questions and very few answers.

What do you think?

 

W-w-w-w-w-w-w-warm Weather Music (Rap Obviously)

As Spring is beginning to poke it’s head around the corner, I figured it was time for a new mix.  With the changing of seasons my taste in rap songs change and the types of songs I want to listen to are adjusted.

If this was going to be a summer mix, I’d go with warmer songs with slower tempos.  HOWEVA, since it is Spring, it’s important to go with more upbeat music as the excitement of nice weather gets the blood flowin’ with “warm” feeling.  As I’ve said before the combination of music and situation is analogous to that of wine and cheese.

If you’re a fan of rap and looking forward to Spring, enjoy the following 10 songs and let them become the soundtrack to your Spring… Sunny days lie ahead:

Lil’ Wayne feat. Drake – Right Above it
 

Gym Class Heroes – New Friend Request

Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West & Common – Make Her Say

Clipse feat. Rick Ross – I’m Good (Remix)

Jay-Z – D.O.A.

Lupe Fiasco – I Gotcha

The Game – Game’s Pain

T.I. – What You Know

Wale – Mama Told Me

Jim Jones – Perfect Day