So yeah, there's some pretty interesting hip hop stuff coming out these days. Here's some of the stuff I've heard recently thanks to the internet and WIDR. It kinda feels like it's '91 with the alt-rock boom, except even weirder. I've been tellin' folks who aren't into rap for years that it'll have the same arc rock music has had...basically if you think that rock and roll started in the 50's, it was reaching its popular creative peak about 20 years later with 'album rock' and concept albums and the like, then all the heady creative stuff went underground for a while until the late 80's/early 90's when 'regular' music listeners were ready for a different sound.
Now look at rap/hip hop. It became a real genre about 30 years after rock and roll, with Sugarhill records in the late 70's/early 80's. So, the creative peak of popular shit should be about 20 years later. Right, you've got your OutKast once they dropped 'Aquemini,' Fugees, Wu Tang, etc. And we can't forget rap's '60's' period which laid the blueprint for all this shit...In rap's case, it'd be the early 90's, with Cypress, Beastie Boys in their slacker phase, KRS-One, Nas, what have you.
So 'regular' radio-hip-hop-listeners are probably ready for something different, if we consider the 00's to be rap music's lame 80's bullshit period. I mean, the stuff I heard coming out of cars and parties in those years was fucking really bad. Auto-tune is the gated reverb of modern day.
But it had to end sometime, just like nobody wanted to hear A Flock of Seagulls or Def Leppard in the 90's. That's what all this shit is...the backlash of years of shitty music being crammed down peoples' throats. And the best part is, most of these new fuckers are giving their stuff away for free.
I'm not even gonna front. I love these guys. They can really do no wrong at this point. Tyler's 'Goblin' album was the shit, the TV show is hilarious, and the new OF Tape is their best work yet. Who cares if they're not self-aware, which is what all the indie folks want? So they don't like Antipop Consortium or Kool Keith. I think it's better they remain un-influenced by anyone. It's like the whole Nirvana 'fuck you, we just wanna write songs like the Beatles' thing. They just wanna rock out to some mid-period Eminem and do their own thing. Having listened to pretty much everything this crew has put out, here's my take on it:
Tyler, The Creator
The most visible member of the crew, but not necessarily my favorite. Tyler says it best in the opening track of 'Goblin'--he's not really a great rapper, but on the whole, he's pretty fucking cool. 'Goblin' was a terrific album, and 'Bastard' was really good, too. The most memorable cuts come from his releases, like 'AssMilk,' 'Yonkers,' 'Radicals' and 'Burger.' Honestly, what got me was how many times this kid says 'faggot' on record. Reminded me of the old days when Eminem actually scared people. What's scarier than some deep-voiced, possibly psychotic black kid calling you a fag and threatening to rape you?
Hodgy didn't really catch my ear til the new OF Tape, on which he totally steals the show. The 2nd MellowHype album is really cool if only because of LeftBrain's awesome production, which is totally fucking nuts. Some of his beats don't even line up properly and have this lopsided fucked feeling to them. Hodgy's solo output didn't do it for me, but he's definitely the most improved member of the crew.
I really liked 'Rolling Papers.' Real laid back shit, some of the best OF productions. Plus, 'Grocery Store' is probably my favorite OF track. Domo gets shit for not being as interesting as the other fellas, but I think his more toned-down approach is easy on the ears.
The youngest and most talented OF member. His disc 'Earl' is hands-down my favorite to come out of this group. Mind-blowingly offensive, but the 'Oldie' track on OF Tape Vol. 2 proves that he can bring the skills even without being gratuitously shocking. I'm excited for his new stuff to come out.
Syd tha Kyd/Matt Martians
I'm not really into The Internet, which is this girl/guy's project, but it's definitely different. Really laid back electro-pop. A lot better than other shit like this that's coming out.
I haven't checked out too much of his solo stuff because I'm not into R and B, but his track 'Pyramids' is pretty goddamn creative for 'mainstream' sounding stuff. Plus, he always brings good choruses to OF tracks.
Then you've got all the members who only really appear on compilation mixtapes...Taco and Jasper are both funny, while not incredibly great rappers. I haven't heard any of Mike G's solo stuff, but his verses on OF tapes are some of my favorites.
THE RAIDER KLAN
These are a bunch of southern kids putting out mixtapes that are directly influenced by the syrup-soaked sound of early 90's southern rap like Three 6 Mafia. I got into that shit a few years back thanks to Twankle and Glisten, and they're pulling it off how it should be done. First of all, there aren't many 'legit' hip hoppers who have a real sense of history, so this is pretty cool. Plus, whereas the originals did lo-fi because they had to, these kids do lo-fi to get a specific sound. To me, that's the exact same thing as Guided By Voices trying to make albums like Beatles bootlegs.
His new album just came out on 4AD, which is kinda weird. I really like his beats...they're creepy and slurry and atmospheric. DJ Paul would be/probably is proud. His rhymes are so-so, REALLY sex-obsessed, which doesn't do it for me, but when he's on point he's great. 'Git Ya Head Bust' is one of the coolest jams to come out. Like Tyler, it's more about the whole thing than just his raps or his beats.
These guys didn't really do it for me. Too sex-heavy, and the beats are too mainstream.
Lil Ugly Mane
What the hell is this dude? I think (?) he's a white guy, and he comes off like some ghetto Leatherface, using the absolute creepiest beats this crew has to offer. He's a pretty good rapper, having mastered the southern 'triplet'-style verse, and he's clever as hell. 'Mista Thug Isolation' is a solid release.
I'm feelin' this guy's stuff. His production is a little more dreamy than SpaceGhost's, and his rhymes aren't quite as sex-obsessed. The mixtapes he's put out are definitely the most 'dirty south' sounding stuff.
Dunno much about the other stuff they're putting out, but it's probably quality. Except A$AP Rocky...didn't get into it...I got more respect for the guys who produce AND rap...Clams Casino's beats are pretty legit, though.
This stuff is pretty weird. Kinda like a slowed-down Antipop Consortium, only this is a comparison they probably wouldn't get pissed at. More 'underground' minded than the previously mentioned stuff. They're signed to SubPop, so that's cool, right? Plus, they got a dude from Digable Planets to work with them.
Straight outta Detroit, land of horrorcore, comes this fucked up fella. A fellow WIDRite put together a mix of his songs, telling me that his albums don't hold up so well, but individual tracks are cool. I don't know, as I've still been digesting his CD, and haven't checked out full-lengths yet. The beats aren't really anything all that new, but his rhymes are refreshingly weird.
This guy was either a No Limit Soldier or a Cash Money Millionaire in the late 90's. Don't care enough to look up which it was. What's important is that now he's doing some really cool shit. This is a little too laid back for some people, but for a dopesmoker like me, it's perfect. Just commercial enough to turn some heads, but the beats he's using are really interesting, and he's developed a rhyme cadence that's half dirty-south, half New York in the early 90's. A really cool mix of flavors. 'Pilot Talk' I and II and 'Weekend at Burnie's' are both really solid...didn't like his recent release 'Stoned Immaculate' as much.
These guys are hilarious. I remember hearing the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell song from a friend a few years back, and thought it was stupid, but they've since proved themselves to be terrific and original MCs. I tried to hate 'Relax' because it's so big-budget sounding, but it's just too awesome.
This guy seems like he took way too much ecstacy. Kinda like he wants to love/sleep with everyone. Not as into it as some of this other stuff, but the 6Kiss mixtape was really cool. His newest 'real' release, 'I'm Gay,' has its moments, but he suffers from the 'not a producer/not the best rapper' thing. I do think his best work is worth checking out, though. The new-age stuff where he's freestyling over ambient background music is really really weird.
This is the drummer from Hella, who is absolutely nuts, with a loud, foul-mouthed rapper who looks like Kimbo Slice. The beats sample everything from Jane's Addiction to Black Flag, to Link Wray's 'Rumble.' It's like punk-rap...kinda...I dunno...whatever it is, it's cool, although 'Ex-Military' is wayyyyy better than their new release 'The Money Store.' New one sounds like they toned it down a bit and didn't use any samples either. Oh well, one amazing album is more than most artists drop these days.
So, all that, coupled with mainstream cats like Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa (who I don't really like, but appreciate what they bring to music) taking their cues from the underground, makes this a pretty exciting time for pop music.
I'm not posting any links because if you just do a little browsing, you should be able to find most of this stuff for free from the artists themselves.