Posted by: bkivey | 1 March 2013

What The Freak?

Rap then and now

I like rap music. Or, more accurately, I like rap music from the 80’s and 90’s. Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, Run DMC, LL Cool J, NWA, I was down with them all. The songs were generally well-structured, well-written, had flow, and killer beats. Most music was about life in the ghetto, or the challenges of being Black in a White society. Even so, ‘bitches’, ‘ho’s’, or ‘Franklins’ were rarely mentioned. Some groups, like Public Enemy and NWA, were most definitely in-your-face. Some music was of the ‘rap-battle’ type, where MC’s took pride in cleverness of  phrase and quickness of wit. The rap of this time reminds me somewhat of the movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, where the dialogue is the action.

I rarely have occasion to listen to modern rap; I certainly don’t seek it out. What I do hear comes across as self-indulgent dreck. I don’t think this is entirely a function of age. Let’s look at samples of rap music from then and now.

I’ll be fair, and won’t use Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s The Message as an example of ‘good’ rap. That song is a masterpiece, and stands alone. I’ll use one of my favorite rap (hip hop) songs, King Sun’s It’s A Heat Up (1989):

The King is here, now everybody relax
I’m much greater than a dictator, so I tax
Old and new jacks for tryin to prove that
They can hold grudges, but I remove that
Grudge from your chest, but test the royal highness
You’re insecure and need a blanket like Linus
My security holds impurity
I’m so confident cause I’m sure these
Words are heard throughout the atmosphere
When it’s time to renew it I do it there
Where thoughts are trapped until the moment I tap
Into the wise dome and so roams the rap
Used like a tool to school a young fool
Mention competition, my mission is to ridicule
Anyone who chose to oppose the pro
Here’s some tissue, go blow your nose
And yo, you need experience to be affiliated
Come closer and get cremated
As you burn it’s my turn to speak
Just wait, cause everything you said is weak
It’s about time to hear a brand new rhyme
The new rhyme is mine and it shines
Forever, studyin to be clever
Hook up the wires, I pull the lever
This experiment is under my consent
And any other fake brothers are irrelevant
Stand clear so you can hear the proof
L7/square, I speak the truth
Now you can go and pull the fire alarm
But stick around, I’m just gettin warm

It’s a heat up

(Now that’s a fire) –> Eddie Murphy

You’re still around, watch it get hotter
(Tu necesita fuego?) Nada
The only fire is when I then hold
A clip full of nine millimeter rhymes, then roll
On the block to rock, see a crowd flock
Synchronize, ready, start the clock
Your whole alphabet in four seconds
Now rewind it, play it again and check it
It’s correct, well what do you expect?
My mental capabilities are too high-tech
About to be another old break
That I had to heat up the mic, then I bake
Crew of MC’s, change it and then freeze
To ignite the Fahrenheit, now complete degrees
360 good reasons
I take a walk through hell and start freezin
Everything in sight that I just don’t like
And then watch me come back and heat up the mic

It’s a heat up

(Now that’s a fire)

Call out the big red trucks with the ladders
You’re really sweatin a lot, what’s the matter?
You can’t take the heat which is a rhyme and beat
But acknowledge the heat raisin above the street
The rhyme flows like lava, I’m a volcano
You’re a clogged drain and I’m Drain-O
Before you know it your’e down the drain
Check the temperature, the heat remains
Hot enough to fry an egg on the surface
I go to the extreme and you’re nervous
You go to touch the mic but it melts
Hot peas and butter, I got the belt
Do I hit you, or do I let you slide?
Hm nah, face the raw hide
Feel the pain in the fire and anguish
The everlasting fire will not extinguish
A heat up

Heat ’em up, Louie

It’s a heat up

(Now that’s a fire)

Come, gather around the bonfire
To be immune to the heat it requires
Concentration, deep meditation
Calm cool thought activation
Take a positive rep and let the negative step
From the mind where thoughts are kept
They all ran to see the King fantasy
And every girl wanna be a girlfriend to me
From the Asia to the Mecca
The rhyme is a tool just like Black & Decker
That I use to build a flame
Wild fires burn then meanwhile my name
Appears in smoke to fill the air
Another flash warning: the King is here
Panic is in the streets and on the stages
And if I look into your book I burn pages
All that’s left is ash and debris
Fire department – do your duty
Blaze and amaze and daze and then scorchin
I hope that you recognize the misfortune
Of bein burned by the great old Sun
From 89.6 to 101
Temperature’s risin, the heat is unbearable
When I melt the flesh it looks terrible
You need grafting, or even surgery
Though at one time you never even heard of me
Now you know and all your friends know
Exactly what time it is, so let’s go
I be the one you want me to be
Before you know it I show it in a third degree
Burn, the torch that I hold burns eternal
Now I leave you all in the inferno
Heat Up

It’s a heat up

(Now that’s a fire)

This routine contains extremely flammable lyrics under pressure
Only adjust when the heat is up
Keep away from ( ? )
Do not incinerate and avoid prolonged exposure to Sun

That’s intense, clever, and the language is G-rated. Now let’s look at a similar ‘master MC’ song from contemporary group The Perceptionists. The song is Party Hard (2005):

[Intro – Camu Tao – talking]
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), what up?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), what up?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), let’s go?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready)
Yo, yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), what up?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), what up?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), let’s go?
Yo, yo (y’all ain’t ready), yo, yo

[Verse 1 – Mr. Lif]
I step up in the place with that look on my face
Aww shit, Lif is here and ready to rip
He got the mic on his hip in the holster
Told ya, true motherfuckin rap soldier
Party people in the place, I like to get to know ya
First push up your hands if you’s a weed smoker
Get them cigarettes out of the place
I can’t stand people blowin smoke all up in my face
And now you, tell the party people who you are (wooo!)
(Dude, my name is Chuck and I like to party HARD!) (yeah bro, party man!)
This guy’s one drink away from a spill
(Hey yo, this brother needs some water), play it cool son, chill
Ladies lookin so delicious, I’m vicious
With this mic in my hand, I can grant wishes
Which is your desire, want to hear the hot fire?
I’m not Dylan, this here my song
First of all strike a B-boy stance
And if it’s rough enough, maybe then we can advance
Hey yo Fakts, put the needle on the record with poison
All my peoples in the place just make some noise

[Hook – Camu Tao] – w/ ad libs
Ok, how many people wanna party with me? (what up?)
Yeah, you in the building, you chillin, you illin with me (What up?)
No go to get your tickets, so then get in with me (let’s go)
We keep it bangin, I’m sayin, just dance to the beat (let’s go)

Ok, how many people wanna party with me? (what up?)
Yeah, you in the building, you chillin, you illin with me (What up?)
No go to get your tickets, so then get in with me (let’s go)
We keep it bangin, I’m sayin, just dance to the beat (dance to the beat)

“yo, yo” – repeated in the background throughout the Chorus

[Verse 2 – Guru]
Now why they wanna get me started?
Been doin this since Biz said to “get retarded”
My reputation alone, can get me charted
Now Free Agent makin noise, so they stress me harder
Last year a lot of chicks walked right past me
Quick to hate on a player, tryin to typecast me
Now it’s like ‘hey, I saw your new video’
And I’m like ‘yeah, I’m just passin through,’ silly ho
Can’t believe I got folks so besides themselves
What? Nobody supposed to eat besides themselves
Hope they keep some heat besides themselves
Or keep someone to hold them down, besides themselves
I MC, why you others just rap
And I don’t have to kick imaginary shit, just facts
So knuckle up, cause you could lose it all
I’m like a number one contender, refuse to fall


[Verse 3 – Akrobatik]
In my stance, I’m +Definitively Jux+ to pose
I’m blessed, promoters hittin with me bucks for flows
We the pros, can’t nobody oppose the Black Dialogue
Coverin with my shine, like it’s L.A. by the smog
MC’s I laugh at all
Cause y’all some disappointments (uh), like U.S.A. Basketball
This beat will make me “Zone Out” (zone out) like Salaam Remi
Fuck a VMA, y’all niggas should win Emmy’s
Better acting skills than Demi
Pretty for the camera, but when it’s rhyme time, you ain’t ready
I steady keep ’em comin to the shows in bunches
Hunnies love the belly, so I don’t do crunches (*laughing*)
And even if you got a six pack
When it’s time to bring the chicks back, I bet the one you wanted digs Ak
But let me switch back to humble
And politic with y’all, cause I see the heads are ready to rumble
So pick up your hands with a clenched fist (word)
Wipe your face from the sweat that your body is drenched with
Real go getters, make noise like it’s a riot (what?)
Everybody else just keep the fuck quiet, like


[Outro – Camu Tao – talking]
Let’s go! (*echo*)
What up? (*echo*)
What up? (*echo*)
Let’s go! (*echo*)
What up? (*echo*)

Any MC from back in the day would wipe the floor with these posers.

Great Moments in Public Service

From the official Connecticut DMV site:

AAA Office in Waterbury Relocates to Nearby Location
WETHERSFIELD — The Waterbury AAA Office has moved to a new location at 835 Wolcott St. and has resumed DMV services.
During the move, DMV services were temporary suspended at the Waterbury AAA Office. For more information on DMV offices, please see the list of other DMV service locations.

Maybe they got The Perceptionists to write copy.

The Uncomfortable Comfort Zone

There’s an organization called ‘Dirty Girl‘ that stages 5K muddy obstacle courses for women. What struck me was this sentence from the homepage:

It is an untimed obstacle course designed to push you slightly out of your comfort zone, but only as far as you are comfortable going.

The whole point of pushing yourself; personally, professionally, or athletically, is to get out of your comfort zone. That’s where improvement happens. If you’re comfortable, you are, by definition, not out of your comfort zone.

Done With February

The shortest, and in many parts of the world, nastiest month is over with. In this neck of the woods we gain about 3 hours of daylight over the month; a significant change. Although there are months of grey skies ahead, it feels like winter is giving way. That perception is helped by the fact that we’ve only had a couple of snow flurries, and not really that much rain. There have even been a few sunny days in the mix. I’d like to say that the worst of the winter is behind us, but I’m mindful that we had several snowfalls last March.

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