Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rap [Names] is Outta Control, Part 2

A few years ago I devoted a blog post to a couple of rappers who I thought lacked creativity when it came to his or her stage name.

It was just a spur of the moment kind of thing, and I figured it would be a one-time post and that would be it.

But lately -- and by lately I mean ever since I published that initial post in 2008 -- I've been noticing rappers having crazier and weirder names, each one outdoing the other when it comes to a lack of creative thought.

I never expected this topic to grow into an all-out, neverending episodic series showcasing the most ridiculous rap names, as it is poised to become.

Long gone are the days of having the block bestow you with a name that sticks with you for the duration of your career.

Instead, they've been replaced with names like Louisiana Ca$h, the rapper featured in this particular instance:

This name didn't catch me as off guard as I was when I heard the name Harlem's Cash**. However, this name was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Although these are the only two instances I know of a rapper using Cash as a surname (Johnny Cash probably rolled his eyes in his grave when he heard about these names), enough is enough!

It is neither creative nor imaginative, not to mention neither rapper probably has any real cash to speak of in the first place.

Some quick research uncovered that Louisiana Cash has been on his grind for a minute, apparently signing to Battery Records less than two years ago despite the record label's Web site's mysterious omission of the rapper's name from its roster of artists.

A newswire service even issued press release in 2009 that ambitiously declared 2010 would be Louisiana Cash's year to "break out".

Whatever the case is regarding the current status of his career, I just saw his video on MTV Jams so I guess he's doing something right.

**Harlem's Cash is, ironically, kind of a dope rapper. I had ignored him for a long time based on the facts that 1) I'm from Harlem and never heard of him, and 2) his name is a complete and utter deterrence on every level. Had it not been for him rocking over a hot 9th Wonder beat I would have continued to ignore him. I can't vouch for the rest of his material, but his 16 on the song in question showed me he could at least hold his own when it came to rhyming.

Pharrell Called Racist After Vegas Performance

N*E*R*D performed in Las Vegas this past Monday and apparently left at least one fan in attendance questioning if Pharrell was an anti-Semite.

Of course it was all captured on video -- albeit with grainy footage shot from quite a distance.

But the audio is crystal clear, and Pharrell can be heard during a break between songs encouraging the crowd to become "one big, giant German mosh pit."

And although the audience sounds as if they're in full support, a fan standing in front of the cameraman wonders aloud about Pharrell's curiously-phrased plea, asking "what the fuck?"

While all of this is happening, Pharrell, as seen on stage through the low-quality lens of what is probably a fan's BlackBerry, is purportedly proudly raising and extending his arm in a Nazi symbol. Here is the video in question:

But somehow the crowd is still cheering? For a Nazi symbol thrown up by Pharrell? Even though the concert is in Vegas, which features the "fastest growing Jewish population in North America"? Something just doesn't add up here.

And it's not like Pharrell pulled a Prince Harry, or even a Mel Gibson.

TMZ [and its Jewish founder Harvey Levin] is currently fanning the flames by intentionally directing readers to video footage from a separate live event from two years earlier (while claiming it was from this week's Vegas show) in which Pharrell is "goosestepping," which, as defined, is a "marching step performed in formal military parades and other ceremonies," and not exclusive to the anti-Semitic movement.

Just a few years ago Pharrell was photographed by TMZ (!!) while happily participating in the celebration of an Orthodox Jew wedding. Now all of a sudden he hates Jews?

If anybody has ever seen a N*E*R*D performance then it's obvious that the hand signal used by Pharrell was nothing more than the omnipresent Star Trek Vulcan sign, which N*E*R*D and the Neptunes have since adopted as their own.

And yes, Pharrell has been seen on stage slam dancing like a maniac with his arms and legs swinging wildly -- a dance style that is oftentimes associated with Skinheads and Neo-Nazis. But it's also the preferred style of dance when it comes to mosh pits. The same mosh pit that Pharrell encouraged the audience to participate in.

But Romper Stomper this is not. Pharrell was simply trying to stimulate crowd participation, a crucial element for any live performance.

The "soldier" remark was nothing but a reference to N*E*R*D's song of the same name, which is as close to a speed metal song as they've ever made. And, of course, speed metal is the music genre of choice for the Neo-Nazi movement.

The casual eye is susceptible to seeing things through a blurry lens, and this particular instance is no exception.

The truth of the matter is that it would have been literally impossible for Pharrell and his career to enjoy such a high level of success without the help and support of the many powerful Jewish people behind the scenes in the entertainment industry.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bronx Keeps Creating It!

These now classic lyrics first rapped by KRS-One almost a quarter of a century ago have never been more timely.

The Bronx -- also and best known as the birthplace of Hiphop -- in the past few years has made a serious resurgence with new, talented rappers seemingly coming out of nowhere, contributing some high quality beats and rhymes that should not be overlooked.

But while there's enough food in the kitchen for everybody to eat, three Bronx-bred pioneering Hiphoppers in particular want their borough (and the rest of the world) to know that they are still ready, willing and quite able to make the same type of music that once had them at the top of everybody's list of favorite rappers.

A rapper-producer when he first teamed up with AG in 1992, Showbiz put down the mic in 1995 in favor of personifying the Bronx in his music, churning out under appreciated dark and gritty street beats on a regular basis ever since.

So it's only right that he return to the forefront by teaming up with KRS-One for their Godsville album, an outlet that provides each of them a chance to rekindle the flames and chemistry of their past work together as well as create a full length album in the same vein of those collaboration albums that have been finding more and more popularity in and interest from the Hiphop community.

Several songs from the upcoming digital-only release have "leaked" online, providing a glimpse into what to expect from this unlikely duo's album, and so far the results are nothing short of dope.

Check out Improve Myself, which showcases Showbiz's signature steady drums under some muted, regal-sounding horns, all with KRS flowing about the need to stay improving oneself in a variety of ways, but especially when it comes to the music:

And KRS, fresh off last year's release of both an LP and an EP, continues to verbally assault the world and in the process cement his reputation of being the hardest working rapper alive.

But anytime Showbiz's name is mentioned, his main rhyming partner AG is bound to come up in conversation. And this time is no different.

AG has been busy juggling multiple independent musical endeavors, with last year seeing the release of three projects in particular that helped to reestablish him as one of the best, most sincere lyricists that Hiphop has ever had.

First there was the unexpected Everything's Berri album; then the J Dilla tribute mixtape; and finally, this past December there was the Thriller 2 mixtape with 950Plus, on which AG the soloist teamed up with two fellow Bronx rappers and returned to the form that won listeners over on his debut album more than a decade ago.

And now, as if he hasn't been busy enough, he's back with yet another full length album, Berri TV, due out at some point this month.

(Editor's note: From what I can garner from innumerable listens, the word "berri" is a positive term in AG's parlance. I'm not sure of its derivation or origin, but all indications are that it means something good.)

Here is the album's first single. Enjoy.