Me and my lil' bro were talking Hiphop. He's been raised on it, and has a pretty good ear for the culture. We started to discuss Jay-Z impact on the game. While Hov is the poster boy for Hate, the man has distinguished himself as one of the All-Time-Greats. Some have their criticisms, I don't even consider myself a rabid Jay-Z fan, but I know a great record when I hear one...
This record just ended the careers of a million wanna-be-rap-fakers, and I ain't even mad at that. This record is a cautionary tale for those who are using technology to compensate for a total disregard of craftsmanship, and sometimes talent.
See, those like me who have been raised on Soul Food like Rakim, KRS-One, Wu-Tang, Notorious, Pac, Big Pun, J-Dilla, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, N.W.A., D.O.C., Pastor Troy, Outkast, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, Above The Law, Geto Boys, Scarface, U.G.K., 8-Ball & MJG, Slick Rick, Run DMC, Bo$, Suave House, 3-6 Mafia, Hot Boyz (when Wayne & Turk were good, and "Weezy" knew his fucking place), Juvenile, Poison Clan, I could go on forever. These people did THEM. Every one of these acts are different, but each one of 'em kept it 100, as we say now, and I'm just not seeing that out of many artists now. Rhymefest, P.O.S., B.O.B., Kid Cudi, Wale... I see that in them, but they are a part of a precious few. I'm sure there's a few more, and hopefully I'll find them, but they are buried in a din of shit. I have 7 pages of friend requests from bands on MySpace that I just refuse to accept until I at least give a cursory listen to their tracks. I'm just not in the mood to support bullshit.
(I didn't include Jeezy because sometimes his subject matter is something I find objectionable, and too many follow his example, but he's doing him. Him and Gucci need to get off that beef shit before somebody catch a toe-tag, and best believe in ATL it can happen. That place is every bit the treachery that is Duval, and that means the weapon of choice is the chopper. Only takes one round to send you to the Level 3 Trauma center and you become an episode of "ER".)
But I'm off-topic. The Death we should be talking about here is AutoTune. The reason I'm making a big deal about this is that a local artist put up a link to check out and support their song. I consider myself a fan of this artist's work, so I went to check it.
Wow. It was such a departure from what I had previously heard from them, it just threw me. I'm all about growth, but not about regression. I don't want to call anybody out, but truthfully, once Jay dropped this, HE called them out. He went on Hot 97 with Funk Flex and Mister Cee (more on that later) to expounded on it further. He said that he liked what Kanye did with "Heartless" (as do I) and he said that T-Pain comes up with some strong melodies that probably would stand on their own without the AutoTune (I can agree there, some people are good at writing pop hooks, a la Nate Dogg, and T-Pain is pretty much the Down-South Nate-Dogg Pied-Piper of AutoTune), but too many people nowadays are using it as a crutch. If you're an artist, writing melodies and lyrics, start there. Listen to the great hooks of years ago, find out why they are as infectious as they are. WORK ON YOUR CRAFT!! If you love your music, act like it by making it better! If you respect this culture, put something out that moves us to the next. It's like being a pro quarterback. You don't aim for where the receiver is, you aim for where he's going to be, you lead him to where you want him. If you aim for where he's at, he's going to have to reach back to catch the ball.
It's time to move on. Artists, unless you're paying homage to the originators like Lil' Kim did with "Download" (but for real, pump ya' brakes on the plastic surgery, Ma. Fo'real fo'real...), no more autotune. Every time you THINK about auto-tune, you go back and listen to this song. "Only rapper to rewrite history without a pen, NoID on the track, let the story begin... begin." Did you catch the intro to the 2nd verse where he says "This ain't a #1 record/This is practically assault with a deadly weapon/I made this for Flex and/Mister Cee, I want people to feel threatened..." The man practically told y'all "This is an underground record, strictly for the headz, the ones who know the real... the auto-tune crowd won't feel this." I'm like "Whoa." Jay-Z is seriously a living Icon in this game now. He can speak and turn the whole culture back into what it's supposed to be, that boom-bap... He went and got NoID, one of Chi-Town's great producers and made a beat that's just cerebal pal-sick. And he deaded the dreaded Auto-Tune for anybody that wants to be relevant.
As a true HipHop Head, I'm feeling the kcuf outta that... Pause.
-ere'bodee's favorite mega, blogninja
Auto-Tune is the 21st Century equivalent of the Jheri Curl. And I never wore a Jheri Curl.