Monday, November 19, 2007

in defense of artists you hate excercise in looking on the bright side of things. "You" may not personally hate the following popular artists, but a lot of people right now do, sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes for stupid ones.

1. Gym Class Heroes. Travis isn't an abysmally bad rapper; he's a thoroughly mediocre one. This band is what happens when you take any by-the-books indie rapper from any city in the country and make him famous. He reminds me of Mike Shinoda in that respect-- not WACK, just really boring and derivative. I'd always wondered what would happen if you took a band like Linkin Park or GCH and gave them a really talented, interesting rapper, like a Carnage or Rhymefest or Joell Ortiz or Qwel or whomever. Anyways, this is a post in DEFENSE of acts like this, so i'll just say this: Travis may not be a great technical emcee, but he can write songs. Well, he or whoever writes their songs can write songs. That whole album has a good vibe and is really listenable. May get some flack for this, but i want to see MORE pop sensibilities in underground hip hop. I LIKE singy hooks. Sue me, but i'd rather listen to this, on most days, than the latest Molemen compilation or NYC mixtape rapper messiah.

2. Fallout Boy. I like this band. I know they're the absolute devil incarnate to a lot of people out there, but i never understood the hate. They write solid songs with lyrics that, while not always "deep" or thought-provoking, are at least original compared to the boring garbage most indie-bands, r&b singers, pop artists and pretty much everyone write. The singer has a distinct, powerful voice, and the band as a whole seems like they're at least TRYING to make memorable music. Apparently the bass player is a jackass, but is that any real reason to hate their music? Prince is a jackass too, but you can bet i'm listening to "Nothing Compares 2U" as we speak.

3. Lupe Fiasco. So the guy never listened to Midnight Marauders and flubbed half a bar of a Tribe song on TV and then came out swinging rather than apologizing and his new album sounds like a mess and his two singles released so far have been unintelligible gibberish over wack beats... hey, at least "Kick, Push" was a great song. Just kidding. I still like Lupe. I admire his commitment to artistry-- the new album DOES sound like a mess, but it sounds like a mess he fully intended to make and will stand behind no matter what. And he's still one of the most talented emcees making noise today, when he wants to be. Remember "Steady Mobbin'?" That was a great song too. I just hope he writes some solid songs on this new album rather than rapping about nothing in a really fancy way. I don't know if he's trying to appeal to the indie kids with that "headless-eyeless-brainless-iris" nonsense or if he genuinely just enjoys being weird, but it gets old fast.

4. Slug. Some will say he's a one-trick pony. Some will say he used to be dope but fell off. Some will say his fans are annoying and are killing hip hop. Some will say he's just wack, period. But i like Slug. I think it's beautiful how he developed his own style and stuck to it through the years, even if its not always my cup of tea (i'm not a huge fan of Slug the Lyricist, moreso Slug the Performer). I think i like every new Atmosphere release a little more than the one that came before, and that's rare in music, especially hip hop. He's become an icon, and rather than destroying him or making him lazy, it's made him attempt to solidify his iconic style. I think that there's something to be said for NOT trying to be all things to all people, as so many emcees try to do. Slug has his niche and he's thriving in it. Also, in a critical landscape where we elevate TI and Lil' Wayne to legendary status because of their swagger, i think Slug should be in that conversation as well.

5. MIA. I've heard a lot of people in the past few months talking shit about MIA because "she can't rap." As if that were her appeal. That's like hating on Chuck D because he doesn't use enough multisyllable rhymes or hating on Lily Allen because she can't sing like Aretha. While i wouldn't really call myself a fan of MIA (i don't own any of her albums), i do like what i've heard, and can't help but think that this is what music will sound like with more regularity in the near future. Some of the credit has to go to the producers, but she's doing a lot of it herself too. And while she may not get the Rakim award this or any year, she knows what she's doing with her voice and lyrics, and it's effective.

Stay tuned for "Hating on Artists You Love," the much more interesting sequel to this post, coming soon...

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