Someone's wacky record collection!
An actual ad in the London Times
A tall well-built woman with good
reputation, who can cook frogs
legs, who appreciates a good fuc-
schia garden, classic music and tal-
king without getting too serious
But please only read lines 1,3 and 5.
Funny comics utilizing toy figurines.
My advice to Nas, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Eminem, and all of the Wu-Tang Clan: Step your game up. Here's my open letter to them.
Jay, let me be blunt: you're nowhere near my favorite rapper. That said, I like you. I own a couple of your albums and unlike a lot of "underground" hip-hop fans, I can't front: you have major skills. Specifically you have a gifted lyrical ability and a unique flow. More importantly, however, you have the spotlight of rap on you. Despite the fact that you're not the best in this game you are owning it right now and have been for a few years. That hasn't stopped you from releasing some real garbage. Step your game up, buddy. I've heard some real bangers, and not just from your first albums but from your latest. "U Don't Know", "Renegade", "Song Cry", these are all great songs. This is what you need to be concentrating on. Don't worry about the radio, you have that locked down. You could release nursery rhymes like Nelly and still have them blow up. You say that two of your favorite emcees are Common and Talib Kweli, and that you're a fan of The Roots. If this is true then act like it. I'm not asking you to change your whole "act" (and it is an act, admit it). I'm not asking you to act like you're an unsigned talent. I'm not asking you to be some kind of savior to hip-hop. I'm asking you to take some responsibility and to prove your love for this music. If you really have hip-hop pumping through your veins then support it, don't disrespect it by abusing your spotlight and neglecting the talent you've proven you possess. Stop writing the same songs over and over. When Blueprint 2: The Gift And The Curse drops this November I want you to show everyone that a radio jam doesn't have to be an insult to real fans of hip-hop.
Mos, one of my absolute favorites in this game. Step your game up. You need to release another classic album, I'm sorry. I know you're not in charge of when your albums drop (I'm quite familiar with your label woes) but we hip-hop fans are counting on you to "Change The Game". I know you like acting, I know you're good at it, and I know you've been acting for practically as long as long as you've been emceeing. You don't need to defend yourself. You've been in some great movies like Bamboozled and Monsters' Ball. But stop taking bit parts in stupid movies just to build your acting career. This would be fine if you were just an actor (actors have to build up their resumés before they get bigger parts), but as we all know you're multi-talented and most of your fans appreciate you foremost as a rapper. You've been neglecting your duties lately. I liked "Freak Daddy", "Jam On It", and the song with Prefuse 73 and Diverse but they could have been so much more. I can't even count how many classic songs you've put out. You are just "that good". But you haven't put anything mindblowing out in some time now. Your solo album dropped in 1999. I don't know if you have a second one in the can or not, but you need to reaffirm your status as the kind of underground hip-hop because some of us are starting to worry about you. Instead of investing yourself halfheartedly in ten different things you should concentrate on making an album even better than Black On Both Sides and Black Star. After that you can continue your road to acting stardom. Believe it or not, you have a lot of people watching you right now. Not only have you gained a lot of notortiety in your movie, television, and Broadway roles, you've quietly gained a massive following through your music. Just about everyone who listens to current music knows who you are. This is your moment. We all want new music from you. Though you've released some lackluster material in the last couple years, you've also released some of your best work. You're an even better emcee than you were in 1998 and 1999. I have no doubt that you could make the best hip-hop album ever if you just concentrated on it. This includes your Black Jack Johnson album. I really admire what you're trying to do and I see a lot of great potential. I also see that potential squandered by relying too much on old hat. You say you want to do the job that white rock/rap acts like Limp Bizkit aren't capable of doing. Fair enough, I think you're right for the job. You obviously love all types of music and have an appreciation for rock in particular. I think you're a great singer. Yet when I hear you use some of the most talented living African-American rock musicians to rehash a rock version of the Batman TV theme I'm filled with disgust. I also think you can do a lot better than "War". "Ghetto" is the only good song out of the present bunch. With that band behind you you should not be up on stage belting out Bob Marley covers. Spend some real time with them and make something groundbreaking. Same goes for spending time with yourself and coming up with solo material that will change hip-hop as we know it. I know it's in you. Keep up the good fight.
Nas, what can I say to a man who showed so much potential so early and then took a massive drop in creativity? I'd say the fame you achieved with your first album ruined you, but I won't get into it because it's nothing that a hundred or more reviews haven't told you already. To get down to brass tacks, Stillmatic is very promising. It's not a complete return to form but it marks your best effort since becoming a star. Keep looking inside yourself for your material, that's what made your early lyrics so powerful. Stop following trends, following the media, following what your peers say. Trust your head alone. I know you realize there's a poison going on in hip-hop. I know you're doing your best to disassociate yourself with that. You talk big, and you're beginning to back it up, but you need to not falter, not contradict yourself. QB's Finest, "Braveheart Party", Murder Inc., these are contradictions. Most of the material on your latest album shows a lot of creativity and thought. I don't think you're out of line writing about politics even if you're not Bono. I think you're being honest with how you feel about the rest of the world and I respect you for that. But you're making things worse when you keep contradicting yourself. "One Mic" is one of my favorite songs on the album; also very good is "Rewind". You did some very interesting things in these songs with your vocals and lyrics, respectively. That said, it's the same old murder stories! Don't front like you're out there shooting people when we know you're not. I know "Rewind" is a story but if you're waxing poetic in interviews about taking back hip-hop from the barbaric and vile state it's in, can't you find something else to talk about besides killing someone? Same with "One Mic", do you have to preach violence? Sure, I love gangster and horror film as much as the next guy. It's fun to step outside yourself and enter the mind of a criminal or a madman. But I think you do way too much "entertaining" with your music and not enough mindblowing. Change topics already! On that note, you don't need to spend half of your album talking about how great you are. Let your songs say that.
Eminem, it's hard to find the words to say to you. You're one of my favorite emcees. At the same time you disappoint me more than almost all the others. You are quite possibly the most gifted rapper on the planet. It's an impressive feat that you've been able to achieve such universal popularity without dumbing down your rapping abilities. Your flow gets better and better every year. No one has ever spit like you spit on The Eminem Show. But to me it seems like your power is too much for you. You're like a little kid with a bazooka. Because your awesome powers as a rapper are so unwieldy, combined possibly with a wrongheaded approach to being famous, you've done some really foolish things on your last two albums. First, like Nas, you're way too concerned with how people perceive you. Like I said to him, change topics. You're a great comedic storyteller, I don't think you'd be better off writing lyrics like Mos Def or Gift Of Gab. If you want to talk about drugs and sex, be our guest. We'd rather hear about it from you than just about anyone else. You make us laugh. What we don't need is three-quarters of an album about how much you're being scrutinized by the media, the government, and by fans like me. Also, a friend of mine raises a good question: Why don't you use your albums to expose relative unknowns to your massive audience? Signing D12, 50 Cent, and Obie Trice has been good, but with all your peers in the "underground" scene, shouldn't you be helping them out by putting them on a song? I understand you like your albums to be 90% you, but the few guests you have are people who are already multi-millionaires. You of all people know that the best lyricists aren't the big stars. I can't imagine that your list is really "Jay-Z, Tupac and Biggie / Andre from OutKast, Jada, Kurupt, Nas and then me." You admit to being in tune to the underground still so why not put cats on who have put you on when you were an upstart? Don't be ungrateful. I don't know if you look at the present state of mainstream hip-hop the same way I do or not, but if you do then you should take some responsibility and introduce those talented emcees to your audience and hopefully we can bring back hip-hop to its true essence.
To the Wu, there're so many of you, I'm
not going to go into specifics. Just step your game up. I don't know if
you're on the verge of breaking up or not but stop embarassing yourselves
and your fans. If you need to take off three years between albums in order
not to release lackluster material, fine, but don't keep pumping out garbage.
I can't believe that between the nine or ten of you you can't put out a
decent album. By the way I loved Wu-Tang Forever, I think that was
lyrically and musically the apex of the group's career. People just dis
that album because they hate change and the debut album was such a big
part of their lives. That's just sour grapes. But you really have let down
everyone with the last album and most of the third album. And RZA, don't
change your production style, be yourself, not Dr. Dre!
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