The Grammys + a rant against modern rappers

I Love Rap

I love music, but TODAY’S music mostly leaves me cold. And not just the music, the artists themselves feel like used car salesman  They only want to sell me their product, not actually entertain me with a good song. And the s**t that goes on the radio is 90% crap.

Now, I realize I sound like an old man, but you can’t tell me that vintage Van Halen, Motley Crue, Run-DMC and Beastie Boys aren’t better than anything else out right now.  Plus, there really isn’t any “rock and roll” on the radio anymore. It’s all R&B riffs and hip hop filled with astonishingly not subtle euphemisms for sex.  And as a rap/hip-hop fan since the early-to-mid 80s, I will unequivocally say that today’s rappers are f**king terrible.  Can I get that off my chest?  TERRIBLE.  Lil Wayne may be the worst rapper I’ve heard in my entire life and the 80s were filled with bad rappers (I’m looking at you Tim Dog).  And don’t get me started on Drake, or Kanye West, for that matter.  That could be a whole other article.

And how unoriginal are all of these modern rap songs?  Where are all the storytellers in hip-hop?  The Slick Ricks, the Rakims, the KRS-Ones, the Chuck Ds?  There is no one of their skill rapping today.  Check out this video from 1991, The Piper by MC Cheba.  It’s better than literally 99% of hip-hop released today.  It tells a story with a very smooth and slick rhyme and a funky bass line   He’s not spending the entire song telling me how much weed he smoked or chicks he’s banged or how much  money he has.  Which I don’t personally have a problem with rappers doing, but it gets OLD after 300 rappers talk about it on all their songs.  Another good story based rap, The Mission by Special Ed.

But I’ve digressed…

Now that this article was high jacked by my rant against modern rappers, let me try to steer this ship back on course.  The Grammys.

Grammys

For the reasons above, I’ve sort of become jaded with the music industry in general.  However, did anyone else watch the Grammys? I didn’t.  I haven’t watched it in YEARS, but my wife DVR’d it and I wound up watching it with her a few days ago.  Wow, I really liked the new format where they mashed up artists into different performances.  For the first time in a LOOOOOONG time I felt like the artists were actually on stage having fun performing and not just doing it as a commercial for their song.

The highlight of the night, for me, was probably the closing number with LL Cool J performing his new song with CHUCK muthaf**king D!  Chuck is 50+ years old and still gets after it better than any other rapper on the radio (however Cool J should have given him more to do than yell the hook).  Cool J was also joined by Travis Barker from Blink-182 and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.  It’s actually a pretty great song.

Here’s the performance.  If you want to hear the actual single, listen here.

And how cool was it that Cool J gave a shout out to MCA, the recently deceased member of the Beastie Boys?  Cool J got his start around the same time as the Beastie Boys on Def Jam records.  You can see them together in the movie Krush Groove.  I’m surprised they never collaborated, to be honest.

Anyway, while Cool J was the highlight, there were several performances that totally surprised me in how much I enjoyed them. Here are a few of them.

This was a memorial tribute to Levon Helm, the deceased drummer of The Band. This group probably had the least star power of any of the other performances, but damn, it might be the best performed song on the whole broadcast. Elton John, Zac Brown, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons and Alabama Shakes singer Britney Howard brought the house down with an awesome performance of “The Weight”. This was definitely an eclectic collection of talent but the end result was bonkers it was so good. I’ve actually been looking up Zac Brown and Alabama Shakes songs on YouTube because of this.  And this performance in particular is the blueprint for why this new “mash up” format works.

Bruno Mars’ performance was fantastic.  He normally does, but he looks like he’s having so much fun.  And then Sting comes out and does his thing, then out comes Rhianna and the Marley brothers for a tribute to Bob Marley and it just looks like everyone is happy and really enjoying the performance.  I know I was.

I was vaguely aware of The Lumineers and this song before the Grammys.  They won me over with this performance.  I really liked it.

Jack White.  What can I say about Jack White?  He’s an awesome guitar player.  And whatever he does is definitely interesting.  I enjoyed the first part of this song when he sings with his all-female band The Peacocks, but when he switched over to playing with The Buzzards, he shredded the place. The video only contains the second song, Freedom at 21. I couldn’t find the complete performance.

Those are some of my favorite performances from that night. I have to say, I am disappointed with Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z’s new song, Suit & Tie. Should have been a lot better than that considering the talent involved. That aside, I really enjoyed this year’s Grammys and I will probably check it out again next year. Hopefully they’ll keep the mash up performances as they were the highlight this year.

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8 Responses to “The Grammys + a rant against modern rappers”

  1. I agree with what you say…a lot of Rap is “Bleeeeep” and I love the Grammys this year and didnt feel I was suffering through it…I was ACTUALLY entertained….. Whats your thought on the up and comer Mackelmore who did the rap “Thrift Shop” ..first time I have heard him myself..he looks promising. Great post!

  2. Preach it.

    The first cassette I ever bought was Run DMC’s Raisin’ Hell. I loved rap and hip hop back in the day. But when nirvana and the grunge movement came on the early 90s and crap like puff daddy dominated hip hop in the mid 90s, my musical taste shifted and now lives on alternative music.

    Two years ago when the Grammy’s nominated cee lo Green’s song “f*** you” for record and song of the year, that was the final nail in my Grammy coffin. Props to them for what appears to be an entertaining show but I’ll never watch the show live again. If they ever separated the awards ceremony from the concert performances, I might watch again.

    Really glad they invited more classic artists back for the site and got away from hip hop and pop crap that has dominated the show for a decade.

  3. Old man! Nah–I don’t even bother with the radio anymore. I listen to what I want on Pandora (which is great way to discover new artists) or listen to a mix on XM–I can listen to the classics if I feel like it, 90s grunge, or a mix of newer and older stuff. I can’t even remember the last time I turned on FM (except for the 2 seconds before I slam off my alarm in the morning).

    I missed the Grammys and by the time I realized they were on I couldn’t watch because we had two shows taping. I do adore The Lumineers and was a bit bummed that they didn’t take home best new artist (I like Alabama Shakes, too). Lumineers’ album is a bit strange the first listen but it really creeps on you. I hope you’ll listen to more of them!

    And Jack White. Yes. Absolutely.

  4. I mostly agree with what you’re saying, but I don’t think you’re listening to the “right” rap. There still is a lot of good rap out there, you just have to search for it. Example: Kendrick Lamar. Shabbazz Palaces…and a little on the rough edges (okay, a lot) Death Grips. Personally, I go to Pitchfork to get my recommendations. I don’t agree with everything, but there still is good rap out there.

  5. I’m not ready to swear off all modern rap–like Bryan pointed out, good rap is still out there–but I do agree there’s more “crap” out there nowadays flooding the airwaves and internets so it’s harder to find. Don’t forget, too, that some of those rappers you mentioned are still around, releasing great albums that fly under the radar.

    Modern radio/the media is just a celebrity mill that celebrates mediocrity and cranks out new “stars” everyday, forgets about ’em, and moves on to the next Souljaboy waiting in the wings. And when one of them does happen to have actual talent, we all marvel at it like it’s so amazing and unbelievable because nobody even expects entertainers to be talented anymore. It’s sad.

    • Yeah, it came off like I hate ALL modern rap, which isn’t true. Just 90-95% of it. Especially the sh*t on the radio. You can find good stuff if you look. LL Cool J, whenever the Beastie Boys put out an album, Rev Run (of Run-DMC) will put stuff out every once in a while. But really, not much NEW talent is coming out that I enjoy. Tech N9ne is a more modern rapper I enjoy, but he’s not NEW, per se.

      I came off a lot harsher than I intended, but I still stand by that the majority of new rap is terrible. Especially on the radio.

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