This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ugly Duckling

I think it's easy for people who don't give it an honest chance to misunderstand rap. After all, most of what we're exposed to in casual culture (channel surfing, big city "urban" radio stations, crappy entertainment magazines we flip through in the waiting room while our little brother gets a lubed up beer bottle removed from his anal cavity) usually paints a subculture obsessed with rims, brand-name alcohol, narcotic distribution, dental jewelry, casual misogyny, yadda yadda yadda. I'm not asking people to listen to deep, involved music all the time; shakin' it to Lil' Jon is more fun that words can describe. I just wish there was a sense of fun in rap music that was comparable to the genre's intial offerings. When rap first began to blossom, it was some of the best party music ever made - Afrika Bambataa's shit still sounds alive and captivating. It just seems that the pranksters no longer have a place in rap. Eminem was a step in the right direction, but one self-obsessed honky isn't enough.

I think that's why I took such a liking to Ugly Duckling when I saw them on the Storm Tour a few weeks ago. When they came out looking like three of the biggest dorks of all time (their DJ was in a track suit and a gold braid - what the fuck?), I was seriously unimpressed. They spent the next forty minutes making me a believer. The beats are old-school without being corny - in fact, DJ Young Einstein is a hell of a beatmaker and scratcher, one of the best working today. Dizzy Dustin and Andy Cooper are funny as hell, swapping clever lines and getting the crowd hyped like whoa. It's derivative as all fuck, but it's so much fun you don't care.

Get ahold of their new album, Bang For Your Buck, from which this cut is drawn. It's a hilarious piss-take on humorless rantings by faux thugs and their "gangsta pop ringtone rap." Also, check out the video - it's a low-budget delight.


Blogger AmyMeacham said...

Now THAT rocks! So much of rap/hip-hop reminds me of talk radio, with a guy talking over a boring synth beat. It'd be hard not to move to that! I do agree about the earlier stuff. I also enjoy McCluskey who I thought were hilarious and I'm glad I got to see them at Smith's before they broke up. Rap needs to get more interesting with the beats and have a sense of humour...

8:24 PM

Blogger Matt Ramone said...

When the genre first got started, the DJ was the real attraction. The MC was really just there to keep the crowd hyped if the dude behind the tables started flagging. That's why there's such a tradition of call and response in almost any MC's routine. I think this is why gangsta rap and G-funk was so interesting when it initially blew up - the DJs were all from the old school of beatmaking and knew something about music. Dr. Dre's best stuff is ominous and hard, but it also displays a deep knowledge of song construction. These days, it just sounds like angry guys chanting over a one-note ringtone.

A large percentage of aspiring rappers grew up listening to nothing but rap. It's an incetuous cycle that inevitably reduces the quality of output. There's no aural context, and as a result, a lot of the newer music has been reduced to its most basic and easily imitatable qualities. It's like what happened to punk. The idea that anyone can do it caused EVERYONE to try to do it, regardless of talent, vision, creativity, or charisma. Most lower-level punk bands rail against the government, the "system," and fear money like primitive tribesmen fear lightning - lower-level rappers make up unconvincing and uncreative stories of robberies and property roll calls. Different symptoms, same disease.

Ah crap. I'm gone on a rant again. Dammit!

9:44 PM

Blogger AmyMeacham said...

It's the same with movies, art and most other genres of music. That's why so much of everything is crap. Not everyone has talent and/or is willing to take the time to master their craft and learn from those who went before. But I give IQ tests and I can tell you most people are pretty dumb (sober or drunk) and are easily impressed...
That's one of MY rants...

10:58 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home