In which Bwog Music Critic Bryan Mochizuki reads the Grammy Noms, witholds a Corinne Bailey Rae tirade, and gets down to business with this week’s new MP3’s.
The Grammy nominees were announced yesterday, and they’re worse than usual. Like a lot of people, I watch the Grammys because I want to believe in them – I know that 80 percent of the nominees shouldn’t be there, but that there’s usually one who should, and who would probably win against any pool. For example, “What You Know” is in the Best Solo Rap category against two mediocre radio smashes: one obscure Mos Def song, and Lupe’s “Kick, Push,” a very good song, but without a chance against“What You Know” or any of the other big singles out of the South this year. So I’ll watch, but only with the hope that “What You Know” wins and the Grammys somehow find a way to select the best rap single of the year. Also, in this case it’ll be great because when “What You Know” DOES win and they play DJ Toomp’s still-mind-numbing beat, they’re gonna have a shot of Yung Joc going ape-shit in the crowd.
On that note…
This beat doesn’t hit with the same immediacy as “What You Know,” but Toomp still goes jugular-hunting with the guitar on the chorus. The Inspiration’s shaping up as the underdog best rap album of the fourth quarter. Jeezy’s still not Atlanta’s Walt Whitman, nor does he try to be – he sticks to whip-appeal beats and short verses to showcase his strengths (presence, charisma, rhyming things with “Louis”). So while every other big release of the season seems to be overthinking itself (see: Kingdom Come), everything that’s leaked off The Inspiration is pure entertainment. And what about that T.I.? Is he not leading the stats of the National Rap League? Best selling album of the year – check. Dopest cross-over EVER – check. Plus he’s going all Norah Jones ‘03 on the awards shows and he’s decided to start coming hard again after a temporary reprieve on King. I just submitted this photo of him for the Time Person of the Year billboard, I suggest you do the same. It’s a movement people.
Wouldn’t it be great to get excited again about a Nas album? I thought this one was gonna break the cycle when Jay-Z signed him…and then they announced the title. Hip Hop Is Dead? Are you serious? This from a man who was supposed to be the messiah, but who only gave us Illmatic and sporadic moments of over-pondered genius since. This would be like if Stephon Marbury said “Basketball is dead” (or rather, “the Knicks are dead”) – dude, you were supposed to save it (them). This song is half-way decent, but it’s more or less a straight rip of Blackstar’s two best tracks (“Respiration” and “Thieves In The Night”). Although this seems to be the goal – when Nas isn’t Monday morning quarterbacking on this album, he’s trying to recapture moments when hip hop was, to him, still “alive.” This is his identity now: bitching and playing dress-up. He’s remarkably good at both. I’m with Jeezy on this one.
Speaking of beefing, Lil Wayne took pot-shots at both Jay-Z and Clipse earlier this week. As long as things don’t get violent, nothing bad can really come of this. Jay-Z could come out of hibernation finally, or Clipse could really put all that fire towards something besides self-loathing and hating Jive. Or – most likely, if this all plays out – Lil’ Wayne will finally be able to prove that he’s the greatest rapper alive. I’m saying it. He went places on Carter II that no rapper has gone before (see: “Tha Mobb”, “Fly In”, “Hustler Muzik”) and even before that people were saying the only person who could touch him was Jay-Z. This track comes off his new mixtape that he put up for free online. It’s pretty far from his usual flow, but that’s the magic. Wayne’s suiting up for war and simultaneously creating this goofy new persona that’s still as effortless and ingenius as any of his other ten faces. Listen to how he rides the beat around :19. Another biggie from this tape: “Amen,” which goes from freestyle to prayer/eulogy for Katrina and back. Tough stuff.