Here at The BoomBox, we love us some hip-hop. We love it like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake do. But sometimes, it drives us crazy -- cray, even. Let's face it, being a fan of this music means putting up with a lot of BS, and we're not even talking about the violent, profane, materialistic lyrics and lack of "proper singing" and live instrumentation that genre haters -- read: our parents -- have been spouting off about since the '80s. We're more or less down with all of those things, but we do have a list of beefs.
What follows are the nine things we find most annoying about hip-hop. Why only nine? To paraphrase Chris Rock's classic 'Nat X' sketches on 'SNL,' the Man wouldn't let us have 10. None of these grievances are going to make us trade in our dookie chains or stop reading rap blogs in hopes of discovering the next killer MC or must-have mixtape, but if hip-hop has taught us one thing, it's that we should speak our minds. On that note, let us clear our throats.
9. Release Delays
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The next time a rapper begins a sentence with, "My album drops ..." feel free to start compiling your grocery list or thinking about what you might wear to work tomorrow. Anticipation is a wonderful thing, but release dates have become virtually meaningless. Take two of last year's bigger records: Young Jeezy
's 'TM103: Hustlerz Ambition,' an album that was originally supposed to come out in 2009, and J. Cole
's 'Cole World: The Sideline Story,' which emerged some two years after the North Carolina rhymer inked with Roc Nation. And then there's Dr. Dre
's 'Detox,' a record we'll probably buy with social security money.
8. Convoluted Album Titles
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Want to make your record title sound extra important? Throw in a colon, subtitle and-or acronym. Recent examples include Game
's 'The R.E.D. Album' -- it stands for re-dedication -- Fabolous
' 'There Is No Competition: The Funeral Service,' Kid Cudi
's 'Man on the Moon: End of Day' and of course, Big Boi
's 'Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.' That last one may have been a goof. Another option is to tack on a numeral -- preferably Roman -- and declare your latest work a sequel to a previous one. Check out Lil Wayne
's 'Tha Carter' series, Jay-Z
's 'Blueprint' trilogy and Jeezy
's aforementioned 'Thug Motivation' chronicles. The grand prize goes to Busta Rhymes
, who's getting ready to drop -- and we kid you not -- 'E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) 2: End of the World.'
7. Rap Crews With Excessive Members
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According to Wikipedia, 24 rappers are either current or former members of Flipmode Squad
. At Summer Jam 2011, the Harlem posse Dipset
had so many people onstage that it was impossible to tell official MCs from members of the entourage. Odd Future
's lineup is a little easier to follow, but what about all of those inter-group groups? And then there's the grandaddy of them all, the Wu-Tang Clan
, whose original nine-man samurai squad has ballooned into a veritable army of affiliate rappers and offshoot groups. Soon, we'll all be members. Good thing there's the Wu-Tang Name Generator
6. Rappers With Too Many Nicknames
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As Gloria Carter tells us on 'December 4th,' the last of her four children is named Shawn Carter. Of course, we know him as Jay-Z, Jay, Jigga, the Jigga Man, Jay-Hova, Hova, Hov and sometimes even Hovito. When we first met Dennis Coles, the Wu rhymer was called Ghostface Killah
. He's subsequently gone by Ghostface, Tony Starks, Iron Man, Pretty Toney and P Tone, among other handles. But Ghost and Hov have nothing on Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., aka Lil Wayne. The website Rap Genius has a whole page
devoted to Weezy F. Baby's various tags.
5. Repeated Words Passed Off as Rhymes
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has a fondness for couplets like, "But he got me out my momma crib/ then he help me get my momma a crib." Those lines come from 'Big Brother,' his tribute to Jay-Z, another rapper who's sometimes guilty of "rhyming" words with themselves. Check out 'Change Clothes,' where four straight lines end with "necessary." Of course, 'Ye and Jay have given us plenty of great rhymes over the years, so perhaps calling them out here is unnecessary.
4. Live Shows -- 'Nuff Said
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Compared to other genres, rap makes for notoriously chaotic live shows. Concerts tend to start late, run long and fall victim to poor sound, especially when there are 15 people onstage with microphones. Artists typically truncate cuts and do medleys rather than make it through entire songs. Lauryn Hill
came under fire last year for showing up hours late to her gigs. When she did hit the stage, the former Fugees member performed her classic hits
but nearly unrecognizable versions of the original songs. Then there's artists who, in order to pad out their sets, rely on things like having their DJ spin classic records -- 'Let Me Clear My Throat' always works -- or giving the crowd tired directives -- "Wave your hands in the air!" "When I say X, you say Y." "Somebody, scream!" Etc. Don't these guys know we have to work in the morning?
3. Remixes that Add Nothing New to the Original Songs
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Back in December, when Cam'ron
's 'We Found Love,' he added little more than the non sequitur refrain, "Got it locked down, Lindsay Lohan
." According to one version of music history, remixing dates back to the late '60s, when Jamaican dub reggae producers manipulated analog tapes to create woozy, vocal-less "versions" far more interesting than the source material. Digital technology has made remixing a much easier proposition, and nowadays, anyone with 30 minutes of laptop battery life can put their stamp on a track. Still, if you're going to take the time, why not change the song in some fundamental way?
2. Lazy Samples
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Some of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time are built on samples, and over the years, the practice of re-contextualizing existing pieces of music has emerged as a genuine art form with limitless potential for creativity. It gets problematic when artists draw from obvious sources or nick large portions of songs without adding anything new. Diddy
was the king of this, what with his use of the Police
's 'Every Breath You Take' in 'I'll Be Missing You' and Led Zeppelin
's 'Kashmir' in 'Come with Me.' More recently, Jay and Kanye bummed us out with 'Otis,' the least imaginative song on the otherwise gangbusters 'Watch the Throne' disc
1. Rappers Who Spend More Time Tweeting Than Making Records
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Since 2007, N.O.R.E.
has released two albums. Since signing up for Twitter, he's sent more than 38,770 tweets. Joe Budden
hasn't put out an album since 2009, but he, too, has surpassed 30,000 tweets. In fairness, Budden has wrestled with record labels and given us a bunch of mixtapes -- both on his own and as a member of the super group Slaughterhouse
-- but we're still holding our breath for 'The Great Escape,' a record that's due to feature Eminem
, among others. There are plenty of other rappers who tweet too much, but honestly, we're too busy working on our own mixtape to follow them. The title: 'The BoomBox Anthemz Vol. 1: The Day the Bloggaz Took Over.' The disc drops promptly on June 12, and you can bet our live show is gonna be banging.
Watch 'Learn About the History of Rap'