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Sunday, April 18, 2010

(18) What have we learned?

It seems to me that music -- popular or otherwise -- is the only medium in which people neglect to learn from those that came before them in making better product.
That, or or they just refuse.

Seriously, look at sports, even the ones you don't watch...
Football players are bigger and faster and throwing the ball farther, baseballs are being pitched faster and hit further, basketball players are bigger, stronger and jumping higher, race cars are faster and safer in getting there, as well as same linear advancements in every other sport I did not care to mention.
We COULD blame performance enhancing drugs, but that takes away too much credit from the athletes who are not cheats, which I truly do believe is the most of them.

Anyway, we look at most professions in the world whose lives are made better by the knowledge imparted on them from the experiences of those who came before them and I am beginning to think that people making music these days are fucking stupid.
Here we are, 4+ months into 2010 and I have not been made to want to spend a dime on any of these albums I have downloaded, and I watch my RSS feeds for every new album presented for my perusal.
Weak beats, uninspired rhymes, lack of concept and the fact that everything is beginning to more and more alike is killing me. I am to understand that these idiots aren't even making the money from those who came before them no less, what with 360 deals and everything.
I see this as such... What with this so-called "digital revolution," it is easier than ever for a kid with about 500 bucks tops for some control surfaces and other peripherals and cables, a computer with no less than 2gigs of RAM and a decent dual core processor -- and subscriptions to the right RSS feeds -- to make music with little to no classic training... I am to understand that 50-something lifelong so-called "professional" engineers have their asses on their shoulders about it as well, but I am not taking this there. I say that to say that it is a might foolish to think that something so easy to get into is so hard to gain a real grasp on, what with 30+ years of history in hip hop in general before them.
No, rather than get into the thing and grow this thing out, these fuckers take what is now easy to make and make it look like it was easy to make, almost on some "why should I try if it ain't so hard anymore?" type shit.
Lowered expectations indeed.
No, instead of using technology to get better, like the shoes adorned by our favorite athletes, it is now taken and flaunted as the reasoning for hustling backwards. See the recent little kerfuffle between Method Man and Wacka Flocka for reference to what I mean. Look further back to OJ Da Juiceman being booed offstage in NY a while back and explaining it off on "I ain't tryin to be all lyrical, I'm just talkin' bout what I seen in da trap, they must don't got no swag," as if that is a reason and explanation for being fucking terrible.

Others have seemed to come along with the times, embracing the technology and the ease with which it allows product to hit the streets, shown in the marriage of Duckdown and Justus League on projects from Buckshot, Sean Price, Skyzoo and various members and producers from the NC collective once ridiculed, but now known for, their use of Digital Audio Workstations. Good music comes of this, but the fact remains that it remains commercially meh... despite critical acclaim. I know I put my money behind them when I can, and download what comes available in the meantime.
It seems, though, that a fickle listening public doesn't even WANT good music, as they have never been presented with reason to listen to it.


Speaking of "those that came before," and of the whole money thing as it relates to entertainers...
I fear for the current generation of entertainers and the money they DO make when people like Redd Foxx, Sammy Davis Jr., Peabo Bryson, Wesley Snipes, and countless others have historically fucked off their fortunes by not paying their taxes like they should only to have "legends" of the most recent previous generation like Method Man, Nas and now Prince turn and do the SAME shit. Given the tiny amount of faith I have in rapsters who grew up in a born-after-1985 world where a having a responsible father home is an anomaly that sees to it that one ignores their handlers as well, I don't see this history not repeating itself sooner than later.
And I will laugh at them for ignoring the information that was right in front of them when it does.

Call it their due comeuppance for the fuckery they've committed in happily making bad music for personal gain, then arguing that we were wrong for expecting something worth enjoying.
What's more, coming from a time where you should learn FROM those who did it just before you, I take it as personally offensive that what is being made now is not somehow fundamentally -- since subjectively is not something that can necessarily be quantified -- better than what came before it. Call me every kind of hypocrite you want to for that break in the last sentence about subjectivity, but the fact remains that what we are currently getting in all walks of popular music is shittier than the last generation before it, critically and commercially. Sure, my opinion is my opinion, and history has proven that every man's perception is his version of the truth, but numbers don't lie. It stands to reason that if everyone dislikes you and/or your product, then you and/or your product are the problem, not everyone else. Calling everyone "haters" won't help your case even a little bit.

"Well, n***as don't even listen to the whole song no more, all they hear is beats..."

I call bullshit on that one. Anyone who should actually be giving a damn about the music being placed for them to compete for their $9.99-or-less at FYE on single disc albums (they should be cutting me a check for that) should be taking the effort to listen to all elements of the music being placed ahead of them.
Unless they're just fucking ignorant.
Old schoolers like me tend to remember times where the competition in the marketplace for sales made good music, not something so dumbed down that it was accessible by the lowest of the common denominator. Remember when guest appearances on albums were strategically placed as (possibly more expensive) artists with a bigger name than your own, so as to put your product in the mind of a public who might not otherwise know who you were, as opposed to putting your weed carriers on every other song and in adlibs, so as to satisfy the "get a fucking job" part of their probation.
An example of this would be Mic Geronimo's 1997 Vendetta... Lead single with a beat ad video from Puff Daddy and featuring Kelly Price, then features from Jay-Z, Ja Rule, DMX, and The LOX members that actually mattered except for Sheek.
The album was decent, and was worth my money at the time, in fact, I may listen to it when I get home from work even. It is indicative of an artist willing to work FORWARD towards making music that either is better or appears better by association, as opposed to making music that is inherently shitty and then challenging a listener who clearly deserves better by asking "what the hell do you WANT good music for?"
Fuck that.
Competition for my hard-earned, just-bought-a-house-got-a-lady-and-dogs-to-think-about dollar will require something worth me WANTING to unass the cash for, not some fucking Jedi mind trick attempted from a motherfucker who never finished 9th grade...

Is it too much to ask that those who have been commissioned to entertain us actually expend even a LITTLE effort to show they deserve the fortune that comes with doing so?
Using this as criteria, can we accept that the only thing that Biggie and Tupac have that those who have come on since them don't is a validated and notarized death certificate?
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