Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rap Battle

Sasha Frere-Jones says rap is pretty much dead and two guys I've never heard of don't so much take issue with Jones as attack his presumption and his motives. Verdict: A draw. It is presumptuous to assume an art form will yield no further innovation. On the other hand, while self-promotion has always been part of the show with rap there was a certain point (the rise of Jay-Z?) where it seemed to all become about class and status. What's Young MC doing these days anyway? (New Yorker/Flavorwire)


A mildly entertaining patchwork of styles, anchored by lots of guest singers and rappers, “The Blueprint 3” is only tenuously connected to Jay-Z’s best work, and a patient listener will have to accept that. Gone are the autumnal poise and the tightly nested meanings, verses delivered with the bravado of someone who knows he could go all night but will bow out early to appear deceptively human. The new Jay-Z is a relaxed impresario, a Macher with A-list friends making safe choices. On the single “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” Jay-Z mentions rappers that he previously overshadowed, an acknowledgment, perhaps, of a shift in hierarchy: “This shit need a verse from Jeezy, I might send this to the mixtape Weezy.” The latter is a reference to Lil Wayne, who publicly claimed the title of “greatest rapper alive,” while also stipulating that it used to belong to Jay-Z. Wayne was right, for a while, and then went weirdly silent, save for a few odd rock tracks. Wayne’s 2008 release, “Tha Carter III,” which included “A Milli,” a thick, psychedelic ramble tied to a thin, metronomic canter, was the year’s biggest-selling album—and probably the last moment when hip-hop was both popular and improbably weird.

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