Friday, April 24, 2009

Freestyle Drama!

The young Drake finally hit the big apple last week and was immediately put on the spot on Funkmaster Flex's show on Hot 97.

Now off the cuff, this should be a lesson to "his people," that maybe he needs a little artist development. This is the stuff that record labels, A&R's, managers, agents have failed in. Now I am a HUGE Drizzy fan. I think he is quite the substantial M.C. and he has a little tongue on the singing end. So, unlike a lot of these new Orange Juice Jones rappers that keep peeking into the industry wearing fake chains and wearing video ho's like a Flavor Flav clock, you have this biracial dude from T.Dot trying to make a mark with actual talent. So, his people need to make sure on the business and developmental end he is right.

Rule #1: Never send an upcoming M.C. on a popular hip hop radio show unaware. Let him/her know that they will most likely have to spit a freestyle, so at least the idea of a rhyme can start flowing. Never mind the fact that Drizzy had already been at the station for several hours because he had been on the Angie Martinez show. So, here we are several hours later and my man is supposed to just bust some killer freestyle. Yes, it sounds good on paper, but most of the time, these M.C.'s have already thought up those rhymes or written them and they are passing them off as freestyles. This was bound to not go right, simply because Drake wasn't prepared for that.

Rule #2: Don't expect every rapper to have Biggie-flow. Most backpackers know that Biggie would just freestyle all of his rhymes. Most also know that Hov does the same thing, even Weezy. The problem with that is they don't know why. Biggie didn't freestyle all of his rhymes because he was just some musical genius. A lot of it was a part of his business savvy. Biggie hated paying for studio time, so it was a survival method for him to come up with rhymes off the cuff. That was just his gift. To a larger extent that is Jay's gift too, but it is also his curse. You listen to a lot of Jay's rhymes and the substance is incredibly lacking. People love his style and swagger so much, they often get eclipsed by the fact that there are only so many songs where you can discuss Cristal, Louis Vuitton and groupies. Yes, the excessive sensationalism of materialism (that's a lot of isms...LOL). This materialistic expression has killed the purpose of hip hop, which used to serve as a voice for our generation, and has now become a ridiculous reality show, that's secretly scripted. What happened to the celebration of an M.C. that can really write? I mean isn't that what M.C.'s get paid for? Should they get writer's credit if they didn't "actually write it"? Known lyricists like KRS-One, Common and Nas have legendary lines - that they WROTE! Those M.C.'s are in a league of their own because they have written rhymes that embody history, struggle, and progress. Instead, rappers shouting out designers that hate them, upholding millionaires that were slave owners and supporting liquor that most blacks can't buy become celebrated and quoted...

RULE #3: Talent overcomes the gimmick. I am sure Flex has seen many rappers walk into that radio station with their gimmick in full effect. From the hat of a team they know nothing about to the designer sneakers on their feet. They walk up to the mic freestyling (wink) a rap that a ghost writer has secretly written for them prior to the interview and then they get (as Cuba Gooding would say in Jerry Maguire) the QUAN! But in this video you see Drake in what appears to be a tee shirt from like Old Navy or the Gap, chillin with a Blackberry. Low fade hiding under the headphones, and the rawness of the moment slaps you. There is no gimmick. Unlike the Eminem's of the world, he is not coming at them with a chip and a satirical minstrel show. He isn't trying to thug it out like some of these "thug rappers". He's just a kid with an ill flow and crazy swagger who was smart enough to spit something he actually wrote over any beat, and then finally admit that he was caught unaware and would come back and get it. It's clear that he is tired, and overwhelmed by the moment. Period. So to all of the haters who exhaled at this moment, breathe in and breathe out some more. Because when this young kid says, "I'll get em though." I believe him.

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