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Tears of a Thug: ‘Sad Rap’ is a real thing
07.24.2013
08:13 am

Topics:
Hip-hop

Tags:
Sad rap
Yung Lean
Little Pain

littlepain
Pouty-lipped Little Pain has the bad sadz

Part of hip-hop’s allure is its expression of extremes of human emotions, balls out, with no thought of consequences or social appropriateness. Its stereotypical expression is self-aggrandizing swagger, cheerful jubilation, or menacing, threatening anger, but rap has always expressed sadness too. Sad songs are in every rapper’s repertoire, however tough his persona. Eminem, Tupac, Nelly, and Jay-Z have lyrics that can make even the hard-hearted cry.

But this year there is a new manifestation of rap, embracing the vulnerable, lonely, despondent, sad side of the psyche. There are precursors to this style—Kid Cudi, Joe Budden, MC Homeless, Lil B, and Riff Raff—but a couple of hip-hop artists are basing their entire image and songs around sadness. And proud of it. They are not only expressing a desolate emotional worldview, they are boasting about being the saddest thug of all. In time-honored bombastic rap tradition they are trying to one-up each other as the master of melancholy.

Vice is largely responsible for introducing a huge chunk of the world to these perpetrators of emo rap: Little Pain (a.k.a. Sobbin Williams) and Yung Lean.

Little Pain is a 21-year-old rapper from Brooklyn, who has only been rapping for about five months but already has a tattoo on his left cheek of streaked tears. He told Pigeons and Planes:

I cry everyday at least once a day, sometimes more. Sometimes I shed a couple tears and sometimes I full out start bawling. It just depends on the situation. I’m not worried about people taking me as a joke at all because at the end of the day the music is as real as it gets. Some may laugh and shrug it off and some may relate and love it.

Little Pain’s debut mixtape is called When Thugz Cry but he is not yet signed to a label.

Yung Lean (formerly “Yung Lean Doer,” because of his fondness for lean) is a 16-year-old white Swede of Stockholm’s Sad Boys crew. Little Pain admits that Yung Lean gives off a “sad vibe” but isn’t what he considers truly sad.

Yung Lean is signed to a label called Teaholics, which is fitting, because his crew was formerly called the Arizoned Iced Out Boys, and he brandishes jugs of Arizona Iced Tea in his videos. His mixtape, Unknown Death 2000, containing collaborations with Suicideyear, was released earlier this month.  I wonder if the moms at the local playground are going to switch to Kombucha now to avoid the thug-life implications of Arizona Tea.

Duncan Cooper described Yung Lean on Fader:

His sleepy-eyed gun and money talk is reframed not just by his whiteness, but by his whole depressed pose—his group is called Sad Boys—and general internetty teen-ness, working N64 controllers and Mewtwo Pokemon cards into music videos. Crying appropriation is a logical first reaction, but I think Yung Lean’s music is more nuanced. Whether you buy it as a real trait of his or as simply an aesthetic choice—potentially a whole other debate—his depression and atonal delivery puts a spin on violence and excess that is at once self-aware (money can also make you unhappy, a common rap theme), and the opposite of self-aware (Yung Lean himself has presumably never been in a position to judge that firsthand).

Yung Lean’s song “Oreomilkshake” references glory holes, various drugs, Arizona Tea and milkshakes, all of which he seems to like, but the sad Swede still sounds bummed. Aside from seasonal affective disorder in the winter, it must be difficult to come up with things to be sad about in a country with cradle-to-grave social benefits, not least of them single-payer universal healthcare.

Hip-hop expert Ray the Destroyer put sad rap in perspective on Vice:

Drake was the first dude to center his whole persona around ennui as the French would say, or “having feminine ways” as dudes at my barbershop on 125th would call it. The thing that’s interesting about the Sad Rap wave is cats are using sadness as an aesthetic. Little Pain is out here flossin’ sadness like money, and tonally Yung Lean raps like someone who’s immune to the mood elevating effects of antidepressants, blowjobs, puppies, and ice cream.

Below, Yung Lean is “Hurt”:
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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There’s a campaign to free Big Lurch, rap’s infamous imprisoned murderer-cannibal? Seriously?!
07.24.2013
05:59 am

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
Hip-hop

Tags:
Big Lurch
PCP

biglurchnom
You rang?

Texan gangsta rapper Big Lurch’s story was tabloid gold in 2002: a gory, PCP-fueled murder of his young female roommate—with the unexpected twist of cannibalism.

He was found standing in the middle of a Los Angeles street, naked and disoriented, wacked out on angel-dust, covered in (her) blood with human flesh found in his stomach that obviously wasn’t his. Big Lurch’s 21-year-old roommate Tynisha Ysais was found murdered and butchered in their shared apartment, with tooth marks on her face and organs, particularly her partially consumed lungs.

Big Lurch pled not guilty by reason of insanity, but following a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation he was declared to be of sound mind despite his PCP use. He was found guilty in 2003 and is currently serving a life sentence. Prior to the murder he was a member of Cosmic Slop Shop and also worked with Mystikal, C-Bo, RBL Posse, Mac Dre, Too Short and Lil’ Keke, among others. His only solo album, It’s All Bad, was released in 2004 on Black Market Records after his conviction.

Tynisha Ysais’ mother sued Black Market Records and Big Lurch for wrongful death, claiming that the record company deliberately gave him drugs in order to encourage the kind of violent criminal behavior that would enhance his rep as a gangsta rapper. This would in turn improve his career and sales. The lawsuit accused Black Market of providing drugs “to encourage [him] to act out in an extreme violent manner so as to make him more marketable as a ‘gangsta rap’ artist.”

If that were indeed part of a grand plan to make his image thuggier, things clearly went awry quickly. Dabbling in cannibalism is (usually, not always) never considered a good career move.

There is a campaign to free him, and believe it or not, it’s not even a 4Chan troll. It is an actual campaign. You can donate to the cause via PayPal, buy “Free Big Lurch” T-shirts, or send Big Lurch (real name Antron Singleton) some mail and gifts in prison.

You see, there was evidence of other DNA at the crime scene that didn’t belong to Big Lurch or Ysais. Okay, yeah, he ate parts of her, but his supporters claim that someone else murdered her and he should be freed. You know, because “Hip-hop ain’t dead…he’s in prison.” The “circumstantial evidence” is discussed in the 2011 documentary Rhyme and Punishment, which is devoted entirely to rappers who have been addicted to PCP and incarcerated.

Weird that the only person I personally knew who smoked angel dust did things under the influence like write about beauty products, how to achieve the perfect “smoky eye,” and what makeup to use in order to look fabulous after staying up partying for two nights straight.

Interview with Big Lurch, below:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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He Ain’t No Joke! Flavor Flav’s awesome cameo in decidely old school 1987 Eric B. and Rakim video
07.19.2013
01:31 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
Flavor Flav
Eric B. & Rakim


 
Been completely gorging myself on vintage Rakim this week. All that charisma! All that talent! It shouldn’t be allowed.

Even the older videos are all utterly hypnotic, utterly awesome. Highlight of the lot, though, has to be the video for “I Ain’t No Joke,” where no less of a scene-stealer than Flavor Flav himself pops up, moonlighting on a still young Public Enemy (cheating on Chuck D, if you ask me) and pulling some terrific twitching, twisting, not-quite-the-full-ticket dance moves to Eric B’s lead-heavy scratching.

Directed by Vivien Goldman. You can read about behind the scenes making of the video here.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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Rammellzee & Jean-Michel Basquiat’s little-known 1983 underground hip-hop collaboration
07.18.2013
10:28 am

Topics:
Art
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
Ramellzee
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquait and Rammellzee
Rammellzee and Basquait
 
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s contributions to the world solidify his reputation as one of the great artistic polymaths of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. As his visual art moved from graffiti to painting, he became known for telling beautiful, hard-edged truths, especially regarding class and race politics. In many ways, his paintings overshadow his other artistic endeavors, particularly his immersion in the early years of hip-hop.

Below you can see New York hip-hop institution and artist, Rammellzee (or RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ if you please) performing a song they collaborated on. Ramellzee, who died in 2010, was an amazing artist/rapper/intellectual in his own right, and was frequently suspicious of his friend’s acceptance by the art world’s elite. From a 1999 interview:

Jean-Michel wanted to do a rap song because rap was coming into power at the time and that was one of the things besides writing on the trains that he didn’t know how to do. He didn’t know how to do wild style or a true burner like some of these things in here [points around room]. And I was brung into the city by Fab 5 Freddy to interrogate this guy.

What he knew about art. Why was he in the power play position? And to tell him: you need to leave this shit alone and let the real troopers who did do something on the trains get past you and Keith Haring and let these fools know there’s an ikonoklastic war about to happen…

During the process of interrogation I had made a bet with him: I can do what you can do, you can’t do what I can do. He had brought three canvases, set ’em up and got me the paint in the basement of Annina Nosei’s gallery, which was his first gallery [exhibition in] like 1982. And in the basement he decided to let me paint these canvases, and Annina Nosei sold all three at his price. My prices where nowhere near his because he was going off and selling well.

She came into the gallery and she told him, “I sold three of your best artworks.” I said, “Give me my money!” [laughs] “Now you gotta do what I do!” He never did what I could do.

Refusing to be intimidated, Rammellzee was quick to shoot down lyrical suggestions he felt unworthy of his flow, saying, “[Basquiat] had a whole pamphlet of this stuff written about girls. And I said, “I’m not rhyming to this!” I put it down. He picked it up and gave it to me, so I crushed it and put it down!”

This 1983 video shot in Los Angeles isn’t the greatest quality, but it is what it is at this point: “history,” so enjoy it that way. Brief splices of Basquiat’s electronic graphics show his thumbprint, and whatever lyrics he may have contributed sound perfectly natural coming from Rammellzee.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Before he was famous, watch a teenage LL Cool J explain rapping and scratching to children, 1985
07.04.2013
08:59 am

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
LL Cool J


 
How old school is this 1985 LL Cool J performance? Well, aside from the fact that this was shot a good five months before his debut album Radio came out, he felt the need to explain to his young audience what they were about to witness:

“What you’re about to see right now is called rapping and scratching. How many of you saw this before?”

Shot on June 21, 1985 at the Wadsworth Gymnasium at Colby College in Maine. There’s an interesting context: this was part of an event to cheer kids up after several recent student suicides in the area and LL Cool J was thought to be a positive role model.
 

 
Via Glen E. Friedman

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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C-3PO rapping, but don’t worry, your childhood was already dead
06.28.2013
01:21 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
rap


 
People make so much of the terrible Star Wars prequel trilogy ruining their childhood. I just don’t buy it! First of all, you always have the option I took, which is to never speak of them again... except for now, which I only do as a public service.

Second, George Lucas has been making terrible decisions with the Star Wars brand since forever! Check out this intro video for the Star Tours space flight simulator attraction, with C-3PO rapping. Incidentally, if you still want to go on Star Tours today, you gotta get to Eurodisney. I pray they haven’t updated the intro!
 

 
Via Everything is Terrible

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Meet Holly, the Wu-Tang’s awesome sign language interpreter
06.20.2013
09:56 am

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
Sign Language
R. Kelly
Wu-Tang Clan


 
According to reports, American Sign Language interpreter Holly stole the show at last weekend’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. She was assigned to interpret for the Wu-Tang Clan and R. Kelly. And guess what? She put her all into it! Just watch.

 
Below, Holly signing for R. Kelly:

 
Via Gawker

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Death By Sizzurp: DJ Screw and the lethal Purple Drank hip-hop subculture of Houston
06.11.2013
12:55 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
sizzurp
DJ Screw


 
West Coast and East Coast hip hop artists achieved international notoriety in the ‘90s and early 2000’s, thanks to well publicized rivalries and deaths. At the same time that Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were blaring from headlines and thumping from heavily customized car stereos, a thriving hip hop underground was taking place in Houston, Texas under the aegis of Robert Earl Davis, Jr., the legendary DJ Screw. Sadly it was a peculiar local drink that led to early deaths of DJ Screw and other young southern rappers.

Nicknamed “The Originator,” DJ Screw was a gifted musician and wily entrepreneur and marketer. His slowed-down, mellower style of “chopped and screwed” hip hop differed from the predominant, faster form of the time. His effects included skipping beats, stop-time, using the same record on dual turntables, and scratching. He released his mixtapes, called “Screwtapes,” selling them out of his house to friends and fans and later out of his independent record store, Screwed Up Records and Tapes, on the southeast side of Houston. The growth of his popularity through the mixtape network is exactly how Metallica first disseminated their music as a new band.

It’s been claimed that the infamous cocktail called “lean” or “Purple Drank” was a source of inspiration for DJ Screw’s chopped and screwed subgenre because of its trippy, slowing effect on the brain. He was a consumer and popularizer of the infamous “lean” concoction of cough syrup (prescription-only brands containing the antihistamine promethazine and codeine), soda and—for color—Jolly Rancher hard candy. This mixture was also called “sizzurp,” “Dirty Sprite” and “Texas tea.” Lean dates back to late 1960s/early 1970s Houston and experienced a surge in demand among rappers in the area in the 1990s.

 
DJ Screw, “Drank Up in My Cup”

Cough syrups containing codeine only are available over the counter in some states, but cough syrups with promethazine alone or with codeine have almost always been prescription-only all over the country. The abuse potential of promethazine has made it more of a concern than codeine. The popularity of the strongest promethazine-codeine cough syrups led to their widespread theft from pharmacies and the subsequent restriction of their sales. Over the counter brands containing dextromethorphan are also abused.

 
Indo G, “Purple Drank”
 

 
Three 6 Mafia, “Sippin’ On Some Syrup”

The health consequences from drinking lean, including obesity, heart problems, and dental issues, quickly damaged the lives of its users. Sadly DJ Screw overdosed in 2000 on a combination of lean made with prescription-strength codeine cough syrup, alcohol, PCP, and Valium. DJ Screw protégé Big Moe, who was addicted to lean and used it as the subject of many of his songs, overdosed in 2007. (Both Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber have been associated with sizzurp.)

It wasn’t until 2004-05 that the scene and artists associated with and inspired by DJ Screw, the so-called Screwed Up Click, gained national attention. DJ Screw’s 2005 album 3 ‘n the Mornin’ (Part Two) was named #13 on alternative newsweekly The Houston Press’s list of best Houston rap albums of all time.

Republican Texas governor Rick Perry has officially named DJ Screw a Texas Music Pioneer. In 2007 Vice produced a five-part documentary about the Houston hip-hop scene (and the use of purple drank), Screwed in Houston.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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‘Somebody’s Sins’: Have YOU heard Tricky’s incredible Patti Smith cover?
06.11.2013
06:29 am

Topics:
Hip-hop

Tags:
Tricky


 
Although a huge admirer of Tricky in his considerable pomp, I would be the first to concede that his powers have steadily waned since the mighty Maxinquaye, and it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get ‘round to giving his latest long-player, False Idols, a listen.

Fuck me! It sounds wonderful! (The man himself has been calling it a superior record to his debut: he may even turn out to have an improbable point.) Not the least of its joys is “Somebody’s Sins,” a sublime re-fashioning (to be honest, “cover” doesn’t really cut it) of Patti Smith’s opening verse-and-a-bit to “Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)”...

The obvious, but wholly worthy, point of reference is Maxinquaye’s unforgettable take on Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.” Again, a female vocal (Francesca Belmonte) takes the lead and fleshes out some of the most poetic lines ever to grace popular music—and in such a way it’s as if you are hearing them for the first time.

Tricky, it’s very, very nice to have you back. 
 

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
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Insane music video: Hip-hop artist puts himself into iconic movie scenes
05.30.2013
11:40 am

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop
Movies

Tags:
Flynt




 
Crazy music video directed by Francis Cutter for French rapper Julien Vuidard aka Flynt. The song is called “Mon pote.”

What in the hell was the budget for this video?! I can’t imagine any of the movie studios gave permission for this.

A Clockwork Orange, Clerks,The Big Lebowski, Full Metal Jacket, Fight Club, Men in Black, Pulp Fiction, Dumb and Dumber and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are just some of the classic films featured in the video.

There is some boobie action in one scene making it slightly NSFW.

 
Via Testpiel

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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