I fashion myself a hip hop head—I mean how many times do I need to listen to Illmatic before I can claim said title— which comes with a weird overprotective attitude towards the music. It’s like I’m a mother bear, and everything corporate or mainstream are poachers coming to take my pups away. If I notice even the slightest encroachment on my den, I strike with the rage of ten thousand titans.
Yeah, I know, not really the most rational and open-minded approach to listening. There’s just this constant need to protect what I love so much, and it never seems to go away. Perhaps, the feeling can be blamed on me growing up in the Nineties, surrounded by people who valued lyricism over everything, and were extremely territorial. Whatever the case may be, it’s really causing me some enjoyment issues nowadays.
Now I’m not saying everything was better way back when or that everything radio and club friendly are slowly but surely killing the genre. It’s just that I expect to myself to like a certain flavor over the other. I’m still into very lyrical emcees, and would prefer the sound of dusty pre-recorder drums over the sounds of clean booming, programmed, depth defying kicks and snares. Preferences like these cause me to dig way down to the opaque, smoke filled nether regions of the underground. Unfortunately, I can rarely come out to marvel at the bright blue sky and drink from the crystal blue waters of the mainstream.
But every once and a while, I do venture from my eclectic cavern, to see what’s going on above. Unfortunately, like the groundhog that sees his shadow, I quickly burrow my way down the cave once again; ushering in six more long weeks of winter. I’ll listen to a couple of mixtapes and albums, and say: “this isn’t hip hop, it’s more of that silly dancing stuff.”
And then there are those tracks that I hear that sound alright. So, I listen…and listen...and listen to again and again, hoping to come to the conclusion that I hate it, like all the others. Unbeknownst to me, during this whole process, I’ve already memorized the lyrics, the adlib, and damn near every rhythmic pattern.
Then I hate myself.
I’m falling for their dastardly plan. This can’t be happening, not to me. Let me put on some Talib Kweli…
…“Versace, Versace,Versace, Versace” goddammit, am I really singing this song again. Why does it stay in my head, oh wait it has over a hundred plays in my iTunes—that explains it.
Finally, I resolve myself to acknowledge that I actually like the song, not that I feel that good about it, but the first step is admitting you have a problem. So to help in my recovery, I have compiled a list of songs that I Hate that I Love. So, I can get all of this off my chest, man it feels good.
Gita - "Let It"
I got my first taste of Gita and her music when I stumbled upon her music video for “Let It.” Obviously, since this was my introduction to her, I had no idea what to expect from the coming visual. I was not ready for what I witnessed that day.
It was a cross between a Missy Elliott video, odd Japanese cultural references, and hilarious satire of the hip hop industry, all of which seemed to be interpreted by someone who had access to some really good acid. There were bright lights flashing, scenes were rapidly switching, watermelons were exploding, and there was a very odd tea party going on that would even cause Alice to stop ask “Wtf is going on right now?”
I wasn’t sure about what I had just seen, let alone the music that was playing the background. So, like the neurotic person I am, the replay button was hit like five or six more times. The video is still comes off as strange to me, but Gita made one of the most oddly addictive songs I’ve come into contact with.
DJ Two Stacks created such a bass heavy track for her to spit on, I couldn’t resist at least moving my shoulders. As I’ve already noted, in great detail, I’m a hip hop traditionalist when it comes to production. This track sound like it was hijacked out of some techno/house club in Europe somewhere, and then manhandled by a bunch of rough street dudes.
I wanted to turn it off immediately, but her energetic and uncompromising flow wouldn’t let me. It’s super repetitive—half the song is “let that hoe go, let it go, let it go”—and I strangely love it. She absolutely owns this song, not holding anything back. When this track comes on, you can’t deny her. Gita is trying to dominate your attention and tell you how it’s going to go down. You are going to let that hoe go, like it or not.
SpaceGhostPurrp - “S.A.N.D. for 2011/2012”
Look at that title—clearly SpaceGhostPurrp is about to drop some real knowledge on this track. Why he feels the need to put the year when this activity is taking place in the title is beyond me. Is he like “what are you doing, don’t just give me faletio, dedicate it to this year.” It’s very strange and explicit, would be putting it nicely.
I heard this song the first time, from my friend who was manning the cash register at a coffee shop… my University’s coffee shop. Imagine a bunch of doctors and professors walking in to get their coffee, and were greeted by a very poorly recorded voice screaming, “Suck A N**** D*** for 2011” over and over. I felt as comfortable as I presume the old Caucasian History professor, reading the New York Times in the corner, felt. I wanted it over.
My judgment was obscured due to the situation. I just looked at him in amazement, like what in the world is this man. You like this, why would I want to hear this—making sure my voice was slightly raised so people could hear that I didn’t approve of his actions. He assured me it was a good song, and I just needed to listen to it on better speakers. Yeah…
…he was right. I got back to my place and blasted it, just to see what would happen. SpaceGhostPurrp is not the most politically correct, lyrically gifted, or necessarily interesting emcee out there. However, he can make a beat and create the best flow to ride over it.
“Suck A D***” is not technically complex nor is it mixed well, but the beat is infectious. I couldn’t stop bopping for the entire three and half minutes. Those distorted horns and that raw, raspy, rancid kick is so gutter, I just had to listen to it again and again. And then he just says the right thing (well most of the time he’s incredibly misogynistic, so really it’s the wrong thing) at the right time. Even the way he spits the hook made me want to chant it with him.
After catching the SpaceGhostPurrp bug, I listened to him for like half a year. When I came home for break, I had the bright idea to play for my sister. Suffice to say, she failed to see the genius of it.
Migos - "R.I.P."
I already referenced the Migos brilliant “Versace” early in this post, but I’m still trying to understand why that song is more popular than “R.I.P”. The latter track was the first song I ever heard from this Atlanta group. I was just confused: is this a trap memorial track, what are these strange emotions that I’m feeling right now. Did he just scream “My Daddy died.”?
One of the ways that I keep up with mainstream music, it’s a very sad method, is by going to whatever mixtape downloading site that I’m on, and downloading the tape with the most interesting cover. The Migos’ Young Rich N****s won that day.
Making sure my expectations were very low, I watched one of their promotional videos—turned out to be “R.I.P.” The visual had two dreaded emcee in a cemetery, who found the flashiest mourning outfits possible, with the screen tinted blue. Both of the rappers made sure to display how sad the situation was, by closing their eyes and looking towards the heavens in reflection. It was interesting and it seemed like this was coming from a real heartfelt place.
While I couldn’t really understand what they were saying—due to not understanding their slang or their thick accents—I sort of liked the song. Zaytoven created a beat that still had the components of a normal trap song, for example the flying hi-hats, but slow enough that it incorporated the vibe of the rappers.
I normally hate adlibs, especially when they are screamed at me. This song is filled with them: why are they so passionate about lean, LEAN? Although, it was a little endearing in this instance because they were really airing out some issues. I couldn’t deny this song because they weren’t being personal enough, which is usually my excuse for my distaste for new trap music. I had to admit that they were doing something very real, and I should probably be applauding them.
“I’m thinking about moving to Canda/but I know they still gone be watching me,” pre-“New Slaves”. I couldn’t deny this track no matter how hard I wanted to.
Drake - “Started From The Bottom”
The resident king of the radio, Drake, shocked me twice when he released “Started From the Bottom” back in February. First, when and where exactly was this bottom. I went through a small Degressi stage in Middle School, I’ll admit it, my pride is reduced to dust when I think about it. I remember when he was playing racially ambiguous, pimply Jimmy. He was a star out there in Canada, how was that the bottom exactly?
Secondly, I don’t remember the last time he sounded this hungry on a track, probably one of his mixtapes. He was really ripping the Mike Zombie beat apart, while discussing his struggles as he was attempting to enter the game. I was taken aback a little; this wasn’t the soft Drake that I was used to.
While I could respect what he was saying and how it sounded, I couldn’t get over the whole “bottom” thing. He came out and said that it was in reference to how much he hard he had to work to get to where he is today. Drake wanted fans to know that he didn’t buy his way into stardom, that it was the result of him working tirelessly to perfect his craft. That’s all great, and I believe him, but I saw Degrassi.
As I recite the hook, “Started from the bottom now we’re here/started from the bottom now whole f***ing teams here”, I’m constantly reminded that he didn’t have to start at all. He could’ve stayed at home, in Toronto, kicked his feet up, eat poutine till he was fat, and lived comfortably. His grind was admirable, but let’s not act like his past didn’t provide name and face recognition for him (whether positive or negative, it kept his name in people’s mouths, which is a difficult task for a new artist).
Although, I disagree with the whole bottom dweller to top dop ascension story, I’m still finding myself going back to the track. I want to hate this song so bad, more than any other on this list, but I just can’t. Drake created a simple, but catchy track that’s hard to resist.
Chief Keef -“Dat Loud” (Feat. Ballout)
I honestly don’t know how to justify liking anything that Chief Keef puts out—and trust me he puts out a good amount of music. It’s not because his rhymes usually revolve around gun violence, drugs, clothes, and hoes: pretty much what his life at one point was dominated by. Nor is because I think he has some influence on the Chicago gang problem. To me, the only understandable problem to have with Sosa, is the fact that he sounds like a five year old on the first day of Kindergarten. You can hardly decipher what he is saying, when you do reach that plane of understanding, you realize that the lyrics are comparable to nursery rhymes—just with more guns and mollywater.
Everyone has a limited for what they will accept, and Keef is seemingly far below my standards. I really hate when rappers try to sing, because most of the time those are the emcees that might not be the best on the mic to begin with. And of course the Chief decides that on good amount of songs he is going to try his hand at autotune crooning.
A lot of people say he represents violence; I say he represents the lowering standards in the game…
…and I’m one of the many thousands of reasons why the bar has been lowered. I could pretty much put Chief Keef’s entire discography on this list. I thought of myself better than to fall for his whims, but alas I’m just another little child dancing to the tune of South Side’s Gangbanging Pied Piper.
“Dat Loud” is literally the crown jewel of his work in my eyes. It’s one of the most ridiculous songs released. It is a remix of Young Dro’s song with the same title. In Dro’s version there are layered vocals singing the hook, almost choir like. There are lush strings playing, and his voice has so much reverb that it sounds spacey.
Keef strips all of that away, and opts to tackle the vocals himself. He sounds so bored, it might be due to the fact that he rhymes loud like a hundred times. Surprisingly, it comes out sounding really good. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it at all. Its instantly catchy, and the way it transitions into the hooks is awesome.
It’s definitely one of those songs that people who hate Keef , point to when they want to prove that he is bad. They have a point about his musicianship, but for some reason this track really grabs me. When I show it to people, they are totally confused.
I guess I should know better.