Well, Orite Chall…
Thanks for stopping by my lil section of the World.
I am gonna throw in my 2 Cents on the Emcee/Rapper discussion.
So if you are either or just a fan of Hip-Hop, read on. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts.
Let me start with my interpretation of an Emcee.
The Emcee IMO is a well rounded writer of lyrics. The Emcee can take you through a wide range of emotions. They can use that pen to paint vivid pictures. They can take you through the projects in New York, through a Hood in Houston, through the eyes of a kid on the street or from the perspective of the wealthy yet humble. They can take you through various stages of spirituality. Make you think on life. Question your Leaders. Question yourself.
They can open your eyes to a whole nother World.
Police corruption, gang violence, street life, racial issues, Government shadiness and pride in oneself.
I first learned this musically from Emcees. In particular, KRS and Chuck D.
They were the two that had the greatest impact on me initially. Others like Scarface and Cube would come in a few minutes later.
L.L. was also a big influence and a great example of an Emcee.
I’m not talking about the L.L. y’all currently know. The dude you see hosting shows and acting.
The L.L. I came up on could rip you in half in a battle, speak on social issues, spit braggadocio, appeal to the ladies and usually had at least one track that glorified God. Well rounded. Emcee.
The Emcee is never limited. The Emcee is not bound by the rules of society. The Emcee is a Teacher, Preacher, Healer, Story teller, Social commentator, etc…
The Emcee inspires you to up your “Bars”. Iron sharpening Iron so to speak.
The Emcee makes you want to…EMCEE.
The Emcee used to be on your radio dial. I grew up on them.
But due to “Fuckery” within the political and broadcasting structures, the Emcee was phased out of mainstream radio intentionally and the balance was thrown off. Whereas before you had diversity in radio it was turned into a buffet of non nutritional lyrics.
And the Rapper started controlling the court.
The Rapper IMO…is someone who is in a box lyrically. More than likely they have placed themselves in this box because they had to sound like someone else to get the attention of the coward ass record label in order to make bread off of their talent. I wouldn’t say sell out…I would say they are under achievers in the art of lyric writing due to fear of being shut out by higher powers. Which goes back to those holding power. The Rapper knows they gotta stay in their place. Not get too political, not speak their minds on shit they see going on, not tell how they personally feel about life or what they are going through as Human beings. They keep it in the box of simplicity. Getting high/drunk…sex…materialism, club life and throwing in your face how much money they got and you don’t.
It always amazed me on one level that people tune in to the radio on the car they are leasing, on the way home from working their ass off and listen to other people talk shit about the poor.
It’s one thing to say how you used to be poor and provide a formula of hope or Wisdom to assist the listener in achieving those goals so they can also reach a better level of life…but these cats don’t do that. They just throw in your face how the watch costs more than what you make in a year and how you are a hater because they got dough and you have none or how you have a “Basic bitch” and they do models 2 at a time and all that other B.S. they talk.
In every walk of life, there is the conceited person we all hate. Not because of what they have….but in the way they throw in your face what they have. We would call them douche bags…arrogant assholes…etc.
But not with “Rappers”…they get a pass. This is not even on a braggadocio level. Braggadocio to me is a form of tall tale that requires thought and creativity…what the rappers do now is just condemn the poor with no solutions.
Is it there job to provide solutions? IMO Yeah…not every track, but have some meat with the veggies at least. Tell me how you got there, what to avoid, what to stick to…Don’t just tell me you are rich and I’m wack cause I aint.
The Rapper has no substance. They stick to a formula that makes money but in the process lose their identity and essence of who they are.
I know damn well you think and feel more than you talk about. But if you are yourself, it will affect your paper. SO you stay in that box.
The Emcee on the other hand don’t give a fuck. They are going to speak their mind and do it knowing that they more than likely will not see commercial success because of their views. They do it because there is something in their spirit that will not allow them to “Dumb Down”.
As much as I respect Shawn Carter for his lyrical prowess, he spit a line that really fucked with me..
“I dumbed down for my audience and doubled my dollars” Jay Z
I don’t think people really look at what he is saying. In case you do not get it, he is saying that his audience is not at his level mentally. You are too dumb to understand what he is spitting about, so he “Dumbed ” himself down intentionally so he could be on YOUR level and make twice as much cash from YOU..the dumb ass.
You don’t find that disrespectful? Same as when B.E.T pulled certain videos because they were “Over the heads” of the viewers. People are calling y’all stupid…that offends me and should you to.
So IMO, the main difference between the Rapper and the Emcee is subject matter and diversity when it comes to the art of writing song lyrics for Hip Hop music. That is it on a writing level.
Now…lets point out a another area.
Why are the rappers in control? Aside from the poitics.
Why are the rappers making all the dough when they are clearly inferior at lyric writing?
Because they are smart enough to incorporate the ingredients needed into their material to make it marketable.
#1. THE BEAT.
I grew up in the era where the emcee was the dominant selling feature on the track. Don’t mistake me. I am not saying that the beats from my generation were not dope. They were and still are to a large degree. These were the producers that are now considered legends in the game. But those are the beats that were the foundation for us. NOT THE YOUTH.
And the emcee was the main attraction. You didn’t listen to KANE cause he had dope beats. You listened cause he spit his ass off and was dope as hell.
But somewhere along the lines, the beats Evolved and the lyricist Devolved in the mainstream.
SO now, when you turn the radio on, you are more than likely gonna hear a beat that taps into something within the human spirit that moves you. There are so many dope beats out there. But then the vocalist comes on and spits some straight bullshit over this hot track. Producer don’t give a damn, they got paid and royalties. Rapper don’t care either…same applies to them. And the public at large eats it up…because #1 above all else, they have already been baited or brought into the situation cause the MUSIC pulled them in.
#2. THE HOOK
Once again, when I came up, at least early on, the DJ provided the hook. And that was usually a combination of scratches from other records combined to form that hook. Some vocal samples and scratches and you had your hook. SO I grew up with this mentality.
I’ll never forget being at a studio in Ft.Worth early on in my career. We had a dude coming over from another city…a producer. I was young and hyped up to show this Man my latest work and get some feedback. The beat was nice. The lyrics were on point. So I played him the goods…he looked at me and said “Where’s the hook?”…caught me off guard. He stressed the fact that everything else was good, but it wouldn’t do anything cause there was no hook. I was angry and embarrassed but I listened. He was dead right. So I began to shift my focus on writing hooks and after many years, I am just now feeling like I am writing hooks catchy enough to stay in your brain.
Which comes back to the Rapper. They got the beat already that has pulled you in. Then they keep you there with the hook. I don’t give a damn how stupid or simplistic the hook is. They got you. They are in your head. They tap into the primal human side of rhythm and chant…and THAT IMO is how they make money while the emcee pours there heart out over wax and stays broke.
You also never hear a rapper talk shit about an emcee…
You never hear a dude say “Fuck these Conscious suckas-smart mutha fuckas”
You don’t and won’t hear that.
BUT…an Emcee will down and talk shit about a rapper all fuckin day long. And YES..I am also guilty of it to. It’s kinda like, you are an expert baker (Emcee) and you slave in the kitchen making this awesome cake. You got the ingredients right, it’s decorated, it’s flat out delicious and superior. You sweated and worked your ass off to give the people the best cake that you can make. And then some cat roles up with an oatmeal cream pie in a fancy wrapper (Rapper) and puts you out of business.
It’s fucking frustrating as a writer to see someone who obviously didn’t put the same amount of pride and work into their craft prosper over you. It pisses you off. I was once covered in salt. But as I grew older and started peeping out the formula and realizing this is a whole nother generation raised on different sounds and emcees, I had to chill. It still bothers me but damning and talking down to them isn’t going to change a damn thing. It just makes the divide wider.
They get richer…we get “Mo Bitter”. We got songs and albums dedicated to “Keeping it Hip Hop”.
SO what are the Emcees to do?
This is my opinion…you don’t like it or agree…no probs. But here is what I FEEL needs to be done.
IF you want to remain true to yourself AND be financially secure with your talent. You gotta evolve.
This also depends on what you want outta your career. If you wanna stay Boom Bappin it and spittin the real, by all means, do your thing. If you are comfortable doing what you do, keep doing it.
But the sad reality is, Boom Bap does not sell. I wish it did…Hopefully one day it will come back to the forefront. It’s my foundation and I love that style of grimy production. But the truth is…People aren’t buying the shit. So keep banging like your bangin but do not expect radio play or great finances from it. Unless there is a huge cultural shift back to the essence, the underground will always be just that.
I personally can’t stand for that. It isn’t right. The best at their respective crafts should be exalted and made to be the measuring sticks. But we can’t change that from the outside.
If you are in the game to be an inspiration to the youth, to teach the art of emceeing to the next generation, then you gotta hit their ear with the styles of production that they have come up on and love. You gotta change your sound.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CANNOT SPIT LYRICS OR YOU ARE DUMBING DOWN!
It means that your message that you hold dear to you and feel needs to be heard has a greater chance of being heard if it’s done over production that the target audience wants to hear.
I also began to understand the formula that Beats and Hooks sell and people seemingly don’t give a damn what is said in between hooks…
So I came up with a theory…VERSES PERSONAL-HOOKS UNIVERSAL.
Say what you gotta say and mean every word in them verses but when it comes to the hooks, write them in a way that every human can identify…if not every, as many as possible to have universal appeal.
Case in Point…
Here is my song ‘Casket Drops’..Produced by OthaWordz.
No way in hell you will listen to this and tell anyone that I am not an Emcee. I spit my ass off and if you listen to what I am spitting you will see the “Edutainment” is precisely displayed.
I remain true to myself and beliefs as an Emcee.
But notice the beauty outside of that. THE BEAT is sick…contemporary and banging.
And the Hook applies my theory…
“I cannot be stopped-till my casket drops- and I am reborn again”
That’s universal motivation. Personal, sporting world, etc…
Dig on in!
So BE that EMCEE…Keep spitting your bars. But you gotta update the sound and incorporate catchy hooks into your music if you wanna make an impact in this era.
I’ve come across many talented emcees who have nice beats and bars but no damn hooks. Nobody is trying to hear 4 minutes of super technical emceeing. You gotta have something that sticks with them after the record or performance. Replay value. I’ve learned this the hard way as well.
I refuse to dumb down…
“Dumb down for my audience? I’d rather uplift- till my wisdom is gone-or my arms are stiff”
I will always be an EMCEE…but I know I am not gonna get my views and words and messages heard over certain types of production with no hooks. SO I am evolving and I am loving it. My ear has always been eclectic to, so working with the new sound is not a problem for me.
“Nothing wrong with the aim-just gotta change the target” Jay
The Emcee is alive and still has important lyrics to spit to the World.
And if we are to regain any type of power in the mainstream we gotta come back on some ninja shit. Adjust your game for the current game. Then when the power is regained, we have more opportunities to push our foundation in and restore balance.
Be YOU…Be an EMCEE…But be humble and willing to evolve musically for your own benefit and the benefit of Hip-Hop as a culture.
And finally for you RAPPERS…
Keep doing what you are doing with Beats and Hooks. Obviously it works.
BUT…Got Damn man! Have some pride in your craft. Say something. Stop this elementary school ass rhyming. YOU KNOW in your heart that you are better than this. I’m not talking to everybody out there. There are some real talented commercial cats out there holding it down. I would put Cole and Lamar in that category as far as “New School”. But there are many of y’all who just ramble and talk fuckin nonsense on the mic. Yeah it sells…yeah you got dough. BUT…when all that shit is said and done, how do you wanna be remembered for your craft?
Do you not have any desire to push your own boundaries? Challenge yourself to be the best you can be with your pen or for you newer ones…your phone.
Take pride in your words. They hold much more power than you think. Your influence is far greater than you realize. Do something with that power.
When I was coming up in Hip-Hop it was a SIN to bite another Emcees style. They would call you out for that shit. So this forced people to come original. And when you got a plethora of originality and diversity in music, Everybody wins.
How many cats you know of today who sound like Drake? How many have the same flows? Same subject matter, same videos, same style of dress? C’mon man..
Metaphors, word play, similes, storytelling, politics, social issues….There is a whole World of subjects and styles that can be brought into the fold.
Up your vocabulary. You wanna say this word? Look up the synonym or antonym to say the same thing but not the same thing as everyone else.
Man…I was around when Snoop said..”Animosity-Made you speak what you spoke”
I never heard anybody say that word in music or on the streets before Snoop did. Now that shit is commonplace all these years later…What if he would have said “Jealousy” or “Anger”? wouldn’t have had the same affect.
Get you a rhyming dictionary online or at the book store.
THIS IS NOT CHEATING! I use one myself from time to time.
This is how you learn new words and make your song more interesting as well.
It’s a tool for the craft. Same way a mechanic looks for new wrenches or ways to make their job easier and more effective, Writers got tools to.
And the challenge is still there to make sense of the words.
You can look at rhyming dictionary and see…
But you still gotta work em in…
Rhymes won’t go to WASTE- Pen has expensive TASTE- Some of y’all spit with HASTE- Verdicts in-lost your CASE- Judge pulled a can of MASE- Everyone fled the PLACE- I didn’t give a fuck-Got in my truck and bumped the BASS.
For a quick example- The words are the puzzle pieces…put it together.
DO NOT be afraid to be YOU. This is YOUR legacy. This is your NAME. Have pride in it.
Study the greats…the legends and learn. Be inspired by other styles. Listen to music outside of your Genre to incorporate that sound into your own to make something original.
I think the Emcee can learn some things from the Rapper and likewise.
Balance all this out.
We can debate all day…
Point is this…If you are an Emcee and you want commercial success. DO NOT SELL OUT…Evolve.
If You are a Rapper and want to be held with respect in the halls of Hip Hop History…Step your bars up and say something. You are already moving units. Now do it with some lyrical pride.
If you are happy where you are at and are saying “Fuck this dude and his opinions”…Then best of luck and keep on keeping on.
Best of luck to all of you.