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Hip Hop 101


Iambaytor
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So there was a point in my life where I basically liked no rap or hip-hop songs. I grew up in the era of MTV where that was basically all they played and I'm not sure if it was bad videos or just a bad sampling of songs but that and being a kid from the Midwest just kinda added up to not liking/understanding rap. My tastes have slowly changed as I've grown, some Kanye West songs here and there, the soundtracks to Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto 5 have introduced me to some I like but I have barely dipped my toe into the waters of the genre. I'm not one of those "I only like Macklemore" assholes (I really only like 2, maybe three of his songs) and I tend to lean toward more EDM stuff (and there I tend to enjoy more bombastic and goofy artists like Kesha and Die Antwoord, totally hate Pitbull though) but I've independently found a few straight-up rappers that I genuinely enjoy like Pigeon John and Ashkon.

 

I've been trying to find stuff a little bit more mainstream but it all just kind of washes over me. I don't think I like Jay Z but that may just be that I don't like the songs I've heard (I really don't care for 99 Problems and basically anything he's done with Kanye has not impressed me) and while I like Kanye's music, his lyrics make Biz Markie seem like a wordsmith (I love Biz but he's borderline inept at lyrics.) I don't think I like the more traditional songs about hustling and drinking expensive champagne and the like but that may also be simply a case of mostly hearing the bottom of the barrel. I do know that I despise Coolio, I can say that without a shadow of a doubt. I've noticed my tastes tend to skew more towards the more musical rather than lyrical but I hate when a rapper samples a song and lets the samples do all the work. I generally hate Eminem but I'm willing to give it a chance if it's not some stupid annoying bullshit like The Real Slim Shady.

 

I mostly don't connect with lyrical songs because I'm borderline autistic when it comes to poetry. That's not a self-deprecating humor either, I genuinely find people's obsession with poetry to be a mysterious thing and have often wondered if that's a sign that I'm on the spectrum. I also have no clue what difference (if any) there is between rap and hip-hop.

 

So to further muddy up the waters, here's a few rap songs I do enjoy.

 

Kanye, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj - Monster (but only Nicki Minaj's verse, I don't really care for her otherwise but she rules this particular song)

Ana Tijoux - 1977 (Yes, I only know of it because of Breaking Bad, no I don't know what the words mean)

Ashkon -

(I also enjoy Hot Tubbin, but it's more of an R&B song)

Pigeon John -

Biz Markie - The Vapors

Da Shootaz -

Kanye West - Gold Digger, Black Skinhead, Power, Can't Tell Me Nothin'

Naughty By Nature - Hip Hop Hooray

Swizz Beats - Top Down

I also totally liked the Sam B songs from the Dead Island games.

 

Also your usual white person standards of Ice Ice Baby, Ninja Rap, It Takes 2 by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Biz Markie's Just a Friend, Bloodhound Gang's The Bad Touch, Thrift Shop, Black Sheep's The Choice is Yours, Cage the Elephant's Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, Gangnam Style, Eddie Murphy's Boogie in Your Butt, House of Pain, M.I.A., Prodigy, Run DMC, MC Hammer,

 

Also your various joke rappers like GMCfosho, Group X, and Brad Neely.

 

I'm just posting those to give a general idea of what I may like but feel perfectly free to ignore it and reccomend whatever. I'll give it a shot no matter what. The point is my collection is sad and I think I'm now mature enough to finally be less of a snob and broaden my horizons concerning the rap/hip-hop genre so I'd like a crash course on some of your guys' favorites (I'm mainly talking to Nick and Panch but I'm sure others have a lot to add to the discussion) and I'm definitely down for your obvious "how the fuck do you not like this yet you fucking idiot" songs but I'm especially looking for anything more off the beaten path.

Edited by Iambaytor
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i'm game!

 

mainstream hip hop - pretty much since its inception - has leaned towards stuff that worked for dancing, so there's a huge overlap with radio & club stuff, which right now tends to lean more towards trap - fun production but it's even more limited/disposable than usual, so i tend to only really dig stuff that experiments: more instrumentation/harmonics etc, since young thug aside the melody/lyricism is pretty standard.

 

either way, this often represents a pretty small amount of the medium, and never moreso than now - there's literally a ton of different sounds/styles going on, more than ever thanks to the digital age & the quality of production going on (there's an amazing number of quality producers from canada, japan, and tons of corners of the US on soundcloud, bancamp, etc). basically, we have fewer superstars than ever, but way more going on...a couple close friends of mine are producers who comb over material from all over & share the best of what they find, and pretty much since the genre had a renaissance from '09 onward, i've hard a hard time keeping up with it. there's something for everybody. i listen to more than most but there's entire worldwide scenes i'm still ignorant of.

 

My tastes have slowly changed as I've grown, some Kanye West songs here and there, the soundtracks to Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto 5

 

GTA tends to go for a popular mix, SA in particular with the west coast sound - harder 90's cali gangsta shit often infused with g-funk sound. can you give specifics on what there you dug? cause i can do a fairly extensive list of what's popular from there & what you should really hear if you liked that.

 

I've been trying to find stuff a little bit more mainstream but it all just kind of washes over me. I don't think I like Jay Z but that may just be that I don't like the songs I've heard (I really don't care for 99 Problems and basically anything he's done with Kanye has not impressed me) and while I like Kanye's music, his lyrics make Biz Markie seem like a wordsmith (I love Biz but he's borderline inept at lyrics.)

 

you're in luck then, 99 problems was literally Rick Rubin (an industry legend, in more than just hip hop) giving a beastie boys-esque beat to Jay that he didn't even think would work. saying you don't like jay with kanye (watch the throne, etc) is one thing, but you may enjoy kanye's production for jay. can you think of any jay-z stuff on his own you enjoyed? i know he's one of the more popular names, but honestly, pretty much anything in the last decade he's done rangers from mediocre to in a huge shadow of the first half of his catalog.

 

I generally hate Eminem but I'm willing to give it a chance if it's not some stupid annoying bullshit like The Real Slim Shady.

 

i tend to be on the outskirts of even classic hip-hop heads, because em is not on my top 10...i feel like the better/earlier half of his work ages terribly. i don't deny his talent as a battle rapper but his source material & ability to construct a song isn't always great....honestly i don't know if you'll like much of that classic track of his didn't find you but others might have more recommendations.

 

I mostly don't connect with lyrical songs because I'm borderline autistic when it comes to poetry. That's not a self-deprecating humor either, I genuinely find people's obsession with poetry to be a mysterious thing and have often wondered if that's a sign that I'm on the spectrum. I also have no clue what difference (if any) there is between rap and hip-hop.

 

i've had a number of friends who have to look at lyrics/annotations to get into them - again, fortunately these days even the more lyrical artists tend to have better production which really helps. some people dig lyrical cadence/complexity, some clever lyricism, some just dig certain styles or voices. for me, there's a ton of guys like Canibus, Pappoose (haha), most of Slaughterhouse etc that lean towards multi-syllable lyrical miracle styles but they can't do a hook/chorus to save their life & i get annoyed if an artist's voice is grating so i can't make it through an album of any of these guys.

 

for years, the rap/hip hop dichotomy was this thing heads would do to partition off stuff they didn't like...i've never really had much use for this, but tend to lean towards KRS-1's quote on rap as the thing you do, and hip hop as the culture/what you live. also, anyone who tells you what is or isn't real hip hop in 2017 is prolly kinda an asshole.

 

Kanye, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj - Monster (but only Nicki Minaj's verse, I don't really care for her otherwise but she rules this particular song)

 

yeah this is a go-to for a lot of people, Kanye actually wrote that verse for her. Minaj is a rather talented MC that i'd argue could actually outrap Drake and prolly Wayne at this point but she has no need/desire to since the pop-rap lane pays her a lot better, so i can safely say you're prolly good tossing her in the bushes outside of said verse but it's your call, you're just not likely to find much past her early freestyles in that vein is all

 

Ana Tijoux - 1977 (Yes, I only know of it because of Breaking Bad, no I don't know what the words mean)

 

 

yeah, Donatella put me onto her & her rythmn is nice. i gotta dive into the rest of that album but people i respect have recommended it for a minute now.

 

Biz Markie - The Vapors

 

Biz comes from the early school of jokey/shit-talking raps, have you dug any other singles from dude?

 

Kanye West - Gold Digger, Black Skinhead, Power, Can't Tell Me Nothin'

 

i tend to really enjoy most of his works right up to his last album, and can happily point to my favorite tracks on most of the albums those came from if it's helpful - Black Skinhead is an interesting choice, did you try much off Yeezus? it's a pretty polarizing album.

 

Also your usual white person standards of Ice Ice Baby, Ninja Rap, It Takes 2 by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Biz Markie's Just a Friend, Bloodhound Gang's The Bad Touch, Thrift Shop, Black Sheep's The Choice is Yours, Cage the Elephant's Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, Gangnam Style, Eddie Murphy's Boogie in Your Butt, House of Pain, M.I.A., Prodigy, Run DMC, MC Hammer,

 

most of this is on the pop end of classic Boom Bap stuff, which really isn't hard to point like-sounded tracks, fortunately. do you have/use spotify? it wouldn't be terribly difficult to find/toss together a samper playlist.

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Whenever anyone asks for hip-hop recommendations, I always go back to the albums that got me into the genre. My sister's friends used to lend me cassettes and CDs when I was in late middle school and throughout high school so this is all 90s stuff but these albums changed my musical taste in a big way back then!!

 

A Tribe Called Quest- Midnight Marauders

Fugees- The Score

Nas- Illmatic

Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)

Mos Def- Black on Both Sides

 

As far as stuff I listen to that's "off the beaten path" (which I just take to mean I don't hear on regular radio, apart from my satellite stations)... Ana Tijoux is my girl so I was happy to see her on your list! I like both her 1977 (it's the name of the album as well) and La Bala albums. I would highly recommend finding translations online because her shit is really political and the stories behind many of her songs are inspiring. I like Del the Funkee Homosapien's Both Sides of the Brain. Also stuff by Gang Starr, M.O.P., Run the Jewels, People Under the Stairs...I'm sure I'm missing some! I will consult my various playlists and return.

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Well I'm not surprised to find out that this was much more complicated than I imagined but I'm not deterred. Also, I forgot to put Azealia Bank's 212 on my list of rap songs I enjoy, I enjoy that song a lot and can't find much that's like it. I'm not big on most of her other stuff: Ice Princess and Chasing Time are decent but everything else I've heard has been pretty okay 90s-sounding stuff or her just yelling unintelligibly in the general vicinity of a microphone.

 

GTA tends to go for a popular mix, SA in particular with the west coast sound - harder 90's cali gangsta shit often infused with g-funk sound. can you give specifics on what there you dug? cause i can do a fairly extensive list of what's popular from there & what you should really hear if you liked that.

 

Well the thing I've noticed about a lot of the 90s songs (because most of what I like is on San Andreas' soundtrack) is that I like the music and lyrics but not the horrible whistling, screeching, or siren sounds that play on the backing track. So stuff like Public Enemy's Rebel Without a Pulse, Big Daddy Kane's Warm it Up, or Above the Law's Murder Rap is good in theory but also completely unlistenable in practice. I really like Slick Rick's Children's Story even though he could not possibly be more off-key the entire song, the aforementioned Biz Markie's The Vapors and Rob Baes E-Z Rock on It Takes Two and Swizz Beats' Top Down from GTA IV. I'd have to go through the track lists one by one to come up with more as I don't know most of the songs by name.

 

you're in luck then, 99 problems was literally Rick Rubin (an industry legend, in more than just hip hop) giving a beastie boys-esque beat to Jay that he didn't even think would work. saying you don't like jay with kanye (watch the throne, etc) is one thing, but you may enjoy kanye's production for jay. can you think of any jay-z stuff on his own you enjoyed? i know he's one of the more popular names, but honestly, pretty much anything in the last decade he's done rangers from mediocre to in a huge shadow of the first half of his catalog.

 

That's just it, I haven't heard but maybe 3 Jay Z songs. One is 99 Problems and the others were collabs, Niggas in Paris and Monster. I mostly don't care for his cadence or the slightly pouty sound of his voice but that's an entirely uninformed opinion so any stronger tracks you've got would be welcome.

 

i tend to be on the outskirts of even classic hip-hop heads, because em is not on my top 10...i feel like the better/earlier half of his work ages terribly. i don't deny his talent as a battle rapper but his source material & ability to construct a song isn't always great....honestly i don't know if you'll like much of that classic track of his didn't find you but others might have more recommendations.

 

Eminem is likely a lost cause but I know he's one a lot of people like and I'm willing to entertain the idea that I just need to hear the right song or just really listen to it to get on board. But I would say he's probably a lost cause, just not as much of a lost cause as Pitbull and Coolio.

 

i've had a number of friends who have to look at lyrics/annotations to get into them - again, fortunately these days even the more lyrical artists tend to have better production which really helps. some people dig lyrical cadence/complexity, some clever lyricism, some just dig certain styles or voices. for me, there's a ton of guys like Canibus, Pappoose (haha), most of Slaughterhouse etc that lean towards multi-syllable lyrical miracle styles but they can't do a hook/chorus to save their life & i get annoyed if an artist's voice is grating so i can't make it through an album of any of these guys.

 

And unfortunately I can't really help clarify what I'm looking for there. I say I don't like lyrical rap but that Ashkon song I linked is super lyrical and I said I don't care for songs that let the sample do all the work but I also said I liked It Takes Two. I'll even say I don't like your traditional gangsta style rap, and I don't, but it's something I'm fine with whenever I like the music and a good hook or chorus can save a song for me.

 

yeah this is a go-to for a lot of people, Kanye actually wrote that verse for her.

 

Seriously? Then why is Kanye's verse such a wet fart? I mean, it is admittedly better than Jay Z's whiny humblebrag verse, but still a marked decline from the Nicki Minaj verse. That verse is really the only good part of the song other than the chorus.

 

Minaj is a rather talented MC that i'd argue could actually outrap Drake and prolly Wayne at this point but she has no need/desire to since the pop-rap lane pays her a lot better, so i can safely say you're prolly good tossing her in the bushes outside of said verse but it's your call, you're just not likely to find much past her early freestyles in that vein is all

 

Yeah I really don't dig her heavily remixed weirdo pop-rap stuff but if you know of any of her more pure rap stuff that's in a similar vein I'd give it a shot. I'll definitely file Lil Wayne in the "HATE" section and Drake in the "it's alright, don't care for it" section Maybe he's got some good stuff but it all sounds like pretty generic radio junk to me.

 

Biz comes from the early school of jokey/shit-talking raps, have you dug any other singles from dude?

 

Just a few half-hearted searches on Youtube and a career retrospective video that Todd in the Shadows did for his One-Hit Wonderland series. He's not really what I'd call a good rapper, but he's got a certain shaggy dog quality that I like in spite of his lyrical ineptitude. I'd be down for more Biz, I just haven't found anything else that speaks to me.

 

I have never listened to a Kanye album, just tracks I've heard here and there. I did watch that long self-indulgent music video with the angel lady he made a few years back and can't recall any songs from it I liked. I like Bound 2 but that's just because it tickles my taste for absurdly weird music. Amber turned me on to Black Skinhead.

 

I don't have spotify and am only dimly aware of what it is, but I can get an account easily enough.

 

A Tribe Called Quest- Midnight Marauders

Fugees- The Score

Nas- Illmatic

Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)

Mos Def- Black on Both Sides

 

That's wonderful, the exact kind of stuff I'm looking for. I'm at least vaguely aware of all of those artists. Do any particular tracks stick out as absolute greats? I will say that I think overplaying has pretty much destroyed any chance of me enjoying Killing Me Softly.

 

And "off the beaten path" basically just means "any rappers I'm not likely to have heard of. I've been meaning to look deeper into Ana Tijoux and my one attempt to find a translation of 1977 was met with disaster but I'll check into that more. And I'll look into Del the Funkee Homosapien, Gang Starr, M.O.P., and People Under the Stairs. I'm defintely overdue to listen to Run the Jewels.

 

I hear Atlanta has a pretty solid rap scene, does anyone know of any good rappers out of there? Is Donald Glover any good? Also, many of my reccomendations thus far have come from Jesse Thorn's podcast and he made a comment circa-2007ish that M.I.A. is basically a poor man's Missy Elliot. I never considered that they might be analogous artists, so is that an accurate statement and if so what might someone who likes M.I.A. enjoy out of the Missy Elliot catalogue?

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Atlanta now is/has been huge on trap, before they (and a lot of places in the south) had a really interesting scene that grew out of not sounding like NY or Cali. you've no doubt heard some Outkast, who share dungeon family roots with Cee-Lo & Killer Mike (the later of Run the Jewels). there's really not a lot of Outkast you can go wrong with.

 

Childish Gambino (Glover), Chance the Rapper & guys like that have a lot of options, yeah...but that's a weird comment that you heard, i don't see a lot of Missy in MIA at all, personally. i've never really been a fan of the latter, but Missy's earlier stuff is weird/creative at times in a way that sounds good over Timblanad beats, whereas the latter half of her stuff (while also good) is a lot more radio oriented.

 

Azelia Banks is a dumpster fire of a human being but like you, i dug 212 and even much of her one album that finally dropped. it's a shame she's such a mess.

 

Donny put some of my all-time favorites in that list of hers, which got me thinking - she & i have this project where we're compiling a best of sampler type of spotify playlist for a friend of hers, mostly 90s/maybe some early aughts (if that) but basically he's also someone outside the genre that wants to hear the biggest/most popular stuff from different places + the better tracks off those albums that didn't make the radio. i'm thinking that might be helpful here too, if you're down?

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I always forget Outkast. They've never been a favorite but I don't think I've ever disliked anything I've heard.

 

It seems Azealia Banks is the one black woman accused of being an angry crazy black lady who actually is that and worse. (In my lonely nightmares I see her shit-crusted chicken blood closet.)

 

Yeah, I'm down for the playlist, it'd be a good starting place at least. I'll go get a spotify account.

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  • 4 months later...

better late than never! hip hop 101 playlist

 

again bear in mind, it's for a friend who has next to no exposure to the genre at all, so i tried to just put 2-3 of the more popular songs by a given artist, and tried mixing in radio friendly ones with influential/cult ones here & there too. it was pretty limiting (dudes like jay-z have next to nothing on spotify) but i figure it's a decent start!

 

gonna add to it as i go. should've specified it's a 90's list, though i did cheat & use some early aughts kanye/native tongue stuff here & there.

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