RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, March 25

Xpert whiteboYZ Video Countdown #003

(used to do this elsewhere, but that place is tumbleweeds, so I do it here now)
In case you don't know, this is my video countdown, where you smoke a bowl or crack a six-pack, sit back, and enjoy some video tomfoolery. Don't rush. Read the bullshit, watch the vids, waste 40 minutes of your life with me. Step back and soak it in, not that I'm doing anything special here by any means. This is just meant to be a meditative moment for you. I am here for you bro (and febros as well). This is a Friday tradition (that hardly ever happens).
So the song that has been boom bumping in my head out loud around the house lately the most oftenest is this song right here...

That is Action Bronson, who I'm pretty sure is white but it's hard to tell (unlike that old Nas song) because he's claming Queens so hard and sounds like Ghostface Killah on ephedrine. Seriously though, as a Deepwater Boom Baptist, I can not find fault in music such as this, regardless of dude being a whitey or not. What usually ends up ruining an awesome guy like Action Bronson for me is looking too hard and finding posse cuts featuring four other guys I never heard of, who are okay but kinda the same, and it's a whole movement, but a tiny movement, and there's like 9 different mixtapes out by these four guys, with seven good songs, and then one of them does a mixtape with like two guys from some other group and Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks and a guy that used to live in DJ Premier's mom's garage did some of the beats, and that's supposed to be a super-group, except the name will end up being something that sounds like an ultra-scientific cat litter brand from the future (which is stupid because everybody knows that in the future all domestic pets will be genetically modified to not shit).
But I digress because what I'd like to ramble through on this Xpert whiteboYZ video countdown today is the white rapper, because I have been a white rapper, and I guess I still am because I scribble words into dollar store composition notebooks and still make half-assed attempts at making perhaps the most lo-fi-tastic music there ever was. I wrote rhymes in high school, and could freestyle, but kept it quiet because there weren't that many people I hung with thinking like that. We mostly used our creativity to figure out ways to get fucked up without getting caught. In college, I found people I could do music with, and there was the unfortunate wack ass era of early Prolo stuff, but we settled into some decent white rapper boom bap music back in the day. I wish I still had some of that shit. But the few shows we played, there was always immense heat with people, because you know, white rappers. Actually, I think this helped me become a much better freestyler because I was always afraid some dude was gonna embarrass the fuck out of me.
Oddly enough, the most hateful haters were usually other white dudes, who somehow were protecting the essence of hip hop by hating other white guys. This happened a ton, and I was guilty of it as well. Early '90s, you could not be a white rapper without being a guilty as fuck dude. For example, Milkbone came along as a prodigy of Naughty by Nature, and really there's nothing wrong with this dude really. Not to get all "back in my day things were better because we did things better back in my day" on you, but lyrically, he's better than your Drakes and Kanyes and Rawses and all those dudes of today who do the simplistic rhyme style thing. Granted he had no charisma to set him apart from anything else from this era, but still, he's like a solid ass whiteboy who can make 20 foot jump shots in the NBA - nothing spectacular but solid. He shouldn't have become the long-time symbol of lulz about white rappers that he has become, and all because of this one video...

At the same time, a white rapper had to try so fucking hard to be down that he had to shun his whiteness. "I always get the pussy 'cause I tell them that I'm Spanish" aka the Dru Ha (of Boot Camp Clique) effect. And the hilarious effect of this was the educated white dudes, lots of times with dreadlocks, who were so down with black culture that they actually felt it their duty to spread the knowledge of black culture to other people, including black folks. I saw this firsthand with an old friend who I've had falling outs with multiple times (currently on the outs, for good), who now sells houses or some shit. But that mentality would lead to things like this...

That's like 15 to 20 years ago, and it's not bad for that era, but I might just be tweaking a bit in nostalgia mode. I do love how that whistle sample makes me want to be really happy about my migraine headache. It's also got me nostalgiac as fuck for some forties. Since that time Eminem came along and made white rapping people acceptable enough to be accepted, and I'm not sure how that actually happened. I mean he had some great punchline material early on when I was first hearing him as a guest rapper on obscure Rawkus Records joints, and when I read an interview where Thirstn Howl III vouched for Eminem, I laid off my natural white guy questioning the validity of a white rapper thing forever at that point. But most of Eminem's music is indistinguishable from itself, and he's become that massive music industry icon type person like Aerosmith or Metallica or U2 that doesn't really do anything so much as there's a formula for a song by them that a computer has buttons pushed by an entertainment exec who adjusts knobs according to recent demographic data and a song spits out the other side. That's what Eminem is. It was interesting seeing him market himself this past Super Bowl in more than one commercial as a dude who doesn't do commercials. Very odd, and it slips through.
But the white rapper has become so commonly accepted that this whole list of douchebag dudes like Mac Mill and Chris Webby and man there was a ton of them that I read earlier this week now exists, touring college campuses and fraternity parties nationwide. I don't think I have enough empty bottles laying around to smash them all. But it was interesting the effect of having white rappers no longer be something that other white people are like, "Hahahaha, this guy sucks, BECAUSE HE'S NOT BLACK AND HE'S RAPPING!" I'm not even gonna address that whole college date rape rap scene, because man, I can't stomach it at all. But look at this other Action Jackson video, because he's obviously from that same 1990s era, at least from a nostalgia point, and is bringing that style...

And another white rapper that I've been enjoying lately, for completely different reasons, is Rittz. There's a tie-in there to Eminem because Eminem is now a music industry big shot with his Shady Records, and just signed Yelawolf to a record deal, but before I get into all that, just enjoy this wacky "White Jesus" video by Rittz, with weird sort of Satanic imagery and a magical floating PBR can. Rittz was signed to Slumerican, which is some sort of kinda label that Yelawolf runs, right around the time Yelawolf got signed to Shady/Aftermath, so I guess the thinking is the shine will rub off on Rittz, who completely mastered the best track off of Yelawolf's buzz-getting mixtape ("Box Chevy- Pt. 3"). Yelawolf is the dude in the priest outfit mouthing the gospel from the pulpit sample at the end...

Rittz definitely looks like a dude I'd hang out with. Hasn't been nearly enough longhaired whiteboy rappers over the years. So Yelawolf had a buzz early last year with his Trunk Muzik mixtape, which was free. Then he got signed to Shady Records, and Interscope also re-released the mixtape, but as a store-bought CD. I wrote about one of the songs on the rap blog the video countdown used to be on, and got a cease-and-desist copyright infringement warning for using the song, even though it was on a freely downloadable mixtape from the previous spring. Not to mention the fact it was just a single song download that was giving attention to a dude who probably would've wanted attention. All this happened because Yelawolf signed to a major label, and major labels have major money to pay people to scour the internet for links. This is why country music is still selling millions because those fuckers in Nashville don't fuck around with the internet. They lock you down.
The thing is, you can't find a download link for Action Bronson's new tape anywhere either, because he made friends with the hip hop blogosphere, and now no one wants to steal his shit from him.
Anyways, I really dug Yelawolf, but he was coming with that southern white rapper proud of his underclass rural dirtbagness, which is, to an extent, portraying a stereotype to the larger rap audience - also white people - but not really any different than studio gangsta rappers of the past. It's just this style is to be a hard ass country dude. Yelawolf did it good, but between the evil lawyer warning to me (my first) and finding Yelawolf's mom on Twitter, I had to detach myself from every co-signing on that dude again. Plus, that southern white country rapper thing, it was done well by Bubba Sparxxx before he went all strip club anthem and Timbaland stopped bankrolling him. And the master of that style is Haystak, who has constantly challenged Eminem to rap battles/fistfights/duels to the death/whatever for a long ass time. Haystak is basically this giant ugly Tennessee dude, who looks like every fucking dude ever that you see at the gas station in more rural areas bumping rap music and filling up his souped out Honda with premium gas while his homeboy is going inside for a couple peach blunt wrappers and some Bud Light double deuces. It's perfect. And because of the traditional white dudes into rap hating on white rappers, and Haystak having been around forever, he gets nothing but hate from most corners of rap fandom. But I will tell you, I bump some fucking Haystak. The dude makes country anthems for the fucked up kids who grew up in the country inside ragged houses and rundown trailers that flew confederate flags but had nothing but hip hop in their headsets from day one. That's a whole underclass right there that gets overlooked, or I guess laughed at. I think when regular folks had to stop making fun of the negroes they decided to just make fun of the broke ass white people, because it's not really prejudice if it's your own kind, is it? (Answer: fuck you whitey!) I wish there was an actual video proper for "The Bottom" but in lieu of that here is another introspective, proud as fuck, hanging out in a pool hall with a bunch of white trash people who have awesomely economical tattoos...

T-shirts cut off at the sleeves, fatboy polos... man, I think I've worked with Haystak. He looks like a volunteer firefighter, and like about 19 dudes I'd pass in the Food Lion in town on a Friday night about 9:30 pm. Because of that, I will always dig on some Haystak. It's country.
So it comes across - white or black - if you just don't give a fuck, carve out your own little corner of the world, you'll have your thing going on. But when it comes to the best white rapper ever - I mean EVER! - I get hung up on this all the time, because most people are just automatically gonna say Eminem, out of his sheer popularity, which is really just a code word for merchandising, because I'm not sure if he's really so popular with the world or just a bunch of people have bought a bunch of things by him. If they can engineer the weather to make earthquakes and grow watermelons without seeds, they can manipulate the media to get 13-year-old girls and boys to buy Eminem CDs.
After him, if you go old school, and because of the self-hype he's always done for himself, people will say Serch from 3rd Bass. Fuck that. Serch is one of those chumps who has to show how down he is with black culture by dogging every other white person in the room. Hence The White Rapper Show. Serch wasn't even the best rapper in his own group - that was Prime Minister Pete Nice, who got the DJ in their divorce, and now coaches little league baseball somewhere or some shit like that.
But hands down, the greatest white rapper that ever was and still is is a dude you never heard of called R.A. the Rugged Man. I'm not sure if he even does music that much anymore, but he made a cut-rate B-grade movie last year. This isn't the best song in the world, but it's the true tale of R.A.'s entry, blacklisting, and exit from the music industry. He's more of a writer now (has a book on boxing coming out soon) than a rapper, and like I said, he did his own movie, and I am not sure if this song was part of that or not, but it is his tale of persevering in the rap world...

R.A. is the real deal shit, who once impressed Biggie in the sound booth so immensely that Biggie co-signed on R.A. as one of the best MCs he's ever worked with - black, white, albino, or P. Diddy created cyborg. But he always represented himself as a white dude, just a gully ass piece of shit white dude.
Brother Ali, who came from the underground Rhymesayers movement in Minnesota, kind of ignored the question for the most part about whether he was white or not, and could play it off, being an albino and being a Muslim. I'm sure this came from him coming from that same era where you pretty much clowned on white dudes into hip hop, and he was trying to avoid that. I will tell you, I saw him perform live a few years back, and really out of all the hip hop I've seen live over the course of my life, the only person who was better on the stage at controlling the whole fucking energy of every fucking person in the room was Ghostface Killah. Brother Ali is amazing, so much so that I had never owned his music before seeing him live, and got most of it, and feel like his studio shit actually is not as good as he is live. That's almost unheard of for a rapper. Generally it's way way WAY the other way around. Here is Brother Ali displaying this to you, in a leisurely manner...

Ahh... good timey one worldliness. I'm not always in the mood to be tolerant and hopeful, especially with hip hop as the soundtrack, but when I am, he fits the bill like no one else. If it's Friday and warm and you just want to get fucked the fuck up until you're seeing slurry doubles, he won't work. But if you want to keep your head about you and conjure up strange 5% philosophies but applied to the white underclass, and poor people in general, sitting around by your homegrown pigs who are fed absconded dumpster produce, then he's the best. In fact, being homeschoolers, my oldest daughter's basic sense of American history comes from three things - the Joy Hakim collection History of Us, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and this song...

Conscious as fuck. But that brings me back to R.A. the Rugged Man, who would never claim to be conscious. Except R.A.'s life story as the son of a Vietnam vet, brothers and sisters born with birth defects from agent orange, fucked up childhood, outcast into rap, struggled in that. He did a verse on a song called "Uncommon Valor" a few years back with a group called Jedi Mind Tricks, and the first verse by the dude in Jedi Mind Tricks is very corny standard run-of-the-mill indy rapper who listened to a lot of Wu Tang type knee-jerk anti-war lyricism. Boring. But R.A.'s verse is reality, and his life, and the story he tells plus the way he somehow makes the human language his complete bitch in the process, repeating linguistical patterns that I'm not sure most languages would even allow you to make coherent sense with, it's fucking great. I always bounce around in my head changing opinion on this, but I have thought this the greatest rap verse ever done been made by anybody at times in my life, and I'd hold it right there at the top regardless. And luckily, in honor of his dad, R.A. clipped off the shitty part from the Jedi Mind Tricks dude and did this little video of his verse by itself...

That, motherfuckers, is a rap. I'm gonna go take some acid and sit out in the camper writing cybertron battle hyms in rhythmic patterns to some Boogie Brown beats I got in the emails last week.

4 comments:

D said...

DAMN!!!! I really liked that Action Bronson Track. Shit, I liked both of them. Yes, he does sound like Ghost with a little Fat Joe mixed in maybe but his content is more profound than the latter and less space-age-slang-atorial-made up than the former. I still don't get that Rittzy dude. It feels to me contrived (much like Milkbone) Everything from his hair to his link and of course the hipster PBR spin. I had never heard of this Haystak cat, but shit, he shares your twang a bit and makes a feel good track for good old (B)Boys. RA, hands down winner 90's flow but his content can really get annoying. Jay-Z actually stole a line from him on the most recent Kanye record, "rape and pillage your village".

Raven Mack said...

when I first heard Action Bronson, my immediate response was "oh shit, this is awesome," and then my second one was, "deric is gonna love this shit." it was funny when I saw that video for the first time the other night and he was driving an old school hooptie too.
rittz is southern, and is one of those rappers (like so many) who's only real talent is showing how talented he is. no stories, no depth, just lyrics, well done, and nothing more. there's no real longevity in that. haystak is awesome, but I think I'm gonna throw together a haystak comp for the next t-shirt maybe, because if you dl any random Haystak cd, there will be at least 4 or 5 songs where you're like, "what the fuck is this shit?" but then he'll have those 2 songs that are pure awesome.

Anonymous said...

I've got to say, I like Haystack...nice,and you are right, rural areas a full of country ass white boys who have been listening to rap from day one.... Also, it's just not little country white boys in the USA either reared on this stuff. I have a buddy from Jordan who told me about underground Islamic rap! I was sort of like, wft? really? I did catch on the news a few weeks a go, that some Tunisian rapper was helping to organize people to take down the "man" - right on.

Here's link to one of the more nefarious Islamo rap tunes, Dirty Kufar...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWZd088e2Lg

Raven Mack said...

yeah I was briefly digging for underground islamic rap a few years back when this Cilvaringz dude came out as part of Wu-Tang b-team, he was all jihadi, but when I started doing that I just ended up in African rap, mostly from Ghana and Nigeria, and honestly I'm surprised more of that hasn't made these lists. I know a while back Sway Dasofo did, but other than him I don't think any of the African shit I was listening to really got mentioned.
It's amazing how worldwide hip hop has become, and yet how much like shitty '70s disco mainstream america rap is right now. I've been waiting for a few years for something to bubble up and push reset on this bullshit, but it still hasn't happened.