i like rick ross. a lot. in fact, he's probably my favorite rapper around right now. not necessarily the best, but he is by far the most entertaining in my eyes.
i don't know what that says about the state of rap music today, but it is what it is. i got the idea to write about what i view to be a crucial time in rap as i was listening to lil' wayne the other day. he was (as usual) making his claim as the best rapper alive. i got to thinking...is he really the best? here's what i came up with.
lil' wayne is most definitely NOT the best rapper alive. most prolific, probably. funniest and most clever? if not the best, he's definitely in the conversation.
in my estimation, the best one going right now is kanye west. he also happens to be the most polarizing. but i don't think anyone can deny that he has the grandest vision as to what his music can be. no other rapper puts his thoughts and emotions out there like he does. his music is his therapy, like i think the best art is. kanye is rapper as artist in that he paints pictures and landscapes for us, and writes as crisply and creatively as the best novelists do. but nobody wants to acknowledge that because his medium is not universally regarded as art. which is a shame.
who else is in my list of the best? lupe fiasco, eminem and jay-z are at the top. kid cudi is there, and so is royce da 5'9". i dig youngsters like meek mill, drake, and roscoe dash. i think wiz khalifa and odd future* are overrated. i think slim thug and chamillionaire need to come back soon. i think outkast needs to get back to doing what they do best, which is to collaborate and not separate. i think snoop needs to smoke something good and channel himself from 1992-1997, then release something new. i think mike jones and paul wall should go away and never come back. i wonder what happened to ludacris (busy acting, i guess), dmx (cocaine is a helluva drug), dr. dre (a tortured genius?) and nelly (who knows). and i wish 2pac, notorious b.i.g. and pimp c were here to celebrate with us.
(*tyler the creator reminds me of a 3 year old who curses at his parents dinner party to get attention and try to "shock" them.)
right now, rap is at a fork in the road. it's definitely more accepted in the main stream, but it's threatening to become unthreatening. it needs to take a lesson from punk and go back to scaring people and making them tense. the "what are they going to say next?" aspect is what's missing and is one of the biggest things kanye brings to the table. and he knows it. and he's smart about it.
where is the angst? rap music used to be about speaking up about injustice and oppression. these days, it's about cheap puns, money and cars. those things are great, but one can only talk about their maybach in so many ways before people get the point and want to hear about something else. tell a story, be creative.
where's the message in the music? rap is making itself irrelevant as a social commentary. it's a more accepted form of entertainment, which is good for the bottom line. but for the conscience? i guess that chapter remains to be written. hopefully there's a kid listening to common, kid cudi or kanye right now that wants to be the next great voice of a generation. my fingers are crossed.