At the beginning of this new year, 2010 (pronouced twenty-ten btw) I posed a question on my Facebook page asking what was the better song? Ice-Cube's "It was a Good Day" or Warren G's "Regulators"
"Regulators" has long been a favorite of mine since High School when our basketball team would come out of the locker to the Warren G classic. We even had the "Royal Regulators" long-sleeve shirt that was probably one of my all-time pieces of clothing.
There was something about it. I'm the dorkiest white kid, from a massively white suburb, in a state so white that the most successful marketing campaign in my lifetime is calling my home "The State of Hockey." There was just something about that G-Funk era Rap, with Nate Dogg's smoothe crooning and Warren's prose. (Nate Dogg's Wikipedia page is fantastic, his picture in the upper right-hand corner is his mug shot.)
Recently though It's been Ice-Cube's "It was a Good Day."Both songs are certainly cousins in a way. Both artists probably related somehow and are at the top of the hypothetical Dr. Dre tree. But this song has been grabbing my attention, I can't relate to the song in any way but I do an extra set on the shoulder press when this one comes on my iPod. It just makes me think that Rap isn't what it used to be.
A couple weeks ago local radio station B96 changed formats from an all urban station to a more mainstream format. Yeah they still play Eminem but they're adding a little Jonas Bros. while their at it. There was some outrage over the decision but of course overnight rating for the station have gone up. Besides the natural Racism outcries over the decision it's a pretty safe bet for the station. I work for station LOVE105 and still get bitched at by grimy hipsters at every public event I go to for the station, even though the station changed from it's Alternitive Rock format to Oldies over two years ago.
Every time I say the same thing "Look who spends more money 16-28 year olds or Baby Boomers?" and everytime I get the same blank drug euforic look with no answer.
Rap is the most mainstream of all forms of music right now, believe it. Just look up the top songs in the iTunes store, it doesn't take a genius to see Jay-Z, Ludacris, Kanye West, and Lil' Wayne are 4,000x more popular and recognizable than the guy from Nickleback, that dude from Shinedown, or that emo that calls himself Owl City. The superstar rapper is the new Rockstar. Why do you think Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, and Tom Petty keep dragging themselves out on tours? Two reasons 1. They can and 2. SOMEONE has to do it.
The arena rock anthems and superstar rocker days of old are in their dyeing days. 20 years from now drunk students at the "University of Minnesota-Eden Praire, sponsored by 3M" won't be singing "This Love" or "I Wanna Be a Rockstar" like they do "Don't Stop Believing" and "Living on a Prayer" now. It's Rap's world and we're just living in it. There's a definate reason Miley Cirus' name drops Jay-Z in "Party in the USA" and Ludacris spits some words in Justin Beiber's new song "Baby." In my humble opinion Rock waved the white flag in 2007 when the Shop Boyz released "Party like a Rockstar."When a one-hit wonder like "Shop Boyz" can secretly rip on the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it was a 12th round KO to old farts like Aerosmith. But also in my humble opinion it's songs like "Party like a Rockstar" that prove Rap sucks now. Not all Rap mind you, just most of that stuff that's "so good" that a station like B96 couldn't survive of playing it.
Of course though! I'm just a bitter old man, Things ain't like they used to be. I couldn't figure out why. Why I dislike most Rap now. Alas it's been staring me right in front of my ears.
It started around 2007. Wayne was getting big of it and by the fall of '08 Kanye was releasing an all Auto-Tune album. It's no surprise to me that Kanye's "808s and Heartbreaks" was his first album not to get any major Grammy nominations unlike his previous monster's "The College Dropout", "Late Registration", and "Graduation." Production wise 808s is a sonic boom. The only difference of course is he's not really rapping on it, he's kinda half-singing masking it through Auto-Tune. Of course he embarrassed himself on SNL where you don't have a net.
Tomorrow in part two, I'll tie the loose ends, further explore the disaster that is Auto-Tune and call out some more people (Lady GaGa?). Please share any opinions or comments below!