x CB » A Labyrinth, A Maze (5): The Internet’s Trying To Kill Me

A Labyrinth, A Maze (5): The Internet’s Trying To Kill Me

gibbs

I thought I escaped these movements. But today a blogger who doesn’t particularly like street minded hip hop set me off again by blogging about the instant classic status of one such album. Yeah, I’m back in the labyrinth, this time to consider another variable: the critical darling status of country rap revivalists Freddie Gibbs and Pill.

Don’t get me wrong, Gibbs and Pill are both good to great rappers but they have become blog/msm favorites for an entirely different reason. They make music for a certain type of fan – ones who either grew up on UGK/Outkast/Ball&G or ones that wish that they did. They are what Little Brother was to Pete Rock and Tribe Called Quest. The new Okayplayers of Country Rap Tunes. The (perceived) golden age of Southern rap is now a good 10-15 years behind us. The cream has risen and with it critical norms that never existed. Where Pete Rock coexisted with Da Youngstas, UGK shared the same space as Silkk The Shocker. But we no longer have to acknowledge the latter, aesthetically inferior examples. The imperfections have been erased. What forms is a fictionalized nostalgia, a rewrite.

I imagine Gibbs’ Master P homage is lost on a large chunk of his internet fanbase, or at best it’s read as ironic. And when Shawty Lo or Wacka Flocka quietly channel less easily canonized southern legends like Kilo or Pastor Troy they are met with critical crickets, but Gibbs paying tribute to Pimp C it’s comfort food to the same rap writers that weren’t entirely sure what “PAT” stood for when they first heard “Big Pimpin’.”

Pill and Gibbs are artists who have studied their predecessors closely, who have the intellectual capacity and skill level to follow their formula, but have thus far been too wrapped up in those standards to evolve beyond them. Like Little Brother before them, they are able to synthesize just about everything but the flair (dare I say swagger?) of their rap heroes. Their personalities don’t engage on the level of an Andre 3000 or Pimp C. And I’m sure if you were to ask them, they’d tell you of course not, those are the greats. They, like their audience, put their predecessors on an unattainable pedestal, which is a self limiting standard. This might also be part of the reason that “Trap Goin’ Ham” hasn’t seen the same localized love as, say, “Oh Let’s Do It.” (Aesthetically the two songs aren’t all that dissimilar.) For all their talents neither Pill or Gibbs have been able to engage the current day audience (the vaguely defined youth) on the personal level that Waka has. I’m not sure they intend to either.

But they have fully engaged the critics, through both false nostalgia (2 Pac and Biggie tributes, mixtape-as-album constructs) and other rockist/criticist gestures like artful videos. And it doesn’t hurt that both have incredibly internet savvy teams behind them.[2] Bog gatekeepers like Eskay, Gotti, the 2DBz don’t have the patience or interest to whittle through seventeen pages of Jon Geezy studio outtakes to find the greatest rapper on Traps N Trunks, so they latch onto the ones that are prepackaged and formally delivered to them. This tunnel ends not with fans but with mainstream critics like Weiss, Frere-Jones and Caramanica. Guys who don’t seem all that invested in street music on a day to day basis.[3] Meanwhile similar talents with lesser web finesse – All Star, Attitude, P. Dukes – get lost in the shuffle. Even the Gucci Mane story was ignored by the mainstream over the past 18 months as he became the most popular street/underground rapper in the country. Only because his team wasn’t working the high brow internet angle. (And still today, where is the Times/New Yorker love?)

This is all understandable This is the game and it is meant to be played. But let’s not act like it’s anything else, that the press Freddie and Pill have received is any purer than that given to Wale or Asher Roth. Or that the (relative) success of those (gag) gangster killers is somehow holding them back from being big stars. All four of these artists are on the exact same circular track. There is no stardom to be earned from blog or critical resonance, only niche respect.

[1] Case in point – Weiss suggests: “Had ["Womb To The Tomb"] been released in 1994, it would’ve owned Yo! MTV Raps for months, earned terrestrial radio play, sold 250,000 cassingles, and won the duo face time in various rap magazines.” This is just pure fantasy. Street rappers from Indiana most certainly did not get Yo!, The Source or radio love in the 90s. In their time acts like Gibbs and Pill would have been relegated to regional favorite status like the Dayton Family and Ghetto Mafia before them.
[2] Shouts to Lambo and Whiteboy D.
[3] #noshots. Following rap music has become a fully immersive experience, I don’t imagine anybody who is also covering pop music across the board would have the time or energy to explore hip hop accurately.

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171 Responses to “A Labyrinth, A Maze (5): The Internet’s Trying To Kill Me”

  1. Jayson Greene Says:

    While I always really enjoy these posts — I love wandering the labyrinth as much as the next man — I have to admit the tone you take in these arguments is sometimes odd, even baffling. I’m not entirely sure you intend it, for instance, but the weird, spiteful dismissiveness of “rockist/criticist gestures like artful videos” is almost hilarious. Oh right, THAT old quick-success route: Make something good!

    While I understand itching at watching the new critical consensus form around UGK over the past year (shit, it wasn’t even really around in this kind of full force when Underground Kingz was crash-landing on the charts), I’m also kind of amused to watch how determinedly you keep moving to the perceived left of whatever the perceived “center” is.

    Oh, and this “Gibbs and Pill are the Little Brother of the Dirty South” angle you and David are flogging is, uh, overstated, to put it mildly.

  2. DR. NO Says:

    I think you left out your 4th footnote.

  3. Mark Mays Says:

    All-Star got picked up by the Grey Lady, if you recall. All that got him was a shout out in the local paper for getting in another mainstream press outlet (meta inferiority complexes, etc) And he does play the Internet game, which IMO is his prob. Still on that mixtape shit. Put out a damn record already.

    I thought Little Brother was the Little Brother of the Dirty South.

  4. sherm Says:

    while i agree that these two have become something like “media darlings” to the hip-hop blogging community (and, to an extent, the world of music criticism), i must point out several things. (at least part of) the reason why Pill and Freddie Gibbs have received more attention than, say, Waka Flocka, is because these two emcees can actually spit. these two guys have undeniable skills, even if their personas leave something to be desired. but remember, neither has dropped an “album” yet, and mixtapes, especially at the beginning of one’s career, may just be a showcase for lyrical prowess and songwriting ability. surely one must save *something* for the album….i’m old enough and have been a hip-hop fan long enough to know a good (great?) emcee when i hear one. these two are both very good, and at least one of them will turn out to be great. i’ll let you decide who i think that’s gonna be.

  5. noz Says:

    “i must point out several things. (at least part of) the reason why Pill and Freddie Gibbs have received more attention than, say, Waka Flocka, is because these two emcees can actually spit. these two guys have undeniable skills”

    These are intangible delegations and basically mean nothing, especially to the New Yorker’s audience.

  6. DJ Giraffo Says:

    *Breaks out popcorn*

  7. Brian B.Dot Miller Says:

    I feel as if your views are somewhat ambivalent. If anything, Pill and Gibbs’ media coverage and praise are warranted soeley based on dope music. Both of their mixtapes (4180: The Prescription and Boxframecadilliakmuzik are great reflections of their skill sets). Not disrespect to the other artists you’ve mentioned, Attitude, All Star, etc. but maybe their missing a component to their overall package.

    Lastly, for you to even mention Shawty Lo and Wacka Flocka in the same sentence as Past Tory is blasphemous within itself. I’m disappointed in you Noz

  8. DQ Says:

    If they are good to great rappers then i don’t really see a problem. And if they are then the blog love is purer in the sense of deserved. I don’t really understand this reaction to it (i think david so many shrimp has had a similar reaction). I would never say Gibbs lacks personality. And I don’t think he had to gain a huge buzz on Gary streets (if that’s even possible) to be somehow more authentic than to be buzzed about by ppl who heard his shit through the internet.

    As I pointed out in the comments to your Pill NYT post linked above (and as you accepted, but left the post uncorrected and are now referencing it to make an argument? uh?), Caramanica follows his own lights, and it isn’t being lead by what’s hot on the blogs that’s led him to get coverage of figures like Arabian Prince, Mr. Magic (while alive!), mixtapes, and “regional rap” into the pages of the NYT (!) on a roughly weekly basis. I’m not aware of any blog love that caused him to give Dorrough five grafs in the old Gray Lady. You seem to vacillate between thinking of Caramanica as a “head”, and painting him as some kind of dilettante. Make up your mind.

    Frere-Jones is a different case. That piece read like an account of the three rap albums he’d heard that year. Two were Event albums unavoidable for a music writer. The third was passed to him via internet (first mentioned it here ) and then with the blog love and label situation seemed important enough to get away with constructing his narrative out of.

    It’s reeaaaally contrarian and to me, incoherent, to have some kind of vague beef with people blogging about good to great rappers.

  9. jordan s Says:

    yes, for better or worse, gibbs & pill are “our” mickey factz & charles hamilton

  10. DQ Says:

    Positing that there’s some group who thinks the Gibbs cover reference is ironic is way more of a fantasy than “Womb to the Tomb” being on Yo! MTV Raps. WTF.

  11. DANJ! Says:

    As a self-admitted nostalgia freak, I can also admit that in some cases, anything that gives ‘critics’ the slightest hint of nostalgia gets them all head over heels before they dig into the actual quality of the product. In some cases, as you said, it borders on false nostalgia- the kind that makes everything old great and everything new awful.

    And that Weiss quote at the bottom epitomizes that… closer to the truth, it would likely have gotten semi-decent rotation on Rap City, a 3-mic review in the Source, and little to no radio. I don’t really like to do the ‘what if?’ games with new music/artists, because there’s honestly no way to be sure what would/wouldn’t have happened back in the day. It’s the same as when people say “(insert rapper who can’t rap here) wouldn’t have had a chance in the ’90s”, like every single artist in the ’90s was some kind of lyrical wizard. I think it makes people more comfortable to assume that there was some kind of forcefield preventing lesser-talented artists to make music back then, when those of us who actually were around know better than that.

    I’ve not extensively listened to either of these dudes’ music, but I respect their angle. Everybody doesn’t have to come out aspiring to be whatever the hot-at-the-moment thing is, and I like that there are people paying homage to those classic records. But things like that do tend to make some people take the bait JUST as fast as they claim the “robots” take the bait for the Guccis and OJs of the world.

    -D!

  12. david Says:

    “these two emcees can actually spit. these two guys have undeniable skills, even if their personas leave something to be desired”

    ahh the old “satriani is better than hendrix” routine

  13. noz Says:

    “As I pointed out in the comments to your Pill NYT post linked above (and as you accepted, but left the post uncorrected and are now referencing it to make an argument? uh?),”

    No actually I am linking it to acknowledge that “Caramanica wrote about Pill in the New York Times.” I changed it so it links directly to the NYT site, if that clears things up.

    The point of the post wasn’t to call any of these writers out but to explain *why* it seems like these virtually unestablished street rappers are getting love from major media outlets and blogs (like Weiss’) that are diametrically opposed to the type of music that they make. I think Jordan pretty much summed it up concisely above. These guys are blog rappers, for better or worse.

  14. DJ Giraffo Says:

    Please keep Charles Hamilton out of this discussion until either Pill or Gibbs get punched in their face by a woman for rapping.

  15. david Says:

    good post danj!

    I think the thing w/ these dudes is that i like the music they’re referencing/copying/in the style of, so im more open to listening to it & i hope they really grow as artists & start making music that feels more interesting to me. But once u get past the signifying of “btw we’re like 90s gangster rap” theres not much else there to dig into. I’m not feeling anything really novel about these albums — they’re just solidly made. So I dont really feel the urge to go back to them. If i want a ‘murder on my mind’ type track i might as well just bump adrenaline rush & remember when that type of track sounded really fresh & unique

  16. jordan s Says:

    gibbs probably has no interest in the mainstream, but pill definitely does. he raps over ryan leslie & 808 beats, has worked with tha bizness etc. i think he’s too raw really to connect with a mainstream audience even in the way that shawty lo did. and i don’t think it’s about “lyricism” or anything like that, but could pill launch a career out of street music like t.i. did? could he write a “24′s” or a “rubberband man”? i think he has the aptitude do, but i’m not sure if he has the personality connect w a huge number of people.

  17. DocZeus Says:

    I really don’t know where to begin with this bullshit…

    When you realize that you write for the same type of mainstream publications as Weiss, Frere-Jones and Carmanica do, you are going to be shocked at the pettiness of this rant. The fact that you don’t realize that you are part of the same blog echo chamber as every other blogger and critic continues to be simply baffling.

    I mean fucking christ, you…just…posted a Pill mixtape today as your last post. Are you seriously going at Jeff Weiss because he expresses the same level of appreciation for Freddie Gibbs and Pill that you do?

  18. Brian B.Dot Miller Says:

    These guys are blog rappers, for better or worse.
    ^
    Blog rappers? Hardly. Being out here in NY, I’ve heard “Trap Goin Ham” on the corner of Fulton St and Troop Ave. in Brooklyn about a week ago. The same song blasted from someones car speakers in South Jamaica, Queens prior to that. The music is connecting on the ‘net and a street level for its authenticty.

  19. david Says:

    yeah but ny also bumped asher roth on hot 97

  20. famzuns Says:

    sacrificial lambs

  21. jordan s Says:

    doc, i think it’s possible to bump (and blog about) pill and still try and take a step back and be like “this guy can really rap but he isn’t the be all/end all of 2009 street rap”

  22. david Says:

    doczeus where does noz say anything about it being a ‘problem’ that these guys write for big publications?

  23. markkus Says:

    The general idea of this has already been talked about but good read!

  24. AaronM Says:

    I see what you’re saying, Noz, and you raise a lot of good points, esp. about these artists essentially all working the same circuit – blog love leads to blog hype, then coverage in the print mags.
    But at the same time, I feel like there’s a lot of unwarranted bitterness that’s driving your arguments. Reading this, I get the impression (and granted, this is an impression) that you’re mad that people don’t know as much about/listen to as much rap as you. Or haven’t been listening to it as long as you.
    I had never heard a 8ball & MJG album or a Z-Ro album until I contributed to Weiss’s Top 50 list – that’s since been remedied.
    If Gibbs and Pill’s success result in even one listener seeking out an old UGK, Master P or Killer Mike album, that’s a good thing. Shit, I’d happily excise 2 MF Doom albums from the Passion Top 50 to get Devin and Ro on there.

    And why not write mixtape reviews or more in-depth writeups of artists like P. Dukes and All Star, instead of complaining that other people aren’t doing it? These regional scenes can be a little overwhelming for people new to them and you’re really good at writing about regional scenes. I’d love to read some more about some non-Wale D.C. rap too.

  25. jordan s Says:

    it’s also one thing to post links to pill & gibbs, it’s a whole different thing to write

    “There are tributes to both Biggie and 2Pac and it seems fitting, considering Gibbs and Pill are arguably the first gangsta rappers to come up in their wake to offer a new prototype, a triangulation of 2Pac’s searing emotional tangents and Biggie’s cold-blooded New York City lyricism”

    this is just obviously a totally insane statement.

  26. Gerard Says:

    I interpret this post as saying this, “Certain blogs indicate liking certain rap, and if they deviate from writing about that certain rap, and indicate liking other rap, they are wishy washy”.

  27. Sean Says:

    This whole shit is all about pageviews and I am not mad.

  28. skinny Says:

    calling out pill and gibbs for having “an internet savvy team” is the ’10 version of accusing someone of selling out. so they have good marketing. you think flocka couldn’t afford that?

    and as for the skill convo … all value judgements aside, can we agree that “trap goin ham” is way more accessible than “let’s do it,” if for no other reason than cuz it has consonants in its hook?

  29. david Says:

    & ‘rappers need skillz’ dudes need to read this
    http://danteross.com/blogs/jzone/2009/11/17/j-zones-guilty-pleasures-great-bad-rappers/

  30. Post-midnight Youtube filler: Generation X – Dancing With Myself (#61, June 1981) « Ich Lüge Bullets Says:

    [...] though. Right now there’s a good ol’ fashioned titlefight going on between Weiss and Noz with Deej playing the Harvey Wippleman role. Go and read it, all we’re gonna do here is [...]

  31. August Says:

    I actually have to side with PoTW on this one, which in these meta-blogging arguments is relatively rare. I understand where you’re coming from in feeling that the love for Pill & Gibbs stems from a nostalgia for the sound of the pioneers. I believe this does account for some of their critical acclaim, however I disagree that the artists in question deliberately crafted their music to invoke said nostalgia. They make their inspirations clear (so has Gucci, and you applauded him for doing it) but I see very little resemblance in actuality between the artists and those they grew up on. Pill sounds nothing like Three Stacks, and frankly Gibbs doesn’t sound like anybody else. Anybody can play on nostalgia, but what makes these two interesting is their unique personalities. Pill brings a wholly new dimension to the trap rapper, embracing the style but also overtly embracing intellectualism. On the other hand Gibbs has great swagger, especially evident in songs like “Something You Should Know,” and he has a technical rapping ability that I haven’t heard in years. These are greats regardless of time period and I think it is legitimate to lament the lack of recognition they have seen outside of those of us who are hardcore fans of the genre.

  32. mark p. Says:

    The difference between the two is that Pill is still VERY much tied in with the ATL trap rap thing. He makes it clear what his favorite era of southern rap is, but “Trap Goin’ Ham” sure as hell couldn’t have been written by Khujo Goodie or even Pastor Troy circa 1998.

    The reason Waka’s song is massive and Pill’s isn’t? Because one is a Gucci affiliate and the other is a Killer Mike affiliate. ATL is completely obsessed with one, they are only marginally obsessed with the other. I really believe that there isn’t anything more to it than that.

    If you’re going to group all of these guys in a category though, I’d add KD and Playboy Tre to the list.

    For the record, sometimes I wish I’d just downloaded the Gibbs, Playboy Tre, KD and Pill tapes and not tried to wade through the rest of the mixtapes at T&T and DGB as well (I listen to literally all of them except for the artists I don’t have any time for).

  33. jordan s Says:

    Pill brings a wholly new dimension to the trap rapper, embracing the style but also overtly embracing intellectualism.

    look, this is just insane. the guy is a good rapper, but pill isn’t more ‘intellectual’ than b.g./juvenile/wayne, t.i., killer mike, etc etc etc

  34. david Says:

    “Pill sounds nothing like Three Stacks, and frankly Gibbs doesn’t sound like anybody else. Anybody can play on nostalgia, but what makes these two interesting is their unique personalities. Pill brings a wholly new dimension to the trap rapper, embracing the style but also overtly embracing intellectualism. On the other hand Gibbs has great swagger, especially evident in songs like “Something You Should Know,” and he has a technical rapping ability that I haven’t heard in years.”

    is that meant to be a description of their ‘unique personalities’?

  35. david Says:

    Sean I would think this is about page views in as much as “adding original content to the discourse” is ever about page views. I think this is also about taking an honest look at rap music discourse & its biases

  36. david Says:

    (er the biases of its participants)

  37. DocZeus Says:

    This is from Noz’ comments in the comment section but this better explains his “intentions” that I can:

    “The point of the post wasn’t to call any of these writers out but to explain *why* it seems like these virtually unestablished street rappers are getting love from major media outlets and blogs (like Weiss’) that are diametrically opposed to the type of music that they make. I think Jordan pretty much summed it up concisely above. These guys are blog rappers, for better or worse.”

    Basically, the implication being is that these critics are novices with street rap because they aren’t writing exclusively about street rap and therefore, its problematic that they write their ill-thought conclusions in mainstream publications. That alone on its surface is needlessly accusatory.

    My problem isn’t so much Noz’ basic thesis or conclusions (although, I personally disagree with pretty much all of it) but as Jayson said, the TONE of the piece. It comes across as this petty rant against Weiss for deigning to write positively about some artists he might not usually like (“allegedly”). So you are upset that Weiss likes Pill and Gibbs when you do too? Why even write this piece?!

    My main beef with the continued bullshit that is the anti-blog rap/media hype “Labyrinth” series is that it continues to ignore Noz’ own particular role in the blog media hype machine. Noz runs one of the most successful blogs around. In terms of the rap blog community, its about as extremely influential as they come. He also dabbles in the mainstream media when he writes for such media entities as National Public Radio. He’s not an outsider to these communities so it seems strangely hypocritical to go on and on about the evils of the blog media hype machine when you are contributing to the same machine himself.
    I mean really whats the philosophical difference in his own argument between claiming that “Gucci Mane is a lyrical genius” and “Midwestboxframecadillacmuzik is an instant classic”. Both are hyperbolic statements based on a genuine enthusiasm for the product at hand.

    I fully understand my criticisms of him are fully ad hominem but when the basic thesis of these things are based on some hypocritical conceit I feel they are unfortunately necessary.

  38. david Says:

    “so it seems strangely hypocritical to go on and on about the evils of the blog media hype machine when you are contributing to the same machine himself.”

    no, it doesnt

  39. DQ Says:

    Why are writers so concentrated on how “actually” popular rappers are and if they are not, whether they are gonna “blow up” or not? It doesn’t look like you need popular acts to sell an editor a story. What’s wrong with writing about “niche”?

    david hasn’t, as far as i can tell, listened to Miseducation (which has way more depth than midwestgangsta tho it’s not a polished record like midwest is; hearing midwest without it is a diminished experience) and doesn’t get buzzed off midwestgangsta. OK no problem. Other people do.

    david gets buzzed off the shock of the new, i.e. Gucci’s icy delirium, and i guess buzzed off the fact that what he likes is a bigger part of the wider culture than other things. Personally I’m kind of amazed that for once critics aren’t all breathless about the new thing. I guess street rap done really well with a knowledge of its history is “the new thing”. For david and others that’s okay but kinda boring. Both views are understandable til taken as lines in some pitched battle. You can’t spell Wacka (sic) without wack? Waka as Hendrix to Pill’s Satrianni?

    For me there’s way too much exhilaration to take in the talent of a Gibbs to see it as boring nostalgia. I still get incredible kicks every time his singing drops in out of nowhere after relentless bars on “Midwest Malcolm”. I still listen intently to the third-person autobiography of “Close Your Eyes” even though the beat is meh and i kinda hate the overwrought hook.

    I dunno Weiss too well. His piece is bad. Idk how he can not like gangsta rap and like these acts. Anyone got links?

  40. david Says:

    or rather thats a total misrepresentation of whats going on. i write for pfork dude … does that mean I give a shit about animal collective? no. a venue for writing is just a venue for writing. It doesnt mean its hypocritical of you to criticize other writers. thats absurd

  41. david Says:

    thats a cross post to doczeus

  42. SMM Says:

    It is funny you mention silkk the shocker in a negative way, as you are talking about an album that is paying tribute to an album that he was a huge part of. Silkk is way more memorable than da youngstas, he was the star on one of raps biggest labels. And The Shocker is a great album

  43. WB Says:

    Seems like most of the criticism is people taking Noz’s observations for negative judgments.

  44. geez Says:

    I just think especially with gibbs (I’ve only heard two songs with pill) he’s a more intellectual type of rapper and I’m not only thinking lyrics but he also sounds intellectual flow wise, his voice is dark, his beats are dark (produced by producers that usually get new york or “blog” love) and that makes it easier to both understand and especially appreciate for a new york times music journalist (or blogger (I’m guessing here most of em are based in nyc)… that’s what i thought at least.. Gibbs reminded me of some black moon type of ish when I first heard him..

    to understand and appreciate a rapper like gucci mane is a whole different ball game.. His flows seem (to a new york ear) more “fun” “kiddy” like or playful, plus just understanding what it is dude says can be pretty hard at times… :-) . It doesnt have the same dense quality of a gibbs … Personally I really like gucci mane.. but i could see how a lot of critics would think this isn’t to be taken serious (untill it litterally smashes them in the face).. I don’t really see a big change there in the difference between regions and the way critics from said region view or are accustomed to a certain type of music.. it kinda makes sense to me.. .. I don’t think for example dip set caught on in the south with the quickness or got loads of press in that (huge) region to start out with.. untill it smashed the bloggers/ mainstream media in the face.. I hope that makes sense .. kinda tired now.. :-) I’m out

  45. boi-dan Says:

    We need more Little Brothers in the South. I’m w/ Lupe, I never heard Midnight Marauders.

  46. boi-dan Says:

    Little Brother’s figurative little brother went to high school on No Limit & DF.

  47. Tray Says:

    To be honest, it’s been kind of nagging me too lately that Pill and Freddie are for some strange reason the two most universally acclaimed rappers in the world right now… but I think you go a little too far when you say that they’re the equivalent of Little Brother. For a few reasons – a) they’re not obnoxiously retro, b) they rap over way better beats than 9th Wonder’s, c) they’re not so caught up in replicating their predecessors that they forget to develop any kind of personality of their own, d) they’re more talented than Phonte was, and way more so than Big Pooh. Not to parse your comparison to death because it does have some merit, but while I’ll grant you that a Pill isn’t original enough to be the future of rap or anything, I do think that he has enough of his own persona, flair, whatever to be considered as more than just a competent recreation of earlier shit, which is all that LB was at best.

  48. mark p. Says:

    I disagree with nearly every single opinion expressed in Tray’s post, with the exception of point c).

  49. MAYNHOLUP Says:

    i aint read de comments mayn, all i kno iz nowun iz rapping like Gangsta Gibbs righ now, an fuck you if you tell me otherwise. Dass all i gots ta say

  50. barns Says:

    it’s not that most writers have poor taste or malicious intentions, they just don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. and that’s not okay, especially when you’re talking about music of another culture.

  51. Whiteboy D Says:

    I love hearing people argue about this whole topic. I can speak on behalf of Pill -

    I enjoy both Pill and Waka Flocka, in different contexts for totally different reasons. Pill, however, is going to surprise alot of you. Pill is not a blog rapper – by any means. Pill is a rapper who not only has a street presence – come see us at Club Crucial on Bankhead tomorrow night – but he ALSO has an internet savvy about him (whaddup Noz). Just because the bloggers and the streets don’t typically intersect, that doesn’t mean that WE don’t bridge the gap. As a matter of fact, we will eat off of our own plate and off of someone else’s. Whaddup Gucci and whaddup Charles Hamilton!

    If you don’t believe me – go ask the D-Boys on Simpson and in the 4th Ward who they’re listening to. Or in NYC ask them on Gates in Bed-Stuy – I bet his name comes up. We’ve been known to kick it with real gangsters and notables such as ABN in Houston, LEP in Chicago, and with numerous others around the country – these are artists never mentioned in the blogosphere (except here).

    Just because we are media savvy and are getting the adoration of critics because of TALENT, HARD WORK, GOOD RELATIONSHIPS, and not MONEY, does not mean we don’t exist in the other realm – it only seems like that to those who ONLY exist in this blogosphere. Get from behind your computer and come to Atlanta.

    Pill is not building his buzz off of any co-sign. Granted Killer Mike is our big brother – but we are building his buzz off of talent and hard work. I guarantee the mainstream sheep would be fainting at the sight of him if he was trailing Wayne or Gucci around right now (hell, he might even pull a Kanye) but were not. We see value in establishing ourselves independently. Thus, our movement will grow slower (because of the inherent dickriderism, sheep practices in mainstream purchasers / listeners) but believe that it will grow – and be the foundation for a lasting career – not a song.

    We put 5000 CD’s of the first mixtape directly into the streets (and will do it again with this one), and you can’t argue with me or speculate, because me and him DID IT OUR DAMN SELF. No promo team. Call me a liar? My response would be to eat shit and die – come find me if you want to say anything of the sort. I don’t do that in “the matrix.”

    When Pill transcends this compartmentalization, I will not be surprised, because I already know what he’s made of. I love the critics and writers, and I love it when people argue about these types of things – thats what this realm is here for.

    I am an avid supporter of opinions and a loyal reader of cocaineblunts and will continue to support Noz in any way I can – I feel he adds some depth and realism in this trite landscape of hiphop bloggery. Thank you for actually WRITING something. Also, thank you for supporting what we do – it means alot to us.

    People – please keep discussing, this is a healthy dialogue. Until then, classify Pill all you want – I know better.

    Sidenote: This is not a shot at anyone, simply my addition to the dialogue. Also, when I finally get a chance to get my shit together, I plan to document my work from the ghetto’s all over the United States and the world on my website, http://www.theeducatedvillains.com – the difference between us and them is, we collect original material. Something like the way Pill bridges this gap, we will as well. At some point it has to be done.

  52. R. Friday Says:

    Does anyone else get Big Gipp vibes from GIbbs?

  53. hook Says:

    noz,
    while i respect your tenure as a rap blogger and the amount of dope music you have spotlighted over the years, i gotta say that lately you seem determined to take the fun out of listening to rap music, instead turning it into a pissing contest about who knows the most about rap and whose tastes better reflect the so-called “streets” he has never been a part of. why are you so bitter? though you probably know a lot more about hip-hop than someone like jeff weiss (who, let’s be fair, knows a good deal) i honestly prefer his writing because he doesn’t state his opinions as fact and gives the impression he’s open to other points of view. you’ve become, for lack of a better term, a hip-hop nazi. mellow out a little.

  54. Lambo Says:

    Noz,

    I got nothing but respect for your journalism and your site. With that said…

    Freddie put out a great record and people have latched onto it and given it proper reviews. That’s all I can really say. It’s upsetting to see a backlash from people who I respect, such as yourself, but I guess it means people now know who Freddie Gibbs is. To say he’s simply making throwback music, however, is very simple minded. Good music is Good music… Yes, the blogs have picked it up…no, we have not forced it upon any of them, and yes, we’ll continue to put out quality music.

    The reason “heads” have picked up on what he’s doing, is because he is more lyrical than “lyrical” rappers. His music is built on experience as it is made up of true stories. If these experiences are similar to those of the veteran artists that he looks up to, so be it. Real is Real.

    Freddie Gibbs music and “flair” is right there…You might just be thinking too far into it…

    Much Respect,

    Lambo

  55. surfboard dudes Says:

    Pill had this typecast critical position tailor-made for him. it was no accident.

    instead of coming up (and by coming up I mean being introduced into the blog cycle) as Killer Mike’s protege he got introduced by a blogger. his mixtape was hosted by said blogger who writes a blog that was well-respected in the circle of bloggers who wield some influence as gatekeeprs to the wider PR-minded blog circle. This first mixtape was packaged with artwork that was very contemporary in its design (contemporary to mainstream “indie” and blog-worthy whatever) and showed the dude in a real photograph wearing a real t-shirt of an obscure B-at-best horror flick, as opposed to the ? ?? 77 mixtapedia of dopest/craziest/funniest mixtape art ?? ?-worthy images associated with the vast majority of mixtapes from Atlanta. Those mixtapes that are also distributed through a whole different circle of blogs and web sties. His mixtape was intended for this audience, not an audience that “grew up on” Country Rap Tunes.

  56. mark p. Says:

    I think you need to give Pill time to become really successful. Remember, Gucci’s first ALBUM came out in 2005, he had a pretty big street single at that time and he’s had plenty of time to put out a shitload of music and develop a following.

    On the other hand, Pill was pretty much introduced to rap audiences on a self-released Killer Mike double CD in 2006 (he may have had stuff out before then, but it’s the first time most people heard him), and only started getting really hyped when he put out his first tape earlier this year, and only started getting a LOT of hype when he put out a video that was undeniably unique when compared to most rap videos. Judging by the current trends in the ATL right now, it’s not at all inconceivable that Pill could go from being a big deal to a huge deal some time soon.

  57. Abe Beame Says:

    Holy shit this was entertaining to come home to. Probably the best labyrinth. Great call on Gibbs at least being a Southern Lil Bro. All that being said, it feels like if Weiss didn’t go at Waka Flocka you wouldn’t have written this. But I’m glad you did.

  58. TC Says:

    We have been posting All-Star for years. That is all.

    ~The guy who whittled through 17 pages of email fuckery to find the greatest rapper from Gary, Indiana.

  59. Maurice Garland Says:

    *throws chair*

  60. LCR Says:

    sort of unfortunate that you construct a criteria for a qualified critic that is met by probably >0.01% of the population: “Bog gatekeepers like Eskay, Gotti, the 2DBz don’t have the patience or interest to whittle through seventeen pages of Jon Geezy studio outtakes to find the greatest rapper on Traps N Trunks, so they latch onto the ones that are prepackaged and formally delivered to them”

    agree with this (rather poignant) point: “There is no stardom to be earned from blog or critical resonance, only niche respect.”

    unrelated: i am curious to hear your thoughts on a song like “Turnt All the Way Up” — too mainstream for the love of the SFJ’s and Weiss’s of the world, and too derivative for the likes of the commenters here

    re your argument that music must be understood in its regional context (a common theme on your blog) and your aforementioned insistence on understanding the genre’s entire universe simultaneously: its a structuralist argument and i think at times one can effectively analyze rap (or music generally) outside of such constructs

  61. david Says:

    is it really as simple as “a good rapper made a good album and critics were feeling it” when respected writers for the LA Times say things like “arguably the first gangsta rappers to come up in their wake to offer a new prototype, a triangulation of 2Pac’s searing emotional tangents and Biggie’s cold-blooded New York City lyricism.” Because no matter how much you’re feeling gibbs’ record — & ive said its a really well-constructed record — this kind of hyperbole is just nonsense.

  62. TSF Says:

    Man, I don’t give a fuck, both Pill and Gibbs stay in my playlists on the daily. So does Waka. So does ‘Lito. So fucking what? Maybe they make throwback music, and maybe that’s lost on me, I don’t care either way. All I know is that I really, really, really am digging Miseducation (better than midwest etc. IMHO, but both tapes are dope) and 4075 right now (which I already like more than 4180, but again both tapes are dope), and I don’t really care who writes about them, I’m just glad that some of the people I read do write about them so that I am exposed to them (which I wouldn’t be otherwise because I don’t live in Gary or the ATL). If they would have been like Dayton Family and Ghetto Mafia during the Yo! MTV Raps era then I probably never would have known about them, and that’s just too bad. Obviously, Noz is NOT trying to say that Pill and Gibbs don’t deserve the shine they’re getting; maybe the hyperbole from some quadrants is too much (seriously, the comparison to Big and Pac is ridiculous, and just serves to reinforce the argument that those two were the greatest to do it, which I don’t think I could ever argue with a straight face, even though I love their music). I don’t ever read Weiss, Caramanica or Frere-Jones, but is it too much to imagine that they just can’t deny good music when they hear it? Not knowing these dudes’ “regular” writing, I can’t really pass judgment, but I gather from what y’all are saying here that usually they wouldn’t be checking for a Pill or a Gibbs, is that right? If it’s the case that they big up the two just because it’s “cool” to do so right now, then that’s just fucking retarded. But if they actually do like the music, then what’s the big deal, especially if it helps out dudes like Pill and Gibbs to reach a fan base that they might not ordinarily? I wish them the best with their careers and want to see them get some serious shine out of this. The game is totally different now; playing the blog circuit is a smart move for a lot of cats. Maybe the problem is that the “mainstream tastemakers” (whatever the fuck that means) won’t give dudes like Waka and Frenchie (who make dope ass music btw!!!!) the same attention that they do Pill and Gibbs, which is their loss and smacks of elitism for sure.

    Anyway, what I really mean to say is that I co-sign what MAYNHOLUP! wrote!

  63. david Says:

    “unrelated: i am curious to hear your thoughts on a song like “Turnt All the Way Up” — too mainstream for the love of the SFJ’s and Weiss’s of the world, and too derivative for the likes of the commenters here”

    this song jams — a triangulation of Soulja Boy’s sing-song anthem chorus and KE’s cold-blooded swag surfing, haw. just teasing. but i dont think its really ‘derivative’ at this point, thats KE’s style

  64. DocZeus Says:

    “or rather thats a total misrepresentation of whats going on. i write for pfork dude … does that mean I give a shit about animal collective? no. a venue for writing is just a venue for writing. It doesnt mean its hypocritical of you to criticize other writers. thats absurd”

    Of course, the venue doesn’t matter in itself but you’ve got be cognizant of your own particular role within a community especially when your role is strikingly similar to your targets. When Noz writes these pieces he’s writing from the perspective of an outsider to the critical community. The problem is he’s not an outsider at least not anymore). He works for similar institutions and more importantly, he contributes to these institutions in very similar ways. (There really is no difference from Noz throwing up 18,000 Gucci Mane songs on his website and Jeff Weiss throwing up 18,000 Knux songs. Justify it however you want. There’s none.) So its a bit patently ridiculous for Noz to critique Jeff Weiss for praising Pill and Freddie Gibbs* when he himself is a fan of these artists especially when the heart of the argument is not based on his particular insights (although, he does critique some of that as well to be fair. I don’t necessarily have beef with that) but rather the sincerity of the praise. It’s basically assuming that Jeff Weiss can’t possibly be praising Gibbs for the rights reasons because he doesn’t like gangster rap but rather he’s praising him because it’s fashionable on the internet. Especially when his basic argument is that a good part of Pill and Gibbs internet buzz is based on blogs like Cocaine Blunts.

    Clearly, you can see the inherent intellectual dissonance going on here, David. He’s skipping his role in the blogger rap feedback loop while critiquing others for participating in it.

    * It is however fair to criticize Weiss’ claims about Freddie Gibbs and Pill. I mean I liked Midwestboxframecadillacmuzik alot myself but I would hardly call Freddie Gibbs the first gangster rapper to synthesize Pac and Biggie successfully. Mostly because that’s an incredibly loaded statement.

  65. LCR Says:

    i think it’s fair to point out the “intellectual dissonance” of Noz, but i don’t think it’s fair to say he’s ignoring the “blogger rap feedback loop” — in fact his response is feeding said loop

    this whole biggie/pac reference was just a sign of sloppy writing on weiss’s part i’d say — he was clearly trying to give a (crystal) clear reference point to an audience oriented differently then the one found at this site; and is appropriately being called out on it…i actually managed to miss this reference when i initially read the article

  66. daws Says:

    as a kid who only became a ugk fan after pimp’s release from prison who probably thought andre sold out until the throw some d’s remix shocked him back to reality i gotta acknowledge this as spot on.

    shoutout to all of the other ones who “wish they did.”

    on what mixtape should i look for “oh let’s do it”? i hadn’t heard it before i saw the video on here but i fuck wifit and the kids at school in miami would think i was soo rad

  67. bding7 Says:

    But today a blogger who doesn’t particularly like street minded hip hop set me off again

    As someone who reads Weiss’ blog, concrete examples of him stating outright that he does not like street minded hip hop would be very helpful.

    i gotta say that lately you seem determined to take the fun out of listening to rap music, instead turning it into a pissing contest about who knows the most about rap and whose tastes better reflect the so-called “streets”

    Yea, this more or less describes how I feel about your recent stuff, including that NPR interview. You mentioned on We Are Respectable Negroes that TNC is one of your favorite bloggers. I think it would do you some good to take a lesson from him and display a little humility from time to time. This was especially evident when David called you out about “Why Janey Can’t Rap.”

  68. WALLY Says:

    My name is Wally, and I approve of this post.

  69. Paine Says:

    I both applaud this post/editorial and feel guilty in the same breath.

    Truth be told, back in ’06-early ’07, when I was editing features at AllHipHop, Gibbs came across my desk a few times. At the time, my own cornball opinion was that there was nothing there besides an “Interscope” mention, 300 times per pitch.

    In ’09, I think Gibbs is spot-on. I love the tape. “Murda On My Mind” is more Recession-inspired than anything Jeezy spit on his last album, and I get NO blasts from NO publicist on the music. I came back to Gibbs because of this site and Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece (I think). I’m glad I did, and I applaud any blog for following (on my timeline, anyway).

    As for Pill… I was hipped to Pill from Killer Mike. From his spot on Grind Time 2, Pill became one to watch… the same way Nas was with Main Source or O.C. was with Organized Konfusion. I like that. I do think there’s a ton of sheep-ing going on, and suddenly, he’s everybody favorite ATL rapper.

    I learn about what I don’t know from this site, Maurice Garland’s site, and places like Grand Good. I applaud you all (the tastemakers who put music in front of me sporadically that I feel I need to hear on a case-by-case basis). I do wish that the South and Midwest was treated like the same breeding ground as New York, L.A. (or now Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland, etc. were). Philly doesn’t even get that kind of online presence.

    I appreciate this food for thought… and because of OTHER SITES foresight, you’ll see more of this on DX, as far as I’m concerned.

    Over and out.

  70. Lambo Says:

    “I get NO blasts from NO publicist on the music. ”

    Exactly….

    We are building with ZERO cosigns, ZERO capital and ZERO labels ….If you think that’s impossible, then you are just jaded. Is it possible that good music can be critically acclaimed in 2009? Apparently…The Proof is there. It’s not just “academics” giving this music a good name…Look at the spectrum of reviews…

    It’s upsetting that Will $crilla wasted his prison phone minutes on this blog…

    Out.

  71. DQ Says:

    TNC, if I may digress slightly for a moment, had an article of his from 2003 about the death of gangsta rap linked from his sidebar recently with the tag being that he was prophetic. The premise of the piece, as i recall, is that gangsta rap was reportage, leavened with entertainment, yes, but basically a response to the roving crack epidemic of the 80s and 90s, and a critique of ghetto life under those conditions. With that epidemic past, gangsta rap is a silly, unreal cartoon. Nostalgia for gangsta rap is nostalgia for a crack-ravaged society, served up to the masses.

    Reading it with Gibbs in mind, my thought was that it answered itself in talking about what rap should be reporting: economic conditions, dysfunctional romantic & family situations. Stuff that Gibbs talks about all the time. Relationship stuff like the “Queen” concept track, even the verse about the chick who didn’t like muslims turning him dog. Tracks about having kids, not having kids. His family history. And of course, again and again, the economic shithole that was Gary (no offence, Gary) and the non-options of burger-flipping or the military. It’s skilled entertainment but there’s a hell of a lot of meat on it. I don’t think these are played out signifiers.

  72. DQ Says:

    Woah, Lambo, c’mon, that was a great, valuable piece! And Noz isn’t dissing your boy in this, clearly, calling him & Pill “good to great rappers” isn’t that.

  73. barns Says:

    “He’s skipping his role in the blogger rap feedback loop while critiquing others for participating in it.”

    Yeah, more bloggers should take a step back from their work and ruminate about the effects of it.

    noz could add “yo this stuff also kinda applies to me” to the end of this post and the meaning would be the same. would that please you? what you see as “intellectual dissonance” could also be called “honesty”

  74. DQ Says:

    btw probably the earliest internet writing on Gibbs is Big Chew of rapmullet.com calling Live From Gary borderline classic in 2006.

    http://www.rapmullet.com/2006/07/freddie-gibbs—live-from-gary-indiana.html

  75. noz Says:

    Lambo & D – Like I said in the post, you guys are doing your jobs right. Impeccably so. So are Pill and Gibbs. This post isn’t as much about the quality of any of your work as it is about how and why we, the bloggers and critics, process that work.

    TC – I was reluctant to include TSS, but you guys have been the most vocal advocates of Gibbs so I feel like a rundown of his supporters would be inaccurate without you. Given the direction of the site he makes perfect sense there. Less so on blogs like NR, 2DBs and Weiss, who often explicitly shit on the scenes that produce artists like these.

    LCR – My criteria for a qualified critic is simply an actively invested critic. The biggest problem in music criticism across the board is that too many critics simply analyze what is presented to them directly, rather than search out alternatives. Which is insane given the technology at our disposal. There is more great music being overlooked now than ever before and it’s because most artists don’t have the resources or good sense to get a Lambo or Whiteboy D on their team.

    SMM – Silkk has made great songs. So have Da Youngstas. My point is that neither have made the type of records that budding rap critics are told to go back and listen to, so these kids get a narrow view of what was happening in those scenes. A lot of the comments seem to be suggesting that I look down on the regular listener who doesn’t know or didn’t experience this history. That’s not the case. I run this blog for you guys (civilians) to learn about that music. But I do think a person writing about Freddie Gibbs professionally should have at least a functional understanding of, say, the No Limit catalog.

  76. noz Says:

    Ironic that Lambo decides to explicitly shit on my blog in the time it took me to complement him (again).

    Maybe you can get 2 Dope Boys to publish a Scrilla interview next time.

  77. Burn One Says:

    You know I got love for you Noz but I think you’re letting a couple journalist’s overenthusiastic gushing for Pill/Gibbs skew your opinion. I was the first person to put Pill on the internet because I really dug his music and everything he stood for. Records like “Back Outside” and “On The Outside Lookin In” showed Pill possessed both lyrical dexterity as well as a flow that had original flavor. I will agree that when I see 2DBz post up his music I feel compelled to call bandwagon bullshit but I would much rather see them giving his music a light as opposed to ignoring it.

    As far as Gibbs goes, dude is dope. His honesty is more compelling to me than “evolving beyond standards.” I see you’ve really been into some kind of “taking rap to another level or different place” vibe as of late. This has lead to your praise of rappers like Lil B which frankly baffles me. I try to listen to a lot of his shit that you post but I seriously can’t get into the beats he uses and how he raps. If opening 1000 myspace pages and sitting in front of your computer, getting trashed and saying the first shit that comes to your head is the evolution then I’m truly lost.

    The whole shawty lo/waka/p troy/kilo comparison is completely off base too. People appreciated Fabo for his Kilo craziness, Im not really sure where shawty lo fits into that argument. And putting Troy in the same sentence with Waka is down right disrespectful. Troy’s No Mo Play In GA was way more than highly energized, easily reciteable 5 bar lines. He came back with Vica Versa followed by a highly respectable discography. Waka is paying more homage to Soulja Boy and Jeezy than Troy. It was the first song he ever recorded for christ sake, as evidenced by his lack of ability to stay on beat.

    And “Oh Let’s Do It” is working better than “Trap Goin Ham” namely because of two reasons. A Gucci co-sign that cannot be understated and the fact TGH was never worked in the clubs. They chose an alternative route to expose Pill to the masses than every dope boy rapper who wants to get on in Atlanta. Which is, throw money in the club in hopes that the DJ will play your record. Instead, they invested their funds into mixtapes and studio time. While Waka lingers back off into obscurity in the next year, Pill’s alternative approach is going to continue paying dividends.

    Just had to say my piece.

  78. noz Says:

    “You know I got love for you Noz but I think you’re letting a couple journalist’s overenthusiastic gushing for Pill/Gibbs skew your opinion.”

    I mean my opinion on their music is unchanged. It’s mostly pretty great.

  79. Burn One Says:

    agreed

  80. Lambo Says:

    Noz.,

    Like I said earlier. I respect your blog a lot. But a lot of the assumptions in this post were off base. I am not shitting on your blog at all, you have good taste in music, I just think it’s a bit much to say Freddie Gibbs has “no flair” when you’ve never met him, and he has never even released a proper album. We’ve put out quality music for free with zero industry support and zero payola. I’m just glad people have finally taken notice…

    Lambo

  81. noz Says:

    “I just think it’s a bit much to say Freddie Gibbs has “no flair” when you’ve never met him”

    That isn’t what I said at all.

  82. Johnny Sagan Says:

    My whole thing, the reason why I agree that “more bloggers should take a step back from their work and ruminate about the effects of it”, is simply that I don’t want anybody to get froze out the game or written out of history! That, and I don’t want to deal with copyright-holders policing their copyright ANY MORE. And in a subtle way, fucking with media A-list prestige media like the New Yorker DOES feed into the maintenance of the copyright regime as we know it. Noz IS even playing that kinda dangerous game fucking with NPR, but his work DOES live up to pretty high standards of hip hop historiography!

  83. Lambo Says:

    Fair enough. I’m gonna step out of this conversation as it interests me. Thanks for the support.

    Lambo

  84. MF Says:

    At least we know where Doc Zeus stands on this brouhaha.

    G-Side are conspicuous by their absense in this discussion thus far. Which side of the argument do they fit into : Pill or All $tar?

    On the subject of which, here’s my fav’ song by All $tar

    http://www.zshare.net/audio/686313505b2e4fdf/

  85. Giraffo Says:

    G-Side haven’t really been picked up by the mainstream media yet. They’re not even embraced by all that many blogs. We’ll see how it all plays out once HIT finally drops. Personally I prefer them to both Gibbs and Pill, but they’re definitely in the same category for me, qualitywise. Also, where is that Prgz Koch debut? Now that Big P.O.P.E. is out these guys should be dominating the blogwaves.

  86. BENJY Says:

    why do people still complain about the tone noz takes….have u never read the blog before? noz hates everything! and the stuff he likes he liked before you and for completely different reasons. deal with it. which is why this is still the best blog around. ps: this new b1tch house is fiya!!!

  87. Rob Pursey Says:

    This is 100% spot on.

    I’m off to listen to Baby’s album.

  88. BENJY Says:

    huntsville >

  89. Giraffo Says:

    Indeed.

  90. Jetson Says:

    Pete Rock and Smooth had some content.

    These country boys have shit. They repetitive. All of them. They pick the cheesiest beats.

    In 2011 southern rap will sound like limp bizkit today.

    pete rock: timeless
    southern bling/coke rap: just passing

  91. Geo Says:

    “why do people still complain about the tone noz takes….have u never read the blog before? noz hates everything! and the stuff he likes he liked before you and for completely different reasons. deal with it. which is why this is still the best blog around.”

    Incredibly simple and perfect summary of Noz. And CB is my favorite rap blog ever. I wished too he would do some “traditional” reviews of rappers like P.Dukes’ material, but I guess this course of action is old journalism to him.

  92. Sean Says:

    91 comments! It’s like 2005 in this bitch!

  93. barns Says:

    diplo invented the labyrinth

  94. emynd Says:

    This has been a really good comments section actually, but I think the most important thing to take note of here is that I don’t think Noz’s post should be read as one riddled with value judgments. In my reading of the above, it’s very clearly not a critical post about folks who LIKE Gibbs or Pill, but it’s a post that shows the potential historical problem presented when journalists latch on to something and proclaim it “important” and/or “significant” without earning the authority to say so.

    Who knows, perhaps Gibbs and Pill will go on to be the biggest rappers since Biggie and Pac, but I think in a lot of ways you’d have to admit that the number of words typed about these dudes in the past several weeks and months certainly out-weighs their current relevance impact.

    I’m not sure why people are so offended by noz pointing this out.

    -e

  95. OW Says:

    “91 comments! It’s like 2005 in this bitch!”

    Best comment thus far.

  96. gordon gartrelle Says:

    Great post in a great series.

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but we have the same basic issues with “outsider-friendly” rap criticsm: the critics’ penchant for making broad-sweeping claims despite ignorance of the breadth and history of the (sub)genre, their cursory treatment of the music, their tendency to pull from cursory, already-established narratives familiar to their rap-outsider audiences.

  97. TSF Says:

    Do none of you remember that Noz HAS covered P. Dukes? And it was a pretty good post, too.

  98. OW Says:

    I was really struck by this comment: “I don’t want anybody to get froze out the game or written out of history.” I’m not 100% sure if that was Noz’s original point (since it was written by someone else) but it does seem to tap into at least one strain of tension moving through the larger debate.

    And I think this raises a very old conundrum in writing about hip-hop: what’s really at stake in the relationship between criticism/journalism and hip-hop? Who really gets to write history?

    For example, I find it interesting that anyone would assume that The New Yorker “matters” to that histiography. Prior to SFJ joining the staff there, no one I know would ever have given half a second of serious thought to the idea that the New Yorker would ever have a relevant voice in that discussion. Same goes for the NY Times pre-Sanneh (let alone pre-Caramanica who, don’t forget, got his start writing for hip-hop mags like URB, XXL, Vibe, etc. long before he ever got a byline in the NYT).

    In fact, I can’t really recall if ANY mainstream news publication was taken seriously except in cases where they were trying to put a black eye on the game (I’m looking at you, Newsweek, for repeated offenses). The closest you would get would be alternative weeklies like the Village Voice but that was it. No one gave a fuck if the Chicago Tribune or LA Times was “doing it right”.

    So I’m really curious at what point has this shifted and that the mainstream media we once thought was completely irrelevant to an understanding of hip-hop is now endowed with authority status, especially at a time where the print world they inhabit is imploding? I mean, isn’t this moment in history one where mainstream print publications have mattered less than ever? Yet we now suggest they’re writing history? If that wasn’t the case in 1999 or 1989, I’m genuinely curious to understand how, in 2009, that’s totally flipped.

    And moreover, how exactly do blogs fit into this? By what metric are we even able to evaluate if what anyone says, on any blog, really has an impact – either in terms of something material, like album/song sales, or something more symbolic, such as how an artist exists within the zeitgeist? I’m not suggesting blogs are wholly irrelevant but as Noz himself has pointed out, even if there is an echo chamber effect, exactly how far does it go?

  99. J&B Says:

    The reason I dont listen to ‘retro rap’ is because i already lived through the 90′s (barely) and have no desire to return to that era of music.

    The kids now got their own style of music (Gucci, Juice, Waka) and i think its more interesting (read: vital) than the retro rap stuff the old (bloggers) are incessantly championing.

    I thought Pills and Gibbs were just boring.

    Downloaded it, Listened to it, Deleted it.

    I have frequented most of the established hip hop blogs for over five years now and can say without a doubt that Cocaine Blunts is my favorite.

    (but what do i know i just listen to good music. no kanye)

  100. J&B Says:

    & to OW ^^

    I think its because a lot of the top hip hop blogs now desperately crave that mainstream journalist acceptance, the legitimacy.

    thats why they react badly when one of their own calls bullshit on them

  101. p-417 Says:

    TSF: my thoughts exactly

  102. p-417 Says:

    101 comments, this post finna do nicki minaj numbers!

  103. LCR Says:

    re: LCR – My criteria for a qualified critic is simply an actively invested critic. The biggest problem in music criticism across the board is that too many critics simply analyze what is presented to them directly, rather than search out alternatives.

    I think the unfortunate truth is that some bloggers don’t even know that these opportunities exist or they trust filters (Weiss hints at this, but doesn’t explicitly state it), so yeah, agreed

    The irony is that a lot of the blogs giving Pill love wouldn’t check for Mike

  104. noz Says:

    “G-Side are conspicuous by their absense in this discussion thus far. Which side of the argument do they fit into : Pill or All $tar?”

    I thought of including G-Side in the original post but their situation is a little different. It seems like they’ve gotten a lot of blog buzz and I would definitely put Codie in the category of outstanding web promoters. But at the same time they’re sort of trapped in the bloggers-who-care-about-southern-rap slum, it’s not like they are getting Nah Right love. Nor have they made that leap to mainstream/print coverage. I think the latter problem has to do with how the Paper Route/Jackie Chain axis got so much early press that pubs are now on some been there done that with Huntsville.

    Tying into Rafi’s post – I think they’ve been smart to embrace smaller/niche blogs like Brandon’s or Southern Hospitality and grant them access and exclusives. In that sense I’d say they’re more all star than pill. I’d be curious to know if/how Codie is even trying to push them to a site like 2DB.

  105. david Says:

    oliver,

    surely part of the problem is that mags like xxl & the source are not doing a good job covering the music, and now that the industry’s collapse means no one can tell what stuff is selling for any more, the only way “mainstream america” gets any understanding of whats going on in hip-hop is thru these mainstream publications.

    Which is part of why it bothers me that SFJ would write a huge piece on the ‘state of hip hop’ & not mention the biggest success story of the past two years.

    G-Side are a different issue than Pill/Gibbs/Tre in another way, too: aesthetically, they’re going for “different.” they are def in the lineage of like organized noize etc. but they are approaching the game in a different way from a unique aesthetic perspective too, their in-house production team sampling trance and going forward as a local movement. (NOTE TO GIBBS/PILL’s ppl: this is NOT asking you dudes to start sampling trance music).

  106. airmax Says:

    >>> I think the latter problem has to do with how the Paper Route/Jackie Chain axis got so much early press that pubs are now on some been there done that with Huntsville.

    that’s such a shame, and it’s why so many blogs and publications suck at covering the rap game IMO. they see regional rap scenes as diversions. they cover them whenever they get some word of mouth buzz and then forget all about them when kid cudi designs a new t-shirt.

  107. golem582 Says:

    I actually like Noz’s nostalgia point. I say this all the time for those who grow up with a conception that all of late 80s/early 90s rap consisted of nothing but great records. While many undeniably great records came out during this period, people tend to forget fads like hip-house, new jack swing, etc. For every Rakim, there were 10 Serious Lee Fines.

  108. p-417 Says:

    ^^^ woah, don’t shit on new jack swing

  109. realness Says:

    White Nerds shouldn’t be allowed to talk about hood hop.

    Lol.

  110. OW Says:

    David: ” the only way “mainstream america” gets any understanding of whats going on in hip-hop is thru these mainstream publications.”

    For real, I just don’t remember a time where hip-hop fans gave a flying fuck about what “mainstream America” understands regarding hip-hop. The very fact that mainstream America did NOT understand hip-hop used to be a mark of pride. Now people who care about hip-hop also care about whether Conde Naste readers care about the same hip-hop?

    Word?

  111. david Says:

    ill put it this way — i dont care as a hip hop fan what conde naste readers thing about hip hop, but i kind of do as a ‘historian’

  112. OW Says:

    David: But that presumes Conde Naste readers (or writers) have a significant role to play in hip-hop historiography and if they didn’t 10 years ago, I don’t understand how they do now? When did the NYT or NYer assume the mantle of “caretakers of the hip-hop canon”?

  113. OW Says:

    To add: XXL has seemingly done an ok job of covering GM – just search for his name on their site and 4930 hits come up.

    So if XXL is still doing its job, why do we care who the New Yorker is covering or not covering?

    My suspicion is that the reply is, “well, no one reads XXL any more/they fell off.” Maybe that’s true, maybe that isn’t but is there now a critical hip-hop demographic turning to the New Yorker for what’s what on rap music?

  114. archibald Says:

    <>

    By like May 2010, I would like to see an apology when we prove you wrong. For the record, I do see Freddie being talked about as one of the greats and there is no unattainable pedestal for anybody. That’s just not how we think. I also respect and got love for a lot of rappers out there, but right now, on this day, I don’t see anybody spitting any lyrical gangsta shit better than Gibbs and there’s few that could fuck with him if he didn’t even talk about gangsta shit. That’s just my opinion though. Shit, Freddie feels the same way too. He’ll tell you straight up and down that he doesn’t think that anybody can fuck with him…

    And Freddie is a fuckin character that’s hella personable, you just don’t know that yet. Take a look at Andre 3000 when he first came out, dude was hella introverted. Same with Snoop Dogg and a bunch of others. If you’re going to compare him to Andre, compare him to the southernplayalistic pimp Andre, not the 15yr industry vet Andre. We’re just getting started…

    The Labels Is Tryin To Kill Me and the promotional pieces that will be going out around its release will really show you more of the full spectrum… It’s going to show you exactly how lyrical Freddie is. His best verses, back to back to back, with damn near no hooks, just 16′s. And the bitch flows smooth from track to track, so you just push play and hear lyrics. Straight killer, no filler, no fat…

  115. archibald Says:

    This was your quote that I tried putting in my reply but somehow vanished:

    “Their personalities don’t engage on the level of an Andre 3000 or Pimp C. And I’m sure if you were to ask them, they’d tell you of course not, those are the greats. They, like their audience, put their predecessors on an unattainable pedestal, which is a self limiting standard. For all their talents neither Pill or Gibbs have been able to engage the current day audience (the vaguely defined youth) on the personal level that Waka has. I’m not sure they intend to either.”

  116. ANU Says:

    archibald i don’t think you understood a single word that noz wrote.

  117. archibald Says:

    I understood it just fine. I was just speaking on that single paragraph and not the overall piece. Noz does has a valid point, but I think that a couple of his beliefs that he used to create that opinion aren’t necessarily 100% accurate. I can see why he believes what he does though. My main point in all of this is that it’s really too early to speak on Freddie or Pill in this capacity. Waka too… At least give em a year…

  118. Whiteboy D Says:

    Noz,

    Thank you for your support on your blog. I am always a supporter of discussions such as these. My comment was not directed at you by any means – if the tone seemed frustrated, it was pent up frustration towards anybody seeming to compartmentalize Pill so early on in his career. I hope you enjoy 4075!

    D

  119. Stuart Says:

    What do you think he’s look at on this cover? Her ass?

  120. OW Says:

    I must have missed this before but Noz, you write: “I don’t imagine anybody who is also covering pop music across the board would have the time or energy to explore hip hop accurately.”

    I agree that to cover any genre with breadth and depth requires a great investment in time. But I also question the inherent logic to this. Has hip-hop become that much more complicated that one has to have full-time devotion to it to speak insightfully or intelligently about it? I think on all the writers I respected and while they were all fanatical heads, they also knew a shit load about other genres: Greg Tate and Sasha Jenkins were rock dudes, Nelson George knew his R&B, Jeff Chang was heavy into dub, etc.

    I’m not even sure what “accurately” means in this context. If you mean, “not making mistakes” then that’s just a matter of more rigorous fact-checking. I suspect though, you’re speaking to something less literal – you’re implying there’s a litmus test for “accuracy” which I’m guessing is bound up in one’s commitment to “street-minded hip-hop”. I can appreciate that may be what you perceive as your forte and therefore, you’re wary of others who you don’t think share the same interests. But I’d stop way short of ascribing the requirement that the only people capable of contributing something meaningful about hip-hop.

  121. noz Says:

    “Has hip-hop become that much more complicated that one has to have full-time devotion to it to speak insightfully or intelligently about it?”

    I wrote a long response to this question and then my firefox crashed but the short answer: yes. To put things in perspective: Gucci Mane released more music last month than Tribe Called Quest did in the entirety of their career. Could a critic offer a judgment on a small selection of his songs? Sure, and there will be a lot of that when his album drops. But they aren’t seeing the entire picture or engaging his work on the same level that the bulk of his audience does. Listening to and understanding rap has become a fully immersive process. Even “album oriented” mixtape artists like Gibbs or Wale are operating at a much faster pace than their predecessors. Freddie’s about to release an 80 song compilation!

    “you’re implying there’s a litmus test for “accuracy” which I’m guessing is bound up in one’s commitment to “street-minded hip-hop”.”

    Not necessarily. It’s bound up in knowing whichever lane they choose to cover and knowing it well. Rap is so incredibly fragmented right now that every subscene has its own standards and values and histories. You need to have a comfortable understanding of these things to write about it well. For example, Weiss seems to cover the wonky/let/la side chaining scene very well. I don’t know that shit at all, but I think if I were to suddenly pluck, oh I don’t know, Gaslamp Killer’s next album out and declare it an instant classic, call him THE NEXT DILLA it would be just as fair for Weiss to be like “wtf? you haven’t even heard this classic, formative Flying Lotus (or whoever the principles in that scene are) album. And you don’t seem to particularly like THE FIRST DILLA either.” If I did love Gaslamp Killer’s next album I would probably make an effort to explore it in the context of his peers and predecessors before making such grand declarations.

    And that’s what’s so frustrating – writers currently have the tools to obtain all this information. Still many do not. The Changs and Tates didn’t have the same resources at their disposal, so it’d be understandable if they were to zero in on a single sliver of a scene.

    (I guess that was a still long response. But shit you should have seen the first one.)

  122. noz Says:

    Oh and I don’t think writers covering or understanding other genres is a problem, I’m not sure how you ended up there. It’s a strength for music critics to have a working understanding of as many genres as possible, especially intertwined and parallel ones (George and R&B, Chang and dub).

    I just know that I personally spend about 8 hrs a day listening to and reading/writing/thinking/talking about rap music and I’m still missing out on a ton of modern and probably great rap music. I don’t expect someone who is responsible for covering the entire pop landscape to approach rap with the same tenacity. But at the same time, I do expect their rap coverage to suffer some because they aren’t doing so.

  123. Johan Says:

    So let me get this straight: one group of mostly white, upper middle class bloggers is taking issue with another group of mostly white upper middle class bloggers for not having an authentic enough understanding of two highly talented and polished street rappers. The first group feels this understanding is marred by an unforgivable nostalgia for something the second group missed the first time, when it is clear to this first group that this kind of stuff was better in the old days anyways.

    Is that about right?

  124. ANU Says:

    no

  125. emynd Says:

    This conversation has nothing to do with:

    (a) the quality of music being made by either Pill or Gibbs
    (b) “authentic understanding… of street rappers”

    This conversation is about what rap journalists choose to cover, and why these choices are short-sighted and problematic.

    -e

  126. david Says:

    wtf @ ‘upper middle class’ the hole in the jeans of my crotch right now, & the fact that im up @ 430 am on a weekday, suggest otherwise

  127. david Says:

    @ OW re: The New Yorker: Schoolly D: “Here’s the strange thing – I was watching Kathy… whatever that shit is… Regis & Kelly and a Rap artist came on. I’m sitting there like “Why is a Rap artist on there? who is watching this?” Then I had to look in the mirror like, “Oh… I’m watching it.”"

  128. Chris Says:

    Killed it….on LB, 2DBz, Eskay, and the people who wish they had grown up on southern rap

  129. LIL B Says:

    HOW PASSIONATE THIS POST WAS I ACULLTY LOOKED HIM UP AND I LOVE FROM THE G NOW

  130. Johan Says:

    Oh Ok. I just confused when people start talking about how if Easy-E wasn’t your favorite rapper when you were 12 you shouldn’t talk about Pill and Gibbs. The fact the above actually happened in Weiss’ comments section is so cool.

    So does this mean I’m right and Noz’s (and David’s) authentic nostalgia is seen to trump other critics’ false nostalgia? I like authenticity because it is so real. Also, nostalgia makes me very happy-there is nothing like ripping moments of real quality out of context to give some drive to your critical musings. It’s especially good when you can turn around and accuse people of doing the same thing, but with a larger pool of knowledge to hit them over the head with. You guys are right: things were better then, but at least we have Gucci. That upper middle class blogger who said “it’s no longer enough to like the right rappers, you have to like the right rappers in the right way for the right reasons” stays winning.

    David: you are correct sir: the children of the upper middle class almost never rock pants with holes while being up at 4.30 am talking about hip hop.

    And please, if this isn’t at all in any way shape of form about the quality of Pill and Gibbs why is the tone taken by Noz in the post so clearly “they are getting too much love”? He’s pretty clear these guys have a ceiling he doesn’t think is all that high (“of course not, those are the greats”). Obviously he thinks they have a certain level of (constrained revivalist) quality, but they don’t reach the heights of G-Side or whomever else he is championing (full disclosure: I like G-Side and I heard about them first on Cocaine Blunts and Hip-Hop Tapes).

    Or I could be wrong and he’s just being a dick for the sake of it, and a post by Weiss lauding G-Side and Gucci Mane would have elicited the same asshole response.

  131. Samson Says:

    People trying to state that Freddie Gibbs and Pill are talented yet have limited reach because they take a lot from other rappers is a cop out. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Rappers such as Pill and Gibbs are paying homage to the greats, there is no doubt in my mind that they’ve already flexed their vocal muscles on proven hit beats and used similar rhyme patterns to achieve an impressive product. It’s not fair to judge them this early in their careers to a full extent, because they have only just begun to hone their skills and every track/ album they put out is going to be inherently that much better. What’s happening is that these rappers are getting boxed in by people quick to make assumptions. The fact that they rap over so many greats, past beats should be a hint at the fact that they are already able to keep up with the greats on their own tracks. On Pill’s most recent mixtape he has a tribute to both Biggie and Pac. Gibbs is already featured on a established artists album (CunninLynguists, Strange Jouney Vol. II). Give them time and they will out swagg any artists on the current scene without a doubt. Just remember it’s necessary to learn to fly before you soar with the eagles, but these two are already flying with the best.
    http://bt.gd/BK

  132. david Says:

    the holes in my jeans shit was a joke, & im also not the child of upper middle class parents but keep on talking about shit you dont know if it helps your argument.

  133. david Says:

    and johan how about u work on the reading comprehension here?? i dont give a shit if u heard eazy e before me, just like i dont care what KRS one thinks about gucci mane. this is about historical biases of critics, its not about who’s realer than who.

    the ‘give them time’ argument is one im most sympathetic to — they have plenty of opportunity to prove themselves & are definitely promising rappers — the skills are there. but it shows you how backwards this crit game is, that the artists dont even have to prove themselves before getting love from the new yorker or la times, but if they’ve just proved themselves like gucci, since critics werent the first ppl on board recognizing an artist, then theyre destined to be ‘generic mainstream rap’ that every critically feted rapper is a ‘reaction’ to.

    These guys are cool to root for because they totally hit my favorite rap styles, the influences are shit i’m into, and i hope they can cross over to a big audience eventually. But there’s totally a ‘ceiling’ on gibbs & pill’s work that has been released so far — the reason dudes arent doing yo gotti, never mind gucci numbers is that they havent figured out how to make their personalities connect w/ lots of people — including me, at some level. it doesnt mean there is a ceiling on the work they WILL produce, that they havent made this connection yet. i recognize, when listening to their music, that it doesnt connect w/ me the way gucci’s or gotti’s does, that G&G’s raps stand out for musical reasons in ways Pill & Gibbs’ havent yet. Pill & Gibbs are no doubt skilled, working in a style I love & appreciate. So I like them & respect them. But like i said in Weiss’ comments section, they havent arrived yet so this kind of press seems totally out of order to the style of raps they are making

    imo the crit game is far too focused on tastemaking/being first on the block type shit & not focused enough on getting an accurate picture of where an artist stands in relation to the wider world of music history.

  134. noz Says:

    I make no statements about my personal relationship to any of this music in this post. I’m a late(r) UGK adopter myself. I first heard Pimp C when the Sleepy’s Theme album dropped. Dirty Money was their first album that I owned.

  135. i'm in shambles? Says:

    it just be like that sometimes

  136. Johan Says:

    Apologies for falsely tagging you as upper middle class David, it’s just that you’ve picked up that privileged, “I’m always right” tone so well. I mean, you are literally never wrong, just like rich folks.

    Personally, having grown up in a series of dying resource-extraction towns, Gibbs hits me right in the stomach, and in a way Gucci just doesn’t (and yet, oddly enough, I have no desire to ride the internet telling people they are completely wrong about Gucci if they like him too much or in the wrong way. Weird, huh?). As far as I’m concerned, the love he’s getting is perfectly in line with what he means to me, because he evokes the places I came from in a way that makes me recognize them better. Your mileage may vary, and that’s actually ok. I mean, except for the people who feel that because Gibbs isn’t connecting with them, they must not be connecting with anyone, and anyone else who says otherwise is in the thrall of the hype machine or false nostalgia or whatever. The basic position, that shit isn’t hitting me so therefore it’s not hitting, sounds alot like critics from NYC in 95 talking on southern rap, actually.

    And Noz: stop lying kid. You’re clearly not engaged by these rappers. Your personal relationship comes out so loud and clear that saying so would be icing when you’ve already baked the cake (I realize you are so smart you can never get trapped in the labyrinth, but claiming that your prose should taken at face value when you yourself don’t do that for other critics is just a sad case of special pleading).

    A personal opinion is all good. And much of what you say makes sense regarding the hype machine etc. But the basic fact remains that these guys are getting a lot of love because they have a huge amount of talent, and that cannot be reduced to just “people wish they had been southern in 95.” I mean, it can, but it makes you sound like an asshole.

  137. David Says:

    tons of what u say about gibbs is what i like about his music. im not questioning anyone’s personal identification w/ that. i never said ppl were wrong for liking his music. im talking specifically about critics who write about it w/ that privileged tone — which, lets be honest, thats the tone of music crit in general — but seem unaware of the immensity of what rap music is. its not about having heard every Soulja Slim b-side like Noz, its about being aware that Soulja Slim exists, that to a huge number of rap fans hes one of the most significant rappers of the decade, and that their personal relationship is not less legit than the lat times critic who thinks ghostface is more important than soulja slim.

    that ‘always right’ tone is more a combination of ‘chip on my shoulder’ from watching rappers i like get shitted on & simply because arguing about rap is more fun when ppl arent always riding the fence & actually care enough to have opinions, imho

  138. david Says:

    i mean lets be real, pill & gibbs are like the most critically agreed-upon “good rappers” in ages — like it crosses rap nerd demographics. i dont know why u should be feeling defensive when ppl try to put it in perspective — its the rappers im feeling, like gucci, who are divisive, who ppl are out there calling idiots & minstrels.

  139. mark p. Says:

    I agree with the people saying that you guys should be taking this more as an observation than a personal attack on Weiss or a criticism of these two rappers. I think the point of this post was more like: “This guy who seemingly doesn’t normally write about ‘street-oriented’ mixtape rap just called one such release an ‘instant classic’. The rapper who released it just so happens to be one of, like, two mixtape rappers who has been in the New Yorker in the past year. This probably isn’t a coincidence, so what appeals to him about this release more than any others of its type? And why is something like ‘Trap Goin’ Ham’ fundamentally more appealing to him than, say, a Yo Gotti record?”

    Also, the first time I even saw Gibbs’ name mentioned anywhere was on this blog, accompanied by the statement “we’ve all been sleeping on him too long” or something like that.

  140. david Says:

    thats a good question; should we be asking them?

    i mean i think im flipping that the other way & asking critics who prefer ‘trap goin ham’ to ask themselves what is fundamentally more appealing to most rap fans about yo gotti.

  141. p-417 Says:

    this comment-thread actually got good again!

  142. hook Says:

    johan for the win

  143. Johan Says:

    If I (or anyone else) can figure out why something is more popular than something else with certainty, I’d probably sell it to a record label because I would have found the fucking holy grail of music marketing.

  144. OW Says:

    Noz: First, thanks for the response (all the more that you had to re-type it). I hear what you’re saying and let me predicate what I’m about to say by noting that I think the last few years have been as incredible but challenging time to try to tackle music criticism of any genre. I think the technological grasp to accumulate an entire artist’s catalog (as you’re implying) changes the game in a few different ways and that it makes the critic’s job easier in some ways and far more difficult in others.

    I’m curious what you think about this:

    If Gucci Mane managed to release more music in a month than Tribe did in their entire career, is the critic meant to approach/tackle that volume in the same way, more or less, they would to Tribe’s volume?

    Or, to be put it another way, if technology + musical practices has created a new norm where dropping 80 songs at a time is perfectly ordinary, should listening/critical practices shift as well?

    That tangent aside and re: your Gaslamp Killer example. If you heard the album and thought it was an instant classic…I think you could convincingly – and “accurately” – make a case for that so long as you’re able to articulate what is it about that album that YOU think makes it such. If you try to do so through some erroneous historical assumptions (i.e. “no one’s ever done this before?”) – ok, that’s not accurate. But you could be completely ignorant of GK’s contemporaries yet still say something meaningful about what the music evokes from you, what it says to you. And when done right (i.e. you can write well and articulate otherwise difficult thoughts into something insightful and poignant), then that opinion is, in essence, unassailable because you’re relating a personal response to music.

    For example, I wouldn’t personally write “Gucci Mane is the greatest artist out of the South!” unless I had a knowledge base to back up such a claim. But I could say – without knowing shit about him, “this Gucci Mane song is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard and here’s why” and my lack of knowledge doesn’t negate or limit my ability to speak to that experience.

    Of course, that may not be the kind of example you’re talking about and I suspect you’re critiquing a different kind of criticism than what I’m talking about. That said, I know you value history and I value history too. What I would just like to inject into this larger dialogue is the idea that there are many approaches to criticism – all valid – and that historical context is just one facet in there.

  145. barns Says:

    “arguably the first gangsta rappers to come up in [Biggie & Pac's] wake to offer a new prototype” is not relating a personal response to music. it’s making a vacuous argument that does nothing but assert that the writer knows something about a genre’s history. ego shit, talking loud but not saying nothing. it’s what high school kids do when they write their first album reviews, because they don’t know any better. gaslamp killer is channeling biggie and pac. animal collective is channeling velvet underground and sonic youth.

  146. barns Says:

    and unless you connect those dots in a meaningful way it just comes off as being ignorant. proof is in the pudding; triangulation in 010.

  147. Johnny Sagan Says:

    What up OW?!? What up Barns?!? Surveying the history of soul and rap, here’s the problem I see with uninformed criticism in the two thousand-tens: by anointing new Sugar Hill Gangs, we necessitate new Numero Groups down the line. Subgenres of soul and rap music are so DAZZLING to the virgin ear that they’ll make you wanna say the first you heard to do it was the best to ever do it…I used to JAM OUT to Guerillas In Tha (or was it Da?*) Mist!

    *oh yeah, there’s Google now: it was Tha.

  148. Johnny Sagan Says:

    More after I get some coffee in me here at Tom’s Diner…just to be clear, after reading a lot about them I finally downloaded Pill and Gibbs after reading this post and I’m liking them fine…but I can’t remember a single line sofar except the chorus to Trap Goin’ Ham.

  149. OW Says:

    Barns: Yeah, I’m not disagreeing with you; if you’re making claims that, by their very nature, assert a historical scope (i.e. “greatest ever since…”) then it behooves you to demonstrate that you’re capable of making that claim. So I’m not debating that point at all. My point was to offer – into this larger discussion about criticism – that encyclopedic knowledge, while useful, isn’t a necessary component to all criticism.

    Sagan: Wait, what’s wrong with new Numero Groups? I’m losing your point.

  150. barns Says:

    OW: Word, I gotcha. I agree and don’t know why I got flippy.

    Sagan: The problem with uninformed blog comment criticism in the postmodern era is its reliance on Google. I encourage you to expand your scope, maybe check out Alta Vista or local urban culture plogs.

  151. faux_rillz Says:

    “But I could say – without knowing shit about him, “this Gucci Mane song is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard and here’s why” and my lack of knowledge doesn’t negate or limit my ability to speak to that experience.”

    No, but it negates/limits the value of your comments and the degree to which others should take interest in your experience (speaking hypothetically).

    I think this was pretty thoroughly demonstrated by the Passion of the Weiss 50 best rap albums of the decade list.

  152. david Says:

    at some level im more in agreement w/ o-dub in that sometimes it can actually enhance the value of someone’s comments — simply bcuz someone is not versed in the context does not inherently mean they will have nothing to add. that is dependent on some self-awareness of their position, & their writing abilties & insight transcending these handicaps, tho

  153. OW Says:

    Faux: I think the problem with the “50 best rap albums” poll was in the methodology rather than any inherent body of knowledge on is meant to possess, unless you mean the combined body of knowledge held by the pollsters, in which case, sure I agree that the polling needed to be broader than it appeared to be.

    But it really does strike me that arguing over a knowledge base is a dangerous way to go about things. It sets up a litmus test that writers are meant to pass except that it’s not clear what the minimum amount of knowledge is supposed to be or who gets to arbitrate those standards. I think it’s one thing to say, “based on what writer A says in this piece, I don’t think he/she knows what they’re talking about because of [litany of errors or misreadings, etc.]” That seems wholly fair and reasonable. I think it’s another thing to open your essay and the first thing you write is about how some folks aren’t down enough with street hip-hop, which is a naked implication of an authenticity line. That move inevitably detours people into arguing over credentials rather than the actual writing; it becomes more about, “who has a right to write about this topic” vs. “what are they actually saying.”

  154. noz Says:

    Oliver & David – I am struggling to think of circumstances where I would value the opinion of an uniformed critic on the same level of an informed one. It’s like you guys are arguing in favor of an “outsider criticism” that is somehow purer. Are there tangible and successful examples of this approach? Most of the time I find transparently uninformed criticism to fall somewhere between empty and cringeworthy. (The “Hot Boyz were N’Sync with shivs” Time mag Lil Wayne profile comes to mind.)

    I think a critic is obligated to operate from a point of authority, if only because the audience instinctively defers to a critic’s authority. Oliver Wang’s Favorite Gucci Mane Track holds more significance to your readers than some other guy’s favorite Gucci Mane track, even though you might not be that well versed in Gucci’s catalog. And what happens now in the everybody has a blog age is that this deference echos to diminishing returns. Your audience picks up on *that particular song* and then something like a consensus forms around it. Dilettantes parroting dilettantes. Suddenly, a sliver of the population has an idealized vision of Gucci Mane that is attached to this single song which might not even be remotely representative of his larger body of work. Similarly Gibbs is being held up as a significant indicator of trends in the gangster rap community when, quite frankly, he is an outlier

  155. noz Says:

    “I think it’s another thing to open your essay and the first thing you write is about how some folks aren’t down enough with street hip-hop, which is a naked implication of an authenticity line.”

    You are absolutely right, I regret opening with that. I’m a shitty and reactionary writer sometimes. Blogging. This post wasn’t intended as a critique of any critic’s base knowledge it was a critique of a general unwillingness to expand that knowledge. However, I think it’s important to recognize modern criticism (like modern rap) as an extended conversation, not just a series of unrelated articles. In the past, Weiss has seemed wholly indifferent (if not completely opposed) to the type of music that Gibbs makes. Which wouldn’t be a huge problem except he doesn’t really make clear what it is that differentiates GIbbs from his peers. (And make no mistake, Gibbs is different from those peers). He shits on Waka Flocka in the same breath that he praises Pill’s “solemn simplicity.” Which leads me to believe that he hasn’t really listened too carefully to Flocka (“every since they killed my n***a trav / started popping pills and acting crazy”).

  156. noz Says:

    FWIW, this is now the second most commented-on post in the history of the site, surpassing the Nicki Minaj discussion.

  157. p-417 Says:

    ^^ I told you!

  158. Let’s See Gucci Outsell This Dude « Compact Diss Says:

    [...] few nights ago, I read through the latest spat between veteran blogger Noz and his (perceived) critical nemesis Jeff Weiss with a great deal of [...]

  159. Chef Rae Says:

    Jeff Weiss >>>> Nicki Minaj.

  160. david Says:

    “Oliver & David – I am struggling to think of circumstances where I would value the opinion of an uniformed critic on the same level of an informed one. It’s like you guys are arguing in favor of an “outsider criticism” that is somehow purer. Are there tangible and successful examples of this approach? Most of the time I find transparently uninformed criticism to fall somewhere between empty and cringeworthy. (The “Hot Boyz were N’Sync with shivs” Time mag Lil Wayne profile comes to mind.)”

    im not saying its ‘purer’ — im just saying that insight can come from all kinds of places & a lot of times the internal debates a community has end up becoming an ugly kind of orthodoxy w/out perspective. Not saying ‘outsider criticism’ is purer — but it CAN be. (And, like Time mag, it can be way way shittier).

    I mean, there have been plenty of times ive been humbled by the writing of ppl who didnt consider themselves ‘heads’ who wrote about hip hop in a way that made me question my assumptions about the genre. An example is the way ppl talk about Timbaland — I’ve linked you to one of my favorite pieces on him before, which is by a writer who does cover hip-hop occasionally, but primarily discusses other genres. In this case, I found his analysis of timbaland’s work 100x more interesting & informative than a hundred hip hop heads repeating how every timbo beat is “next level” — because he looks at timbo beats as an evolving pop phenomenon, not in the lineage of like dj premier, but of other pop producers: http://getphysical.blogspot.com/2004/06/slight-detour.html

    thats just one example … i would have to think on some more.

  161. brandonsoderberg Says:

    There’s most certainly a value to being uninformed about certain things. Though it’s prime manifestation is through dummies saying all old rap sucks or whatever, there’s plenty of discussions I’ve had with young kids and adults who don’t know about this or that and their lack of knowledge cuts through a lot of bullshit or “sensitivity”. When that extends to a notable website–or “notable”, let’s be real, there isn’t a person who doesn’t blog themselves reading P.O.W–or an article, it is indeed problematic, especially in 2009, web 2.0, etc.

    And Noz, since your tone, whether you like it or not, is chip-on-the-shoulder, better than everybody–something you’ve rightfully critiqued me for–you come off like a teacher/educator, which is fine. But indeed, the way educators broaden their understanding, complicate their “Teaching” is by paying attention to people who don’t know as much as them. Speak to say, anybody who speaks to an audience–professor, boss, even a like customer service rep–and they’ll tell you much of their insights stems from people less “knowledgeable”. Same with rap. Especially a blog that has an interest in populism.

    And in terms of rap and a blog like this, the populist audience is indeed, readers/writers of the New Yorker, etc and not the nerds arguing here or the guys you ride the bus with that know why Wacka Flocka sorta rules and still bump Field Mob or Pastor Troy CDs.

    Lastly, I think you could easily counteract the Doc Zeus-es of the comments fray by implicating yourself in this labyrinth. Not calling you out, but you have a bad habit of dropping stuff you once bigged-up maybe because dudes have fallen off but more because everyone else is writing about them–I first read of Charles Hamilton here, Wale became interesting to me here (though not for long)–and it’s very similar to the fleeting hipster love critique you make, just flipped inside out.

    Implicating One’s Self in the Labyrinth: I can say that even in my far smaller readership, influence, and chance to write for real publications, I sit down before any pitch and think, “Is what I’m saying here important? How am I adding to the dialogue? How am I counter-acting the norms of the publications, etc.”

  162. barns Says:

    weiss is writing as a critic, not a teacher or ethnographer or some shit. like yeah he might have some valuable insight about gangsta rap, but evaluating a gangsta rapper (i.e. saying gangsta rapper A is better than gangsta rapper B for gangsta rap reasons x y z) is completely different.

  163. noz Says:

    “Speak to say, anybody who speaks to an audience–professor, boss, even a like customer service rep–and they’ll tell you much of their insights stems from people less “knowledgeable”. Same with rap.”

    Sure, but the Professor or the Boss aren’t going to be like “hey less knowledgeable person – take charge of the class, make an important executive decision about the future of our company.” Again, this post isn’t an attack on casual fans who don’t have extensive knowledge of the music they listen to and talk about, this is a commentary on professional critics.

    David – what about that post makes you think the author doesn’t have a solid historical grasp on the type of music Timbo makes?

  164. brandonsoderberg Says:

    Noz-
    Fair enough. Though as I said, I think there’s a weird issue where in regards to you, this blog, your approach, they are sorta the one YOU ARE speaking down to–for good reason–and as a result, it’d be helpful to not dismiss them simply for a lack of knowledge. If they had more interesting things to say about Gibbs, etc. that would help too though.

    Not sure if this is part of the issue anybody else has with this approach, but much of what makes Weiss’ interest sorta of obnoxious is that he can’t only celebrate the rapper he thinks is good, but must indeed devalue the one he doesn’t think is good. Less for valid reasons or even reasons he validates but simply just because. As if why Gucci or Wacka suck is just inherently obvious. It’s not a contrast for reasons or values, not a critical/aesthetic “this one over this one” thing, but “this is more like most other stuff and so it’s better”.

    This is also why this post should not be seen as negative or somehow full of “shots”…because it’s Weiss and others who set up these “this guy is the worst, this guy is the best” which is wrongheaded and offensive to anyone who cares about these rappers.

  165. David Says:

    “David – what about that post makes you think the author doesn’t have a solid historical grasp on the type of music Timbo makes?”

    who decides what the ‘type of music timbo makes’ is? i mean, your argument can just be reduced to “knowing stuff is good” then I agree. But that doesnt feel v controversial to me. But I bet you the writer is way less familiar w/ the history of rap, even tho he talks about rap in the piece, than either of us. im just pointing out an example of how a perspective from ‘outside’ can enliven discussion, that insight doesnt require you be steeped in the history. Because the reality of history is that its an infinite playing field & our assumptions of what historical points are ‘important’ is constantly up for debate & analysis.

    This isnt excusing bad or lazy writing, where the writer makes assumptions about history; i think what you’re arguing, though, is less “you need to know rap history” than “you need to be a good writer & thinker who has some self-awareness that you should be careful about universalizing your own POV”

  166. noz Says:

    “Actively invested critic” was the phrase I used. Knowing history is part of this but it’s not necessarily the whole of it. Knowing the present is just as important, if not more so.

  167. David Says:

    in that case we dont disagree at all. but im not sure that what youre saying is that far off from “be smart & write good”

    but that does remind me of this haaa:

    http://barthel.tumblr.com/post/135469728/stryker-america-where-we-always-think-things

  168. On Limitations, Yelawolf, and Idiosyncrasies « You Must Learn Says:

    [...] weeks ago at Cocaine Blunts, Noz put up an interesting discussion of Pill and Freddie Gibbs’ cache with the blogs. There’s a lot going on in it, but I want to address one point in particular and then make [...]

  169. Shots fired, parts one and two « Ich Lüge Bullets Says:

    [...] Gibbs and all those dudes. Cocaine Blunts fired back by smacking its balls against Weiss’s windshield. It wasn’t The Von Erichs vs The Freedbirds, but it was a good feud as it stood: two great [...]

  170. Mariana Akau Says:

    We stumbled over here by a different website and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page yet again.

  171. truncatemyrssfeedpause Says:

    “While Waka lingers back off into obscurity in the next year, Pill’s alternative approach is going to continue paying dividends. ”

    Ha.

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