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NYT Celebrates Violent, Misogynistic Rap Music

What excellent timing, from the New York Times:

Tweaking Rap’s Rules, but With Respect

By JON CARAMANICA | January 16, 2013

What are the hallmarks of great rapping in 2013? Lyrical imagination and complexity, sure — those are always on the list. But they’re increasingly sharing space with things like texture, emotion, versatility, experimentation and confidence.

Who knew? Here we were under the impression that rap glorified violence, drugs and misogyny.

Rap has always made room for innovation, eccentricity and dialect, but the range has never been wider…

Meet ASAP Rocky, stylistic admixture supreme. A Harlem native with an expansive ear, he’s become one of hip-hop’s brightest new stars by interpreting the Internet-fueled melding of tastes and influences that’s a given of modern life. And he’s a peacock, doing it with flair and authority. He isn’t an answer to old debates so much as a renunciation of them.

So while some choices on “Long.Live.ASAP” (Polo Grounds/RCA), his major-label debut album, feel familiar, it’s more as if they’re reflected in a fun-house mirror…

Throughout, ASAP Rocky is charismatic, full of sly wit and curiosity, a tweaker of orthodoxy while upholding it at the same time

Typically ASAP Rocky likes how words sound more than what they say; this is an album light on narrative. But he writes tight little couplets that punch and swerve: “Pac gone but the ‘Juice’ back/ Get your popcorn, juice, snacks”; “Tell me what your name is/ I’ma tell it to my stainless”; “Put the chrome to your dome, make you sweat like Keith.”

"Chrome to your dome" means ‘put a gun to your head.’

That last line is from his breakthrough single, which has a title unprintable here — “Problems” for short — and is by far the most literal song on this album…

Why is The Times being so coy? They are celebrating lyrics that they can’t even print. (For lyrics, see below.)

Some of his most powerful songs are the cloudiest. “Hell” — produced by Clams Casino, the ambient-industrial maven who produced some of ASAP Rocky’s most notable early songs — sounds like an orchestra being held hostage in an underground bunker with thinning oxygen. That’s followed by “Pain,” which sounds like Pharrell Williams being held hostage in an underground bunker with thinning oxygen. Even the album’s first song, the title track, is dank and foreboding, the opposite of a warm embrace. But it also features some of ASAP Rocky’s cockiest, sharpest rapping: “Strangers make me nervous/ Who’s that peeking in my window/with a pistol to my curtains?”

As loud an entrance as ASAP Rocky has made in the hip-hop world, he has made one just as impressive in the fashion world, though the overlap isn’t always seamless. This album features the lamentable “Fashion Killa,” a song that renders dull on record — by playing fashion Mad Libs with a couple dozen designer names — what his outfits and natural charisma render vivid in real life. He’s set a fashion bar that more established artists are scrambling to reach — see the vintage Raf Simons sneakers/moon boots he wore on “Late Show With David Letterman” on Tuesday — and he’s almost certainly the first rapper to insult someone by declaring, “You overaccessorize.”

In a couple of spots on this album ASAP Rocky moves beyond these concerns altogether, opting for something postnarrative. On the second verse of “LVL” he raps with Big Pun dexterity, but prettier, moving effortlessly from words to onomatopoeic sounds, thickening the density of his flow the whole while until he’s virtually speaking in tongues. He does the same on “Problems.” That song is glossy, but he pushes against it in the latter half of his verse, which is mean, intricate and swings with attitude. He is pure flamboyance. Add that to the list.

In reality, ASAP Rocky’s (real name Rakim Mayers) ‘lyrics’ are not all that complex. They are, in fact, exactly like most rap lyrics, obsessed with glorifying violence, guns, misogyny, promiscuity, and excessive drug use.

For instance, here is the beginning of one of the ‘songs’ The Times just swooned over:

"Fuckin’ Problems"

I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem
And yeah I like to fuck, I got a fucking problem
I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem
And yeah I like to fuck I got a fucking problem
I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem
And yeah I like to fuck, I got a fucking problem
If finding somebody real is your fucking problem
Bring ya girls to the crib maybe we can solve it

Hold up bitches simmer down
Takin’ hella long bitch give it to me now
Make that thing pop like a semi or a nine
Oh baby like it raw with a shimmy shimmy ya
Huh, ASAP get like me
Never met a motherfucker fresh like me
All these motherfuckers wanna dress like me
Put the chrome to your dome make you sweat like Keith
Cause I’m the nigga, the nigga nigga, like how you figure?
Getting figures and fucking bitches, she rollin’ swishers
Brought her bitches, I brought my niggas, they getting bent up off the liquor
She love my licorice, I let her lick it
They say money make a nigga act nigga-rish
But at least a nigga nigga rich
I be fuckin’ broads like I be fuckin’ bored
Turn a dyke bitch out have her fuckin’ boys, beast…

What "tight little couplets that punch and swerve." What "lyrical imagination and complexity." What "texture, emotion, versatility, experimentation and confidence."

What "wit and curiosity." What "flamboyance." But the New York Times would never glorify violence or sexism or racism.

Also, for the record, ASAP Rocky doesn’t just talk the talk. In July 2012, Mr. Rocky was arrested in July 2012 for beating a man in a New York clothing store, and two photographers who had been filming the altercation outside. He was subsequently sued for assault by the first man.

The confrontation began after a man allegedly witnessed A$AP Rocky doing illegal drugs inside the clothing store, sparking the assault. Rocky then allegedly attacked two amateur photographers who were filming the incident. A$AP Rocky was eventually charged with assault and robbery for striking the photographers and attempting to take their cameras.

Coincidentally, Mr. Rocky had been scheduled to make his network television debut on Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Late Night’ show that very same day. But due to his arrest, the performance had to be rescheduled.

Mr. Rocky struck a plea deal in the criminal case in December. By pleading guilty to attempted grand larceny he got the assault and robbery charges dropped. Isn’t life grand!

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, January 17th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “NYT Celebrates Violent, Misogynistic Rap Music”

  1. Helena says:

    O Bard of Bitches! Thus sang Homer to his hos and they did shimmy shimmy ya… Let him be crowned with leaves of skunkiest weed! Let Harold Bloom sing praises! ASAP Rocky for Poet Laureate!

  2. canary says:

    Obama’s close rapper friends’ music won’t be studied, as he is asks congress for millions more to study violent video games. How racist can he get.

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