I thought this would be a good chance to follow-up on some of the recent stories I’ve covered. First up, the VMAs. This year’s show was the best I’ve seen in a while, mainly because its stellar performances outshined the cringe-worthy moments. But like every year, there’s always something outrageous for people to criticize and talk about—and it seems like this year’s outrageous moment belongs to Miley Cyrus. In my last article, I devoted one sentence to Miley’s performance because I didn’t think there was anything worth talking about. But apparently everyone else, including CNN, thought differently. People are going crazy over Miley’s “racist,” promiscuous performance, which featured the pop star shaking her booty with big-booty African American women and people in bear costumes—and then later grinding that booty against Robin Thicke’s crotch, all while sticking her tongue out in a Girls Gone Wild sort of way. To this, all I can say is, “Are you really surprised?” First of all, this is the VMAs we’re talking about. Secondly, you didn’t see this coming when a video of Miley Cyrus smoking salvia leaked onto the Internet? Thirdly, we’ve seen this kind of thing many times before. It’s what happens whenever a human being is exposed to inordinate amounts of fame and success at an early age. Miley is just the next link in a long chain of child stars-turned-party animals: Bobby Driscoll, Drew Barrymore, Macaulay Culkin, Christina Aguliera, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Justin Bieber, and many others. Like her predecessors, Miley doesn’t want to be perceived as Hannah Montana, the pretty, little girl from the Disney Channel. She wants to be the badass, hot chick who parties hard, flaunts her body and sexuality, and makes guys drool. Is this just a phase? Most likely. And once that phase ends, Miley will either clean up her act, like Britney and Christina, or suffer the fate of a has-been like Amanda and Macaulay.
There were just two moments from the VMAs that really bothered me, and it doesn’t seem like anyone else noticed them (probably because everyone’s too busy being infatuated with Miley Cyrus). Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was arguably the biggest breakout act of the year. This indie duo not only achieved mainstream success, but they also received a Moonman for Best Hip-Hop Video for their hit song Can’t Hold Us, which makes me rage like an animal whenever it comes on at the bar. I was glad to see them win but was appalled to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis keep the microphone from their co-winners, Mary Lambert and Ray Dalton, during the acceptance speech. Sure, the win ultimately belongs to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Yeah, Mary Lambert and Ray Dalton aren’t big names; realistically, no one wants to hear anything they have to say. But shouldn’t these artists be allowed to revel in the victory and thank someone for the win, too? In the end, it’s not about putting the grandest celebrities in front of the camera. It’s about celebrating the artists who worked their asses off to get onto that stage. To me, what Macklemore and Ryan Lewis pulled off is just a toned-down version of what Kanye West did to Taylor Swift.
Kendrick Lamar made headlines the other week with his verse in the Big Sean song, Control. In it, he calls his friends his competitors and threatens to destroy their careers with his own technique. At first, I didn’t see the big deal in this. But then I realized that I was raised on 1990s rap—which means that I’ve been raised on good rap. It was a time period of lyrical mastery and cutthroat competition (literally—just look at what happened to the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur); a decade that birthed the greatest MCs to ever pick up the mic: Biggie, Tupac, Wu Tang Clan, Nas, Jay-Z, Big L, Eminem, and others. But hip-hop has suffered a severe decline since then. Now it’s all about mediocre wordplay over catchy beats and hooks. The quality and competitive soul of rap has waned over the years, which is why Nas called his 2006 studio album Hip Hop is Dead. And interestingly enough, it’s the MCs that Kendrick named in Control that have contributed to the genre’s demise. Since the song dropped, a number of rappers have responded to Lamar’s verse. Here’s what legendary producer P. Diddy had to say:
It’s definitely funny, but it also plays right into Kendrick’s trap. There’s Jay-Z and Diddy, enjoying lives of luxury, probably sitting courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game. But Kendrick Lamar doesn’t want to see or hear about stacks of money or designer clothes or lavish vacation spots or high-end clubs and restaurants. He wants to revive the 1990s mentality of hip-hop; that is, lyrical mastery and cutthroat competition. So Diddy, I suggest you get off your ass and start producing better music; same goes to you Jay because Holy Grail was hardly acceptable. Other responses came from Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Cassidy, and King Los—even though none of these rappers were even mentioned in Kendrick’s verse. Clearly, these guys are just looking for some publicity, and they definitely deserve it. Each one showed competitive spirit and lyrical prowess. Rapping over the Control instrumental, Papoose viciously murders the Compton MC, while King Los takes the opposite route and commends each artist named in Control for his contribution to hip-hop. Classy, Los.
My, my there’s been a lot of Eminem news this past week. The real Slim Shady dropped Berzerk, the first single off his new album MMLP2, last night on his Sirius XM radio station Shade 45. And the track is…well, berserk. It’s just so different from anything we’ve heard from Eminem–or anyone else in that matter. Lyrically, it’s no masterpiece, but you can’t help bobbing your head at that crazy hook and beat. It sounds like something off of a Beastie Boys album; a bonkers mix of old school flavor (roll n’ roll instrumentals, disk scratches, and slow rhymes) with the catchy first singles of Eminem’s past (My Name Is, Real Slim Shady). “Let’s take it back to straight hip-hop and start it from scratch,” Em opens up. “Let’s bring it back to that vintage Slim, b–!” Between these lines, the album title, and the blonde hair, it seems like Eminem’s trying to bring back the ingredients that made him a star. Also, make sure to give each chorus a close listen. In the first and third hook, I believe he raps, “Baby, make just like K-Fed and let yourself go” whereas everywhere else, he says, “Crank that bass up like crazy and let yourself go.” Let me know if you guys think I’m delusional or not. Lastly, look at the differences in his promo pictures from Recovery (right) to MMLP2 (left); from a brunette Christian to a blonde Satan. Things are really starting to get interesting with Marshall Mathers, and I’m excited to see the piece of work that comes out of it all.
Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter at @MJ_Perrino!