Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My New Favorite Song or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Emo Rap

I've never been a huge fan of white rappers. Hip hop is such an idiomatic genre, and so heavily rooted in African american musical and linguistic traditions that when white people do it, more often than not it just doesn't work. They are either trying to imitate black performers, and failing miserably, or they put this pop spin on it that just kind of sucks.

I've always resisted Atmosphere and their brand of emo rap, and I've always written Slug off as a white rapper. Then I heard "Guarantees," off of their new album. The song is just Slug rapping over a bluesy guitar, without a beat, and it perfectly sums up the struggles of the middle-turned-working classes under Bushenomics:

No overtime pay no holiday
Months behind on everything but the lottery
Winter round the corner guaranteeing that my car died
Wifey having trouble juggling both the part times
My cup aint close to filled up
We trying to build up so we can have enough
And when I finally get the color
There won’t be nothing left to paint on
My friend tried to kill himself to the same song

I firmly believe that hip hop is modern blues, and this song is evidence. He comes up with clever, heartbreaking turns of phrase like "Can't save no nest egg in fact this nest is rented
In fact that rent is late, wait." You can download that track and their mixtape Extreme Leakage from www.rhymesayers.com. I just got his 2006 album "You Can't Believe How Much Fun We're Having," and it's pretty awesome. I'm thinking I may shell out 16 bucks for the deee-lucks version of his new one, "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold," which comes with a bonus DVD and children's book. Turns out that Slug is only half-white, too, which just makes me feel like a big old racist dumbass.

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