June 28, 2009

Unsolicited Rap Tips

I went to the Rock The Bells festival in Chicago this weekend. I saw some great shows and I saw some awful ones. Like Dame Dash at the end of the Paid in Full soundtrack, I have a few things to get off my chest. Hip hop's been around since the 70s and it seems like most rappers are still doing the same shit. Many performers at RTB were no exception. Let's run through the classics:
  1. "Ayo soundman, I need more/less monitor." "Can I get more volume on this mic?" I can honestly say that I have never been to a rap show where there was not at least one on-stage complaint about the sound guy. Talib Kweli spent as much time performing as he did talking to the soundman. Look, dude, I came to hear raps. If I wanted a discussion about audio engineering, I'd enroll at Full Sail.
  2. "The real hip hop is over here/there." When you say '"hip," I say "go fuck yourself." KRS is awesome, but even he's guilty of this one.
  3. Not practicing. Amid other miscues, Raekwon's DJ dropped the vocal version of a song. Rae to the crowd: "Oh no, the vocals are on there! We're gonna have to go over the vocals..." Probably should have been handled in rehearsal.
  4. "DJ, stop the beat." A cappella raps are the keyboard solos of hip hop shows. Totally unnecessary (possible exceptions include Eddie Van Halen on the "1984" tour and Brother Ali) .
  5. "Who wants to hear some new shit?" First off, you're not really giving us a choice. Second, if I've never heard your "old shit" (I am talking here to almost every opening act at indie hip hop shows), then the answer is a definite no.
  6. Stopping and starting beats. Everyone knows that "Ante Up" will be MOP's last song. The beat drops and people go nuts. 8 bars in, they stop the track and say "I don't think they're ready" only to crank it right back up. Talk about a buzzkill. Ever see Pearl Jam stop in the middle of "Even Flow" and then have Eddie Vedder call for a rewind? Me neither.
  7. Extraneous people walking around on stage. You got a backstage pass? C'mon up. Maybe wave a towel or pantomime gunshots. GZA had 5 guys at the DJ booth mouthing the lyrics. Is this Wu Tang or Puttin On The Hits?
Other observations from RTB: In these tough economic times, paying money to meet Supernatural (and "suprise" guests) in a "VIP" tent seems a little much. If you wait until after the tour, you can just run up in the post office or wherever he works and meet him for free. Also, I counted about 50 "Dilla Changed My Life" tees. The only people who should be wearing them are the members of Slum Village and Stones Throw employees. It's cool to pay tribute to someone you admire, but this is a little much. Truth be told, your mom or your AAU coach changed your life, not Dilla.


Chef Rykwon said...

Absolute truth. I can count on one hand the rap shows I've been to that have been good. They all seem to do the "party over here" bullshit though. I guess the average rap show-goer needs to be instructed on what and when to yell something as well as what to do with their hands. (spoiler.......wave them in the air.)

Also.....note to all rappers that relates to this post...if you concede to SHOW UP AT THE SOUNDCHECK for the show you're being paid too much money for, the soundmen can do their jobs better. Not every motherfucker on stage needs a mic either. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

the only reason i went to RTB's two years ago was for rage against the machine.. totally worth waiting through 8 hours of garbage and waving your hands in the air, all hip hop shows are abuncha white kids who freestyle with their friends at parties (and not in the joking way but actually take that shit seriously) you know who you are. The wu tang set was abuncha yo yo yo's for an hour.

hacksaw jim chuggins said...

that was an a+ bit of journalism. i've been to, and dj'ed for a lot of bad rappers. with most of the white emcees i know it's like, how fast can i possibly rap? and with most of the thugged out kids it's like, how many hype men can we cram on stage only to further dilute the lyrics?

and there is never enough fukking scratching! i want to hear that vinyl mixed and cut...