Thursday, February 5, 2009
Lil' Wayne Finally Beats Tupac As Most Overrated Rapper Of All Time
It's going on four years since Byron Crawford posted my exclusive drop where I exposed Tupac Shakur as being way overrated. At the time, mad fatherless "thug lifers" the world over commented in anger and disbelief as to how I had the cojones to blasphemously prove their rap idol false. My how things have changed. With regard to Mr. Shakur, it seems as if even the most die hard of 'Pac stans have come to their senses and have moved on. These days, one would be hard pressed to spot anyone other than short Mexican busboys wearing anything made by that horrible Makavelli Branded clothing line. Even the wigsters over at Blender felt the climate safe enough to jump on the bandwagon last year when they shamelessly bit my classic piece in claiming that 'Pac was the most overrated person in music ever. Really? No shit Sherlock.
So now we have Lil' Wayne jockeying for the spot as the Greatest Rapper Alive. And fans across the globe are actually fighting each other to the glorious death in getting their vote in to lock dude firmly in that position. I kinda blame myself for initially contributing to all this blind Weezy mania. See, back in 2005 when I was working at MTV, I gave "The Carter II" a cursory listen to and shared with some of my then co-workers how amazed I was at how Wayne had markedly improved from being in candy cane Lil Bow Wow lane to someone who finally got comfortable with the most rudimentary of skills as a rapper. You know, something along the lines as to how Jim Jones has gone from being just a weed carrying wannabe rapper to now being a former weed carrier rapper. Not that either of them are great mind you, just that they've improved to the point where at best, they're listenable, better than former hit maker Nelly and current punching bag Rick Ross, near where Memphis Bleek (maybe) and Fat Joe have been stuck at, for like ages, but nowhere near Black Thought, Wale, or even Joe Buddens.
Then again, with hip hop being so interwoven into the fabric of America's pop culture, everyone can rap. Come to think about it, even the young dude that delivers my mail occasionally spits a hot 16 as he tries to get me to listen to his demo from time to time. But back then, in the mid 1st decade of the new millenium, my dudes at MTV was like "fukouttahere" until they gave TC3 a listen to and agreed that Dwayne really stepped his game up. I even remember giving the homie Dallas a call telling him how I felt the internets was giving Wayne too much of a hard time as he was now "somewhat" decent, and waiting for him to joke me out. From there, I guess the word spread like wild fire as to how Wayne was the most improved rapper alive, a title which he then rightfully deserved.
Now I gotta hand young Mr. Carter credit. Shortly after "God MC" Jay-Z's "retirement", Dip Set dumbing New York rap down and wrecking rock star shop, the Clipse getting locked up behind label politics, Fabolous still not being able to make that classic lp, 50 morphing from under dog darling to Conan the Barbarian, Mos Def being distracted by that Hollywood money, baby momma drama and white stripper wifey ex-wifey chicks, and everyone else on the East Coast being too busy beefing with each other all arguing about who was gonna be the King of NY, solid southern hits by the likes of Mike Jones, Slim Thug, 3 6 Mafia, Young Dro and Young Jeezy began to flood, pummel, dominate and overtake the airwaves, 106 and Park and of course, the internets. It didn't help that Eminem took a much needed break, Nas was still trying to find himself after "Ether", DMX finally succumbed to his inner demons and the promising new comer Game ended up battling G-Unit for like forever.
In addition, the age old business model of the music industry began to crumble under it's own hefty weight gained by years of greed and the raping of countless talented acts, and in it's drunken and ignorant state, the shunning of the new digital age which would come back to kick it's ass viciously and with a vengeance. In it's collapse, it realized that it could only continue to survive solely by ekeing out anything sounding like it was recorded south of Washington, DC. Not that I'm shitting on all southern rap, just that it became a much depended on crutch for a severely weakened industry and thus forced down our collective throats until we all accepted it as being the proverbial cat's meow. The game became saturated with 'Lil's, Yung' and what not. I can't forget to mention that little thing where, as a result of all of us still being shell shocked after the towers' collapse which allowed a cunning George Bush to thug him and his crew into his second term, said second term further cementing into mainstream consciousness the concept of dim being way too cool. We all welcomed, and without a fight, were dragged down the rabbit hole into what I like to call the "age of ignorance".
So with all this divide, conquer, ignorance, warring egos as well as actual war, and all else being turned topsy turvy, upon realizing that he finally graduated from laughable to basic rapper status, and armed with the work ethic of a demon channeling Tupac Shakur counting his every last live moment on earth, Mr. Carter, supported by a weakened but still all controlling industry stretched, contorted and molded his much deserved "most improved" status to the point where he was able to manipulate the masses into believing his bold claim as to him being the "greatest rapper alive".
We all need our heroes, especially in the rap game. Shit, I'm a grown man and still buy comic books. We rabidly seek our rap heroes out, constantly looking for the next latest and greatest. Hip hop is the most competitive art-form known to man. We cling to our so called rap heroes like Linus to his blanket. And in the absence of an actual viable rap hero, and being bludgeoned senselessly, week after week after effin week by yet another Weezy mixtape here, a cameo there and a freestyle everywhere, intrigued by yet another rapper clothed in wierdness and rock star swagger, he claimed it and we eagerly gave it.
I am not hating. Nothing comes to those that are not prepared to put in superhuman amounts of work and we all know how much work Lil Wayne put in. His time in the game has earned him the edge to outlast most of his peers. His ability to remain relevant in a field where most rappers have a shelf life of like three to five years is extraordinary (he claims to have been an artist for 14 years). I'd argue that Kanye West even, might deserve the Greatest Rapper Alive title, solely on the fact the he's incredibly talented as a producer and has been successful in convincing me that he's also transformed from being a non rapper to a decent rapper. Especially because before Graduation, I never paid attention to him as a rapper, and Graduation made me pay attention because it was incredible and I really dug his flow. But Kanye is off somewhere with his "questionable" in vogue friends chasing his fashionista dreams and effectively expressing his emo aspirations. Hovie's back too, sometimes, and as much as he IS the Greatest Rapper Alive in my eyes and in my heart, and he's been in the game for something like 20 years now (really) it's been way too long since he's spit that murder-murder-murderous, sarcastic, sneering and cocky classic Jay shit, that shit that made me believe that he still lives up the block from me, past Nostrand Avenue and up into the smoked out, piss scented halls of Marcy. Plus, I can no longer imagine what it would sound like hearing Sean Carter spit acid on a hypnotic dense and dangerous sounding Preemo track. Get that billi though.
So kudos to Wayne. I truly wish him continued success. And a long happy and healthy life. I'm tired of seeing young brothers cut down in their prime. As much as I cringed every time he struggled to sound intelligent in his much celebrated interview with Katie Couric, the same way I cringe when a Black person of moderate education attempts to sound intelligent around white people in order to sound smarter but doesn't, Wayne came off sounding way smarter than Sarah Palin did last year. But that's because Wayne is smart and Sarah Palin is not. Or at least smarter than Sarah Palin. I give him that. So maybe that's another reason why we claim him to be the Greatest Rapper Alive. But he's really not. He's The Most Improved Rapper Alive. And somehow, these days, most improved equals greatest, but it doesn't. Tupac is finally and truly dead, may he rest in peace. Long live Lil' Wayne. I can't and will not knock his hustle. I tell you this though, I faithfully await the day, maybe three to four years down, when even the most die hard of Weezy stans come to their senses and have moved on, when no one but short Mexican busboys rock tee shirts with Weezie's painted on image and wigsters in mainstream media will feel the climate safe enough to jump on the bandwagon and shamelessly bite this post.