The 2014 XXL Freshmen: A Statistical Analysis

Categories: Rap Under Siege

The line-up for XXL magazine's 2014 freshman issue was revealed on Monday evening, with the "dirty dozen" of rappers on the cover including Chance The Rapper, Kevin Gates, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign and Rich Homie Quan. Troy Ave is New York City's sole inclusion.

As with years gone by, comments sections across the internet are already taking glee in picking the list apart and churning out conspiracy theories about the included artists. Beyond debates about whether the round-up represents an accurate snapshot of upcoming rap talent in 2014 though, a statistical break-down of the fortunes of the XXL freshmen past and present throws up some intriguing insights into how the honor goes on to help or hinder a rapper's career. Consider this the wrath of the freshman math.

See also:Five NYC Rappers Who Deserve To Be In XXL's 2013 Freshman Class Issue

More »

Houston Noise-Rapper B L A C K I E: "Kanye Was Listening to Me in the Studio"

Categories: Rap Under Siege

Chances are you've heard B L A C K I E, even if the stylized name doesn't ring a bell at first. The artist--once described as a "one-man noise ordinance" by the New York Times --is the textbook definition of immersive performance art. The solo artist is completely in your face with melodic baritone spits, gritty, guttural noise punk-rap that blows hearts and brains, with a volume that rivals Swans' arsenal of amplifiers or My Bloody Valentine's noise-assailing sets.

The man behind the all-caps-with-spaces moniker, Michael LaCour, came from humble beginnings--performing anywhere he could, from house parties to block parties. These stints led to LaCour morphing into one of Houston's most revered noise pioneers, infamous for bringing his own speakers into spaces, many times unannounced, and plunging into sets both annihilating and captivating. Ask any Houstonian--noise-rap no-shows Death Grips and the media's favorite misfit, Kanye West, have B L A C K I E to thank for perfecting their art and sound.

We caught up with B L A C K I E the day before he kicks off his tour and talked about voodoo, LL Cool J, and family history in advance of his Shea Stadium show on Saturday.

See also: The Time LL Cool J Rapped as a Genetically Modified Shark

More »

Rhymes With Rage: Hip-Hop Inspired By the Death of Trayvon Martin

Chuck D
Chuck D famously once said ""rap is CNN for black people." And since his tragic death 16 months ago, hip-hop has filed many a report on Trayvon Martin. If, like many, you spent the weekend glued to cable news during the incredible acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, you may be needing some truth from the Rap Channel. Here are some of the most powerful songs hip-hop has made about the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.

We doubt they'll be the last.

More »

Hip-Hop for Dogs: The Worst Dog Hip-Hop Book Ever?

Categories: Rap Under Siege

If you like your music blog experiences to be timely and relevant, I suggest you stop reading now. This piece is neither. It concerns a book from five years ago that's as inconsequential now as the day it was published. This book hasn't dropped a track on Soundcloud, and it's not in a Twitter fight with Azealia Banks (yet). It's just super awful and, in this journalist's opinion, worth a quick snort.

More »

Park Slope "Rap Club" Update: The Community Board Meets, And Jennifer McMillen Stays Suspiciously Silent

yo mtv raps.jpeg
Any excuse to repost this logo again though
For the past week, the controversy over Prime 6, an in-the-works "Yo MTV Raps 'bling-bling' vip club" set to open on 242 Flatbush Avenue, has stayed at the top of our Google Reader and Twitter feeds since "Jennifer McMillen," a woman who claims to live on the same block, created a petition suggesting that the club switch over to indie music, despite the fact that "R&B and rap happen to be [her] two favorite types of music."

Last night Community Board 6 met at Long Island College to discuss this and other, less bloggable matters. Although nothing was voted on (there will be another meeting a week from today), Permits and Licenses Committee head Mark Shames stated the community's position, and did so without having to name-drop his "African American friends and colleagues."

More »

Top 10 Rap-Related Reality-TV Moments

shamrock album.jpg
"Reality rap" was once a phrase invoked by gangsta rappers to defend their music against moral outcry from the mainstream media and pesky suburban dwellers. These days, the term largely refers to the slew of emcees lining up to star in their own TV shows. While Boogie Down Productions associate Heather B gets a nod for posterity for her role in the first-ever season of MTV's The Real World, and the sight of Run-DMC's Rev Run closing out every episode of Run's House by lazing in a bubble bath and typing out motivational mantras on his Blackberry has inspired its own Twitter feed, most times the results are a lot less decorous. So in somewhat celebration of the March 15th release of the debut album from $hamrock, the winner of Ego Trip's The (White) Rapper Show, here's a batch of rappers playing themselves.

More »

Obama Advisor Knows Debt, Rap; Loves 'Enema Man' And 'Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg'

Alan Simpson, former Senator and current co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission, went on Fox News' version of 106 & Park (that would be Your World with Neil Cavuto) to discuss Social Security. Politico reports Simpson argued that old people were being oversensitive with their Social Security funds (it is worth noting that Simpson is old himself). In demonstrating that the elderly resent the youth of America, he evoked hypothetical grandparents, a hypothetical thank-you card, and the rappers "The Enema Man" and "Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg."

More »

The Park Slope Rap-Club Controversy Continues: Battle Of The Parody Petitions

The real Fab Five Freddy probably neither wrote nor signed any of these petitions, just FYI.
So last week a brave young Park Slope woman named Jennifer McMillen entered the fractious debate over Prime 6, an allegedly hip-hop-friendly club set to open at Flatbush and Sixth in Brooklyn, to the trepidation of some neighbors who feared, in the memorable coinage of her Internet petition on the matter, the presence of "another Yo MTV Raps 'bling-bling' vip club." Despite clarifying that Park Slope is not at all racist, she personally loves rap/r&b, and has several African-American friends, McMillen (whom no one, from the Voice to the Wall Street Journal, has yet been able to find, leaving open the possibility that this is all an elaborate prank) was nonetheless showered with derision, which at first took the form of people signing her petition under amusing fake names (Whitely McWhite, Lou Dobbs, Fab Five Freddy, U Haz No Blak Frenz, etc.), and has now spawned the inevitable: answer petitions. Let's take a closer look at two of them.

More »

Park Slope Anti-Rap Club Petition Flooded With Pro-Rap Signatures, Hilarious Jokes

You will by now be familiar with Prime 6, the soon-to-be Park Slope club and already the site of much controversy. Will the neighborhood descend into an orgy of Yo MTV Raps, "Henessey" [sic], and "bling-bling" on account of the club's plans to play rap music? Or will the forces of "indie" prevail? Who knows, but the latter seems increasingly less likely. Since the petition to inform owner Akiva Ofshtein that "Indie Music Will Earn You More Than Hip-Hop!!!" leaked earlier today, the internet has stuck back, flooding the document with "signatures." We use quotation marks because, well, look above. Shout out Das Racist, Will Smith, Mel Gibson, Fab 5 Freddy, and Barack Obama, and no love to the people getting all ad hominem with this surely already deeply regretful woman (click to enlarge):

More »

Park Slope Citizens Decry Plans To Open A "Yo MTV Raps 'Bling-Bling' VIP Club," Suggest Making It An "Indie" Club Instead

yo mtv raps.jpeg
So there's a hot new club/bar/live-music venue called Prime 6 in the works down in the Atlantic Yards nexus at Flatbush and Sixth in Brooklyn, inciting the usual neighborly trepidation, because this club might play rap music. There is now a petition circulating, not to stop Prime 6 from opening, you understand, but just to suggest they find a . . . friendlier style of music. "Indie," for example, which'd make the place "a vibrant artistic hub instead of another Yo MTV Raps 'bling-bling' vip club." And here we go.

More »