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Gideon Resnick Headshot

State of the Rap Union: Bizarre Rules

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"Damn based-God I'm a pretty bitch," Lil B repeats over a feverish deep rattle of horns and bass.

He is part of a strange new rap contingency that has gained more attention in 2011, a mix of rhymers whose lyrical content is a hodgepodge of drug-induced commentary, grotesque violence, and bizarre self-aware assertions. Besides Odd Future who seemed to rise quickly and somewhat fizzle out all the faster, rappers like A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown, Lil B and my personal favorite South African-based Die Antwoord have all occupied this distinct rap niche. It makes sense that a culture which adores fast, furious, and violent media would eat this music up like hogs at the trough. And although it seems like the movement has sprung up from nowhere in the past couple of years, Eminem became famous by regurgitating these same kind of psycho, sadistic, nonsensical thoughts over 10 years ago, only now losing his amazing aggression in favor of shitty hooks by Rihanna.

Rap is no longer relatable to normal life. A divergence has occurred in which a few, select emcees, like the gold-encrusted 'Ye and Jay, get jettisoned to superstardom, while countless others make beats in their basements and discuss sipping purple drank. If people can't relate to tracks on Watch the Throne beyond their danceability, it only makes sense that attention will turn towards these other brash, un-groomed rappers. It is also fun to hear foul things being spewed from the mouths of people on record, there's a certain mischievous glee with which people listen to Tyler the Creator talking about murdering Bruno Mars. After hearing "Grenade" played ad nauseam at high school homecomings throughout the country, it makes a whole lot of sense to kill him. The only problem that emerges for rappers who want to talk about rape, Adderall, and suicide is that quantity never outweighs quality in music. Now it is so easy to create beats on any personal computer that it has officially replaced the acoustic guitar as the most annoying talent that the cool kid in your dorm can showcase.

What is difficult to ascertain is whether these rappers will last. YouTube provides a fleeting ticket to fame that benefits garish, weirdo videos that get spread by word of mouth. Most recently this happened with Harlem rhymer A$AP Rocky who scored a $3 million deal mostly due to highly circulated online videos. Although rap has, at least for the past 20 years, served as a forum for suburban white kids to hear obscenities of which their parents would not approve, it tries my patience to listen to the same thematic elements being repeated on a single album in different ways. That is the exact reason why Odd Future has depreciated in value to me faster than a 1998 Dodge Neon. It's fun to revel in misogynistic, misanthropic lyrics for the length of a song, but not a whole album. But hey, I guess it's better than being consistently reminded to "watch the throne."