A quick note about the Gucci list

I know a lot of folks are wary about this kind of hyping in the post-Breihanic era. The “Pitbull is better than Nas” discussion really did damage to folks who want to discuss rap music w/out sticking to boring party line on ‘classic records’ & who like to express, you know, excitement about shit w/out making sure its ‘safe’ to do so. I’m not blaming Tom any more than im blaming the folks who would take to his comments boxes shit talking about hipsters instead of acknowledging that Nas’ output for the last few years has been spotty at best but more significantly, incredibly uninteresting to talk about. My point in bringing this shit up again is to say that I understand this sense of caution when bloggers start using big words to big up a rapper who hasnt really been cosigned by ‘the right people’ yet.

This comment was left on one of the posts:

ghengis blond said…

this comes across as an ugly rationalization of humble pretense. it sounds like you’re playing make believe and magicking up some genius in this guy’s style where you’re perfectly aware it doesn’t exist.

then again, i’ve never been much of a mind reader and i’m grateful for the list. hi ho, miller

I’m not sure whats ‘ugly’ about it. if our tone seems to be building up this guy as some kind of ‘fractured genius,’ the way shit happened to ODB, to Kool Keith, to Cam’ron, to Lil Wayne, it’s not intentional; its certainly less about my reaction to the music & more about the absence of any discussion taking his music seriously at all, which seems at odds w/ his level of creativity, his prolific nature & his status ‘in the real world.’

ive heard plenty of ppl say hes their favorite rapper out right now. he is mine. but i was addicted to his music before i ever had to come up with reasons to explain why i was addicted; this is an attempt to verbalize what was a somewhat subconscious acknowledgment of a legit creative force in rap music.

If folks are talking about my bit on his repetition+building style on ‘photo shoot,’ i think i can see why someone wd think im trying to excessively push dude when really what hes doing is as simple as any musical gimmick. But what doesnt seem particularly special when described on paper becomes a lot more enjoyable once youve become invested in his entire persona/aesthetic. The same could be said of his adlibs. saying ‘burr’ isnt ‘amazing genius!’-type shit on its own, but the argument im trying to make is that hes a multi-dimensional artist, & that these little things are why hes more than the sum of his parts. I dont mean that ‘camera flash, camera flash i see your ass’ is a reason to start paying attention by itself; its more like yet another reason to like him when yr already ‘there.’ Hopefully after the list is finished, more of u will be ‘there.’

The last thing i want to do is seem hyperbolic in describing his creative approach. but fact is, i believe he has authorial control over his rapping style & its not about him being ‘dumb.’ And again the last thing i want is dude to become yet another victim of the corny ‘fractured genius!’ label that got thrown like a iced out albatross on the necks of kool keith & lil wayne.

Id just like to be having any serious discussion at all.

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18 responses to “A quick note about the Gucci list

  1. you know i get this feeling that when it comes to dudes like soulja and gucci and boosie etc tons of ppl aren’t willing to meet halfway, like so much shit like this is seen as “pitbull is better than nas” type ‘look at this!’ challenging opinions so the opposite reaction is like what you’d get on famous rap blog commenter tray’s blog, which amounts to “you’re basically making this up!” appreciating and immersing yourself in gucci’s music – or fabo’s or soulja boy’s – isn’t drawing a line in the sand against z-ro or nas or lyrical rap, it’s more about appreciating and highlighting the ways you can round yourself out as a rap listener. i think lots of ppl forget this fact and immediately think a new ‘rap canon’ is trying to be built on the ruins of ‘classic rap’ – whereas instead it’s more about adding on.

    another thing: there’s a growing number of southern rap mp3 blogs – southern nah rights, if you will – where you can get every single gucci and oj track up to the minute, but i don’t see many, if any, critical looks taken at these guys. i think boosie and rich boy and trap squad cartel and whoever else deserve the type of attention that the nah right trust funders got last year, and i like to think that that’s what so many shrimp provides (along with noz and whoever else). imo, this gucci roundup is necessary because there is an insane discrepancy between the amount of music gucci released this year and words written about him on the internet. he released just as much music as charles hamilton and kid cudi last year, and – surprise! – all of it was better.

  2. Great post! Couldn’t have worded it better. I’m not neccesarily sold on your praise of Gucci Mane, but then again I’m an old school boom-bap dinosaur, supposedly, not the man’s target audience by any stretch. But I do appreciate any affort to actually engage in critical discussion and I am loathe to sympathize with knee-jerk anti-intellectual douchebags disguised as “conscious” or “old school” types who refuse to acknowledge any authorial control or multivalence or even creativity in any “un-approved rappers.” Believe it or not, I catch some amount of heat for insisting that there’s more than meets the ear on a cursory listen for artists like Leaders of the New School or Pop Da Brown Hornet. There’s an insidious self-loathing school of thought out there that insists that hip hop of any shade doesn’t deserve intelligent critical treatment, and that’s a load of crap if there ever was. Keep up the good work. — Thun

  3. A important point to make and bring up but I almost feel like you should just keep going with Gucci week without interrupting it for this. Still, I applaud someone saying “I’d like to get real and serious about this stuff”.

    As I said elsewhere, it’s a matter of “intentionality” and you’ll encounter cynics to your interpretation whether it’s Lord Byron or GZA or Gucci. I taught English for two years and wasted entire classes trying to explain how, words are chosen very deliberately with many meanings and blah blah blah.

    What the “you’re making this shit up” camp really’s trying to say is “I disagree” because the minute you read something in a way they agree with, they won’t get all snarky…they’ll even call it a “good post”!

  4. Since when is there ‘critical looks’ at the artists featured on nah right?? I must have missed that.

    Someone please put me on some of these southern hip hop mp3 blogs though. I wanna check some of them out!

  5. i definitely had breihan in mind when i read your list. my "white people heaping ironic heraldry on honest and unassuming negro spirituals" alarms blared higher than ali vegas's voice, especially when you claimed (perhaps authentically) to find his participation in that interview indicative of anything more than functional faculty. your opinions seemed more appropriate for a review about g-side or a less lyrically inclined rebirth of pimp c, as opposed to bammastyle dundee.

    i thought all of the music you posted was crapanese, excepting his chomping of beater and 40 water. i agree that he deserves more critical consideration, though. this might be the first writing i've seen about him. he'd certainly be more entertaining than any of the worldwidewunderkinds not named b.o.b. were he afforded more opportunities to rock over beats farther from the soundclick swampstar starter kit that he kicked over in the songs you posted.

    i fucks with your blog. who is tray?

    please link that pitbuss>nas article i need to see that. i never read breihan after i saw his shit about clipse.

  6. to clarify, what i thought was ‘smart’ in that interview it was not on some ‘hes so articulate’ bullshit — i purely meant he had a smart approach to hustling in the industry which is pretty much what that interview is about

  7. ‘focused’ might have been a better, less loaded word that made even more sense with the “selling music” vs. “chaotic realness” dichotomy hes walking right now

  8. thanks i’ll check this out i knew of tom from pitchfork, but never liked his writing or opinions. i felt like every article was his phontigglian declaration of unashamed whidididididiteness

  9. Little known fact about that Pitbull/Nas post: Beyond the title, it never mentions Nas. At all. This wasn’t a point-by-point comparison or a ridiculous argument, it was a serious post with a possibly ill-advised joke title. What I was doing with that Pitbull/Nas post was the same exact thing you’re doing here: Writing a big, passionate screed about a rapper I was liking a lot at the time, one who wasn’t being seriously discussed anywhere and who I was maybe in danger of getting hyperbolic about. Same exact thing. And I damaged your discussion? No. Seriously, fuck you. Get off your goddam high horse. If you butterfly effected back in time and killed me before I wrote that post, you’d still be getting the exact same ignorant-ass comments.

    This is a great series of posts, and I like what you’re doing here in general, but watch who you stawman.

  10. well i disagree that if i was doing this shit before u it would be the same — occasionally w/ some fairness & more often unfairly, u did become a whipping boy & representation of something larger than yrself — Obv some folks are gonna hate on gucci no matter what & i could give 2 fucks about them — but u represented a certain 'type' of listener to a lot of ppl which wasnt fair to you but happened none the less. & i saw that shit coming here & wanted to make it clear what my intentions are, so folks who didnt get you were just clowning Nas stans arent on some bullshit here too.

    this def wasnt brought up to trash tom breihan some more — u definitely got way too much undeserved shit in comparison to the # of times i disagreed with your arguments or choices u made as a writer. im not fronting — while youre a good dude & ive read your blog a long time i had some serious disagreements w/ some of your approachs & arguments over the yrs. but in this context i do apologize about bringing you up here. considering the parallel btween this & your pitbull piece tho i kind of think it was unavoidable my man.

  11. All right dude, I’m calmed down now and I appreciate the apology. I wish people would stop using my last name as an adjective in general, but what are you gonna do.

    I really am enjoying what you’re doing here. This Gucci series is the kinda thing I’ve been finding ways to check even on the weekend when I don’t have a computer at home, so keep doing what you’re doing.

  12. I agree with Brandon in that, I don’t think this post was all that necessary. Its still a good read, but I don’t see how people who question the authenticity or sincerity of your love for Gucci’s work are like…comforted or kept at bay by this. The excerpts you have for each of the tracks on this Gucci countdown do a fine job of explaining why exactly it is that you think Gucci deserves a little more shine. I don’t know how much clearer you could be. But i understand if you just need to get this off your chest.

    All in all, prior to this list, all i ever heard from gucci was that dj drama gangsta grillz movie mixtape and back to the traphouse. and now just two columns into this list of yours, i have atleast three songs that i really like, sans irony or whatever. And now i’ll download more mixtapes to see if there’s more I like. You do your part in exposing readers to new shit, we do our part and explore some of this ourselves. Good times! this is how this whole blogging community thing is supposed to work, isnt it?

  13. yeah the way i see it the ‘pitbull is better than nas’ controversy outlines basically what i was talking about wrt people being too reactionary in the ‘new rap’ v ‘old rap’ argument, like throughout the years crit on the internet has become less common and is being taken less ‘seriously’, but often when it gets taken seriously it ends up w/ ppl actually pitting pitbull vs nas in a comments section, even though that was never the intention. obv, that type of reaction doesnt help us move any place better, and i think we were wary of that happening here.

  14. Pingback: Best Gucci verses of 2009 « WE EAT SO MANY SHRIMP

  15. Pingback: 2008-2009: Gucci Mane post compilation | we eat so many shrimp

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