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Whether You Like It Or Not, You Gotta Respect My Hustle


I slapbox with your pride. I bury your respect in a coffin with all of your confidence locked inside.

Has it really been over two weeks? I apologize.

I would like to say that I only blog on some mixtape shiite—in between book deals in order to keep my name hot on the hard streets of these internets. But the truth is I’ve been steady trying to get put on in the game by setting up obscure, typo-ridden web pages where I advertise my services to magazines that won’t hire me because, well, what editor worth their copy of The Elements Of Style would be reading Squidoo, anyway? (Maybe I should start a group on MySpace—that’ll work!)

It matters not that I can’t seem to write for more than 100 words at a time. If you need a story on Lupe Fiasco, I’m you’re* man.

While not wasting my time with dead end projects (maybe I need a mentor), I also found it in me to do something I taught* I would never do again—I listened to an hour’s worth of Little Brother. More than once, even. I know—I’m as shocked as you. Far as I knew, they sucked cow dung.

Which is not to say that they’re inherently dungsucking, per se. I just generally avoid music championed by the Fat Beats crowd because I’m not a fan of that ultra-local, holier-than-thou “real” hip-hop that defines itself by what it’s not while tossing darts made of chewsticks at invisible bullies—you know, I don’t rock ice, don’t drive Maybachs, don’t pimp choes, your crew is full of sucker emcees and I’m better than half of them even when I come off the dome. (Such hypocrisy runs both ways, indeed.)

Me? I’d rather listen to Black Eyed Peas than that trash. Seriously.

Maybe, in my old age, I’ve come to find that hip-hop (the music, the “culture,” the industry) isn’t the entirety of existence and I don’t find the need toi take it so importantly. Maybe, just maybe, I require my music to entertain me—nothing more, nothing less. And, maybe—bear with me now—backpack rap just sucks cow dung.

In LB’s defense, I’ve never heard their “classic” debut. (My bet is it’s no Great Adventures of Slick Rick.) But I found their Chitlin Circuit 1.5 “mixtape” pretty much underwhelming and I lost track of The Minstrel Show right after the intro. (It is a damned good intro, though.) Most LB apologists (whom are usually found Internetting in comments sections and bulletin boards when not freestyling in the lobby of Def Jux) will, without prompting, usually offer, “I know, I know—9th’s production is repetitive.” Or they’ll say that Rapper Big Pooh is, indeed, the weakest link but Phonte is infallible.


My opinion of LB was changed when I—in a perfectly legal fashion—obtained a copy of Percy Miracles’ The Ladies Champ. Now, while some people couldn’t catch the humor, I found The Ladies Champ to be extraordinarily less dungsucking than anything LB has ever put out** and a pretty good argument for Phonte as some sort of Weird “Hip-Hop” Yankovic. It’s like The Chapelle Show for your iPod.

Now while I can never get back the half hour of my life wasted on The Commercial Free EP, said squandering of good porn-watching time was repaid when these champions of all things pure and good hooked up with the iPod King for Separate But Equal, a mixtape that, by all measures, should work as well as a Li’l Jon-produced E-40 track Mary J. Blige rapping.

Incredibly, silencer shots, the “cannon, ” Drama talking shiite and LB’s wack backpack rhymes actually come together like (coke) cookies and (rice) milk. Chris Rock once said that conscious rappers need ignorant beats, but maybe they just need some gangsta grillz in their life. Drama’s tricks help keep LB’s pedantic tendencies from inducing boredom (which is no miniscule feat, mind you), the beat selections (Neptunes, Kanye) work. Cuts like “Rollin’ Out” and “Let It Go” sound like some of the best shiite this side of T.I.’s “What You Know.” They’re really that good.

The fact that some of these songs may have been (rightfully) ignored on their other albums simply underscores how much better this collection is than LB’s previous efforts. Hell, even that forgettable first single from The Minstrel Show sounds good tolerable here.


Maybe the coming times will find Blackalicious hooking up with DJ Whoo Kid for G-Unit Radio: The Tofu Massacre. Perhaps Jurassic 5 will get familiar with Clinton Sparks, which could only be a good thing, because while Little Brother may have gotten off the dung list, most of the rest of these monkeys need to step their game up. And when you ain’t even good enough for the mixtape shiite, you need to look into being a skycap for Jetblue.


* Such grammatical errors are par for the course when you have the insecure leading the ignorant, but you get what you pay for. Word to Roosevelt Franklin.

** Not like I’ve listened to all their excrement by any stretch of the imagination.

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