Sutures on your smoochers

Here’s a shocking bit of news: Kanye is acting up again. On Thursday night at the MTV Europe Awards, after being passed up for the best video spot, Mr. West bumrushed the stage in protest. “Fuck this!” he complained. “[My video] cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it, I was jumping across canyons and shit! If I don’t win, the awards show loses credibility.” Obviously Kanye is just being Kanye, but the incident got me thinking.

In the last couple of weeks, a similar story has dominated the music press up here in Canada. [1] Toronto rapper K-OS is famous for phoning up critics after poor reviews [2], penning passionate letters to editors, and generally kicking up a fuss when he doesn’t get his props. Most recently, K-OS has been beefing with Jason Richards, a rap critic with Toronto’s Now Magazine. In mid October, Richards panned K-OS’s third outing Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, arguing that the project “will only strengthen his detractors’ case that he’s a crossover pop artist disguised as a true-school b-boy.” [3]

In response, K-OS posted a heated missive on his MySpace page about Richards—who shares his Trinidadian background—calling him an “Uncle Tom” and claiming that the reporter was being manipulated by the racist agenda of his indie rock bosses. He has since expressed regret about the harshness of his comments.

A week later, rock musician Danko Jones joined the fray. “Take it from someone who has had his share of bad reviews: you can’t take bad press so personally,” Jones scolds in a letter to Now.  “If I spent time spitting back at every bad thing said about me in the press I wouldn’t have time to wipe my own ass!”

Richards also maintains that K-OS needs to get a thicker skin. “I write about music,” he notes in his response article. “If I like the music, I’ll say so. If I don’t, I’ll say so. I also won’t be deterred by the ravings of temperamental artists who can’t accept the remote possibility that everything they touch doesn’t turn to gold.”

Now Magazine—which is, of course, basking in the publicity that K-OS has generated—ran a commentary piece this week that attempts to draw some larger conclusions about the issue. The article (which should be posted on-line, damn it, but for some reason isn’t) poses the question: is it easier to get under rappers’ skin than other types of musicians? Which I think is a question worth asking.

Because, really, it’s not just Kanye and K-OS. Hip-hop culture as a whole is obsessed with respect. Across the board, rappers get seriously ass-hurt when they don’t get the love they think they deserve.

Pound editor-in-chief Rodrigo Bascuñán offered his thoughts to Now on why this might be: “You can criticize rock music from some distance because there is rock music and then there are [people’s] lives. When you criticize hip-hop, it’s like criticizing a culture. It takes on more intense meaning. You’re going against their livelihood—not against their music, but against their one opportunity in life.”

Are rappers more sensitive than other musicians? If so, why? Is it a case of getting fed up with uninformed (and sometimes ignorant) media coverage? Or do dudes need to get thicker skin? 


[1] You all have a deep interest in my country, and particularly in our rap scene, no?

[2] Which I think is hilarious. Honestly, there’s a few rap reviewers that are long overdue for an irate phone call.

[3] For the record, I happen to love K-OS’s latest LP. If you want to read my review, head over to Pound and download the PDF for the latest issue.

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  • M


  • powerplay2k6


  • M

    nah seriously some of these dudes need to develop thicker skin and learn thats what critics are here for,to critique granted some critics are assholes who cannot create anything worth anybodys time so they just hate.

  •,Version=1,Version=1,Version=1 Rey

    First at press time. Rappers are way too damm sensitive, but sometimes the press goes way too far. Your colleagues Fresh and Bol seem to delight in tearing down rappers in ways and on issues that have nothing to do with anything. I happen to like Kanye and The Game because they don’t kiss ass and jump on bullshit bandwagons, either in the press or the rap biz. The whole industry needs to check itself, from the artists to the media to the Rocket Surgeons on this site. Once again, great article. You’re too good to be grouped in with this site’s own self-hating slant. UNO!

  • The Truth

    Aight either I am first or this post did a Lloyd Banks.


    5th!! Try talking about the new nas album. Has anyone heard The N??

  • weezybaby

    thts lil wayne line. sutures for ya smoochers.

  • Belize

    >When you criticize hip-hop, it’s like criticizing a culture. You’re going against their livelihood—not against their music, but against their one opportunity in life

    ^You hit it on the head, basically if you dont live in the culture, why talk about it. Most of these rappers have towns, cities and states calling them “the best thing out” so anything not pertaining to thier movement is just faux.

  • Fin

    I think it has more to do with hip-hop culture than the artists per se. The culture raises individual achievements, possessions and respect to ridiculous heights; especially as a reflection of individual worth. Anytime that is questioned the “hip-hop” response is to prove your “manhood” through aggression. Just watch a bunch of “hip-hop” kids and you’ll see that they are unable to internalize criticism because their self worth is derived from external sources (bling/gear/image).

  • enyce

    “You all have a deep interest in my country, and particularly in our rap scene, no?”

    Yeah we wanna hear your imitations real bad

  • e aka the real noreiaga

    No one is as sensitive to their music as pretentious indie rock bands. But rappers are extremely sensitive because they are surrounded by weedcarriers who agree with anything they say.

    Rappers also produce half assed products and are offended when they are called out on it.

  • DJ Main Event

    I myself have been dealing with alot of producers and rappers from Toronto lately. Look up Boi-1da and Drake for that.

    Yes, rappers are a touchy sort. I guess thats what happens when you put yourself out there like ‘i live this shit’.

    Rey, there’s an article about wht hip-hop needs to do to get back in order, i think it might interest you.,0,1201436.story?coll=ny-homepage-mezz

  • Joz

    k-os = lame-o





  • the izza

    This gets to the whole “hip-hop culture as extension of unabashed maleness” peice I was spitting at you some time ago. I think rappers may, in fact be more sensitive, because alot of what they own is respect: this is the seed of black maleness. Owning the ground you walk on. Owning your malenss, because it is the only thing that can’t taken from you. So when someone who purports to kow something about rap music–normally a white hipster, ivy-league wigger or Canadian–gets it wrong, then it’s a real dis-respect. It’s quite serious. Because of the fact that you, reveiwer, don’t ahve any idea that me, rapper, is putting my maleness on the line. This fact, in and of itself devoids any credibility you may have as a critic. Simply, most–I said MOST–critics 9black, white, et al) don’t bring the proper toolset to critique rap music or any other kind of black music for that matter, as far as the artist is concerned. This music is borne of pain. What do you, rap critic, no of pain?

    That said, K-OS is delusional. In fact, anybody in Canada claiming “true-school, b-boy”-ism should be institutionalized. Rap music, lest we forget, is specifically the voice of America’s pre and Post-Carter era poor and disinfrancised black (Afro-Black, et al) and Latinos. Just like no one from South America REALLY knows anything about the Tango, no one outside the ‘States REALLY knows anything about rap music or hip-hop culture. No one else even has a stake in it. Eveyone else borrowing it, pushing thier noise through the signal. K-OS and Kanye are both metrosexual MC Hammers. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s all Get Live before we start talking about K-OS and Kanye as being hip-hop. They are pop music artist. Both are only slightly related to what (Related to WHUUUUUUT?) And if you don’t get that allusion? >shrugs

  • thoreauly77

    for a perfect example on how some reviewers need to be choked out, look no further that mr. byron crawford right here on but that is his shit, its what he does and an artist reacting to him is pretty pathetic. when an artist like k-os or kanye reacts so negatively, to me that indicates that there is a measure of validity in the criticism to begin with (as in the case with richards).

  • nightmare

    People in Hip Hop take it personally because they take their craft as a defined skill & not an art that is open to opinion. Think about it. Why are their so many “competitions” for who is the “best rapper”??? You dont see that with Rock, House, Reggae, Country, or any other kind of music.

    Its like the artists think the critics are downing a skill that they can prove to be superior to other peoples & not giving an opinion of the music itself.

  • Fernando


  • thoreauly77

    haha fernando, you are so confused right now. and so am i.

  • Harlem G

    Tara? i didnt kno u was a Wayne fan, welcome to da family boo! “They need sutures on they smoochers boy, but uh, i tried talk to’em, but then a nigga had’ta HIT’EM UP, HIT’EM UP!”

  • Meka Soul

    >[1] You all have a deep interest in my country, and particularly in our rap scene, no?>

    i only gives respect to kardinal offishall and choclair’s “rubbin’.”

    >When you criticize hip-hop, it’s like criticizing a culture. You’re going against their livelihood—not against their music, but against their one opportunity in life…>

    mu’fucks need to get a thicker skin. quit gettin’ butthurt [no ted haggard] because one reviewer didn’t like your shit. if that was the case, all bloggers on this sight would prob’ly have the holy fire slapped out of them by kanye.

    * cue a mental image of kanye girl-slapping a commenter “i challenge you to a duel”-style *

    um…. no mike jones.

  • Meka Soul

    > You all have a deep interest in my country, and particularly in our rap scene, no?>

    the women are fine as hell out there, however.

  • DEDE

    What i dont get is when any entertainer..b/c that is what any mainstream artist is an entertainer gets feelings when they dont win an award.

    Awards are very subjective, when dealin with art (painting, writing, music whatever) not everybody is goin to agree what is good and definitly not what is the “best”

    Basically, Kanye needs to stop


    thats not even the fuckin real me! wtf, thats an imposter! fernando the mexican great, dont believe whoever that is posing under my name. i think that dj not at all incredible is trying to make friends with you or some shit. that hoe is gonna get beat like a pussy!

  • 110 street

    Everybody hates a critic but it is whut it is niggas handle things different.

  • Poisonous Dart

    The difference is that hip hop is a culture and if you don’t like/unferstand the culture and you review an album and give it a bad review, the artist can become pissed off because it’s disrespecting the culture, their music, etc.

    If you DO understand hip hop culture and you give a hip hop artists album a negative review it’s even WORSE. Then they fall back on the “if you’ve never had to write 16′s and a hook and/or make a hot beat then shut the fuck up” excuse, the first cousin of “a rap critic can get the didick”.

    Either way, rappers/hip hop artists need to realize everyone isn’t going to like everything and develop thicker skins. I’d personally be MORE heated if Rolling Stone, Spin or Pitchfork say something slick about a hip hop album than if a hip hop publication did. K-Os’s album is crazy, though…the reviewer is on crack…though he does have a point in a Will.I.Am/Wyclef sense.


  • H-MAN

    I 95 percent of tha time I right about my real life….If U dont like my shit, then U dont like me, because my muzik is a refection of myself, ya dig? Need 2 get thicker skin??? WTF??? I gotta wear a Kevlar vest buddy, It dont get no thicker then that…

  • Thurs

    Tara, I love you.

  • TARA

    Here’s the link for the commentary piece I couldn’t find online:

    Shout out to Toronto’s own Del Cowie for the link.

  • fuckcritics

    although Kanye was totally wrong in this situation, and i could give a fuck about K-OS, but critics do take “reviews” too far SOMETIMES. there is a thinline between judging someone and crticizing their work. sometimes this line can be a little gray because unlike other artists, rappers speak what they know and what they have lived most of their lives. so its kinda like someone reading you whats on thier heart and you throw it right back in their face. to that artist it doesnt matter how he made this sound or how this rhymes with that, its all about the message and when people, especially critics, bypass the message just to crticize the delivery then of course they are going to feel as if they have been backed ito a corner while everyone points and laughs.

  • alleyeCNtower

    ^^^ co-signed.

    And I think K-Os was going too far. He got 3 out of 5, for god’s sake! And the words in the review were like “this isn’t as good as the last album, but it’s pretty good…”

    If you’re going to bitch and complain about THAT, then you’re well on your way to being a completely pretentious self-righteous asshole, straight up.

    hip hop IS different, cause tons of white people who have NO connection to the culture feel they have all this right to make broad, sweeping generalizations to thousands of people with their armchair quarterback distant observations about Black culture and hip hop music, when they wouldn’t know what the ghetto felt like if it robbed and raped them twice!

    I’m with Method Man this year on this problem… these fuckers don’t deserve the ability to say one word to us, about us, if we can’t critize them equally. Fuck those self-sucking leeches, their opinions mean nothing compared to the opinions of our peers.


    so keep it really trill, Tara! :)

    p.s. for Kanye to complain about not getting this award is Officially “The Biggest Ego Trippin Bitch Move in 2006″

    congradulations, Mr. West… come get your award, LOL

  • sATaLyte

    Am I the only one who thinks he is totally aware of what he did, and that it was probably some huge publicity stunt?

    He is a great producer and an awesome media manipulator.

    What better way to keep your names on the public’s lips than act a fool on an award’s show where press is in there like crabs on a toiletseat.

    Teh man’s PR game is a beast.

  • RCV tha MC

    Right now alot of MC’s and all that are acting like bitches. There should be no hurt feelings in the rap game or in just music in general. If someone says your whack or they ain’t feeling your shit, so what? Just move on and concentrate on those that support rather then trying to convert the ones that ain’t buying your record. I love Kayne’s music, that that move at the MTV Europe awards was such bitch shit. K-Os writing letters and complaints to reviewers is some bitch shit too. Suck it up and move on for fucks sakes!!!!

  • Pete Lastname

    Gooood question. I personally was proud of Kanye’s “rant.” I think hip hop is misunderstood by lots of people, and therefore is not regarded as an artform. Sure, they might dance to “Gold Digger” in the clubs, but do they realize the artistic merit of it? No.

    So, standing up for our work is necessary if we want folk to take us seriously as artists. If standing up for your art means you’re sensitive, then I think hip hop could do with even more sensitivity.

  • rizzop

    nah fuck all this shit. Some of these people actually put in hard work on these albums. kanye west is not a pop artist…he is an artist period. Jesus walks aint pop. When that nig says he wants to “touch the sky” he is letting out his feeling about life. The nigga actually has some substance in the music he makes. It aint im hard and sell crack all day. And he actually can make a beat so when he busts his ass making music and someone says that shit sucks… might suck to you or I, but it makes sense to him since he might live through that. There are alot of writers that do tear down artists and dont have a musical bone in their bodies. At the end though they are critics…Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.

  • Spark

    SUPERMAN Says:

    November 6th, 2006 at 11:04 am



    cosigning Clark Kent.

  • TARA

    For anyone that’s interested in K-OS, my interview with him ran in a Canadian newspaper today:

  • theonlysmartkid

    Kanye needs to stop rapping he sucks period. He needs to stay beheind the drums and boards, just like Pharrel. I dont think anything like that has ever happend in hip/hop. If there is anyone that takes Kanyes side are even lamer than him trying to defend that disgraceful act he displayed on TV. WOW i cant stand this guy. His beats are dope though.