I finally listened to Jay-Z’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” the other day. I must say, the shit is less than impressive. I know. Uncool to say, right? A hater like Ron Mexico’s supposed to be digging that shit, right?
I drove for about 12 hours this past weekend with only a few CDs in the rack. A 1993 Dancehall compilation, The Purple Tape, Bacdafucup, Just Tryin Ta Live, Soul On Ice, Hell Hath No Fury and It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot only accounted for about 8 hours. After “Niggas Done Started Somethin’”, I found the local “Blazin Hip-Hop & R&B” station. By hour 10 I seriously contemplated driving myself off of the road.
This marked the first time I’d listened to mainstream radio for longer than twenty minutes at once in several years. The only time I ever hear a “Blazin’ Hip-Hop & R&B” station is when I’m in the back of a cab. Usually the driver gauges my melanin level and decides, “I’d better put on HOT 97 before this negro gets hostile.” Little does he know, I’d much rather listen to the BBC News or the classic soul station he already had on. Anyway, I’ve never had a long enough ride to truly gauge how terrible shit has gotten for “urban” radio.
Back to this weekend. Hydroplaning in disgust, I just wanted the repetition to end. Every song’s subject was “swag”–rap and R&B alike. They all lacked poetry, sincerity and an intangible I can only describe as “soul”. They all abused Auto-Tune. They all made me never want to go back to the awful place that is Hot/Power [insert station number here]. I’m not among the radicals who believe Auto-Tune has no place in music whatsoever. Some of that shit is hot fire. However, there’s no excuse for being held hostage by Clear Channel or Radio One and forced to endure Auto-Whine for four hours straight at any point.
Thus, I understand the frustration of Jay-Z–a man twice my age incensed by the state of popular negro music. Every artist and label with mainstream access is leaning on the Auto-Tune effect like it’s a necessity for hitmaking. However, there’s no reason to make a diss record speaking out against its use en masse. All a nigga like Jay-Z need do is merely show niggas how it’s done otherwise. Make some Auto-Tuneless bangers and move along. He definitely needn’t make a diss track to effortless, talentless, insincere Auto-Tune music that sucks worse than… well, effortless, talentless, insincere Auto-Tune music.
I wasn’t excited for an Auto-Tune diss track in the first place, but since American Gangster showed that Jay-Z had shaken off the Kingdom Come Washington Wizards Jordan rust, I thought, “Maybe this shit will be doper and smarter than it sounds.” Instead, I was greeted with far worse than expected–a half-assed bitchfest. The shit’s whinier than most of the bullshit Auto-Tunery that makes the radio dial unturnable.
Ironically enough, a little Auto-Tune on the wayyyyyy off-key chorus melody would have made D.O.A. a little hotter.
Lesson? Don’t throw on a cape and crusade against shitty music. The only way to defeat shitty music is to make the hot shit. Ain’t nothin worse than listening to a track calling out wack shit when you’d never play said track twice. Maybe Jay-Z felt he needed something other than his own Jiggafication to get the people behind him for Blueprint 3. It’s a shame he doesn’t realize that such insecurity is the same as the one making rapsters-ternt-sangas blow into plastic dicks like there’s no tomorrow.
Questions? Comments? Requests? I spit Hot Power. firstname.lastname@example.org
[Blogger's Note: Kingdom Come wasn't Jay-Z coming "back like Jordan wearing the 45" at all. It was the nigga we'd rather not remember as wearing two knee pads and laboring to keep up with Steve Francis.]