Who would have thought that, in 2009, Jay-Z and KRS-One would be rapping about the same thing, to the point where people are wondering whether or not Jay is biting Kris?
Never mind trying to kill off autotune. The two of them combined don’t have the cachet to bring back gold chains, or funny hats, or something rappers would be inclined to do anyway. But maybe they can kick off a trend of angry old man rap. Jay-Z is damn near 40. KRS-One is in his mid 40s. And most rappers who are worth a shit aren’t getting any younger.
Which would be sweet, as far as I’m concerned. You guys know I’m one of the very few people who likes KRS-One more now that he’s kinda old and batshit. I don’t think he’s a better artist. I just think he’s that much more entertaining.
Yeah, I’ve had my issues with KRS-One over the years. I’ve clowned him every time he comes out the side of his neck with something that sounds a bit wacky. Which is pretty much every time he opens his mouth. Examples would be the time he called 9/11 “justice,” because he used to get kicked out of the World Trade Center for trying to sleep there, and the time he threatened to jump over the table and put his shoe on a guy named Adisa Banjoko during a roundtable discussion. Keep in mind, I’m taking Kris’ side in both of those incidents. I’m just saying.
Then there was the time when I called him and Marley Marl two old crackheads, and my old boss here made me delete it. Too disrespectful, he said. Then, a mere matter of days later, Marley Marl somehow managed to suffer a heart attack at the ripe old age of 40. I wonder how that happened! I’ve since read that my old boss regrets having named KRS-One the greatest rapper of all time, in Ego Trip’s Book of Rap Lists. I wonder who would be named #1, if that book was written today. Eminem? Jay-Z?
For the sake of pulling something out of my ass on a Friday afternoon, no Erick Sermon (so disrespectful!), let’s say it’s Jay-Z, and let’s say the argument is that he’s built up such a better body of material since ’99 than KRS-One. How true is that, really? I’ll give you the Blueprint and the Black Album, though I think it might take being from New York and perhaps lacking a certain curiosity to be really into either of those two albums. But the last two Jay-Z albums have sucked balls. Not to beat a dead horse, but even Elliott has gone on record as saying that Kingdom Come was Jay-Z’s worst album, albeit years later and not anywhere where someone might have found that information useful. If only he’d been editor of a magazine at the time…
I can honestly say I’d much rather listen to KRS-One’s Kristyles album, from ’03, and his Hiphop Lives album, from ’07, than Kingdom Come and American Gangster. In fact, I’ve spent a lot more time listening to those KRS-One albums than I have the last couple of Jay-Z albums, though I know I’m in the minority in that regard. And granted, KRS-One has put out way more albums than that in the past several years, and some of them are just awful. But you have to kinda expect that from KRS-One at this point, whereas Jay-Z is aiming to hit the ball out of the park every time he’s up to the plate. He’s got a lot of endorsement money riding on it. KRS-One, meanwhile, is only at his best when he’s got someone with him, to rein in his worst instincts.
Which brings us to this new album he’s got coming out with Buckshot. The other day, I saw the video for “Robot” on World Star, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was all prepared for it to be a couple of old farts standing around, hating on shit, which would have been fine with me. But Buck and Kris went in, with special effects, and even some video hoes. Bonus! Plus, the two of them together in a video kinda remind me of Chevy Chase and Paul Simon in the video for “You Can Call Me Al.” Contrast that with Jay-Z’s video for “Death of Autotune,” which is just kinda lame. Jay-Z comes off as a salty old hater. He obviously doesn’t derive any joy from dissing wack rappers, like Buck and Kris; he’s just pissed that the audience for garbage pop rap, i.e. his bread and butter, has moved on from his particular brand of bullshit.