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BLOG: The ABC’s of Rap Fandom, Pt. 1 (A-M)

I love debating hip-hop just as much as the next man, but lately I’ve been bothered by some of the arguments I’ve gotten myself into. Frankly, I’ve been arguing with idiots disguised as “rap fans.” I should know better than to engage in a discussion about dope lyricist with a guy that solely uses SoundScan numbers as a barometer of a rapper’s skill. Peep this IM exchange:

Me: Mos Def is a better rapper than Kanye West. On another level lyrically.

Him: Really? I don’t think so. Kanye sells more, plus I know way more Kanye verses than Mos joints.

Me: _____ Is Currently Offline

Then there’s the young guy who thinks Jadakiss belongs in everyone’s Top 5 but didn’t know he put out an album on Bad Boy Records (as part of the L.O.X.). Do your homework, young’n.

I know music is objective, but there are certain rules to this shit that we must follow. Hence I give you my ABC’s of rap fandom. They’re not the end all-be-all rules of rap fandom, but a guideline of things you must abide by, IMHO, and a creed of conduct you must adhere to really mean it when you say, “I love this rap shit.”

A: Appreciation – Don’t be that person that asks “Who is that?” every time someone mentions Kool Herc or has that quizzical look on your face when you hear “Rapper’s Delight.” You don’t have to be a history buff, but show some respect for the elders. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.

B: Beef – If the presence of conflict in rap brings out the Mahatma Gandhi in you then you, my friend, are not a rap fan. Rap is by nature a competitive (and sometimes contact) sport and most of us are drawn to the spectacle of rap beefs. It’s the reason we search daily for rappers talking crazy. It’s the reason rappers who have no business being in our daily discourse (see: J-Hood, Mazerati Fox) are topics of discussion. Even the most cynical fan still has to check to see if the beef is authentic.

C: Cultural Knowledge - Dame Dash is right. If you don’t know shit about hip-hop culture your position in the rap universe must be called into question. You don’t have to live it or be a product of it but you’ve got be in tune with the basic elements. Know the difference between a B-boy and a D-boy. Know enough to cut short any conversation with someone who refers to Nas as a “gangster rapper.” (Ahem, Bill O’Reilly).

D: Doctor’s Orders – If you don’t have Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and 2001 in your music catalogue rat-tat-tat-tat yourself rap fandom.

E: Equal Opportunity – You’re not a true rap fan just because you’re up on the latest in mainstream rap. Know your MF Doom as well as your Maino. Keep an equal balance. The same goes for the other side. Just because you listen to and can speak on every obscure rap album on the planet doesn’t make you a true rap fan. It just makes you look kinda weird in a hip-hop discussion with hot girls around.

F: Femcees – You must refer to Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa as rappers first.

G: GFK Debate – If you have never engaged in a “Which is the best Ghostface album?” or “Is Ghostface the best lyricist in Wu-Tang?” debate then you are not a rap fan. Ghostface Killah a.k.a Tony Starks, a.k.a Pretty Toney is just one of those MCs that is loved by so many for various different reasons he breeds contention among the masses.

H: Hottest MC – It’s impossible to be a true rap fan if you’ve ever been in 100-percent agreement with MTV’s “Hottest MCs in the Game” list. The “what about?” element lives in every rap fan. No one is going to dictate what’s hot/relevant without your input. I already know by the end of this blog you’ll be saying, “Yeah, but…”

I: Ice Factor – If you’ve never seen or heard a music video, a movie, a television show or song by either Ice-T, Ice Cube or Vanilla Ice epic fail on your part.

J: Jockin’ Jay-Z Lately – If you bought the Blueprint trilogy before you heard Reasonable Doubt you’re hustlin’ backwards, my friend.

K: Know “The Score” – You can’t be from this universe—let alone the rap universe—if you can’t identify one song for the Fugee’s classic album, The Score. Also, you better not claim that was their first LP, it was their second.

L: Lil’ People – If you can claim 2 out of 3 of the following you are a rap fan. You’ve danced to a Lil’ Jon record in the club, you own a Lil Wayne album, and you can recognize a pre-jail Lil’ Kim. Obviously one of these is harder for some than others.

M: Media Input - You don’t even have to really read, like R. Kelly, but in order to be considered a rap fan at some point you’ve had to crack the pages of one of the three major hip-hop/urban music magazines—XXL, Source and VIBE.

Log in tomorrow CLICK HERE for Pt. 2 (N-Z). —Rondell Conway

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