Tuesday, January 19, 2016

History

Part history lesson, part art project, part argument-starter, and all cool, Complex Music just dropped a long piece detailing the Best Rapper Alive each year from 1979 to 2015.

The authors acknowledge the tribalism and subjectivity that makes this an impossible task, and are quick to note that this isn't a rap Hall of Fame. Instead, "(b)eing the BRA is sort of like being the MVP—even though rap doesn’t follow a rigid cultural calendar quite like major sports seasons—because it only requires looking at the current crop of active artists and picking a winner."

Given the fairly loose guidelines Complex uses to assess the BRA, there's room for quibbling. As they say, "...one thing we know for sure, it’s more about a general feeling among fans rather than any discernible facts. (What facts? It’s all just opinion anyway.)" And if it's a feeling, give me Killer Mike in 2015 instead of Drake. The authors do cover themselves by offering a handful of honorable mentions each year.

Nearly as good as the text is the accompanying artwork, stylized portraits of each year's winner. Kool Moe Dee's wraparound shades will bring you back to 1981. LL Cool J's Kangol the same to 1985. Q-Tip and his winter hat and polo shirt in 1991 sit between Ice Cube and Redman, stylistic differences obvious visually as much as they were sonically. It's worth a skim just for the art.

I'd love to hear the opinions of people who actually know what they're talking about on this topic. I expect response tracks from Mark and Z by the end of the week.




17 comments:

zman said...

The "Best Rapper Alive" debate always makes me laugh a little. Joe DiMaggio was "The Greatest Living Ballplayer" until his death, despite the fact that he probably couldn't hit or field worth a damn after his 80th birthday. So when I hear or read people debate "who is the best rapper alive" I want to stop them and ask "Did KRS-ONE and Chuck D die in a car accident? Because as far as I know they're still alive. They aren't making hit records but they're alive."

I can't really speak much to the pre-1986 winners, and I'm too old to critique the post-2006-ish winners. That said, my first reaction is that Chuck D should've won 1988 and 1989, or at least one of them. When I hear the number "Nineteen eighty-nine" I immediately think of Chuck D, followed by "the number, another summer, sound of the funky drummer." I love, love "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick" and "It's a Big Daddy Thing" but they don't hold up against "Fear of a Black Planet."

zman said...

My point being that Chuck D owns the number 1989, and thus won that year.

Mark said...

I'll dig into this later today when I've got more time. Interesting concept, along the lines of Shea Serrano's Rap Yearbook.

zman said...

A colleague died of a heart attack in the office this morning. He was 48. Hug your children more often.

Danimal said...

Damn.

Squeaky said...

That is awful.

Whitney said...

Z, I'm sorry. Brutal.

Whitney said...

Sarah Palin endorses Trump. This is considered to even things up a bit after the announcement earlier today that Ronald McDonald is throwing his support behind Bozo.

rob said...

took my kidlet to see the national ballet of canada do 'a winter's tale' tonight. now gonna need dave to explain what i just saw.

rob said...

speaking of canada, the forecast here is calling for 30 inches of snow friday and saturday. worst follow up record ever.

zman said...

The title of this post made me wonder why neither of these guys, who are among the best rappers alive right now, got no mention in this article.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Z8X_bgEpw

Danimal said...

Picked a hellofa day to start buying stocks (last Tuesday). Just kidding, thanks to my $ guy who manages hundreds of dollars for me. Major props - about 10 days ago during his periodic visit, he looked at me and said, "I probably would invest my money somewhere other than in the stock market this year." The props aren't for knowing that b/c they all do, the props are for telling me, thereby foregoing pennies and pennies worth of fees.

Danimal said...

big day here.

I love the facebook friends that post, "To the guy/girl (complete stranger) that pissed me off today by insert action here....(that will never ever see this facebook post b/c they aren't on your facebook page)" It just grinds my gears a little bit for a variety of reasons. Now ya know.


mayhugh said...

China and oil, Danimal. China and oil. Shorting in this market is not for the faint of heart. For the long term, it is tolerable for things to go down for a while so we can reload with some dry powder.

Shlara said...

From the NYT:
"Because William & Mary is probably not quite good enough for an at-large berth, it will all come down to the conference tournament in Baltimore."

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/sports/ncaabasketball/five-teams-seek-to-end-ncaa-tournament-wait.html?ref=sports&_r=0

rob said...

i'm dollar cost averaging like a mug, danimal. i have no idea what that means.

TR said...

Another ER visit w/ my 6 y/o! He got head butted at wrestling practice and split his upper lip open. Second time in two years. Brutal. Little guy had to sit there while they stuck him w/ a big numbing needle. But he was a stoic bad-ass. After six stitches, four graham crackers and an apple juice, we're almost on our way home. Dad needs a night-cap.