March 18, 2013
Diversionary Tactics: Max's Commentary On The Billboard Hot Rap Singles Charts (Week Ending March 23, 2013)
The last time I wrote specifically about the Hot Rap Singles chart featured in Billboard magazine was nearly five freaking years ago, when the artists written about included Lil Wayne, Shawty Lo, Rick Ross, Flo Rida, and something called a Webbie. So what better day than today to revisit the charts and see if anything has changed? (SPOILER ALERT: Lil Wayne is still a fixture.)
Yes, in my quest to do everything except attempting to complete my self-imposed project, I apparently plan on reviving some long-dormant HHID tropes, starting with today's post (because my last article about XXL's list didn't really count). Does this mean that I plan on bringing back the Drink Coaster write-ups? Probably not, but if one is looking to see what is wrong (and, admittedly, what may be right) with today's artists, this might be a good place to start.
10. BAD - WALE FEAT. TIARA THOMAS
After listening to "Bad", I have but a single comment: boy, Wale sure has no fucking idea what audience he's supposed to be pandering to, huh?
9. ALL GOLD EVERYTHING - TRINIDAD JAMES
Mr. James scored a pretty large co-sign a couple of weeks back, when Justin Timberlake trotted out a vegan-themed parody of his breakthrough single "All Gold Everything" during one of his sketches on Saturday Night Live. Oh, and also, he got a bunch of A-listers to appear on the official remix. He also snagged a two million dollar record deal through Def Jam Records (who has, apparently, long since abandoned their role as one of our chosen genre's safe havens), all off of the strength of this one song. So what does Max think? It's not a good song, which is obviously what you all thought I was going to write, but that's because this isn't much of a song at all: in reality, it's a one verse wonder where the one "verse" consists solely of catchphrases, bullshit posturing, and a partridge in a pear tree. However, the beat is fairly interesting, so it's not all bad everything over here. But come on; the guy rhymes the word "watch" with "watch" on multiple occasions. You motherfuckers should be ashamed of yourselves.
8. CAN'T HOLD US - MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FEAT. RAY DALTON
The follow-up to the megahit "Thrift Shop" has nowhere near the novelty value, which is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you like or loathe "Thrift Shop". Ryan Lewis's beat is nowhere near as catchy, and Macklemore is in full-on backpacker mode, spitting for the sake of spitting without resorting to quick punchlines (although I likes his line about wanting to own gold fronts because he grew up listening to the Wu-Tang Clan). Ray Dalton also isn't quite as charismatic on the hook as Wanz was on the other track. I don't see this one going very far, although, admittedly, Macklemore did find a somewhat okay way to describe his struggle within the music industry. So yay?
7. POETIC JUSTICE - KENDRICK LAMAR FEAT. DRAKE
In my write-up for good kid, m.A.A.d. city, I wrote that I didn't care much for "Poetic Justice", Kendrick's Janet Jackson-sampling Aubrey collaboration. Since then, Aftermath released it as a single (of course), shot a video (duh), and it has become a mild hit (not surprising). What also isn't surprising is how boring I still find this song to be today. I know a lot of folks (including many readers of this very site) find "Poetic Justice" to be powerful, emotional, or entertaining on some level, but I just don't see/hear it: the Janet sample isn't as pronounced as it could be, which somehow has the adverse effect of making the sound bite sound less subtle than it actually is, and I still don't care for K-Dot's verses. Oh, and Drake appears on here, too.
6. GANGNAM STYLE - PSY
Wait, this is still a thing? How the shit is this song still on the chart?
5. FUCKIN' PROBLEMS - A$AP ROCKY FEAT. 2 CHAINZ, DRAKE, & KENDRICK LAMAR
Kudos to A$AP Rocky on scoring a pretty major hit with a song called "Fuckin' Problems" (and somehow convincing a major label, RCA, to release it to radio). As everyone and their mother has already taken great pains to point out, the Noah "40" Shebib beat is contagious, and the limited use of Tity Boi on the hook guarantees that Max will find his contribution goofy and not grating. However, the main fuckin' problem on this track is Rocky himself: he sounds decent, but by surrounding himself with bigger name Drake (who turns in a stellar guest appearance that actually sounds like he was having something approximating fun while spilling his verse onto his notepad) and with (much) better lyricist K-Dot, he inadvertently minimizes his own contribution: there's no fucking way that anyone listens to "Fuckin' Problems" for A$AP. Still, for what is apparently a radio-friendly song, this is certainly one of the better ones out there today. (Taken from the A$AP Rocky write-up that may or may not be forthcoming, depending on what mood I wake up in that morning.)
4. FEEL THIS MOMENT - PITBULL FEAT. CHRISTINA AGUILERA
Pitbull doesn't really get much shine on HHID, mainly because he's shifted his focus toward conquering pop music and also isn't that great of a rapper. But I realize that he is a man who exists, and on this collaboration with The Voice's Christina Aguilera, whose career I truly do feel sorry for, he continues to be a man who exists, just not necessarily on my blog. Although he scores demerits for swiping the beat from a-Ha's "Take On Me" (a song I fucking love, no bullshit): I've found very few instances where a rapper can lift from a New Wave song and make me not angry, so there's that.
3. BITCHES LOVE ME - LIL WAYNE FEAT. DRAKE & FUTURE
Yes, but why? You look like the physical manifestation of what a H.P. Lovecraft-ian demon may appear to be, and you did so on purpose.
2. STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM - DRAKE
Aubrey seems to make a point of cramming as many ideas he can into any of his performances, so when I first listened to "Started From The Bottom", the first single from his upcoming album, I was struck with just how sparse it is. Drake really isn't saying a goddamn motherfucking thing on here: there are flashes of "I used to fight with my mother" and "I still have the friends I had before I became famous" and "I'll sell you the wheelchair my character used on Degrassi: The Next Generation if you're interested", but the Drake that appears on this Mike Zombie-produced track is in full-on "[I] don't give a fuck about you"-mode, and his lyrics almost smack the listener in the face for expecting something deeper or even faux-deep (such as, oh, everything else in the man's back catalog). However, I enjoy the shit out of this song, and not just because the hook is catchy: that instrumental reaches for K-Dot moodiness before breaking down into a two-step, and is all the better for it. But for the better Drizzy performance, one should look a few songs higher.
1. THRIFT SHOP - MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FEAT. WANZ
I've already said my piece about this track, but I'll repeat again for those in the back: the dude singing the hook is both hilarious and awesome. I can see that this song has lost a lot of momentum, though, so hopefully Macklemore and Lewis have already secured their two-year residency at the Encore, because today's audience is fickle as fuck.