Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mac Miller: Frat Boy Rap

There's a whole new crop of rappers, singers and hip-hop acts out there. Alot of them are really damn talented and the presence of them is a blessing. Nevertheless, some appear more genuine than others. Take this video of the 2011 XXL Freshmen Roundtable:

At the end, you can see that Yelawolf is visibly annoyed by being present with a bunch of teenagers. Given his history, it is very understandable. While he has toiled for years, Mac Miller has tumbled out of high school into the rap game while Diggy Simmons, son of Rev. Run of Run DMC, has arrived where he is because of nepotism.

However, a guy like Mac Miller really makes me puzzled. Rappers like Brother Ali of Minneapolis or Sonny Bonoho of Seattle/Tacoma have been grinding for years, and this cat from Pittsburgh puts out a few mixtapes, films some videos and ends up on the cover of XXL and put on a level with a guy like Yelawolf. As Royce da 5'9 said in "Lyrical Murderers," "Imagine a grizzly standing next to a teddy bear."

While Miller has had a premature, lubricated ride to fame, Yelawolf has been grinding for years. He has been homeless and lived on food stamps. He has been assaulted and grown up in the methodone laboratory woods of Alabama. His previous effort at the big time, with the single "Kickin'," didn't go anywhere in 2007. Where was Mac Miller in 2007? A freshman in high school?

I've done some follow ups on Miller and looked up the songs he has available on YouTube. The topics are fairly trite, with beats that are reminiscent of Heiroglyphics and other pot-driven indie rap. With track titles like "Nikes On My Feet," "Senior Skip Day" and "Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza," the guy is not a lyrical genius but apparently knows quite a bit about smoking pot and getting the munchies. Life is tough on the mean streets of Pittsburgh, I guess.

Now, if Mac Miller is reading this, I just have a few recommendations. Take the chance at one of your next mixtapes or even your up and coming records to make a big tribute to those that paved the way. Since you seem to be into party rap, pay tribute to the people who paved the way: Beastie Boys, Digital Underground, De La Soul. Recognize that you have unbelievably blessed and that alot of people have put work in and never gotten as far as you have so quickly. I was 19 once and remember how difficult it is for guys of that age to really see beyond their own experience. Mac Miller would be advised to understand the hardship and pain that alot of us have gone through to get where we're at.

You don't need to have been shot at or lost friends to gang wars or car accidents to be a rapper, but you do need a holistic experience to be more than a passing fad that people enjoyed while puffing herb. If you want cultural resonance, you'll have to have something about you that resonates. Being a full of himself teenaged frat boy rapping about skipping school to buy cookies won't do it.

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