Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
3/3/2004 2:51:02 PM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Beastie Boys, Missy Elliott, Mos Def, Wyclef Jean and Outkast.
As the war of words rages on between Eminem and hip-hop magazine The Source, the questions raised by the duel are hard to ignore. What of the increasing presence of white rappers and hip-hop artists in what began as an almost exclusively Black art form?
More than 10 years before Eminem released his first major-label disc, The Beastie Boys infiltrated the hip-hop scene with their brand of frat-boy-meets-the-street party rap and forever changed the landscape. Paving the way for not only Eminem, but also white female rap units such as Luscious Jackson and Northern State. Dying In Stereo (Star Time), the eight-track debut disc by hip-hop trio Northern State (Hesta Prynn, DJ Sprout and Guinea Love) has the kinds of literary, musical, social and political references, all delivered in smart slick rhymes, that would make Mike D, MCA and Ad Rock proud.
Reigning queen of the hip-hop house, Missy Elliott has had an amazing run of success, surpassing both Li’l Kim and Foxy Brown, two female hip-hop artists who emerged around the same time as Elliott. In fact, Elliott’s 2002 Under Construction disc has been put on a pedestal where it remains the example by which all female hip-hop CDs that follow will be judged. That’s unfortunate, because, even Elliott herself runs the risk of suffering by comparison. Such is the case with This Is Not A Test! (Elektra), which was stuck with daunting task of equaling (or even improving on) Under Construction. This Is Not A Test! sounds more like a continuation of Under Construction than an actual step forward, which gives us all something to look forward to on the next Missy Elliott CD.
Unlike, Missy Elliott’s disc, which is the sound of an artist temporarily stalled, the groundbreaking and Grammy-winning double disc set Speakerboxx/The Love Below (Arista) by Southern hip-hop artists Outkast, is as forward-thinking as it is reverent of the past. From the album cover to the attitude to the songs inside, Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast have created an altar to George Clinton and his Parliament and P-Funk All-Stars cohorts. Not only does Outkast polish up its soul-infused hip-hop act to a near-blinding shine, they also feel the funk in new and exciting ways. From the obvious singles “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move,” to more suggestive (and even amusing) tracks, Outkast has raised the stakes for themselves (and everyone else for that matter), and it’s hard to imagine them not living up to their own carefully designed standard.
From his early days as a member of The Fugees to his inevitable career as a solo performer, Wyclef Jean has been an artist to listen to and to watch. Any questions about his contributions can be swiftly answered with one listen to his Greatest Hits (Sony Urban Music/ Columbia) disc, which features the smashes “911” (feat. Mary J. Blige), “Gone Till November,” and his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” to mention a few.
As if American rappers didn’t have enough to contend with on their own turf, they have to deal with the encroachment of U.K. hip-hop performers. The female duo Floetry made a good impression with their 2002 debut disc Floetic and have followed it up with Floacism (DreamWorks) a live disc that also includes a bonus live DVD. As with many live albums (see the Lauryn Hill live disc), the studio gloss is dulled with unnecessary improvisation and such. The good news is that the three new studio songs, including “Wanna B Where U R,” featuring Mos Def, which open the set are well worth hearing.
For those that liked the fast-paced, dialect-heavy rhymes of U.K. hip-hop act The Streets are almost sure to like Boy In Da Corner (Matador) by Black British rapper Dizzee Rascal. Full of references to life on the streets and the complexities inherent in relationships with the opposite sex (think of how much easier t
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