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Hip Hop First Quarterly Report: The US
Neil Kulkarni , April 7th, 2011 04:47

In the first part of a two part quarterly round up, Neil Kulkarni tells us what he's been listening to in North American hip hop and attempts to rebuild some bridges


[Stung as I was by the helpful, hateful criticism of my last hip hop column from Americans and British people who want to be Americans about it being embarrassingly out of touch with what’s going on and impossible to read , I’d like to take a minute out right now to listen to those people I apparently should have been writing about and follow up some of the most vociferous reader recommendations. Can’t wait to hear the best hip-hop 2011 has to give us according to the folks that KNOW. Back in a moment.]

Hmmm. Heh heh. Hur hur. Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA. HEHEHEHEHEH. Ahem, oh sorry, summat went down the wrong pipe. Ahem. Yes, a drink of water would be lovely. Now, where were we. Oh yeah. Lil B? Serious? AHAHAHAHA... oh shit, you really are serious. You ‘like’ Lil B? You’re shitting me. No, come on man. You’re joking right? You can’t actually . . . c’mon, be serious. What? Really? Lil B? Oh dear. Oh deary dear. You walk willingly into the day-glo-flames of your endlessly spoof future. You mean to tell me you actually sit around genuinely, unironically listening to this? For pleasure? And then get on the internet and tell others to do the same? And at no point while you’re engaged in this activity do the ghosts and apparitions of deceased relatives swim through the wall and float before your eyes, sadly looking at the floor and shaking their heads? AHAHAHAHA. You utterly inept twats. You wastes of life, you cherishers of the banal, lovers of the under-par, you whose cranial contents taunt dung-beetles in their dreams, I waft my worse odours in your general direction. C’mon chumpacunts, do what’s decent - walk yourselves to the nearest landfill site, lie down and give yourself back to the cosmos you squandered space dust, you smartarse squashers of truth and beauty, scumphiliac maggots of the modern age, crown-shrouding this paltry era with the dull grey bandage of your badinage, endlessly extruded from your wounded mediocrity-holes, wrapping ever tighter until the corpse is dust, the heart atomised. Embarrassments to your mother’s foo-foos for exiting via the front-bum rather than the anus you were baked’n’pinched off for, trajectory fatally sent skewhiff ever since... you meme-dreamers, you thumbsup-seekers, I just hope you can afford to keep snortiffling whatever it is makes Lil B sound good. Yes he’s ‘just being himself’ and spreading ‘positivity’, i.e. just being a positively shit rapper. You ARE joking aren’t you? Last chance. Serious?

Khalifa as well? And Waka? Sheesh. [Now steady on old boy... Ed] How fucking dare you build up my hopes for this nonsense you smirking twats, and why the fuck did I listen? And why am I even talking to you now?

This is the end of the Readers Section, and it will probably be the last such ‘readers’’ section, truth be told. Now get the fuck away from me. I don’t want nits from you gormless cunts.


Boog Brown is like one of your neighbours. Except she doesn’t lie. Meet her up the park. Listen to what she has to say and remember what rapping can do. ‘Brown Study’ was one of last year’s finest unsung LPs. Catch up, Kotter.

Snoop Dogg f’course needs no catching up on but you might’ve been put off Doggumentary with all those appalling rumours about Katy Perry collabs and the appalling truth of the Gorillaz collab. Even I don’t care when he’s making records as ‘tonishing as ‘My Own Way’, Mr. Porter keeping the vibe somewhere immaculately cool twixt Iceberg Slim and A Thin Line Between Love & Hate, the lyrics a haiku twitch of insipient paranoia, and perhaps the line of the year right there in, "Man... I’m gettin’ old." What a great thing for a star to say; what a gorgeous way for such a doom-laden lyric to be couched.


Philly’s Has-Lo's twin skills of narcotic production and psychotic rhyming are also showcased to startling effect on ’Limit’ from the deep dark new In Case I Don’t Make It LP. Find & download the Antelopes & Lions mixtape and await its release for further instructions.

All about the gongs. Xenakis’d bust a move. As he would to DJ Rhino CMZ & Tame-One’s ‘Smoke An MC’ (from When Writers Attack! Vol.1, now downloadable for less than a tenner. Get acquainted.) Although I feel the Greek master of stochastic composition would probably spurn Phill Most Chill’s ‘Neva Stop Diggin’. Too retro. I don’t care. I love this beat.

Love that beat. Much like this FILTHY INEXCUSABLE IRRESISTABLE groove from Pusha-T & Kanye. Summer in your back yard you know you’re gonna hear this sober and drunk and love it every time.

(Really? Lil B? Really? So you’d doubtless lol at the politics of DC the Midi Alien’s National Threat from the nicely aggravated Avengers Airwaves n’all. Keep wankin’, wankers.)


Hi man. Sun’s out. I know, I’d forgotten what it felt like too. So good. If we were still woodland creatures we could go bounding gaily through the underbrush. We’re not anymore, we moulted our mascot costumes, so let’s go driving in your pimped-out death-trap. Flute silk, orchestra sweet, chanteuse nameless, feel the sun on your arm out the window, merge into the gridlock and let this pipe warmth into the space inside your cells.

Where the fuck you going man? Oh shit. We’re in the wrong part of town. Just find the slip road and get the fuck out of here. Oh shit. Look. The zombies are gathering. Wind the window up. Turn the volume up. Pretend they’re not there. Pretend the EP is all as good as this, pretend that supergroups (Crooked I, Royce Da 5'9", Joel Ortizz and Joe Budden = Slaughtahouse) are ever a good idea. For this five minutes of big-beat brutality they are. Unpretty but hugely exciting. Play loud and feel the heat.

OK, they’re still salivating on your wipers, now hit ‘em with this.

Beat as odd as Jeru's 'Come Clean', bass and guitar that sounds harvested from that never-come MBV album. Those bass drum kicks are dislodging those freaks hanging on to the bumper. Squeeze the volume up on an eternally upward curve. Any stragglers can have their soft skulls imploded by the vision-trails threaded through this:

Cheers Reks, cheers Styles P, we made it to the dual carriageway. Let’s drive to the airport, pop these seats into maximum recline, get stuck into that massive bag o’weed in your glove box and watch the metal birds’ wheels spin back. Breathe in those bracing jetfuel fumes to this Latin-warmth and Nuyorican ice from Shyheim (yup, him) and Dom Pachino (aka PR Terrorist of Killarmy)

No, I’m not giving you back your keys. You’re proper fucked, man. You just told me that you saw the bassline to this walk across that field. Insane, especially when it’s clear that the only real thing right now is that Hammond organ breaking like a tsunami over those parked Cessnas. See it toss our toys. Feel it flip your mind inside out. The car? Leave it here. Let’s take a blue stroll out where the sky ain’t small no more. And keep going.


I suspect his myriad boosters’ve made that mistake of mistaking an internet phenomenon with something a music fan should give a fuck about, equating no. of views with relevance. Lil’ Wayne has over 2 million hits to his version of the ‘6ft7’ beat. Papoose has less than 6000 for his. Compare and contrast (can’t link to the Weezy version without killing myself so won’t) Papoose’s rhymeskills with Weezy’s pish and pffft.

If it makes me out of touch to seek out artistry rather than unthinkingly glory in currency & vogue then I’m happy to be out the loop, not in on Lil B’s joke, not in on what’s ‘happening’. To me this is happening, this is what I got into hip hop for, not to chase twittered phenomena or those moments when the dilettante herd’s docile lowing agglomerates into a viral din with its own numb-nutted momentum. This has just over 2,000 hits but who gives a fuck when hip hop can still be this gorgeous, still be as local as your block and universal as a summer breeze?

In comparison, the Lil Bs & Odd Futures (amazing how quickly their shit has got dull) of this world are pan-flashes, scrapings, the shit that thankfully keeps the hipster fuckwads busy and distracted, those hipsters who still, no matter how much they deny, residually carry that notion that hip hop isn’t ‘proper’ music, that it’s best suited to fad, to a parody of talent (a deeper problem being that it’s only art they can laugh at that they can feel comfily superior to), that it’s only rappers who can’t rap that we should be listening to cos, c’mon, all that ‘intelligent’ stuff is so much granola. Well, fuck their double-salko ironic manoeuvres and fuck ever listening to what those pricks have to say ever again when the ongoing business of hip hop, the brilliance of tracks like -

which I’ve heard none of these putzes talking about or -

again, silence, or

nope, not ringing any bells w’you doofuses? Howzabout -

just not obscure/big in the bay enuf for ya? I guess the stunning grip and hold of -

the sheer freaky rush of -

and the frankly Canadian -

won’t even register on their radar, either too unpropped-by-‘likes’ (i.e underground) or too mainstream to fit with their second-guessing or make it up to the summit of their unimpeachable savvy. I’m so happy for them to be so right, happy to be a wrong ‘un. In a weird way, the internet’s search for EVENT, the endless joy in anything that can ‘split opinion’, is way more congruent with the worse old habits of the traditional music press than admitting that hip hop is a constant rush, a constant geological process, an art form that is at its least interesting at vaunted-moments of ‘progression’ or ‘controversy’, at its most fascinating when both artists and listeners are able to concentrate on what’s happening between mic and mouth and mix. Maybe I shouldn’t lower myself.

But if we all just let these mouthy poopsocking pricks get away with it forever, they’ll win. (Yeah, they’ve already won. I like fighting already lost battles.)

Ok, cleansed. Next week, let’s hop back over the pond. And let’s, all of us, think about whether we’re listening or simply finding things to smother our smarm with. All comments welcome.