Any views expressed herein, political or otherwise, are entirely my own. If you find yourself getting angry, feel free to direct your outrage my way.
Welcome, ladies and gents, I know I don’t post as often as I should on here, and that is something that I have been trying to change. This is the first installment in what will become a sort of rant-like commentary series where I spout off about a particular topic. These entries will be written in an off the cuff, stream of consciousness style.
As a guy whose musical tastes skew towards heavy metal, jazz fusion, and progressive rock, I don’t get exposed to what clogs the radio waves or even the surface of online streaming services and youtube. As such I have managed to remain blissfully ignorant of a lot of what passes for “popular music” among polite society. I had heard OF Cardi B, but I had never had the misfortune of being subjected to the barely intelligible babble that she attempts to pass off as art. I’ve never been a huge fan of hip hop, but I was around for the mid to late 90s, when the final vestiges of golden age creativity began to be completely subverted to bland corporate pseudo-gangstas and what I’ve only ever been able to describe as “sensitive thugs” (I could write you a novel about my seething hatred of that particular side of the hip hop game). I think it was around the time that “P.I.M.P.,” an insipid song if ever there was one, “Get Low,” and whatever other garbage was being blasted out of every poseur in the Hancock-Harrison County area’s car that week was in constant rotation that I came to the conclusion that this genre is a rotting husk. Hip hop is the Norma Desmond of music, once bright and vibrant, it’s now a used up shell coasting by on former glories, bolstered only by the fact that it’s cheap to crank off of the assembly line and that we’ve reached a point in our culture where everyone is so afraid of being labeled as some sort of “-ist” that they can be easily shamed into liking this garbage (yes, I have seen this happen).
Cardi B represents the lowest of the low. She sort of seems to be hip hop’s version of Halestorm, a watered down product created by producers and the songwriting mafia based off of an earlier watered down project… for what is Halestorm if not a corporate clone of Nickelback (yes, I know, I cringed myself whilst typing that)? A perusal of the writing credits on Cardi B’s debut album reveals a similar situation that each song, as simple, repetitive and frankly stupid as it may be, is crafted by a fleet of songwriters and producers. This is coupled with an over the top, colourful image that makes her come across as a more easily managed take on the already watered down and frankly stupid Nicki Minaj (with a little dash of the “cash me ousside” brat).
Lyrically speaking, what the hell is this shit? In the post-grunge, post socially-conscious hip hop era, everyone wants to write about “personal things” and “inner struggles” and blah, blah, blah, blah, but when the only subject you seem familiar with is your goddamn genitals, maybe try cracking open a book and writing some lyrics about that, eh? No one wants to hear a rap album from Amy Schumer. The existence of acts like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and others just goes a long way in reinforcing a thesis that I’ve had since I heard “P.I.M.P.” for the septillionth time, that rap, like “post-grunge,” continues to persist, despite being creatively dead because it is cheap. You get a few producers together to craft a few simple backing tracks, write some mind numbingly stupid lyrics, hire someone who looks the part to record them and you’re done. No need to muck about with the cat herding that is dealing with musicians. It kind of reflects on how absolutely pathetic the modern music industry is as well, how many classic albums were written by just one or two people? Modern acts boast writing credits that run as high as 10, 12, or 13 people and it’s unadulterated garbage. What’s the deal with that by the way? I was told years ago that the internet would be a boon for music from a creative standpoint, that it would allow great acts to more easily reach the top, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. What reaches the top now makes me long for the days of Evanescence, Maroon 5, 50 Cent, and the Ying Yang Twins blaring out of every radio. If I have to hear one more mumble rapper, five more seconds of hipster hop, one more phony gangsta, or another Djent band, I think blood may shoot out of my ears.
And back to lyrics here for a moment, when did music lapse into full blown degeneracy? Yes, I said it, degeneracy. Yeah, there’s always been a certain amount of debauchery in popular music, but it seems like increasingly that is all there is. I think the suits think shock is still the key to selling records, but you pulled that shtick so much during the previous two decades that nobody gives a damn anymore. Unless you’re gonna have somebody commit suicide with a .44 magnum and record it or have them hang themselves on stage, it’s all been done. And yeah, I know I’ve kind of drifted way off of the original topic and I’m kind of blabbing about the entertainment industry in general now, that’s kind of the point of these things though. They have made debauchery and rebellion so commonplace that it’s now passe. I see these idiots on social media all the time despairing over Trump and what not. Well, who do you think created these neo-trads? It certainly wasn’t the right, after all they’ve largely given up on cultural institutions (I could write you a novella on that topic), no, it was you. You constantly shoved your weird cultural hangups in front of their faces so much, you tried to shame them so much, that you’re pretty well turning them against you. The little mini brooks brothers brigade, conservabros, trad thots, they are all your making.
Anyway.. before I get on a tear about the weird disconnect between the PC left and their bizarre form of cultural conservatism, let’s get this train back on track, shall we? Maybe, hear me out here, just maybe if you tried signing some people with legitimate talent, people who could write their own material, people who can (and I know this is a difficult one) actually then perform said material in a live setting instead of relying on creative committees fronted by youtube/instagram tarts, you might put out something that people legitimately want and will buy. No, you probably won’t do that.
Join me next week for Vol. 2: Regressive Metal.