Biters Welcome


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“There’s sign at the door ‘no biting allowed’ ”
“you got to have style and learn to be original”

These are two quotes from my youth that were pretty much the rule book for rap music for as long as I can remember. It was the late 80’s when both these quotes were said and it set the stage for the next 10 years. What followed was a mixture of people going out of their way to sound like no one else and the people who tried to make careers sounding like other people. For the people who went the original direction, it led to all sorts of funny styles that didn’t age very well. As great as they were at the time, Das Efx’s diggity iggity nursery rhymes and Akinyele’s “lower my voice at the end of each sentence” styles are no fine wine. But, hey, they tried and I will always appreciate them for that. Not to mention, at the time, that shit was awesome. The other side of things fared ever worse back then. For every Das Efx, there was a Mad Flava (that’s a group, btw) who kinda just went with the flow of what other rappers were doing. Onyx came out and , shortly after they had success, Da Hoodratz came out and failed miserably. Hell, even RUn DMC shaved their heads and started yelling. So, biting and people recycling other peoples originality has always been a thing. It’s not new now and it will go on forever. But, with that in mind, there is a different take on it now than there was 20 plus years ago. Where Originality and authenticity were once of paramount importance, those two things really mean nothing anymore. In fact, if you even stress these two things , a 22 year old will look at you like “why is this still an issue, grandpa?”. This is clearly a generational thing. I suppose I’m from generation X. It’s gross to even think like that but I don’t know what generation I fit into otherwise. Gen X were pissy, hated everything and sulked a lot. We were/are a negative group. Sure, we had the things we loved and all that but, in general, it’s a group of people who kinda question everything , to a fault.That’s why the music of our generation was angry. Gangsta rap, grunge, metal. We were the “get out of my room , mom!” of generations. Now you have millennials. This is a generation raised entirely on the internet. They’ve never not had the world at their finger tips. While I remember rotary phones and cassette tape walkmen this generation has been watching gaping asshole porn since they were 12 and can’t imagine life before texting.
Through things like music and basketball, I find myself around many millennials more than I’d imagine most people my age are. One thing that’s I’ve noticed is that they’re a an astoundingly positive bunch. It’s almost invigorating to be around them at times. The mentality is very much “Yes we can!”. They’re legit looking forward to what life has in store for them. I suppose you could say that about most youthful people in the last 40 years , as they haven’t been beaten down by the realities of life. But, looking back at my friends and I when we were that age, we were still fairly negative in many ways. With this new group of people, I feel as though they’re just more open minded then we ever were. I’d imagine it’s all a part of how people raise kids now. When I was a 20 year old, I was a snobby rap purist who would judge anyone who listened to a puffy record. People back then were so dedicated to their “thing” that you could walk by anyone on the street and know exactly what they were into. Oh, see that guy wearing those comically baggy jeans and that funny t-shirt? He’s a raver. Oh, look at that girl with her hair up in barrettes, wearing doc martins, and dyed hair? she’s a riot grrll. Etc…People went out of their way to carve out their own identity (even though, in reality, they were followers just as much as anyone else). I wanted everyone who walked by me to know what I was into it. Now it’s like everything has been smashed together and niche’s have become fainter than ever. Hip hop heads and emo kids don’t look very different. Someone who looks like Ed Sheeren might have encyclopedic knowledge of the Dipset. You ask someone what kinda music they like that you’ll often hear “I like everything” And they’ll mean it. They fuck with Beyonce, One direction, Fiona apple , Cheef Keef, Aesop Rock and Death grips. I feel as though that open mindedness is one of the best and worst things about the new generation. It’s the best cause it limits the snobbery I so willingly embraced in my youth. But it’s the worst cause , if we like everything, there is no quality control. Which leads me back to the idea of originality or authenticity.
There is a large portion of people nowadays who put no stock in either of those two things. Their argument is good music is good music. I agree with that to an extent. Did the clipse really sell all that coke? Of course not. If they had, they wouldn’t need to rap nor would they be rapping about it. But, they’re good enough rappers to take a tired subject like selling coke and make it interesting. Then you got someone like Rick Ross who’s whole image is a drug boss but he was a corrections officer and is clearly 100% full of shit. He’s not a particularly interesting rapper but he’s got a good ear for beats and knows how to make a song. That’s his strength. If he came out in 91 talking that shit and got exposed, he would have never been heard of again. But, in the late 2000’s? Not a problem. His lack of realness is shrugged off the same way a wrestling fan will when you tell him it’s fake. He knows it…he doesn’t care. he’s in it for the entertainment. I can’t even be mad at that cause , in the end, music is entertainment. If it entertains you or makes you feel a certain way, it’s done it’s job.
I don’t know why i did this but I recently downloaded Drake’s new mixtape. I think I was just like “I need to understand this”. If not for my own enjoyment, for sociological reasons. I realize drake is a divisive character. All the basic bitches (men and women) love him. That’s a given. As open minded as millennials are, his name still manages to incite rage in some people to comical effect. People who are into the more fringe aspects of music, in particular, can’t stand him. If I were to post something positive about him on my Facebook page, I would expect a huge backlash from those types. At the same time, there’s an air of “If you don’t like drake, you don’t get it” from the more hipster side of things. Personally, I don’t think drake is a bad rapper. In fact, he’s solid. Great voice. He knows how to use it. He’s a pro. I don’t wanna bump his shit but that’s really neither here nor there as I’m almost 40. It’s clearly not for me. I used to think he was the worst. His love songs were ear AIDS and any male listening to them alone needs to take serious stock in themselves. But, when the smoke clears, he can actually rap. So, I download this new album and it’s kinda what I expect. Some terrible love songs mixed in with songs where he’s talking shit. I’m always gonna be drawn to those shit talking songs so I focus on that when listening to this album. What I came away with is that Drake is a good rapper who is completely unoriginal . On one track , he raps exactly like Jay-z on “heart of the city”. On another he raps like a more relaxed version of Young thug (Which is actually more listenable than Young Thug). The thing is he pulls it off cause people allow him to. He also pulls it off cause he seems to fall so perfectly in the middle. He’s just good enough and just boring enough and just catchy enough to hit chords with so many different people. He’s a rapper whose entire career has been people saying “He raps like _____” but, at this point, he’s a bigger star than any of the people he was once compared to. Sure, Jay-z is a billionaire and only slightly less famous that Obama but, musically, his relevance is waning. Same with Lil Wayne. Well,He’s more Wayning, AMIRITE?!?!. But Drake is still at the top of his game and his fan base is as dedicated as ever. He’s like the male Beyonce in that respect. If you’re a fan, he can do no wrong.
As unoriginal and inauthentic as Drake may be (his thuggish posturing on songs is truly hilarious and the fact other rappers who are actually from the hood and had tough lives let him do it is mind blowing to me), the public has spoken. It’s way bigger than drake. It’s an open arms to everything. I know I sound like I’m being negative but I’m really not. Sure, I wish this new generation could be more discerning about what they put in their ears, eyes and mouths but , in reality, it’s not my job to dictate anything. My generation is already old and irrelevant. The best we can do is try to understand. That or just roll are eyes and lament how these kids today really needed more spankings and less hugs. That too.

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19 thoughts on “Biters Welcome

  1. It’s funny that you bring up Drake in the context of this rant, because he has an older song where he starts it exactly the same as Dead Prez “Hip Hop”, with the line “One thing bout music, when it hit you feel no pain…”. But, later in the song Hip Hop, Dead Prez says “I’m sick of that fake thug R&B rap scenario all day on the radio”, which describes Drake EXACTLY. And, it’s like, Drake, did you even listen to the song? And that’s not to shit on Drake (cause who fucking cares?), but damn, son.

    I feel like that’s the equivalent of starting a song “I got a letter from the government the other day. I opened and read it…..and immediately joined the military to do my part in war against terror.” I don’t know if it completely sucks the soul from the original, but, how are you gonna bite a provocative line from a song, then do the exact opposite of what the song’s message says?

    • Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Trenchtown Rock” is an earlier example of that same line. Not making any other statement or implying anything about you, Drake or Dead Prez, just letting you know.

  2. Ear AIDS! Lol
    Do you hear a lot of biting in the DJ world? It’s a definite thing in Writing and B-Boying. It’s the youngsters accessibility to all these information from around the world on the internet. Some kid will get King status from perfectly biting a style from 5000 miles away and you hear shit like “yeah but they’re from over there and he’s from here.” Whaaa!? B-Boy Crumbs wrote about B-Boys that bit their style and battling the person they bit thinking they don’t look stupid. But I’m old and don’t get how unoriginality is the realest shit to the youngsters nowadays. Lol

  3. Irony is when I googled Ed Sheeren because I didn’t know who that was, his big hit or whatever is laid over the beat of a retooled Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On melody. RIP originality.

  4. In the early 90s gimmickry, people always leave out Commons first album. He did this weird soouuuie sqeak thing constantly. Kinda weird in hindsight. I think the Used to Love H.E.R. crowd kinda just swept that under the rug. He even has a cameo with a female MC doing the same weird thing.

  5. You do realize your entire career is based off of sampling and biting other peoples shit? Mad hypocritical dawg. Hip hop has always been about biting unless you make your own original beats.

  6. how you gonna shit on young thug in an essay bemoaning lack of originality. thugger is the freshest thing in hip-hop since kanye west (death grips non-withstanding). some songs to check out if you want to give him another chance: cloud 9, skyfall, danny glover, warrior, the blanguage, treasure.

    • I’ve tried. I don’t get it. He sounds retarded.
      Never said he was a biter or unoriginal though. This post isn’t about Young Thug. I simply used him as a reference of someone Drake was emulating.

  7. This is funny because I keep thinking that song 10 bands uses the same sample as you’ve got malestrom. It was bothering me for hella long that I couldnt put my finger on where I felt I heard it before. (not actually sure it is the same sample).

    • Also, I’ve been thinking that about drake for a while and wasnt sure if I was the only one. Good to hear your perspective on it! He got famous off lil wayne’s steez and now its migos. Everyone pretty much biting migos and theyre probly biting off someone too!

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