Chuck D, Basketball, Word Choice, and the Ludacris song Hell Of A Night by DJ Mustard

Chuck D, Basketball, Word Choice, and the Ludacris song Hell Of A Night by DJ Mustard

by Dan-O

If you are a hip hop head your first follow on twitter should be Chuck D. It doesn’t matter what you think about his music, he’s as thoughtful and well-schooled a voice as the genre has. I remember a cook at the Mexican restaurant that was my 3rd job making a passionate case for Chuck as the true hip hop poet…I heard the same case again in the Army…almost word for word.

I want to paraphrase several tweets where he compared rap today (in the US) with the NBA during the period of time when kids were going from High School to the pros. The same problem that Kareem wrote about in detail, about the loss of fundamental skills that are taught on the college level; most interestingly Chuck said that modern day rap has too much emphasis on flow which is the cross-over dribble of hip hop.

The best cross over dribbles in NBA history always belong to its least successful players. The stars who commanded attention while leaving their teammates standing around. Players who took every shot whether they were open or not. Maybe this is where you would expect me to Segway into a series of shots at A$ap Rocky or “swag” rappers of the modern age. I actually love modern hip hop ,as it’s constituted, we have way more choices than we used too. When I first read his comments I tried to prove them wrong in my head but I couldn’t.

The first artist I thought of was Ludacris. He’s just dropped a new mixtape called #IDGAF named after him not giving a fudge that his last mixtape and album were coldly received (although his Big Sean diss was very fun). When you combine bad music with steady acting people start Ice Cubing you to the retirement home. Luda throws on many hats to reintegrate himself with new hip hop while claiming that it matters not to him. He does a MikeWillMadeIt song, a Bangladesh collab, and you guessed it…a ratchet song with Mr. Rack City himself.

Not much happens. Finger snaps, B words, getting high, and anal shaking. It’s pretty lifeless. In Chuck’s twitter monologue about MCing he used Big Daddy Kane as his example for “Power Speed Wordplay” to quote his exact phrasing. His argument about the death of great word choice is more of what sticks with me. You can listen to any Kool Moe Dee song and hear words you will never hear on datpiff.

Flow is definitely important, I’m not on board a 100% with the argument Chuck makes. Masta Ace got on because of his flow and so did Method Man…nothing wrong with that. What I would say is don’t let Luda fool you. When you hear Hell Of A Night and think “boy he isn’t the same” go back to his old stuff and be a little more critical. He roars though songs but what is really going on? He’s a creepy club ruffian…that’s cool and he’s great at being that but that doesn’t put him alongside the greats of the genre.

Every bar of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint feels important, find me a Ludacris album like that. Think about what your favorite MC is leaving you when the song is over. To frame this question in terms of Ludacris, is he washed up or are we all just now noticing he wasn’t built for the top floor of the game?

It may seem like kicking rocks at a giant but that’s not at all my intention. Ludacris is a great rapper but he has a legacy as an artist and I don’t think it’s what any of us envisioned. I think he dazzled everyone with his crossover and missed the shot.

See the text of Chuck D’s tweets below(from bottom to top)

Chuck D ‏@MrChuckD 28 May
Power Speed Wordplay best epitomized by Big Daddy Kane

Chuck D Chuck D ‏@MrChuckD 28 May
Too much emphasis on flow which is the cross over dribble of rap

Chuck D Chuck D ‏@MrChuckD 28 May
Many USA rappers the past 15 don’t carry the same command of vocabulary as cats the first 15.The genre use of words screams for that skill..

Chuck D ‏@MrChuckD 28 May
The period frm 1995-2005 w HS going to the NBA reminds me of now mainstream rap. Style less Substance, Talent less skill.Teaching makes pros

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