I’m happy to report that, as I survey the current hip-hop landscape, I see arguably less horrible, terrible, no-good rap littering the Hot 100 than I’ve seen in several years. Even the worst of what’s around – your French Montana, your Future, your 2 Chainz, your A$AP Rocky – aren’t THAT bad. And I definitely don’t like Flo Rida or Pitbull, but I can see how they’re the natural evolution of Nelly and the club/R&B rap scene and I don’t bear them any ill will.
But there are exceptions. There are definitely rappers out there who are making pretty redundant, inferior or otherwise objectionable music. And if you’re listening to these artists, you’re in luck: I have the second installment of the Rapper Replacement Program right here to help you rectify your music listening inadequacies.
Replace Big Sean …
If you haven’t disqualified him for referring to himself repeatedly on tracks as “B.I.G.” which is as close to blasphemy as you can get in rap, if you haven’t disqualified him for being Drake Lite, if you haven’t disqualified him for consistently being the most redundant piece of whatever track he features on, maybe I can’t convince you why Big Sean should be replaced in your music listening rotation. I don’t know why anyone needs more rappers with adenoidal voices doing two-bar “punchlines” over glorified R&B basslines, but if punchlines are your thing, I have something a little better in mind.
Wale has a better flow than previously Replaced Rapper Drake and “Medium” Sean put together, a more interesting voice, generally better beat selection and better storytelling ability. Given that Wale has been putting out mixtapes and grabbing interest from rap magazines and bloggers at least as long as Sean has been, Sean’s existence as a popular rapper is 100 percent redundant and unneeded. He might be up to 200 percent redundant depending on your feelings about Drake. This is about as straightforward a replacement as they come.
Replace Nicki Minaj …
I think she’s gorgeous, but she can’t rap. Well, OK, she CAN rap sometimes, but it seems she’s made a conscious decision not to, as evidenced in songs like “Starships” where she does a kind of nu-Nelly sing-song rap thing over EDM tracks. And given that she’s sold a bunch of records and landed a gig on “American Idol” doing this, why would she bother refocusing on her rap game? I don’t blame her for going the route she’s going, but that doesn’t make her any easier to listen to.
So all that said, the only reason I can think of for someone to listen to Nicki Minaj’s music is to dance, to butt-dance in the driver’s seat of a car, that kind of thing. It’s certainly not because it’s cerebral music and it’s certainly not because of the lyrics. So why not just listen to some tracks by a producer who’s making some of the best hip-hop/EDM fusion music in the world right now, and don’t bother with the lyrics? You can grab Araabmuzik’s whole “Electronic Dream 2” mixtape for free and see what I mean.
Replace Chief Keef …
Sometimes rappers have a problem with authenticity, as in Rick Ross’s case, where he raps about being a drug kingpin, when in reality he was a guard at a correctional facility. But sometimes it goes the other way, when someone lives such a violent, repugnant, ignorant life that his violent, repugnant, ignorant raps are unseemly, too close for comfort. And it doesn’t help when the songs themselves are bad. The rap game’s youngest malcontent, Chief Keef, who got famous advocating Chicago kids shoot cops (and each other) on a record, is not a good rapper. Yes, the beat for “I Don’t Like” is nice, in a simplistic way, but god almighty my friend’s 2-year-old son could rap faster, rhyme better and write nicer than this kid. How exactly did big rap names like Kanye West decide Keef is worth any time or attention? He’s the opposite of a skilled rapper, plus he’s a unreliable two-bit thug. Doesn’t seem like a very attractive combo to me.
With Joey Bada$$
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a super young, super talented rapper with great storytelling ability to hang your hat on, why not Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$? And really his whole high-school-aged Pro Era crew is stocked with young dudes ranging from decent to nice. And in “Unorthodox” you have Joey working with hip-hop legend DJ Premier on a certified CLASSIC track.