Wednesday, March 12, 2008
HIP-HOP MEETS PUNK ROCKERS
UPTOWN....AT THE MALL
Tapered jeans. Extra-medium shirts. Spiked belts. New Era caps. Who'd ever have thought the hip-hop kids and punk rock kids would be dressing alike? While this officially puts me in the "old man" category, it's a positive sign for the world.
Now, it looks like we have the first love child of this multi-cultural union: "Birthday Girl." After leaking two incredible, Lou Ferrigno-on-coke singles, "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" and "Get Busy," their first single features Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump on the hook. Before I heard the song, I read about Stump's appearance. Immediately, that queasy feeling overwhelmed me...like when you found out your first girlfriend blew the frontcourt of the school hoops team while you had mono. (Not that that happened, but you can imagine what it'd be like if it did.) Mostly, I jumped to this conclusion after Stump produced and added his "emo banshee" style on Lupe Fiasco's "Little Weapon" which he also produced.
Anyway, let's get down to brass tacks. Despite its saccharine feel, Black Thought did not slack on this tale of an underaged groupie. The music has a very relaxed feel. But it's a little too laid back, conjuring up images of high school ska bands. Is it poppy? Yes. Is it horrible? No. I mean compared to the actual feces pieces that pass as music these days (Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne, et cetera), it's not bad. Is it The Roots' best work? No. Will it help them sell a lot of records and expand their fanbase? Probably. The cross-marketing strategy with one of the biggest bands in the country was pretty brilliant. (And we should be thankful they collaborated with Stump instead of that style-biting, guyliner-wearing douche nozzle. Yes, there's been some uproar amongst their fans, but I think it's a bit premature. Some fans and critics act as if Black Thought announced that he was engaged to Paris Hilton. And yes, the dreaded S (rhymes with "fell out") word has been tossed around. Selling out is such a If they had written a song about a new dance they had created called the Dirty Sanchez or some such nonsense, the cry of sellout would have been appropriate. But sometimes an established band branches out tries something new. The Clash did "Rock The Casbah" and Bruce Springsteen did "Dancing In The Dark." Ultimately, The Roots are painting a bull's eye on their collective chest. But could it be there's a method to the madness? I think The Roots are too smart to be in it solely for the money and they're not getting enough credit for what could be a subversive move. Here's how it could play out. Joe or Joanne FOB-fan buys the CD, only because Stump is on it, it's a catchy song and the dipshit from biology class says it's like Gym Class Heroes. Upon actually listening to the whole CD, they may have their eyes opened and realize it's not all about tapered jeans and having the same haircut as your boyfriend/girlfriend. A new generation of kids get into good hip-hop. Far-fetched? Yes. Impossible? No.
Worst case scenario: The Roots sell a lot of records, expand their fanbase by five percent and still continue to make good music. Either way, it's a win-win scenario and The Roots deserve a big win.
The Roots feat. Patrick Stump: "Birthday Girl"