Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Live From James Evans' Crib
Joell Ortiz- Funkmaster Flex Freestyle
Sorry, I physically can't care about the internet between June and August. Joell Ortiz pops into Hot 97 and does something I can't remember anyone doing in years: Tears it down with 5 minutes of crack. Joell, arguably the greatest rapper left in New York amongst a sad, slim field most notably challenged by one Juelz Santana, dropped his first and only album three years ago. As a fan of that album and its artist I feel like he should be in the midst of a promising mid-level career, the kind guys like Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss used to be able to enjoy comfortably, without having to resort to stunts like Slaughterhouse.
Have we really reached a place in Hip Hop where no flash lyricism, not to be confused with Detroit and Philly's seemingly intentionally boring old school technical proficiency, but real writing, wit, fire and lively punchlines have no place in our culture? Joell concludes his freestyle by begging all MCs listening to take it back to the pad and pen. A majority of the successful music produced over the last decade in this city seems to fall into two camps: stubborn underground old schoolism and popular parody, where guys like Mims or Maino or 50 or Jay-Z made Clear Channel Rap that could've come from everywhere. (Then there's the Diplomats, who I will address on this site any day now) Perhaps Joell has a point. That it's more than playing at grimy atmosphere, trying to recapture a sound with knock off Rza beats and weak attempts at a Buckshot sneer (See: Fat Joe). But the studied, detail rich, alternating funny and sad writing that powered New York's Golden Age could be the only way back to relevance. Start at the beginning.