Posted tagged ‘no limit’

VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2010 – Reporting Live!

June 4, 2010

Best 2010 Hip-Hop Honors Ever!

It’s the early morning of Friday, June 4th and I’m writing this having just returned home from the 2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors event. This year’s theme is The Dirty South, honoring such legends as Master P, J. Prince (founder of Rap-A-Lot), 2 Live Crew, Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri. Thanks to the homie Adam Bernard, I was invited to witness the festivities firsthand and let me tell you what a rare treat this was. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and would spend my weekends hopping from music store to music store. Due to the North Star state’s geographic location, rappers from every region eventually had their material matriculate back to us. I got a fever for several simultaneous flavors and really learned to love rap music for its various variants. Now was my first opportunity ever to see many of my heroes in the flesh, so of course I had to be there.

Seriously.

Before I begin, I want to point out that the entire show was shot “out-of-order” so if anything in this recap happens in a different sequence or doesn’t make it to air, you can chalk it up to the magic of television. I’m going to attempt to avoid spoilers, but knowing VH1’s track record you’re going to be bombarded with commercials of all the surprises so unless you have the will-power to not watch the numerous “What Chilli Wants” marathons over the next 72 hours I’d advise you to proceed with caution.

After hours of standing, the night began with a tribute to Rap-A-Lot Records’s founder J Prince. Rap-A-Lot’s string of releases from 1990-1994 is my favorite period of any record label’s output ever. The medley of the label’s biggest hits began with Geto Boys member Willie D and The Game performing “Mind Playin Tricks on Me.” Say what you will about The Game’s music and penchant for name-dropping, but his love for Hip-Hop really shines through in his live performance as he knocked Bushwick Bill’s verse out of the park. The medley also included Juvenile doing “Nolia Clap” and Drake dueting with UGK’s Bun-B. None of these acts were announced beforehand, so you can imagine how the place exploded when they just appeared on stage one-right-after-another.

We were then treated to the opening vignette and an incredible brief (We’re talking 2-3 jokes tops) monologue from Craig Robinson, best known as Daryll from “The Office.” His dry wit was quite a change from the playfully obnoxious partying of Tracy Morgan in years past, but with the flamboyance of the talent being honored and doing the honoring he made an effective straight man, making the presentation palatable for the not-so-country attendants at hand. Also on hand were comedians Eddie Griffin and “Community’s” Donald Glover, the latter of which’s introduction of 2 Live Crew got the biggest laugh of the night.

I thought it was a smart move to divide the tributes by region, allowing the night to work as something of a crash course in “Country Rap Tunes.” Odd as it may sound, Jermaine Dupri got the biggest reactions of the night. For whatever reason, whenever his name was mentioned, the crowd erupted. Odder still is that he got this warm reception yet his tribute video and performance was the only one audible heckled. The only thing I found jeer-worthy of his segment was Diddy giving the worst performance of the night with arguably the least convincing lip-syncing ever publicly performed. What made it so bad was that during his “Welcome to Atlanta” verse, Dupri was still backing him up with a live mic resulting in awkward audio for all.

As for the second worst performance, it fell in the middle of an otherwise great No Limit tribute. Romeo came out dressed like his father circa-’96 to do “I’m Bout It, Bout It” and his tremendous attention to detail in the attire made it work. Off to a great start, things come to a screeching halt when this transitioned with the smoothness of a parking break into Silkk the Shocker’s “That’s Kool.” Despite being the final “hit” of the original No Limit Records, Silkk gave-up midway through the verse repeating one bar four times and then half-finishing the rest, just in time for Trina to miss her cue, do the second half of the chorus, and exit. Gucci Mane then came out as he and Kid Capri attempted to reenergize the crowd getting them just barely ready for MYSTIKAL to do his “MAKE ‘EM SAY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” verse, saving the night. It’s really great to see Mystikal back on the scene and as energetic as ever, but his appearance just made the choice of “That’s Kool” all the more baffling. Here you have a chance to reunite Silkk and Mystikal for arguably the label’s third most well known song (“It Ain’t My Fault”) and instead you opt for “That’s Kool,” a song nobody really liked or wanted to hear in the first place?

While Silkk Lupe-ing himself will most likely still make it to air, one thing you won’t see is the Serato breaking down during 2 Live Crew’s performance, resulting in them restarting three times over. Sadly, this means you’re going to miss the night’s most genuinely touching moment. After “Me So Horny” and “Hoochie Mama,” the opening notes of “Banned in the USA” suddenly went silent. With the show stopped and countless technicians rushing the stage to fix the problem, Luke walks out and says “No Music? F**k it then. Let’s do this.” He then goes into the Crew’s old “One and One” routine (their reinterpretation of The Kinks “All Day and All of the Night”) as each member joins in with a “just like old times” look in their eyes. Moments like this are what a show like Hip Hop Honors should be about and it would be a shame if you never got to see it.

With the bulk of this show set to be made in post-production, the lineup’s randomness really drained the crowd. The real star, however, was the tremendous set design and art direction. Every artist had a distinct motif that really captured who they were. It helped give each region a distinct look to match the sound and added a grandiose touch of theatrics. Both VH1 and the artists involved really went out of their way to make the night as comprehensive as possible, from Cool Breeze (the man who coined the phrase “Dirty South” on Goodie Mobb’s 1995 album Soul Food) performing the Organized Noize tribute to Mannie Fresh grabbing the mic in between 2 Live Crew technical difficulties to acknowledge Suave House and other southern icons that VH1 forgot.

While I really have no idea how this is going to look on air, I had a great time. The Rap-A-Lot medley was the best performance and believe me when I tell you it is not to be missed. If you check it out, be sure to look for me. I’m the one white guy who isn’t wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses indoors or has a flat-out embarrassing tattoo. Seriously caucazoids, step your game up!

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Memorial Day – Holiday Review

May 31, 2010

FLAGGRAVESFIREWORKS!

Fire up the BBQ and hose down the BBW, it’s Memorial Day once again! Federally mandated, it’s a solemn day of respectful reflection and INCREDIBLE DEALS ON ELECTRONICS! Seen by many as the official kickoff weekend of summer, Memorial Day is actually a nationally recognized Holiday where we’re supposed to remember those who gave their lives for this country, preserving our freedom here and overseas. I know a lot of you kids with your black fingernail polish, Hot Topic gift certificates and revolutionary rock music may disagree, but in all seriousness I love this country with all my heart and, contrary to how this paragraph may read, take the sacrifice those before us have made to ensure our tremendous fortune pretty seriously. So now, them in mind, let’s take a look at Memorial Day.

Like all good things, Memorial Day originated with black people. In the 1860s following the Civil War, Freedmen (former slaves who were now freed men) began dedicating a day to moving their fallen Union brethren from the mass Confederate graves into proper individual burials. This day (originally May 1st) was marked with sermons, prayers and picnics. Commemorating graves soon became custom in America, ultimately resulting in the holiday being officially named “Decoration Day” in 1868. This date was later moved to May 30th as it “Wasn’t the anniversary of a battle.” There was also a separate day of remembrance for Confederate soldiers on June 3rd until the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill which moved the now universal Memorial Day to the final Monday of May, giving us all a three-day weekend. Seeing that Memorial Day had its origins in the Civil War and the World War vets wanted their own designated day, Veterans Day was created in 1971 to add more specificity to the original May holiday.

Memorial Day!

Of course, when you’re a child, Memorial Day is the greatest tease of summer there is. Typically the last “day off” before the final week of school, the sleeping in and outdoor shenanigans are that first hit that makes the last four or so day of class unbearable. This made Memorial Day all good until you hit high school and it became a day of “Study” before 2-3 days of nonstop finals. Then the holiday became one of procrastination where I just watched Combat Shock or Naked Lunch and listened to the Lunachicks while I walked around the park or something. Once college (rock and) rolled around and classes ended three weeks prior, I began really observing what the Holiday was about, visiting graveyard and watching actual parades honoring our brave veterans.

But being an obscure rap fan, when I think of Memorial Day, I first think of this –

Possibly the worst anything No Limit ever released.

Wow. What an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful album. I know many of you probably consider “awful” and “No Limit” to go together like a horse and carriage. But ask the local Kangas and he will say “well, during their decade-long existence, No Limit put out 140 (!) releases and by the law of averages, they all can’t suck.” I’m more of a No Limit apologist than most, to the point where four years ago I was writing a book about the label and dove deep into their catalog. I stand by Fiend, Young Bleed, Mac, Tru, Kane & Abel, Mystikal and Mr. Serv-On all having put out good-to-great ahead of their time* albums on the label, but even then I’m not delusional enough to not acknowledge that the tank fired off some of the absolute worst rap CDs and Tapes of all time. Even as someone who owns the Lil Soldiers record, I can state with some authority that Full Blooded’s Memorial Day is quite possibly the far-and-away absolute worst.

“Dog S***,” the apropos above track, is all the evidence I need. Beginning with butchering a Geto Boys quote in an attempted homage, Full Blooded ruins an alright Beats by the Pound production with some of the absolute worst rapping ever released on a national level. Half riding the “I’m a dog” theme, the garbled voice and mushmouthed delivery is Master P’s door-prize record deal distributing at its worst. Not to base an album off one song, but folks, this is as good as it gets. 70+ minutes of Beats By the Pound production wasted on this awful, awful, awful rapper. The saddest part about this is how awesome the packaging looks. Classic No Limit blood-red plastic with a cover that once inspired a friend of mine to write “My grandma is going to be so pissed that Full Blooded is f***ing with my grandpa’s grave at Fort Snelling. He was a paratrooper who fought for his country! You have no right Mr. Blooded!”

So on this Memorial Day, the only day sacred enough to not have a horror film themed after it, remember the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms around the world. Don’t remember the awful album you wouldn’t have known about had I not just written about it and brought it to your attention just now. Cool? Alright, let’s go shopping!

We give the holiday Memorial Day a Four Out of Five.

We give the Full Blooded album Memorial Day a One out of Five.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Remember “conscious” rap fans that No Limit rapper Mac had a song chastising the ignorance of homophobia on his 1999 album World War III at a time when the ever-enlightened Common and Mos Def were letting the word “faggot” fly left and right. Mad progressive, yo.