White People On Racism
Stay the fuck out of these conversations—they’re not for you. Especially if your only input is a constant derail attempt
No, I believe a white person could add something significant to the conversation…
but I will say that for every two or three that can, there are at least 10 or 12 who will get on some ignorant bullshit.
"Detox will drop before Self Portrait."
This was a recent comment I saw about me releasing my album this year.
Of course, it does not surprise me. Because of the continuous delays over the years, I have lost nearly all my supporters. Its very demoralizing, but all I can do is power through.
I can only hope that there are still people out there who are willing to listen.
Album Review: Kid Rock - “Born Free”
Date Reviewed: November 17th, 2010
Rating: 1 Star out of 5
Kid Rock is an artist who has reinvented himself time after time whenever his career needed a resurgence. He originally debuted in 1990 as a hardcore rapper, a foul-mouthed pimp bastard child of the Beastie Boys. But after his first album bricked, he decided to follow the Beastie’s path and adapt rock and heavy metal into his music. After toiling around in obscurity for years, he finally made it big in 1999 after the release of his Rap/Rock opus “Devil Without a Cause”. When the Rap/Rock fad started to wear thin just two years later, he added country and southern rock into his repertoire, once again hitting it big with “Picture”, a chart-topping country duet with Sheryl Crow. For his next two albums, Rock would delve even further into country music and southern rock, trying to stop the critics from pigeonholing him to the nu-metal rap scene. He started rapping less and less, and the music was getting less and less heavy. And now, with his new album, “Born Free”, Kid Rock has completely left Hip-Hop behind and crossed over into “classic rock”. Ladies and gentlemen, the transition is complete.
Anybody who knows me knows I grew up as a huge fan of Kid Rock. Laugh and make fun if you want, but I stand by it because when he was on his A game, the guy made some good music. To this day I can put on “Devil Without a Cause” and bang my head mindlessly to “Bawitdaba”. While it used to bother me that he stopped rapping and started making country, I came to terms with it. To me, it made sense for him to be the next great heartland rock icon than the whipping boy for mindless rap/rock. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t pan out that way. His last album, 2007’s “Rock and Roll Jesus” was supposed to be his “timeless rock and roll record”, but instead he just blatantly copied every classic rock icon that ever influenced him, from Bob Seger to Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC to John Fogerty. Even the few songs I actually enjoyed (the introspective “Amen” and the John Eddie cover “Low Life”) would eventually grow stale, so the album had little to no replay value. But it still sold well and lauded yet another hit that would keep Kid Rock’s career a float for a little while longer (the novelty tune “All Summer Long”).
But with “Born Free”, it was supposed to be a whole different story: legendary producer Rick Rubin was reportedly given the reins for this project, pushing Kid Rock to write stronger material in order to really establish himself as this generation’s Bob Seger. Unfortunately for us, the self-proclaimed ‘Pimp of the Nation’ once again fails to fulfill his own claims. With this album, it seems to me Kid Rock has lost his edge. With Rubin as his co-pilot, Rock delivers the cleanest, most pop-friendly tunes he’s ever written, shamelessly pandering to the Top 40 crowd and leaving behind the tried and true rock audience. Instead of coming through with something new and original, he relies on the traditional “classic rock” formula, and once again comes off as more of a biter and recycler than an an originator. On the lead single title track, he tries to channel Bruce Springsteen, with a bombastic piano-driven tune that’s reminiscent of “Born to Run”. It’s supposed to be Rock’s inspirational patriotic anthem (to add to the 6 or 7 others he’s already come out with), but the lyrics are so cliched and hackneyed that the only thing it inspires me to do is laugh my ass off: “Free, like a river raging / strong, as the wind I’m facing / chasing dreams and racing Father Time / deep, like the grandest canyon / wild, like an untamed stallion / if you can’t see my heart, you must be blind!” No Rock, I’m not blind, but listening to this song, I sure as hell wish I was deaf.
The rest of the album follows suit, with many of the songs sounding indistinguishable from each other. As the former “American Bad Ass” prepares to turn 40, many will say that the mellow adult contemporary sound and hokey lyrics are supposed to be a reflection of Rock’s maturity. But those folks can shove it where the sun don’t shine. The fact is, Rock’s so-called “maturity” on this album doesn’t sound authentic to me — it sounds more like he’s writing songs that everyone else THINKS he should write because he’s getting old. I mean sure, I wouldn’t expect him to be writing X-rated raps about the groupies he’s fucked at age 40, nor would I want him to. I just thought that for all his youthful rebelliousness and originality in the past, he wouldn’t let what others say dictate his artistry. But instead, that is exactly what happened, as we find him watering down his music to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Take “Times Like These” for example: it was the first track premiered from this album live in concert last year, written as a heartfelt tribute to his hometown of Detroit in the midst of the economic crisis. When he comments that the struggle we all go through is what makes us stronger in the long run, it’s an earnest sentiment, but it would hit harder if he weren’t also spouting off corny cliches about Detroit’s rivers, forests, and churches. Then there’s “When It Rains”, an Eagles-esque nostalgia trip that’s not unlike his last hit “All Summer Long”. Here, Rock laments over the death of a close friend, reminiscing on the good times they had as kids. Not only does it sound like a bad Eagles re-write, but his Seger dickriding comes through yet again, as he bites a line from “Against the Wind” for the chorus (“Wish I didn’t know now the things I never knew before”). “Slow My Roll” is yet another retread: it’s Rock’s umpteenth song about growing up, changing his ways, and becoming a better person - as if “Roll On” wasn’t a lame enough attempt at this. He even makes the same point in both songs, as he sings “I can’t believe sixteen has long since passed”, whereas in “Roll On” he sang “I was just sixteen, and now I’m staring at 36”. Even the few harder rocking numbers manage to be disappointing, like the living-for-the-weekend anthem “God Bless Saturday”. While the AC/DC riffage is a welcome change of pace from the mellow country-pop, it’s ruined by Rock’s bogus attempt to profile himself as a nine-to-five working man (seriously, what the hell does he know about “working 52 hours in a stamping plant”?)
But it’s not just Kid Rock and Rick Rubin here, the album is a highly collaborative affair. Rock wrote the entire album with his touring guitarist Marlon Young, but didn’t perform it with his long-time backing band Twisted Brown Trucker. Instead, Rubin complied an all-star backing band that included Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers on keyboards and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo on guitar. I guess they do well enough, but it only makes me wonder how TBT would’ve tackled the material here. He also teams up with a few guest vocalists: “Collide” is another one of Rock’s attempts to recreate the magic of “Picture”, with Sheryl Crow sharing the mic on what sounds like a horrid re-write of Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight”. What makes it all the more ironic is that Seger himself plays the piano on the track. Zac Brown guests on the all-out country porch song “Flying High”, perhaps the best song on the record (that really isn’t saying much though). But the oddest collaboration is “Care”, a fluffy country-pop attempt at introspection, featuring country singer Martina McBride and southern rapper T.I. We find all three artists commenting on their inability to change the world’s problems, but still attempting to care about them. Hate to break it to you guys, but ‘caring’ isn’t exactly the same as getting off your ass and getting involved socially or politically.
There’s always a time for musical maturity and artistic growth. For Kid Rock, that time was in 2003, when he released his his self-titled album. It was a strong album, albeit a little unfocused; he managed to balance his edge with a newfound mature sense, but he was unsure of how the audience would react, so he went in multiple directions. Unfortunately, his insecurity would steer him down the wrong path and influence him to copy his idols instead of making music that worked for him. With “Rock and Roll Jesus”, Kid Rock went out on a limb but still managed to miss the apple; with “Born Free”, he not only fails to grab the apple, he falls out of the damn tree! Once again we find him hiding in his idol’s shadows, and hiding behind his so-called “maturity” to make this mellowed-out, cliched sorry excuse for American roots rock. After the disappointment of “Rock and Roll Jesus”, I really didn’t want to check this one out, but I knew I had to in order to confirm to myself what I’ve known for quite some time now: Kid Rock is a fraud.
Gonna post one more for now… it was the last review I wrote for Epinions, and probably my favorite music review I’ve ever written…
Album Review: Vanilla Ice - “Platinum Underground”
Date reviewed: March 7th, 2010 (originally from Epinions as part of my ‘White Rapper Series’)
Rating: 0 Stars out of 5
Ever since his debut in the late 80s, Vanilla Ice has been the bane of every White Rapper’s existence. He was a completely manufactured artist, basically a white repackaging of MC Hammer with corny dance moves, fraudulent street tales, and a brand of Hip-Hop music that was so watered down you’d have to dry off your ears after listening to it. He had his 15 minutes of fame with the hit single “Ice Ice Baby”, but quickly became the butt of a million jokes and was damn near laughed out of Hip-Hop. And after the failure of the Ice Man, nobody really wanted to take a chance on co-signing a white rapper; it wasn’t “acceptable” to be a white rapper again until 1999 when Eminem rose to stardom.
But, for one reason or another, Ice’s career has gone beyond “Ice Ice Baby”, as he found solace in the underground. And while everyone focuses on his debut and all that pop rap garbage, if they looked beyond it to the rest of his catalog, they would realize that was actually the best music he’s ever put out. No, I’m not kidding, Ice has gotten progressively worse with each album he’s released. And every time he came back out, he tried to reinvent himself with a different persona — and it never worked.
In 1994, he came out with “Mind Blowin”, where he tried to make the transition into gangsta rap, profiling himself as a weed-smoking gun-toting thug — and nobody bought it. In 1998, he tried his hand at the nu-metal rock/rap thing (which was just starting to get over on MTV, through bands like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, and Korn) with “Hard to Swallow” — and again, nobody cared. In 2001, he tried to mix the two with “Bi-Polar”, a record divided into two parts: ‘Skabs’ (the hardcore rock side) and ‘Bomb tha System’ (the hardcore rap side) — and nobody even batted an eye. Well, in 2005, after a publicized appearance on the VH1 reality show “The Surreal Life”, he returned with his fifth album, “Platinum Underground”, which is supposed to reflect Ice’s ability to maintain a fan base without mainstream airplay.
Of course, it should come as no surprise to anyone that this record sucks balls. I’ve wanted to pan this record for years, and now, with the White Rapper Series, I finally have a chance.
When you listen to this album, it’s painfully obvious that Vanilla Ice is stuck in the past. That fact is especially evident when you find out that Ice brings back his two biggest singles for this record: “Ice Ice Baby” and “Ninja Rap”. The former is an all-out re-recording of the song, with a recreation of the original beat, replaying the bass line instead of sampling it from Queen and David Bowie (who, by the way, now appear as songwriters in credits, as they should be). This is actually the third time he’s recorded it, the first being the original and the second being the rap/rock remake, under the title of “Too Cold”, from his “Hard to Swallow” album. To add to the stupidity, he would later record a FOURTH version for his 2008 covers album “Vanilla Ice is Back”. Talk about living off a legacy, right? Anyway, I give Ice some credit… where as there were a few problems with his delivery in the original, he eliminates them in this re-recording. Other than that, the song is the same: same corny punchlines (“cooking emcees like a pound of bacon”), same fraudulent tales of street violence (“Gunshots rang out like a bell / I grabbed my nine, all I heard was shells”), same stupid bullshit song.
But the sad fact is this: this remake of his one lame hit is actually the best song on this record. I bet you’re scared now.
The latter of the songs mentioned in the above paragraph isn’t remade like “Ice Ice Baby”, but it’s a sequel instead: “Ninja Rap 2”. I know what your thinking: ‘he made the original Ninja Rap for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” film, why is he making a sequel?’ Well as it turns out, he’s not rapping about the heroes in a half-shell; this time, the ‘ninjas’ he refers to are his fans. Yes, he shows love to “[his] crew, the ones that pull [him] through”, talking about “Juggalo love” and bragging about being “at the Gathering with ICP” (for those who don’t know, a lot of white people refer to each other as ‘ninja’ because it’s the closest they can get to saying ‘nigga’ without getting their asses kicked). The song kicks off with Ice deliberately biting T.I. (“It’s the Ninja, Ninja Rap baby, you don’t know / people call me V.I., but you don’t know”) and talking about he’s better off in his career now: “I’ll never be what MTV wanted me to be / now I’m free, free from the seize of the industry”. Oh yeah, jut to let you know, his punchlines still suck: outdated references to O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton, and Monica Lewinsky are facepalm-inducing moments that make you wonder if he’s even trying.
When Ice is not busy trying to recreate his past, he’s bringing it up in almost every song. The album opener “Survivor” is the song that sets it all off, as he touches on everything he’s gone through to get where he is today. Only thing about it is he doesn’t really go into detail about his trials and tribulations, he simply makes vague references and expects the listener to fill in the blanks. Problem is most casual listeners won’t know his history unless they saw his “Behind the Music” episode. In reality, it sounds like a bad knock-off of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. I shouldn’t joke about it, but you can’t help but think he’s imitating Em when he spits “Escape suicide from this gun on my dresser / I looked into my daughter’s eyes, that released the pressure”. Sure he talks about how he’s made it through and how he’s no longer an industry puppet, but then he sort of contradicts himself on “Dunn Natt”, where he brags about his accomplishments. He talks about how he had a number one hit single, was rich as hell, and “paved the way for Eminem”, and relishes in the fact that he was a megastar celebrity. But the fact is if he really was happy to be free about being free from the industry, he shouldn’t feel the need to brag about how he USED to be the biggest thing ever. It doesn’t make sense… or at least to me it doesn’t.
But the worst part of it all isn’t the fact that he contradicts how he feels about his past, nor how he remakes his old shitty songs… it’s the fact that Ice STILL fronts like it’s nobody’s business. On “Mecca and Ice” he spits with a fake Jamaican accent that is more insulting than entertaining. Remember when he adapted that Caribbean accent on “Rosta Man” from his first album? It’s kinda like that, except MUCH worse. Then he tries to pass himself off as a tough guy on the rock/rap attempts “Trailer Park Mullet Wars” and “Step Up or Shut Up”. The former has Ice singing “I wish I was good as you” in a deadpan voice, leading into Ice idiotically yelling “BRING IT, BRING IT, BRING IT, WAR!!” over and over again for the hook. The latter is even worse, as he talks about punking out the fakes and beating the crap out of em. He yells on the chorus and tries to sound hardcore, but the fruity little scream he does before each chorus makes it sound more funny than threatening. I mean, it legit sounds like he was jerking off in the studio and recorded himself busting a nut. “Bounce” and “Hustlin” are two more attempts at appealing to the mainstream, talking about partying and making money and whatnot, but they just sound laughable. He tries to get introspective on “Tell Me Why”, but he falls on his face there too: he starts off by mentioning Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate cult, then referencing 9/11, but he goes nowhere. By the end his verse, he’s simply rattling off the names of various serial killers… and why are we supposed to care?
And then, there is “Say Goodbye”, a hot mess of a song if I’ve ever heard one. Over this slow Dirty South-esque beat with triumphant horns, we have Ice rapping about dealing with betrayers by killing them. For one, the concept doesn’t fit the uplifting sound of the beat, which is even more evidenced by the hook, where somebody tries to sound soulful, singing “Good, good, good, goodbye!” which Ice follows up with a gruff scream of “WITH A SLUG IN YOUR EYE!” and “YOUR TIME HAS COME TO DIE!” Secondly, and more importantly, it sounds fucking ridiculous to have Ice rapping about killing people. Take a look at the guy on the album cover, does he look scary at all?! The man has already been exposed as a fake, so who the fuck is he fooling?!
And if the album wasn’t bad enough with it’s horrible songs, the end of the album is cluttered with stupid phone messages (tracks 16 though 24) and a short, pointless instrumental track (“My Kids”). It’s the fucking definition of filler.
I know this review has been longer than all my recent reviews, but I felt I couldn’t really tear into this album unless I REALLY went into it. Vanilla Ice has been the bane of every white rapper’s existence, but he’s much more. He doesn’t just give Hip-Hop a bad name for the crackers, but he gives Hip-Hop a bad name all around. Say what you want about “To the Extreme” being the worst rap album ever, but you really haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard “Platinum Underground”. He tries his damnedest to pass himself off as a legitimate rapper, but he’ll never succeed. Of course, this has not stopped him, as rumors of a new album titled “WTF” have surfaced recently. But I ain’t gonna touch it. I barely got through this garbage alive, so I don’t think I could survive another onslaught from the Iceman. Bottom line, “Platinum Underground” stands as a reminder of one of life’s certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will deceive the people, and Vanilla Ice will always suck.
PS: When “WTF” came out, I eventually llistened to it… it was even worse.