Thursday, November 3, 2011
Is ASAP Rocky Any Different From Vanilla Ice?
Hip hop trends these days move swiftly and mysteriously. In the past (old man alert) rappers would develop underground followings through hustle and (usually) acquired industry connections via mixtapes from the usual tastemaker djs, most of whom resided in New York, and for the most part based on talent. With the new millenium, came a new breed of rapper and the method of getting buzz went beyond just rapping a freestyle on DJ Clue's monday night show on Hot 97 and landing a song at the end of a Kay Slay tape. 50 Cent ushered in the mixtape era, releasing cds that were more like albums and the trend of rapping new songs over other people's beats. With the presence of the internet growing larger every second, though, a new type of rapper has emerged: One that isn't all that talented but has the type of buzz that used to be reserved for underground beasts who tore up every guest appearance or radio freestyle they touched (think Canibus or DMX). Enter a 21 year old kid from Harlem with a Texas fetish named ASAP Rocky.
ASAP, not at all to be confused with mumbly white people rapper Aesop Rock, is probably the most talked about new rapper out, and just this past Monday released his first highly anticipated mixtape to mostly positive reviews and internet drooling. He pretty much came out of nowhere, appearing sporadically on the rap blogs and Pitchfork since this spring. Mysteriously dropping a video or mp3, mostly inspiring people to say "who's this kid from Harlem that raps like Lil Flip?". And I'll admit, I kind of dig his music. The beats are ambient, drugged out stuff that i like and he's a decent enough southern rapper, but the one thing that I can't get past as I listen to LiveLoveASAP is this kid is a fraud. If we call out people like Vanilla Ice or any of the other rappers who are found to be living a lie, why not this guy? Being a white person who acts black is one of the most ridiculed characters in existence, mostly due to the idea that it's someone trying to be something they're not in order to look cool. The word poser comes to mind. ASAP admits he loves Texas although HE'S NEVER EVEN BEEN THERE. He just knows what he sees on tv in rap videos and hears in the sizzurp soaked UGK albums. Sound familiar? . Rick Ross gets lampooned by many rap fans for his former life as corrections officer, and rightfully so, but is that so much different than a dude from Harlem who's never been in the state of Texas that imitates the drawling sound of someone who was born in Port Arthur? One difference might be that ASAP isn't intentionally deceiving anyone. He says he's from Harlem pretty much on every track but he's still adopted a persona that is not authentic to who he is as a person. Hip hop used to be a culture that valued authenticity over anything else. Remember keeping it real (the real term not PTU's adopted version of drunken athletes with crappy cars)? I'll admit I'm a little biased since New York isn't the center of the hiphop world anymore, and the death of regionalism has always been a pet peeve of most of us at PTU. I know I sound 1000 years old but the ascension of the internet and social networks as the primary means of communication and entertainment for the youth these days is to blame for kids who grew up in New York that root for the Patriots and rappers that were born in Harlem that pretend to be from down south. We live in a global village where you can pick and choose what area you want dress like, sound like, and what teams to root for regardless of your actual hometown. I'm not saying that's wrong, really, but if we're going to clown Vanilla Ice and Rick Ross for living a lie what about the fake country boy and his styrofoam cup of lean, ASAP?