At the dawn of last year, we wrote a piece titled Rap Clichés That Need to Stop in 2013, and naively thought that that would be the end of it. It wasn’t, and although the majority of clichés that we mentioned – All Illuminati Everything Production and Kush-Infused Cinematography – have been buried in a HTML grave that’ll undoubtedly resurface in a circular fashion ten years later, 2013 brought a whole bunch of new clichés that need to be killed off.
To copy and paste the opening paragraph that we used in last years piece: cliché’s aren’t a bad thing. They’re the reason that I can bootstrap an L, put on a Snoop Dogg record, and know that I’m going to have a great puff, puff, pass soundtrack. Without clichés, there would be no genre, and the good artists, like Snoop, use and avoid platitudes in order to subvert and meet expectation.
However, a lot of clichés are a load of shit. They’re checkboxes, banal ticks that certain breeds of artist feel they have to tick to reach 100,000 followers on Twitter. Here are a couple of things that need to stop being dick-ridden in 2014.
STOP BEING A PUSSY AND CALL YOUR ENEMY OUT FOR REAL
One of the best components of hip hop is listening to rappers get hot and heavy with their wordplay, shotting insults like a GCSE student with a topboy reputation to uphold. Kendrick’s “Control” wasn’t a straight-up diss, but it’s the most recent example of how a name-checking call-to-arms can ignite the rap game. It upset Drake, because Drake believes he’s the best, and the two started to engage in the tamest argument that I’ve seen outside of the comment section on a video by The Wanted. Drake called out Kendrick on Future's "Shit" remix, saying, "I hear you talk about your city like you run that." Then Kendrick called out Drake by saying something about a soft rapper wearing pyjama clothes. Fuck that. I don’t want to hear sorority girl style subliminal shade from artists that purport to have gone blow-for-blow with any Mexican (Yup, Pusha we saw your tweet 'to' Lil Wayne hours after Dedication 5 dropped). I want to hear straight up Ethers. I want a “Hailies Revenge” and a “Real Muthafuckin’ G’s”. If you’re not fucking someone in the arse with “No Vaseline” then you’re just making love.
IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE BEING DISSED, DON’T RESPOND
If Drake and Kendrick are no better than a Year 12 psychology student sub-tweeting their self-importance, then all the rappers that responded (despite not being mentioned in the initial "Control" verse) are akin to the type of dickhead that turns up to a fancy dress party in a luminous green morph suit in the hope that it will detract from their lack of substance. Papoose, Joe Budden, a basketball player from the New York Knicks, and a bunch of little shits who spend every day begging Complex journalists for a RT were among those that responded. The fact that one site ran a sixteen page slideshow on “The Best Responses To Control” and not a single page featured a rapper that was mentioned in the verse, only proves how thirsty everyone is for that gwop.
THIS FUCKING SONG
How many adverts does a song have to soundtrack until it has a heart attack, enters cardiac arrest, and lives in a vegetated state for the rest of eternity? (See also: this)
OBSCENELY LONG PROJECTS JUST BECAUSE
Two massive projects came out at the end of 2013. First, Pharrell released a 24 hour-long music video and then, on Christmas Eve, Lil B dropped a 101-track mixtape. URM, are you trying to test my patience? I barely have time to stream an episode of a culturally relevant and easily tweetable Stateside show on Putlocker in the evening, let alone sit through a day’s worth of Pharrell’s ostentatious paracosms.
ONLY LIKING "REAL" HIP HOP
A certain breed of hip hop fan believes that they’re better than everyone else because they’ve etched the lyrics of Illmatic, Low End Theory, and “The Message” into their brain. They refuse to like anything new, would probably dome on MF Doom if he asked, and are ignorant enough not to realise that they’re as bad as the detractors that first hated on every record released during the Golden Age. What’s real hip-hop? I don’t know, but a thousand internet commentators will inform me.
ONLY LIKING "REAL" ROCK
Yeah, and I bet you still don’t talk to strangers because that’s what your Mother told you when you were five, right?
ONLY LIKING "REAL" DANCE MUSIC
Tell me again how you spent every weekend in a blissed out euphoric state listening to Larry Levan at Paradise Garage. Oh, wait, you work in accounts? STFU then.
RETWEETING PRAISE FROM YOUR FANS
I get it. You’re famous. That’s why I, and several million other people, followed you. However, we didn’t sign up for this shit only to be bombarded with retweets from whatever ratchet pussy the artist in question is trying to tap. Re-tweeting constant reams of praise is sort of like omnipresently jacking off in public. No one wants to watch, it’s a little messy, and it only serves to pleasure oneself. Get your dick out of your hand and start showing us that you’re great, instead of shamelessly showing off that other people think you are.
You didn’t make your record in the 1960’s. You’re using a hand-me-down video camera to try and legitimise your brand of nostalgia infused indie pop to an audience that registers cool in direct correlation with desaturation. In some cases, throwback video recordings work really, really well. Frank Ocean’s “Lost”, released in April 2013, is a perfect example of cutting together a tour into a collection of fascinating snapshots. But if you’re just running around on a beach with a bunch of friends set to the tune of every other summer romance composed by a Fender Telecaster then IDK, you’re probably only going to make one Bandcamp EP before your guitarist migrates to a different college anyway.
'This Fifteen Year Old Rapper Will Change Your Life' Style Headlines
Hi, I'm a headline, you may remember me from other highly shared articles such as Five Child Stars That Will Make You Go Wow and Oh My God, Please Stop Trying To Boss My Feelings Around.
WRITING OPEN LETTERS
Miley Cyrus did a lot of things last year. The media decided that she had poisoned the children, supported feminism, ruined feminism and re-appropriated culture. A lot of people outside of music writing weren’t bothered, as long as they got to watch a video of a headless chicken enacting the “Wrecking Ball” video. But that didn’t stop Sinead O’Connor, who decided to write to Miley after the singer announced she’d been inspired by Sinead’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Except she didn’t actually fill up her inkwell, take out some parchment, spray it with perfume, and pen a heartfelt sisterly ode to Miley, she wrote a blog about it and published it online for millions to see. This is sort of like saying “Hi! Let me give you some advice but BRB while I also stand-first my name into every publication across the globe!”. Then Amanda Palmer wrote a response to Sinead O’Connor. And then Sufjan Stevens wrote a response to someone else. And then I stopped caring, until this guy did this.
A while ago I found a teenage-era lyric video made by one of my friends that was dedicated to her then boyfriend. It was really embarrassing and right after I’d immediately saved it to my favourites folder, I cringed. The lyric videos released by ~artists~ are sort of like that, except they’re the unflinching brainchild of grown men with a copy of iMovie, and therefore worth at least twenty extra years of embarrassment. All of the best music videos in the world leave a lasting imprint in my mind, like Christopher Walken forever waltzing around in my head like a cotton-headed lothario whenever “Weapon of Choice” plays. Or Britney Spears inexplicably being hand-delivered a ring by an astronaut in the middle of the cosmos because high budgets and nineties infatuation with space stations*! But all lyric videos do is remind me that I know how to read.
PUTTING TWERKING INTO NEWS STORIES FOR SEO
In October, the Telegraph ran a column about the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot through the head by the Taliban. The headline on this incredible story? “This Iron Lady’s Not For Twerking”. Ffs.
Other SEO words we need to ban from headlines: “Miley Cyrus” “feminism” “selfie” “fail” “90s”.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanBassil
Read more like this: