by Sekou | Mar 23, 2022 | Features, Unpopular Opinion
If you follow this website, you know who these two are. Andre 3000 of OutKast is a legend, easily one of the greatest rappers of all time. This is the man who declared at the 1995 Source Awards, where Kast got booed for winning Best New Artist (wrap your head around that one. OutKast got booed for Southernplayalisticadillacmusic! I was shook too!) that “The South got somethin’ to say!” He’s damn right they did, and now, Speakerboxx/The Love Below is the only hip hop album to win the Grammy for AOTY.
Kendrick Lamar is easily the best rapper of the 2010s, and honestly will go down as one of the GOATS. Hell, he already has a great case! He is the voice of a generation, hasn’t dropped a subpar project, let alone a bad one, and To Pimp a Butterfly. Nuff’ said.
Now, Kendrick has said that Tupac was a big influence on him, but I think Andre is as well! Listen to how he raps: playing with the bar line, experimenting with different production, and baring his soul on tracks. Sound familiar? That’s what Andre does as well! And because this is hip hop, I have to ask, who you got? Andre or Kendrick? Let’s discuss
What can I say about 3Stacks that hasn’t been said before? The man is not only a musical genius, but a creative one as well. Andre 3000 debuted to us as simply Andre on Southernplayas (not typing that entire name), and he was on some Southern pimp shit. Then, he showed us a completely different person on ATLiens. He started becoming more…conscious! Keep in mind, this was uncommon at this time in the South. People expected 2 Live Krew, but they got the greatest rap duo of all time. They also got one of the greatest verses in hip hop ever made, on the title track of Aquemini. If you haven’t heard it, listen to the whole song, and you’ll know which verse it is.
Andre seemed to enjoy playing with our expectations as well. We all saw him as the weird one, and because of that, we never knew what to expect from him. One day, you could get “Rosa Parks”, the next you could get “B.O.B.”, and then you might get “Hey Ya!” This made him far more versatile, which is never bad within hip hop. Also, can we talk about how he’s the feature GOAT? Because… Jesus Christ! “What A Job”, Int’l Playas Anthem”, “Sixteen”, “Walk It Out (Remix)”, “The Real Her”, and “Psalm 42”. Ok, that last one might not be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he outrapped David!
Andre has so many pros, but he has one G L A R I N G con.
In A.D. 2022, 16 years after the last OutKast album, Andre 3000 has yet to release a solo album. The closest thing to a solo album we have is The Love Below, which technically is a double album. This definitely does hurt him a little bit. That being said, does that mean he isn’t one of the greatest rappers of all time? Of course not! The very fact that he doesn’t have one and is still in the GOAT conversation tells you how amazing he is. However, one of his pros is also a con…
Man, I love Andre, but there’s something that people need to know when an artist is versatile… It can be hit or miss. While Andre not having a solo album definitely impacts this, he was also someone who loved challenging the status quo. Sometimes, that leads to a “Hey Ya!” or “Roses”, other times it leads to a purely instrumental track with no rapping for five to ten minutes… yeah… I’m a big fan of the versatility, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t alienate people at times. With these cons out of the way, let’s discuss the pros of…
Picture this: it’s 2012, the rap scene has been plagued with basic party raps and a couple big hits (also MBDTF, one of the greatest albums ever made) for about 10 years. You see this song called, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”. You make a snap judgment based off of that title alone, and then you hear the song. Then, you apologize for the snap judgment and go to download the album and check out some of the other stuff from this guy! That guy’s name? Kendrick Lamar.
Making Albums Great Again.
Kendrick is the rapper who decided to make albums cool again. Mind you, in the 2000s and early 2010s, the airwaves were dominated by singles. Even the biggest names in the early 2010s weren’t exempt! (Drake is basically a hit artist, and J. Cole even fell prey to it on his first album) However, Kendrick showed his prowess on Section. 80 in 2011. He showed that he wanted to make albums, not just hits and filler. He then continued this with good kid, m.a.a.d. city, and decided to shake things up in rap, calling what felt like the whole rap scene out on his verse on “Control”. If you were living under a rock, he basically said,” Look, I love all of you, but I’m the best rapper alive. Prove you’re better than me.” People didn’t prove that because he then released one of the best albums of all time.
To Pimp A MFn Butterfly!!!
To Pimp a Butterfly is a pro in itself. Like, DAMN! (Wrong album). I don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said, or that I haven’t said several times. Kendrick made one of the best albums of all time, discussing Black issues in a Black way. This is a huge pro. See, oftentimes, we have to tone down our Blackness to make the message more palatable. Now at times, it works for a wider (whiter) audience (check out Everybody), but it typically comes with the tradeoff of an album not being as hard hitting or as good. TPAB stayed to its Black roots and won a Grammy for it. This is big, and shows that Blackness always wins! There are several pros for K.Dot, but let’s discuss the cons.
Yeah, so there are a couple of cons for Kendrick. One of them is actually in the same realm as Andre’s con, and it is that he only has four albums. In my personal opinion, there are several rappers who have this amount of albums and are still heralded as legends so it isn’t the biggest con to me, but I understand why it is one. The GOATs tend to have a bit more of a catalogue, whether good or bad, and with Kendrick not releasing an album since 2017, it’s understandable why he isn’t in that convo for many people. Another huge con is… well, another on of Andre’s cons!
When a rapper is super versatile and loves doing things differently, it comes with alienating a portion of your fanbase. While I love all of Kendrick’s albums (… Yes, I am a Stan), I also recognized that there was a difference between To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN. It can make you nervous, because you’re scared that while “range brothers” is a fun song, you don’t want a whole album of it.
So… Who Wins?
This is a loaded question. Kendrick has the more extensive catalogue (even if it is four albums), but his first album just turned 10 years old and he still could have one album left in the tank. Andre doesn’t have a solo album and only appears on features, but his OutKast catalogue has stood the test of time and his features make hip hop stop. At the same time, Kendrick’s features make hip hop stop too! They’re both extremely versatile, which leads to great music but can lead to hit or miss tracks, and they both are heralded as GOATs. Who wins this? Well, the fans truly do, but at this very moment for this man right here?
Andre 3000 Wins.
Here’s my reasoning: Kendrick is so damn close, and he’s at the point where we can really acknowledge his GOAT status (at least I can), but one thing tipped me over for 3Stacks: “Life of the Party”. Man, when I tell y’all that verse was the best of 2021… And it was indicative of the fact that Andre truly stops the hip hop world after all these years! While Kendrick is getting to that point (“family ties” was probably my favorite moment of 2021), he doesn’t feel as mythical as when Andre shows up. And he shouldn’t! Kendrick is still technically active, and has at least one more album in the tank, while Andre is inactive and just pops up, still stealing every track he gets on. In five years, this could definitely change, but right now, the W goes to Andre 3000.
by Sekou | Dec 30, 2020 | Unpopular Opinion
Unpopular Opinion: 2020 Was A Great Year
YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT!!! As the year wraps up, people are celebrating the fact that it is finally over instead of celebrating the new year, which is a big difference. Now, I’m not totally oblivious. Of course, this year started with the threat of WWIII and Kobe’s death, we had another year of nothing changing as Black people got killed and no one got punished (wanton endangerment? Should have been first-degree murder!), and, of course, the Rona.
These are all terrible, and I understand where people are coming from when they call this the worst year ever. That being said, humans have an issue acknowledging the good of something until it’s long passed. I’m here to change that, and to make the case that: 2020 was a fantastic year.
Health is Taken Seriously
We had a PANDEMIC this year. And for the first time in my personal lifetime, health has been taken very seriously. Just last year, it was “work until you drop! You ain’t that sick!” Now, it is “Why you coughin? Stay home for 3 months!!!” Beforehand, out health wasn’t a priority over work, but now? I dare you to come into work and say you have symptoms of the Rona. You goin’ STRAIGHT home! We are finally in an age where we don’t have to go into work even though we are coughing up a lung. (Note: this is not every company, unfortunately)
Working From Home Is Possible!
When places first started opening up again after the shutdown, many companies opted for a work-from-home option due to fear of the pandemic and losing money. Needless to say, we have seen how possible working from home is! We have been ingrained to believe that working from home is impossible, because people think it can stump productivity. However, we have seen that it is unbelievably possible to do this. In a pandemic where we are all afraid of getting sick, this is something that gives us our peace and our money.
This year has been like a funeral. It has been unbelievably sad, as we gathered to see the deaths unfold, but it has brought us back to one of the most important things about life: family. Plenty of people have been reconnecting with their family in this time, because we’ve all realized how important it is to give people flowers while they can still smell them (no pun intended because that’s a symptom of the Rona). I think that this is one of the most powerful things about this year. Sometimes, you need to remember what is important, and one of those things is family. Another one of those things is…
Think about how it was before the pandemic. You probably had a job that you had to work at, a social life you needed to keep up with, additional hobbies that you wanted, exercise routine, and all of this was possibly in a day! We, especially Americans, are all about the “hustle” culture. While nothing is wrong with hustling, but we leaned too far into it. “Sleep when you’re dead!” “The early bird gets the worm!” “#teamnosleep”. All of these phrases have been drilled into our heads by social media, because people are convinced that being exhausted is one of the prices to pay on the road to success. Well, this year said, “Take a nap”. We truly needed to slow down and take a break from that type of “hustle” lifestyle and start living a human lifestyle.
Hobbies on Hobbies!
Around the time of the shutdown, I learned that I really love to build things. Because of Rona, I have a new hobby that I really enjoy and I know others do, too. People have been gardening more, people have been cooking more, people have been writing more! This year, people have learned so much more about themselves, what they enjoy doing and how they enjoy doing things. The great part about this is that it felt like people were so connected, even though they were separate. Which brings me to my final point…
This year we had one of the biggest civil rights movements of all time. The list of Black men and women is unending. I don’twant to keep talking about it as I’ve written about it plenty of times, so I’ll direct you to these two pieces: whywekneel and blackparanoia. I want to talk about the protests! I attended a protest (mask on, of course, because Rona) and what I noticed was that there was so much unity there. White, Black, Asian, and every ethnicity and race coming together to say, “Your life matters.” I was in tears because of how powerful that unity was that day. Though there is definitely some division when it comes to the BLM Movement, there are so many of us that are closer than ever before. From us watching Tiger King at the beginning of the quarantine to watching the #AloneTogether concert. From us standing in solidarity for people that look like me to us all sharing in the discomfort of being in this Rona time, this year has been fantastic, because it has honestly unified us more than ever.
Why write this when this year has already been declared a shitshow? Why, when so many bad things have happened? Why be so insensitive? Well, as I said in the beginning, I am not oblivious to all the bad that has happened this year. A lot of shit has gone down this year. However, I will always choose to acknowledge the positives because people said 2016 was the worst year ever, and then 2020 hit, and made 2016 look like the greatest year of all time. Hopefully, that teaches us to be more positive before 2024 recreates the flood in the Bible. I choose to look on the bright side because that is so difficult at times, but it is the most rewarding feeling. In a year with some bad things happening, someone needs to look on the bright side of things, and I am ok with being that person.
This year will have a special place in my heart personally though. This year has been big for me in general, and one of the biggest things to happen was this: Musiq Therapy Magazine. Almost 2 years ago, this was only a dream, and in April of this year, it became a reality. I want to thank all of you who are reading this, and truly feeding my passion. I’m so blessed, and I hope 2021 is filled with blessings for all of you. Be safe, and have a socially distanced Happy New Year!!
by Sekou | May 14, 2020 | Features, Unpopular Opinion
Y’all thought me saying Soulja Boy was influential was controversial… Let’s talk about something I’m sure none of you have heard about: how great the 90s is. The 90s was one of those banner decades where so much stuff came out. Like, a lot of stuff. We can talk about the TV shows that came out, we can talk about the Internet becoming more mainstream, but the most prevalent discussion point: the music. The 90s had some scary good music, especially in hip hop. (Side note: I personally still believe that 1994 is the greatest year in hip hop, no questions asked. I might be crazy, but I ain’t that crazy!) So many great albums came out, albums that would influence the landscape of hip hop and become very important pieces of art that are able to be studied. With that being said, the 90s supreme dominance of the greatest time for music has been dethroned.
Fresh out from the decade, the 2010s was a bit of a… strange one. We had a lot of reboots, plenty of viral challenges, and of course, the blowup of social media. Yes, Facebook and MySpace still existed, but you can’t tell me the 2010s didn’t have a supreme blowup with Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. It had all these, but it also had music. It had some of the greatest albums of all time in To Pimp A Butterfly, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Lemonade, Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City,4:44, 21, and so many more! People never appreciate how good something is until it passes. These albums were all in the 2010s, and there’s even more that I could say; but I know you all want reasons behind this claim, so I’ll give you those instead. Here’s why the 2010s were the greatest time for music.
One of the best things to happen in the 2010s was the creation of streaming services. In an era when CDs were becoming played out, (pun very much intended) people still loved and wanted to listen to music. However, those iTunes gift cards only give you so much content. Enter: Apple Music and Spotify Premium. You can get all the music you want for a ridiculously cheap price. We don’t have to illegally download all of our albums and the artists can still get credit for them! Now, how much do they get paid? That is a different question entirely that we will definitely discuss at a different time.
Do you know what is fantastic about the Internet? The REACH and RANGE it has. I want to give you 2 scenarios
Scenario 1: There’s a new artist that you haven’t heard too much about. They’re not getting too much airplay on the radio since they’re that new. However, you are still interested. So you go to a CD shop, buy an album that’s about $12.99 and you actually hate it. You start wondering why you spent that money on that artist.
Scenario 2: There’s a new artist you don’t know too much about. However, you know that they have a SoundCloud. You hit their SoundCloud up, and you realize you don’t like them at all, and move on to the featured artist on SoundCloud.
SoundCloud and DatPiff really came in clutch for listening to music. From a consumer standpoint, these are great because it is free content for the most part and you get to listen to so much music. Maybe you find an artist you really like, and you stick with them. Maybe you hear an artist you strongly dislike, but all you have to do is click away and move on! From an artist’s standpoint, this is a dream come true. We’ve all heard the term, “SoundCloud rapper”, but that isn’t inherently a bad thing. Chance the Rapper was technically a SoundCloud rapper, and his free, independent content catapulted him to being produced by Kanye, being a main attraction at giant festivals, and getting a Grammy for Coloring Book, the first mixtape to do so. This is one of the best places to get discovered as a new artist. No one really buys new CDs, but everyone is on the Internet, and throwing new artists on SoundCloud makes everyone happy. The artist has an outlet for their music, and the consumer has more music to listen to.
Someone is going to hurt me for this one… But… Yes, while the 90s had some of the greatest albums of all time (Illmatic is one of the greatest rap albums ever and Aquemini is OutKast), the 2010s had these in tenfold. Maybe I am biased, but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the pinnacle of music, To Pimp A Butterfly is a masterpiece that infuses music in a way that makes it reminiscent of liberal sampling and unique enough to add a certain freshness to the game, Lemonade being one of the best albums and becoming one of the most empowering albums of all time, and so many more. I’m not going to say that these albums are better than the best of the 90s, I am just saying that the albums of the 2010s have some extreme highs that will be remembered. They’re already being remembered.
V A R I E T Y
Let’s touch on rap for a second. As much as oldheads want to talk about the crazy names that a lot of the new rappers have, and while I don’t blame them, we also must remember how important one word is: variety. Sure, there’s rap out there that has been derided by people and denigrated as “the worst thing in music”, but the beauty of that is the fact that it is an entire subgenre that is there. There’s mumble rap, SoundCloud rap, conscious hip hop, gangsta rap, boom bap, and much, much more. While it all might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are still different flavors to suit your taste.
The 2010s was a decade that we will all look back fondly on in 20 years. Right now, it just ended, and it is still very fresh. Every decade has great music, the 2000s had The Eminem Show, College Dropout, and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. The 90s had Illmatic, Enter The 36 Chambers, and Me Against the World. The 80s had Purple Rain, Thriller, and Dirty Mind. Each decade has at least 3 or more fantastic albums, and the 2010s is no different. It is bias as my teen years were spent in the 2010s listening to all this music, but I was able to listen to all music from all different decades because of the access available to us now. The 80s and 90s were legendary times for music and 1994 is still the best year in hip hop to date, but because of how we can consume the music, the variety of it, and the quality of the albums, the 2010s is the best time to listen to music.