Tuesday, October 27, 2009


OutQ listeners know I like to flip the script. Last week, I discussed "outlaw" country music. Tomorrow,I'll talk about hip-hop.

I never bought into Jay-Z like most everyone else have. I have no great objection to him, I just have not often felt the need to pay to hear his music. That said, he has some great songs: I like "Can I Get A...," "Money Ain't A Thing" and his cover of Ice-T's "99 Problems." He was also great on "Swagga Like Us." But his new song, "Run This Town," featuring Rihanna and Kanye West, is great. Rihanna's cool, it's nice to hear her return with such power. And hopefully this will be the last we hear from Kanye for a while. I'm a fan of his music, but I think he needs a break from the limelight, and the world needs a break from him.

Kid Cudi is a protegee of Kanye, I don't know too much about him, but he seems to sort of come from the Native Tongues tradition. This song features Kanye and Common, and prominently samples Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga is also featured on Wale 's "Chillin'." He's a protegee of the great UK producer Mark Ronson. Pretty cool song. It's interesting to hear so many hip-hop dudes into Lady Gaga.

T.I. was being hailed as "The Jay-Z of the South" at one point. I felt the same about him as I did about Jay: no objection, but I wouldn't go out of my way to listen. After a while, I started to enjoy some of his songs. "Dead and Gone" with Justin Timberlake is great, and he killed it on "Swagga Like Us." This new song, "When I'm Gone," featuring Mary J. Blige, has a lot of weight. He's currently serving a year in prison.

Michael Franti has never gotten much attention in hip-hop, but just as I like "outlaw" country, I also like "outlaw" hip-hop. Not gansta, but guys who don't follow the same rules (or hire the same management companies or marketing companies) as the hip-hop stars. Franti got his start in a punk/hip-hop band called The Beatnigs who were on Jello Biafra 's Alternative Tentacles label. Then he had a sort of industrial/hip-hop hybrid group The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphopracy. Then he formed the more rootsy Spearhead, and they're sort of in the jam band scene. They're really political, but this is just a fun summer jam. I can't believe the guy has a hit single, like 20 years into his career! But good for him.

The Beastie Boys "Too Many Rappers" featuring Nas is the lead single from the Beasties' Hot Sauce Committee, which should have come out by now, but was delayed because of Adam Yauch's recent health scare. This song also gets some extra weight from Yauch's first lines: "I been in the game since before you was born, I'll still be MCing after you're gone." I'm glad that that's still true. No one takes the old-school hip-hop feel and makes it modern like the Beasties.

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