Archive for April, 2011

How To Annoy An MC

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Fans are definitely among the wonderful elements of being in the music industry. When one has put in so much time and effort to craft art and it is appreciated by a (usually) impartial group of people, it is a magnificent feeling of vindication and gives strength to persevere and make more good works.

Fans express their joy and adoration in many different ways. For some it is merely greeting the artist. Others will write long detailed letters in their favourite rapper’s inbox. Others still will break into his bedroom and try on his underwear.

Sometimes though, the interaction between fan and artist can go horribly wrong. Any MC reading this will recognise the following conversation:

FAN: Hi there MC Rapper! You’re great!
MC: Thank you Ms. Fan, you may kiss my hand.
FAN: I love your new hit, “Lyrical MasterPiece!”
MC: Yes, it is rather marvellous isn’t it?
FAN: Indeed! It has a very good beat!

If at this point, the fan has yet to receive a cobra death grip to the oesophagus, then (s)he has done very well to evade an early appointment with the Grim Reaper and should count their blessings while marching briskly in a direction antonymous to the location of the slighted artist.

She told Chris his new song had a nice beat. So he gave her a nice beat.

I can hear some of you asking yourselves, what possible perceived wrong was committed by the innocent fan? Well, I can tell you. To ask a such a question is to disregard the input of the MC on each song. An MC is measured by his lyrics and his delivery. This requires a certain degree of intellect and creativity to conjure up verse after verse of imaginative self-expression. He needs to be in possession of a larger than average vocabulary so as to select the correct building blocks to construct his lyrical mansion. If one word is too long, it must be exchanged for one which has one less syllable. Alliterations, similes and metaphors need to be incorporated in such a way that they add value to verbal tapestry being woven together. An MC puts in a lot of thought to ensure that he achieves the materialisation of the vision he held upon initial conception of the track. He will need to intertwine these words with the instrumental so that they fuse together and become one glorious piece of art that shall perhaps be referenced for years to come.

So when the song comes out and someone says they liked the beat, it is not enough to say that you have insulted the MC. He may in fact feel less offended if you relieved your trouser of its belt, bent over exposing your newly liberated buttocks in his general direction and then released wind.

The beat is made by the producer. The MC’s involvement usually ends on selecting which beat he desires to use, but it is built by the producer. The MC’s is measured by his words; the words he has chosen and how has he utilised them upon the instrumental. If you are praising an MC’s song and only acknowledging the beat, you are rendering the MC completely insignificant. It could even be construed that you would have enjoyed the song more by listening to the instrumental without enduring the burden of the lyrics. This is truly a great insult to an artist who contributes large quantities of his blood, sweat, tears and brain matter into crafting this hip-hop song, only for his efforts to be dismissed out of hand. It is akin to telling John Grisham that you love his new novel, it has a nice font.

Sure there are some MCs who co-produce or even make their own beats entirely from scratch. But not only are they the minority, but they too would love their lyrical input to be given its due respect. So please people, learn the difference between genuine praise and a backhanded compliment. Otherwise you might receive a complimentary backhand from your favourite MC.

Advertisements

Klarity Anthem Decoded

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Good day to you all! Hope that all of you thoroughly enjoyed being made fools of in various ways on April 1st. Nobody tried anything on me. I almost feel hurt…

Anyway, swiftly moving along. I have been informed in no uncertain terms that I must make a regular habit of deciphering my lyrics and elaborating on my thought process as I put pen to pad (oba finger to keyboard). Seeing as Klarity Anthem and Competition is Dead are my two recent and popular appearances on radio, they are the immediate candidates for dissection. I often enjoy following chronological order and so Klarity Anthem is up first. The verse is as follows…

First off, fu** you, pay me. Metaphors/
Coming, I should charge like bulls do matadors/
Smack a whore too, if she ain’t bringing me my money/
Get a whore’s (horse) head in your bed. Ha! It ain’t funny/
Leave you all dead. What I said?  We ain’t good guys/
We’re the Goodfellas, Klarity, choking you with hood ties/
Goodbye! If you hear us calling you out/
We’re the Mafia, the ones Bukenya warned you about/
No one’s flowing like I, I got all the nice lines/
Fun with more than tight rhymes, we can always find time/
Running organised crime, on the phone. I’m Corleone/
So my consigliere,  can see y’all buried/
You leave the bar broke, boom! I leave your car smoked/
All you see is a smile and a puff of cigar smoke/
I’m the boss of mobsters, we worse than monsters/
Klarity, K’la City’s Cosa Nostra!

Klarity Anthem is about The Mith, Lyrikal Proof and Enygma joining forces to set up a record label called Klarity Records. We want to revitalise the way rappers in Uganda go about being MCs from writing to recording to shooting videos to promoting and marketing. So we took the angle of this being a new dawn and we are like a Mafia of sorts coming in to take over the game.

This verse was all about being in the mindset of a Mafioso. I wanted to paint the character of a gangster who’s life is all about profiting from the criminal underworld. We’ve all seen movies like Casino, Godfather, Goodfellas, etc.. I drew on such movies and books for inspiration. I had to, since in real life I don’t actually work for the Mafia.

Now, to examine the lines a little more closely…

First off, fu** you, pay me. Metaphors/
This is based on a famous line from Goodfellas. The narrator explains the merciless nature in which a gangster demands his debts. “…Now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fu** you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fu** you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fu** you, pay me!”

In a similar vein, I start off the verse by showing the listener that with my gangster mentality, all I care about is getting paid by all means necessary and I don’t care about you or whatever problems you have. Also to have a swear word thrown in at the very start of the verse, startles the listener to attention. It establishes from the very beginning that you are dealing with a thug, a corrupt individual.

Coming, I should charge like bulls do matadors/
Most of you are aware that Matadors are Spanish bull fighters. Bullfighting is a sport/performance art where the Matador taunts the bull to charge at him as he attacks it with a sword or long dagger with the aim of killing it. While avoiding death himself. So I apply simple wordplay here of charging money to hear my murderous metaphors like a bull charges when attempting to kill a bullfighter.

Youre doing it wrong.

Smack a whore too, if she ain’t bringing me my money/
Along with gunrunning, gambling and drug trade, Mafiosi are also well known for controlling prostitution. Many have heard of a “Pimp Hand,” which describes the way a pimp will smack a hooker if she misbehaves. Especially if she does not earn enough money for him. This line is important to me for 4 reasons. 1) I liked the rhyme pattern of metaphors/matador/smack a whore. 2) A reminder that like the music industry, the life as a Mafioso is not as glamorous as it is often portrayed. 3) As a sly punchline which so far no one seems to have noticed. This sentence reconnects with the first line where I say “Fu** you, pay me.”  4) Also this is a set up for another punchline I was about to deliver in the next bar.

Get a whore’s (horse) head in your bed. Ha! It ain’t funny/
Probably the most famous scene in the Godfather involves a horse’s head. In the story, The Godfather (Don Corleone) had godson who was a famous singer/actor and needed the Don’s help in landing an important movie role. The Godfather sends his consigliere (advisor and third in command) to persuade the head of the studio. The studio head declares that he will never give the godson the role because he had previously slept with a young starlet and ruined her career. The starlet also happened to be the studio bosses side dish, so his nugu was genuine. However, the next morning, the studio boss wakes up and feels something wet in his bed. He pulls at the sheets to discover a pool of blood in the bed and the severed head of his prized asset, a $600,000 horse. The studio boss was a wealthy man, but if people can defeat his security to butcher his horse and place the head in his bed while he slept, then the next time it may be his head that is removed. He immediately agreed to give the movie role to Don Corleone’s godson.

Drink responsibly. You never know who you might wake up with.

I reference this story in this line for two reasons. First is the absolute menace of the act. It is delightfully diabolical and just the type of evil I wanted to depict my character as being capable of committing. Secondly, is the punchline continued from the previous line relating to the prostitute who isn’t bringing in enough cash. I’m talking to a potential customer who can bring in revenue by getting head from this hooker in bed. And whore’s head sounds like horse head, which is a symbol of the lengths I go to get what I want. That’s why, much as one may be tempted to laugh at the punchline, it isn’t a funny situation to be in. Once again, one can apply the mantra “Fu** you, pay me.”

Leave you all dead. What I said?  We ain’t good guys/
We’re the Goodfellas, Klarity, choking you with hood ties/
Here I am re-affirming my nefarious ways. Reminding you that from all I’ve said in the verse, you can tell you’re not dealing with good guys, but Goodfellas, like the movie. There’s also another double entendre here where I say “choking you with hood ties.” This has two meanings in that my hood connections will squeeze you out, make you suffocate, by either spoiling your business or if necessary having these affiliates actually kill you. The other meaning is actually choking you to death with a neck tie.

I have good noose and bad news.

Goodbye! If you hear us calling you out/
If we have decided to confront you, it’s curtains. You cannot survive.

We’re the Mafia, the ones Bukenya warned you about/
There was a time when our Vice President Bukenya was in the tabloids every single day for the wrong reasons. It was clear there was a targetted smear campaign against him to destroy his credibility and standing in his political party and in front of the electorate. He often defended himself by saying that stories about him in the tabloids were all untrue and that this scandals were engineered by the Mafia who secretly control Ugandan and are determined to finish his career.

No one’s flowing like I, I got all the nice lines/
Fun with more than tight rhymes, we can always find time/
Running organised crime, on the phone. I’m Corleone/
These bars exhibit what we in the industry refer to as a multi-syllable rhyme scheme. Any primary kid can rhyme fat, bat, cat. Eat, beat, seat. Rhyming on syllable is a piece of cake. But taking on 2, or 3 or 4 syllables at a time is a little more challenging. Someone who only reads the lyrics may not be convinced, but when it’s heard, the pattern is apparent. I also use this opportunity to paint a picture of being a boss like Corleone and does not need to get his hands dirty, he can conduct all his evil deeds over the phone.

So my consigliere,  can see y’all buried/
Earlier I mentioned that a consigliere is an advisor to the Godfather and normally third in command in the hierarchy. So I am showing my level of power and superiority that I can have such a high ranking officer doing my dirty work. I also liked the 5 syllable rhyme pattern of consigliere/can see y’all buried.

You leave the bar broke, boom! I leave your car smoked/
All you see is a smile and a puff of cigar smoke/
I was just having fun here painting a vivid picture of how I will have my enemy disposed of. The unsuspecting target is stumbling out of a bar after drinking till he emptied his wallet. He gets to his car and turns the key in the ignition and like in all good gangster movies, that action must be followed by a dramatic explosion!

I’m the boss of mobsters, we worse than monsters/
Klarity, K’la City’s Cosa Nostra!
The Cosa Nostra is the other name for The Mafia.

And there you have it. Those were the odd thoughts that zigzagged through my brain as I wrote my verse for Klarity Anthem. Hope you enjoyed it, let me know what you think in the comments section below. In the meantime, you can listen to the track via YouTube here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex-VRuhDAnY