Do You Really Wanna Be Famous?

Like many people around my age who didn’t grow up in the five boroughs of New York City, rap pretty much got on my radar when I heard “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang on the radio. Some people may argue that Fatback Band’s “King Tim III (Personality Jock) was the first rap record on wax. No matter, it’s the Sugarhill Gang that sticks out pretty clearly in my memory. And while there has been a lot of shade thrown that song’s way over the years, like it or not, it is the way many of us became aware of rap.

I always like to tell people that back then in the stone age, one rap record had to make do for months before the next one came along. That wasn’t necessarily true, but it sure seemed like it was. And in those early days, you were always going to the record store to see what was new in the racks, if you had heard something new either on the radio or if you knew a guy that would DJ at parties. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Sequence (the first female rappers of note), The Treacherous Three, Funky Four + 1 More, Afrika Bambaataa & The Jazzy 5, Spoonie Gee, Kurtis Blow…these were among the names that I grew up with as rap dawned on an unsuspecting public.

I don’t listen to a lot of current rap music; it just doesn’t move me as much as it used to. Through the early 2000’s, I was if not deep into rap, I was at least more aware of it. But somewhere along the way, I left it behind and it just didn’t figure into my listening plans as much as it once did. Maybe the songs just weren’t as good. Maybe the rappers themselves just didn’t sound as good. Maybe I was tired of the same old “money, drugs, sex and hoes” narrative that was being served up in song after song. There were a few people I was checking for: Nas, Jay-Z, and some others. But it really wasn’t the same. (That whole “distancing myself from rap” theme could be another post).

During one of my Spotify excursions (or maybe it was on the Discover Weekly playlist), back in 2014 right after I moved, I heard today’s Morning Groove and was instantly grabbed by this rapper’s style and the music. His name was Logic, and his “Buried Alive” is today’s Morning Groove. Please note: this song is NSFW; there are a few choice expletives in the song.

I will say that Logic is one of the few rappers that I will listen to today, because his lyrics aren’t all about that narrative that I described. It also helps that I can understand most of the lyrics too. But the production was top notch on his debut album Under Pressure, which was one of the very few rap albums I played more than once. I love Eminem, but his latest Marshall Mathers LP 2 album I think I might have gotten through once, whereas the Recovery album I played a ton. Sometimes, Eminem’s style sounds like he’s yelling at me…but I get it. It’s that style that made him who he is. Logic sounds nothing like that to me.

The rapper, whose government name is Sir Robert Bryson Hall III, is actually from Gaithersburg, Maryland. He has been on the rise since a series of mixtapes were released since 2010. According to Wikipedia (yeah, take it or leave it), he and G-Eazy are to headline a tour starting in late June, so if you want to check him out, look to see if he is coming near you.

Since this week has unofficially been “shout out fellow bloggers who have inspired the Morning Groove” week, I’m going to cite the inspiration for this post: my buddy Lisa A. from the Life Of An El Paso Woman blog. She sent me the link to this song from YouTube when she heard it and asked if I knew it. I told her that I had already heard it and that he was from Maryland. From there, she suggested that I feature music from local artists here. And she also said that if I didn’t feature this song, she would! So I guess I beat her to the punch. In addition to Lisa A., thanks go out to Chevvy (Incognito & Maysa Leak), Lennon Carlyle (Tom Tom Club) and Gwin (Black Alley/Go-Go) for their inspiration this week.

If you play it, I hope you enjoy it. And as always, thanks for reading and listening.

29 Replies to “Do You Really Wanna Be Famous?”

  1. It’s the lazy approach to development coupled with the narrative you so aptly describe that turned me off the majority of rap you hear these days. The beats, the pacing, the tone…it’s all the same it seems. Granted, rap groups back in “our” day sampled the same songs over and over, but they changed up the arrangements just enough to set themselves apart.

    I long for the days when rap was a call to learn, to question the status quo and to rise above (Poor Righteous Teachers, KRS-One, Tribe Called Quest,Queen Latifah, etc.) or was just plain fun and would get you on the dance floor (Sugar Hill Gang, Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, KLF, Mony Love, Cosmic DJs, etc.).

    It’s good having a 20-something living in the house (for the most part, will be glad when she gets on with her life, lol…but that’s a different comment for a different post) because she introduces me to performers like Logic. Her favs are Lupe Fiasco, who I think fits in with Logic, Example (Brittish), Travie McCoy…all of them have a unique sound I think when compared to what you’re hearing on mainstream channels.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for this comment; I totally agree with everything you say. Mainstream rap just doesn’t do it for me. I do find that a lot of rap artists that are in the underground or those that aren’t being played to death by radio appeal more to me, but even there that same tired narrative can be found in large doses.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Isn’t that usually how it goes though? We have to dig to find the fringe artists, the ones who struggle to gain any air play in order to hear the most innovative work. I remember The Neo Soul movement was also an underground deal until vocalists like Angie Stone, Eryka Badu and co. finally got some air play. Today, it’s Jonelle Monae and most recently, Andra Day who have phenomenal voices and very unique sounds / looks who but of course are slow to get the recognition they deserve having been over shadowed by the Beyonce’s of the world.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes it is how it goes. That is why I am thankful for websites like Soul Tracks and SoulBounce for telling about artists I might not otherwise be aware of. That also includes music podcasts as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Tracy! Lol I wasn’t going to steal it from you! Well maybe I would’ve before you said he was from your area. I wonder if he came to El Paso with G-Eazy. He was here last month. Lol I thought it was Young Jeezy! I agree with you on rap these days. A lot of it is crap. I started to really like it when Tupac and Dre came into the picture…Biggie as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Life of an El Paso Woman and commented:
    Another great post by Tracy! I discovered his Morning Groove song a couple of weeks ago on YouTube. I thought about including it on my blog. Once Tracy told me it was from a rapper in Maryland, I said nah hopefully you’ll include it. Logic reminds me a little bit of Drake but with a different sound! Check out/follow Tracy’s blog if you aren’t already!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Tracy. I can’t say that I’m a big rap fan but your morning groove was good to listen to. Like you, I use the Sugar hill gang as my benchmark. So with that said – let me see you dance as I’m doing right now! And thanks for the shout out my friend:-)

    And then to cool down !

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey Twin, Thanks for the shout out!

    I just typed this already once, I don’t know what happened so if it comes up twice just delete the duplicate 😦

    Anyway, I had commented that I really like this guy. He’s kinda Drake-esque with a hint of Kendrick Lamar when he speeds it up.

    Sometimes, I feel like I am reading something that I wrote when I read your stuff. Like you, I stopped listening to rap ; save a few folks here and there.

    Right now (and I mean in the late 2000’s) I do like this kid named Curren$y out of NOLA. He does NOT have the typical Young Money kinda flow. If you didn’t know any better, you would think he was East coast. I live for his song “Under the Scope.” This kid was clearly raised in a house with good music because the samples that he uses are bananas! Of course, like the rest of them he can be fouled mouth, but not so much that I have to turn it off.

    If you have not already, please go listen to Curren$y’s “Under the Scope.” I think there’s a clean version. Let me know what you think! I am willing to bet you will like it–how do I know? Because you are my twin!

    BTW You know I like Kendrick Lamar but I do want to wash his mouth out with soap sometimes!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. In reverse:

    All hail Kendrick Lamar! He is one of the few current MCs I do pay attention to, along with Logic, Big K.R.I.T., Oddissee, Substantial (the last two I believe are from DC and MD, respectively) and a couple others.

    Checked out the Curren$y track; I do like it. Hadn’t heard that one before, so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for his music from now on.

    You’re welcome for the shout out! This turned into one of those weeks where I found inspiration in others’ posts for mine, so I have to give credit where credit is due. And I liked that the music was all over the place, though firmly rooted in R&B, today’s song sort of excluded of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree. Today’s rap is garbage. It sounds all the same. Gone are the days of story telling, now it’s all about commercial success. I will say though that Kendrick Lamar’s is the exception. I can listen to his albums all day and consider them soon to be classics.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I never heard of Logic. Thanks for posting. I am a Kendrick Lamar fan too. I wasn’t until I sat down and listened to his music. Rap is not the same, but we know that it is more about the record labels making money than the true lyricist.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yep. It’s about them trying to make money and not music. We have to get back to true hip-hop creativity. I mean let’s be real…the east coast/west coast beef allowed many to shine with true lyrical skills.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, the art of storytelling has taken a back seat to what we hear now on the radio. If they want to recycle a theme in rap, how about we take it all the way back to who was the best MC’s and leave that current narrative in the dust? LOL

        Liked by 1 person

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