"Gucci Mane, recently released from prison for the umpteenth time, sounds no worse for wear here, managing impressive nimbleness with his mealy mouth. He has more gears than most rappers do, a versatile stylist with nothing so old-fashioned as a commitment to structure and the integrity of words. He prefers sounds."
—Awl pal Jon Caramanica's review of the new Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame album in today's Times brings up a good point about rap. There are important elements to it other than the lyrics. Sometimes these other elements get overlooked. This is the case with Hua Hsu's review of the new Jay-Z and Kanye West album. Hsu writes a lot about the album's thematic subject matter, and how the album's existence represents a current trend of collaboration over conflict in hip-hop, and he places all this in the context of today's socioeconomic climate. And he does so thoughtfully and eloquently (and, like two seconds after the thing came out, too.) But the music, or even the sound of the rappers' voices, goes unmentioned. "What makes hip-hop such a durable form is its capacity to scramble fiction and fact," Hsu writes, "the artifice and the realities that art conceals or amplifies become one." That's not all that makes it so durable. Dope beats play a big part too. And killer flows. Rap albums aren't position papers; they're more than that.
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011