Another more contemporary rapper that I’ll place into this category is the infamous Russ. Why would I do that you ask? Because this grown ass baby is delusional. Russ has been garnering well-deserved attention for his music recently. I don’t deny that his music is decent at best. What I take issue with is his constant whining and paranoia about the rap industry which sadly makes up the bulk of his buzz right now. We get it, Russ. The rap industry is cutthroat. This is not breaking news considering almost every rapper that has ever lived has made a song detailing exactly that point. But you’re special because you’ve been doing the majority of your career “solo” which gives you the right to call others out. No sorry, I don’t think it works like that. The saddest part about Russ is that he truly believes he’s both a victim of an unfair system and that he’s the greatest rapper alive, able to sell out any show without a label. The combination makes him seem just as deluded as B.O.B, fighting for attention by saying dumb shit to cover up mediocre music; something you should always look out for when assembling your next playlist.
Now here is where I might get in trouble because you can probably guess who I’m mentioning next. Jaden Smith. I like his music. That being said I have to call him out for his ridiculousness. Jaden Smith is 20 years old. He is not an Icon living. One look at Jaden’s Twitter says it all. The kid’s mental is trapped in another dimension. That, in itself, isn’t a problem but when you try to convert your audience to the vegan hippy lifestyle before you can legally drink, it just makes you sound pretentious. Honestly, I think Jaden has the potential to be an Icon and some of the members he’s recruited to the MSFT’s label, which I’ll talk about soon, are definite artists to watch out for. But right now, in 2018, all Jaden sounds like is a privileged hipster trying to save the world. His favorite superhero is Batman which he emulates in several songs, but Jaden Smith is a young Bruce Wayne without the trauma and training: A spoiled kid with a savior complex. Teo, another member of the Justice League of Misfits, is one of my favorite up and coming artists out there right now. His vocals are so distinct and coupled with his quality flow, he really is worth a listen. It’s truly unfortunate when he decides to blend in philosophical debate into his lyrics. I don’t have a problem with talking about this stuff but when people are out here just trying to survive each day and you’re on some undisclosed island reprimanding me for eating processed foods, you just sound like your discount Batman teammate. Pretentious.
Kendrick Lamar made a song called Mortal Man where he interviews Tupac. He wanted so badly to speak to one of his greatest influences that he pieced together dialogue from past interviews Tupac did and created one of the most heartwarming experiences I’ve ever heard. Instead of just telling us what to do or what to believe, Kendrick Lamar has shown us his struggle through stories like Good Kid Maad City. He does not pretend to be omnipotent or an Icon, his actions, and recollection of his experiences make him an Icon. That is a “woke” rapper. The whole concept of wokeness diminishes the struggle of the everyday man and woman which is what rap music excels and portraying. Slaves had to wake up because they had no choice just like many shackled by poverty today. The distinction shouldn’t be focused on enlightenment but what you plan to do with that knowledge. Rapping about getting rich is a common trend abused by many a rapper because their poor fans eat that up. Give a fan a lyric about ghost riding the whip or what he should believe in and you’ll give him something to think about and forget. Give a fan the story of your come up from nothing to now and you inspire fans to dream bigger.