BOB: bombs away.
The worst thing about indie-rap is indie-rappers. And while OTD would love to see a well-reasoned, rational debate about how hip-hop's relentless emphasis on floss and coke-slinging is killing the hood and how gangster-rap is genocide, we don't really want to listen to that mess on a record. Ain't saying it can't be done well, just saying that it mostly comes out like a Ladies Christian Temperance Union meeting set to music -- shit's like bringing a screwdriver to a mortar fight. The lack of a commercial alternative to mainstream hip-hop has less to do with resistance to the message -- we all know the messengers have got a point -- than with the inability of backpackers to drum up a resistance anthem that's as club-droppable as the competition. You can count the dudes on one hand who can raise up against the street's formula without instantly deep-sixing their street cred. It's about the music, stupid.
Maybe there's other reasons why it just feels really great to come across something like B.O.B.'s "Gangsta," a song that severs drug-rap's head from its corpse so cleanly -- and by using the genre's underlying thug-treaded whallop against it, no less. (Think 50's "Wanksta," the MENSA remix.) You've heard B.O.B.'s critique of consumer gangsterism before, from a million well-intentioned, no-talent hacks, but you've rarely heard it sing like this and hit all the right notes. It helps that on a freakometric scale of one to Slick Rick, B.O.B. is somewhere around an (Andre) 3000: although he claims the B.O.B. stands for Bring One Blunt and Books Over Bullets, his flow here makes it pretty clear he's studied that "Bombs Over Baghdad" number. He's the latest ATL signing to Atlantic -- brought there by the same TJ (TJSDJS) Chapman who launched the careers of T-Pain, David Banner, and Rick Ross -- and you can see why, with a charismatic conviction that echoes the laidback, everydude slouch of Lupe Fiasco and the pre-"Bush Don't Like Black People" Kanye West. He's of the streets but not beholden to them: "You can't see the hood on MySpace," he warns message-board pretenders, effortlessly positioning himself as a wedge between rappers who are digitally savvy enough to sweat social networking (see the new remix of C-Side's "MySpace Freak," now reeking of snap music and Jazze Pha) and the skeptics who know better. But "Gangsta" also feels left-field coming from a guy whose only other hits waxed novelty-ish: he was the producer of Citty's "Cookie Man" and his solo sleeper "Cloud 9" is sort of like a post-Return to Cookie Mountain version of an Afroman record. Just lucky? Don't think so. We also just came across "Haterz Everywhere," where Orlando's Wes Fif and B.O.B. shout out libraries on a track that hijacks Timbo/Timba's "My Love" synths to rain durrty hi-hat skittery on their enemies' parades. Bombs away.
DOWNLOAD: B.O.B., "Gangsta" (mp3)
DOWNLOAD: WesFif and B.O.B., "Haterz Everywhere" (mp3)
DOWNLOAD: C-Side feat. Jazze Pha, "MySpace Freak (Remix)" (mp3)
While we're at it, this T-Pain joint is ridiculous: sounds like one of those flurfy Inspector Gadget-referencing party tracks you normally have to embarass yourself by buying an Eminem or Ludcacris album to cop. Here's a revolutionary concept: FUN. Have some.
DOWNLOAD: T-Pain, "Mr. Dountoun" (mp3) (via this blog)
Not to be confused with the Chicago juke revival that's been sweeping the message boards, Tampa Tony brings Florida back to the map: beat is less like "Bobbahead" and sorta like that Ali & Gipp "Go Head" tune on Red Bull, and the siren is strictly for our chicken soup people.
DOWNLOAD: Tampa Tony, "Can't Jook Without Me" (mp3)