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Volume 72, Issue 62, Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Life & Arts

The Rap on Hip-Hop

Life & Arts contributors Eli Jabbe and Dante Eglin discuss pertinent issues in the world of hip-hop culture today.Jay-Z fuels quarrel with Dipsetís Jones.

Dante Eglin: After months of dodging continuous public disses from The Diplomats, Jay-Z finally spoke on the beef with Dipset capo Jim Jones in an interview with DJ Funkmaster Flex on New Yorkís Hot 97 radio station. "(If) weíre looking at it as far as career accomplishments or we looking at it as far as lyrical skill Ö thatís like the ninth man off the bench sitting there shoutiní Ďyou a bumí to the superstar on court puttiní up 50 every night. Ö Does he have a classic album? No. Is he on anybodyís top 10 list? No. Does he have any hardware on his wall? No. So who is that guy to say anything about me?" Jay-Z said. Given Jayís career accomplishments and the strength of the Dipset movement, whoís in the right on this one?

Eli Jabbe: I like the Dips and enjoy their music, but "movement" should be used loosely. Even Jim himself has been vague in defining the so-called movement. Itís cool that they make unique music, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew by taking on two of hip-hopís all-time greatest heavyweights in Shawn Carter and Nasir Jones. Jay has already responded to the Dips on "Dig a Hole" from his coming album Kingdom Come and itís only a matter of time before the whole Purple City crew ends up ethered by Nas.

Eglin: In a sense, Jayís argument is off base when bringing up career achievements. Record sales or critical acclaim will never secure a spot at the forefront of the rap scene. MC Hammer sold countless records to suburban teens in the early 1990s and Masta Ace has put out many albums praised by critics, but shunned by the masses. Whether Jay-Z respects Cam or Jimmy, The Diplomats have had quite a strong fan base over the past four years. In fact, the movement has been so robust that the demand for their music has lead to massive bootlegging of every Dipset release, hence the lack of official album sales.

Jabbe: The Dips have a stranglehold on message-board fans (or stans) nationwide, but Camíron deserves credit for standing out on tracks such as "Banned from T.V." way back in 1998. Jim Jones has definitely taken a page from 50 Centís playbook by randomly dissing any rapper from NYC, from Fat Joe to Jadakiss, in order to boost record sales.

Eglin: Speaking of Interscope Jackson, last week The Game released a 12-minute remix to "One Blood", with 24 different MCís taking a turn on the mic for eight bars. Along with several southern stalwarts and prominent West Coast veterans, the track also features notable appearances from Jim Jones, Nas, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Styles P, and returning from the back of local milk cartons, Ja Rule. This is the most definitive anti-G-Unit track since Gameís scintillating "300 Bars and Runnin.'"

Jabbe: It was refreshing to hear rappers from various regions. Posse cuts are always welcome, but this one transcends the normal mass-appearance track. It shows that The Game has attained major clout within the industry and 50 likely never anticipated Jayceon to succeed without any G-Unit affiliation.

Eglin: The Game has potential to do great things, but for him, humility is a game of hide-and-seek. His arrogance and braggadocio not only led to his ouster from the Gorilla Unit roster, but also left his album devoid of the namesake he shouts out over 30 times, producer and Aftermath founder Dr. Dre. Itís reasonable to assume that life after 50 has great possibilities, but the absence of Dre, who was crucial to the success of Gameís debut album The Documentary, solidly stamps The Doctorís Advocate with sophomore-slump status.

Jabbe: They donít call him "Interscope" Jackson for no reason. Strangely, part of the reason Gameís album still has a Dr. Dre-esque sound is due to the majority of production being modeled to emulate Dreís distinct backdrops, achieved by enlisting versatile producers such as Dreís protégé Scott Storch, Just Blaze and J.R. Rotem. Instead of constructing The Doctorís Advocate, Game ultimately is left with "The Surgeonís Sponsor."

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