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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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How to Ruin Your Rap Album
Friday, October 05, 2007

I listen to a lot of rap albums, far too many most would say, but that’s part of the job. Usually I have more albums on my desk than there are hours in the day, but thankfully some artists have found ways to make sure they don’t get a full listen, or in some cases, any listen at all. For those aspiring rappers out there wondering what makes an album terrible here are some ways to guarantee your album never gets listened to by yours truly.

Make an intro that insults me – There’s nothing I like more than being referred to as “all ya’ll niggas and bitches” or lumped into the category of “motherfuckers.” That really brightens my day and makes me want to listen to you more. Seriously, what do you think you stand to gain by insulting the listener? These are, for the most part, people who have paid money to hear you and the first thing you’re saying to them, your actual introduction, is “thanks for buying my album you stupid shitface.” If you walked into a restaurant with a date and the waiter came up to your table saying “welcome all ya’ll muthafuckin niggas and bitches. I’m here now! What the fuck do ya’ll want?” would you be inclined to eat there? Same rule applies for your album. If you’re going to make an intro, don’t start off our listening experience with an insult.

Show me how gangsta you are – Nothing impresses me more than hearing about how many people you’ve robbed and/or shot. It makes me respect you more as a man. Ugh. In actuality if you’re a rapper talking about being a gangster and doing gangster things you probably fall into one of two categories, poser or moron, because if you’re talking about it but haven’t really done it you’re nothing more than a poser and if you’re talking about and you’ve really done it you’re a complete moron for giving the courts exhibit A. A little machismo is OK, but waving your gun on every track is just straight up wack.

Tell me how awesome you are with the ladies – Can anything possibly inspire me more than hearing some rich asshole with big platinum chains around his neck talk about how he gets laid all the time? Please, devote more of your record to making me feel sexually inadequate, it’s just oh so inspiring hearing about someone else’s sexual conquests while striking out at the club.

Remind me that you're better than I am – You have a rap album, so clearly there are a list of reasons why you’re better than me, please take all the time you want to fill me in on those reasons in rhyme form. Dedicate multiple songs to how great you are and how nothing I am. Now, I’m not trying to crush your ego here, but Amir Sulaiman said it best when I interviewed him this summer, “I started to feel kind of silly that the main focus of my art was just about how dope I am. I’m so this that and such and such, and all the metaphors and similes and all the poetic devices I was choosing were really all just creative ways to say that I’m better than you. I thought to myself I don’t really talk like that in real life, I don’t meet people and say I’m better than you and these are the reasons why.” Do you talk like that in real life? If not, don’t rhyme like that on your records.

Explain how you’re going to teach me something – Very little is as irritating as hearing a rapper tell me about how they’re going to open my eyes to reality. I live in reality. Stop being pretentious and just say what you want to say. If I wanted to be preached to I go to house of worship, or a high school.

Get high and record an interlude – Oh I know you think everything you say when you’re high is really funny, but it’s not. In fact, none of it is unless the listener is also high and perhaps sitting right next to you at the time of the recording. More and more albums have the “I’m so stoned” interludes, or interludes that revolve around weed. They're tired, they're cliché and nobody really enjoys them except the people on the record who are actually high. Save us the 90 seconds of our lives and ditch the pothead routine. There is only one Cheech and Chong and you, my friend, are neither.

Make up a dance or catchphrase and use it constantly – Have a favorite word? Scream it in the back of every track, or even better, dedicate an entire song to it. Also, if you have a dumb dance that goes with your music, again, dedicate a song to it. We all know how well D4L and Webstar did after “Laffy Taffy” and “Chicken Noodle Soup." Clearly this is the path to greatness.

OK, there you have it, seven surefire ways to get your album thrown into the circular file. A special shout out to all those artists who’ve made my job easier by doing one or more of these things, you are the true heroes of my world.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:51 AM  
  • At 1:40 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    You forgot my favorite Adam - brag on how big the rims on your car are constantly. After all if you've got it flaunt it and if you don't have it flaunt it even more.

  • At 4:04 PM, Blogger Homeboy Sandman said…

    sadly enough, you could just change the title of this to "how to make a rap album that sounds like most of the commercially successful ones" and you wouldn't have to change any of the text.

  • At 4:05 AM, Blogger Edward said…

    Just curious, what rap albums do you actually rate?

    All the best rap i listen too has people harping on about how gangster they are. Big L, Kool G Rap, Slick Rick, Dr. Dre, Eminem, NWA, just to name a few...

    these guys ALL do half of the stuff you mentioned in your list. And theyre all classic. So i'd have to completely disagree with you.

  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks for all the comments, and Edward, to address your question, I think the artists you listed are fantastic and agree with you that they're classic, but I don't think the majority of their work falls into the categories I listed. NWA was never gangster for the sake of being gangster. I just heard Dopeman on the radio the other day (Old School at Noon) and although the topic matter is harsh I don't feel it falls into any of the trappings listed above. Of course, that's just my opinion, others are free to disagree.

  • At 8:34 PM, Blogger Lady Chavez and Fluffgirl said…

    we really like to hear the ones about "baking cakes" all day and "shoveling snow" while the "ho drops her ass to the flo"

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