Written by H.L. of Lattisaw Tapes.
The American bow-chika-bow-wow barter industry has always traditionally been defined as a triangle offense helmed by flesh-peddlers, prostitutes, and whoremongers. Rappers have been sponging pimp culture for decades, but initially, the tricks that funded sex rackets were rarely acknowledged by rappers outside of disparaging contexts. In his introspective memoir, My Infamous Life, gangster rap legend Albert “Prodigy” Johnson reflects on his aversion and disgust for those willing to pay for play back in the mid-90’s. “My niggas and I were never into giving our money to strippers or getting lap dances,” Mobb Deep’s former frontman explains. “I always looked at dudes who did that like they were herbs, suckers, or cornballs.”
Prodigy’s narrow minded money-over-bitches ideology was once almost universally accepted as hip-hop doctrine. But a succession of groundbreaking trick anthems – most notably T-Pain’s ‘I’m In Love With a Stripper’ and T.I.’s ‘Whatever You Like’ – have prompted several recording artists to portray johns as power players flexing their financial leverage rather than inherently weak-minded individuals.
Cleopatra Armstrong, a 27-year-old seasoned hooker working out of an extended stay lodge in one of Maryland’s wealthiest counties, is weary of Prodigy’s unflattering depiction of her consumer base. “My clientele comes from all walks of life,” she assures. “It’s not about being a cornball, or whatever. Men want pussy and they’re willing to pay for it. Bottom line. I mean, what’s so lame about that?!”
Cleo springs from the edge of the mattress and slumps back on a mountain of pillows shrouding the headboard. Her breasts are immoderately rotund in proportion to her delicate frame, rendering the loose satin gown dangling from her narrow shoulders practically useless. She reaches toward the nightstand for a stubby bottle of sparkling water and washes down a pill before resuming her rant. “Technically, I really don’t know any of the guys that [filter] through here. There are no [reoccurring] faces. And it damn sure ain’t no pillow talk like you see in the movies. That’s not what they’re paying for.”
Cleo’s sentiment is echoed throughout Lil B’s ‘Pay 4 Pussy’ – easily one of the more brazen examples of unabashed trickery in rap history. Brandon makes no qualms about his obsession with vaginal commerce. “I just want to buy a bitch with no strings attached,” he raps over the Bitch Mob paean. Lil B makes a convincing argument for his vice. More importantly, he draws a very clear distinction between simply exchanging money for sex and the conventional tricking lauded by the likes of T.I. and T-Pain. “I don’t trick off, but I’ll pay to fuck a bitch. No love is needed.” Lil B is effectively redefining the parameters of sexual deviance. He feels that paying “$30,000 for some head” is worth the convenience of not having to sacrifice time and concentration that would otherwise be devoted to churning out his unprecedented streak of bimonthly mixtapes.
After hearing Lil B’s aggressive elicitation for the first time, Cleo bears a sly grin. While appreciative of Based God’s honesty, she has a hard time believing his five-figure payouts are rooted in reality. “The going rate for quality bearded clam is anywhere between two and three hundred,” she affirms. “A bitch could retire off [Lil B’s] generosity.”
Action Bronson is another up-and-coming artist that frequently glorifies his exploits in the red light district. His writing usually leans on empty non sequitors of little to no consequence, but occasionally Bronson buckles down and musters a focused narrative. On Blue Chips, a collaborative album with fellow Queens-bred producer Party Supplies, he delivers the rough-hewn ‘Hookers At The Point’. The song captures a day in the life of the merchant, the merchandise, and the patron. Bronson’s budget is far more modest than his bay area counterpart, as he suggests that Danno, the protagonist in his third verse, scores an all-inclusive ticket to the “pussy safari” for thirty measly bucks. In the lead up to Danno’s transaction, Bronson tells of an impressionable teenager being abused and exploited by her pimp in an attempt to avenge her father’s missteps. According to Cleo, Bronson’s clichéd characterization is an outdated business model. “Pimps no longer exist in my world,” she says. “The internet killed the track star.”
While she obviously speaks from personal experience, the cold hard numbers appear to support Cleo’s theory as well. A recent independent study conducted by Dillard University has confirmed that the national pimp populous has collapsed nearly 70% since the dot-com bubble at the turn of the century. Due to the sheer convenience of the internet, street walkers have migrated indoors to escape inclement weather and perilous law enforcement. Once thriving strips have been reduced to barren tumbleweed depots. Cleo solicits her own services on an all-encompassing classified advertisement forum known as Backpage. “HI GUYS,” her profile reads. “LOTS OF FUN. SILKY SOFT SKIN. I’M READY WHEN YOU ARE!”
DJ Forreal (biological son and business partner of legendary producer Prince Paul) takes a comedic approach to the digital beaver bizarre on ‘Craigslist’, the standout from his erroneously titled Negroes On Ice album. The song finds Paul Junior scrolling through adult escort profiles in search of the ideal playmate. Cleo believes the truth is often said in jest. “This is an accurate description of most of the tricks I’ve come across,” she says while attempting to tame her oscillating bosom. “They’re harmless, decent people looking for love. Until they get dressed and go home. Buyers remorse we call it.” As rappers continue to find new and inventive ways to chronicle their trips to Harlotville that forgo self-deprecation, one could only hope it quells society’s judgmental side-eye toward prostitution.
Written by Andrew Winistorfer of Vinyl In Alphabetical.
Back when Lil Wayne was trying to make people forget his time riding the bench as, at best, the second most impressive Hot Boy, the Dedication mixtape series served an important function. It proved to non-believers that Weezy F. couldcrush beats that other rappers turned into hits, and that if he could only procure the same quality production as T.I., Snoop Dogg and State Property, his boasts of being the Best Rapper Alive would finally be validated. When people were outraged with Rebirth, it was only because Wayne once churned out mixtapes like Dedication 2.
So why go back to allowing DJ Drama to step all over his music, now that he’s indisputably the best-selling rapper on Earth? Mostly because the overzealous fanbase responsible for making Weezy that commercial monster aren’t on board with his new knee-high socking, skateboarding, autotuning, vapid punchlining persona, and Wayne knows that the imprimatur of the Dedication series implies that he won’t be doing songs like “Prom Queen” or “Popular,” and that it’s going to be free from the commercial shackles of Tha Carter series.
At least that’s what you’re lead to believe, as if the third installment of the series wasn’t the worst Lil Wayne album until Rebirth came along and made you forget that the codeined husk of Lil Wayne once did a mixtape that had five unconscionable Jae Millz features. If there’s a major selling point to Dedication 4, it’s that; at least it isn’t a repository for Jae Millz features.
But it’s not a return to Dedication 2, either. What possible function does being the 4,372nd rapper to “go in” over the “Mercy” beat serve Lil Wayne at this point? He certainly could have purchased the original if he wanted, right? Or at least not paid the producer properly and gotten sued at a later date. I can’t imagine that, while they were downloading this project, Weezy diehards were celebrating the opportunity to hear him deliver the yuckiest sex rhymes in recent memory over several Future tracks that were superior in their original forms. It is 2012, and Lil Wayne has trouble bodying a robot from Atlanta who happens to rap. It is 2012, and the best instrumental Lil Wayne can find to rap over is “Cashing Out.” It is 2012, and Lil Wayne has trouble besting a song by a 16-year-old orphan from Chicago. It’s 2012, and Lil Wayne isn’t even the Best Rapper Alive on his own vanity imprint.
The problem with Dedication 4 is Weezy himself. Where he used to use the Dedication series for his most gonzo freestyles — dealing with the overflow that was his mental rhymebook circa 2006 — for something like the seventh release, he seems tired, worn out, and out of anything approaching his mid ‘00s run as the legitimate Best Rapper Alive. Dedication 4 might have stolen the Egregious-Punchlines-Encroaching-My-Twitter-Feed title belt for roughly an hour after its release, but at best it exposes Lil Wayne as a sub-2 Chainz guffaw rapper. Suffering through this entire tape requires true dedication.
Written by H.L. of Lattisaw Tapes.
What a difference a year makes. Detroit’s once thriving local rap scene has regressed into a hub for Danny Brown’s incessant post-XXX banshee shrieks since Mayor Bing forfeited the backpacker pennant to New York City’s rejuvenated underground. Add that to Chicago recently usurping Motown as the media’s poster child for socioeconomic disparity, and that leaves very little else for the downtrodden city to hang their mitten on in 2012. The abrupt nose dive in notable artisty has finally left the door open for Big Sean to seize the reins as Detroit’s lone hiphop ambassador.
The prelude to Big Sean’s forthcoming sophomore album, appropriately titled Detroit, is overtly dedicated to his destitute hometown. At every opportunity he expounds on his longstanding love-hate relationship with the city. The mixtape’s introduction, ‘Higher’, condemns the West Side’s “fuck boi’ sidewinders” and their “feeble attempts to plumb Sean’s swerve,” while in the next breath encouraging his “Detroit players” to continue “peeling those avocados.” And therein lies the problem with Detroit: Big Sean only gives credence to haters and allies, turning a blind eye to the spectrum that exists between those opposite extremes. His limited worldview makes for a tedious listen and wears thin over the course of the entire tape.
Despite its glaring monotony, Detroit features some of Big Sean’s finest works to date. On ‘Wake Up’ he and his cohorts urge their adversaries to commit suicide over an 808 laden interpolation of ‘Hit ‘Em Up’. Mac Miller, under the guise of his alter-ego Early Mac, spits a scathing verse detailing the origins of Lord Finesse’s pending lawsuit. “While his corpse is fresh I’ll torch this sess, and tell you ‘bout this real life snitch named Lord Finesse,” Mac confesses, awkwardly cross-pollinating two completely different vitriolic Tupac records.
When Big Sean abandons his shallow persona during the tape’s brief introspective stretch, the results are less than favorable. ‘Selling Dreams’ is a mawkish open letter addressed to victims of domestic abuse. With the support of Chris Brown’s vocoder filtered wails, he offers a nameless young lady guidance through her wretched plight. “Girl you better duck and weave like Darkwing with extensions,” he suggests with an uncharacteristically stoic inflection. The change in tone is welcomed, but Sean seems uncomfortable as the vessel for any message that can’t be punctuated with a bouyant adlib.
Detroit is tied together with several interludes by Big Sean’s industry forebears offering their unique perspectives on the secret to longevity. Common, Young Jeezy, and Snoop Lion each explain their clumsy transitions from street life to corporate thuggery. “You wanna’ know why I changed my name nephew,” Snoop poses after taking an epic drag from an undisclosed substance. “It’s about progression and evolution nigga’. I came into this game barking, but I’mma’ leave out this muthafucka’ roaring! You feel me?” Which begs the question: Where exactly does Big Sean plan on going with this meandering effort other than the recycle bin?