Until I saw Eddie Murphy's remake of the movie Dolemite I never knew it was actually a movie. The original Dolemite premiered in 1975 and was classified as an American blaxploitation crime comedy. The main character Dolemite was originally played by Rudy Ray Moore, who was a comedian that had achieved commercial success through his comedy records that actually hit the top Billboard 25 charts. Riding the wave of his new found success Rudy Ray Moore decided to create a movie surrounding the polarizing figure that still lives on to this day. The film So popular was this characted that he even appeared on Snoop Dogg's verse on Nuthin' But A G Thang "Pimpin' hoes and clockin' a grip like my name was Dolemite". Snoop Dogg even had a small role in the movie. Some even credit Rudy May Moore with being the first to commercialize rap as the Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight dropped 2 years after Rudy Ray Moore's comedy album that used hip-hop cadences and inflections that align with early hip-hop. Many rappers have come told their story of how Dolemite has influenced their careers. This is the story of Dolemite!
The Orgin Story:
Every superhero has an origins story and Dolemite is no different. Rudy Ray Moore began as a local comedian and host still trying to find his style. It was not the local drunk came into a record store that he was the manger of that the idea of Dolemite came about. While trying to run the drunk out of his store he realized that the old drunk's wise tales and folklore were a hit with the people. This was just the act that Rudy Ray Moore needed to set his self apart. He then began traveling to local clubs performing. Get to the movie part. We will get there grasshopper.
It's Better to Bet On Yourself
When it comes to betting on yourself no one did it more than Rudy Ray Moore. His initial comedy album (Eat Out More Often) was recorded in his house and with the help of a loan from his aunt and friends who helped record the track. He then shopped it around and was turned down by everybody. But the streets don't lie. Rudy Ray Moore started selling the comedy records out of the trunk and the funny thing is those same people that turned him down were now looking for him. And he won big! A multi-album distribution deal was just one of the advantages that Rudy Ray Moore received from betting on himself. But it wouldn't be the last time he would. It was when he saw a movie and the impact of being on the big screen that he really saw an opportunity. And this one would cost him everything. Mainly fronting the royalties of his albums as well as future albums. This was pressure. But what he did was again bet on himself.
Even after making the movie the story wasn't over. Nobody wanted to buy it. Studio after studio turned down buying the movie. So what did he do? He rented out a movie theater and again bet on himself by promoting the movie showing himself. The movie theater sold out each showing. Of course this also meant that the same studio productions that had turned him down previously were calling. Even after getting the movie made movie critics trashed his movie before it's big premiere, and again it was sold out in movie theaters around the country. Maybe the movie wasn't this over budget action packed drama that movie critics like, but then again what do movie critics know. Dolemite was a hit that made a estimated 12 million.
Just think it all came from betting on yourself.
"Keys Open Doors". The legendary rap duo "The Clipse" rapped on their album Hell Hath No Fury. The cocaine metaphor of the selling of drugs opening doors to opportunities that only come with money was clever and been well established as their signature style. Pusha T and Malice, two brothers who were different, even though they both spoke about their drug dealing pasts, but it was their delivery and how they approached each record that couldn't be more different. Malice was the more reflective artists that saw the bad he had done to his community as something he hoped to one day be forgiven for. Pusha T on the other hand, wore his drug dealings past as a medal of honor, and a purple heart both representing his survival as well as his wounds healed from the necessary things that helped him become "King Push".
Anyone who is familiar with Pusha T's music knows that when it comes to skill and lyrical ability, Pusha T is a top emcee. But when it comes to lyrical content it can't be disputed that Pusha T's content is limited. He is a specialists, in basketball there are plenty of pure position players or "specialists". But what you find now with the game going in a different direction is that a specialists doesn't get as much game time as a multi-skilled player. Same thing with hip-hop. Nobody calls Pusha T when they want to put an artist on a record that will talk about building the community, or a club record, or even a hardcore lyrical hip-hop track. But when an artist wants to make a song about crack or selling drugs, it's gotta be King Push/Pusha T. This just happened on the release of Freddie Gibbs song "Palmolive".
This is that heroine flow at it's finest. But the self-proclaimed "King Push" has always been known for his dope metaphors and narcotics references. So much is Pusha T known for his drug lingo that there are sites that have charted this his use of drug references throughout his career.
According to a May 23, 2018 article by Ben Carter, Pusha T's as a lead artist references drugs over 20% of the time. This is staggering statistic seeing that an artist's solo album is supposed to be more personal and culturally relevant. And anyone that really sells work knows that crack don't move like it did in the 80s. I am not saying that Pusha T has to stop rapping about dope. But he should be more evolutionary in his topics and subject matter. Jay-Z is a great example of a braggadocios drug dealer turned family man and successfully "legal" entrepreneur. His album 4:44 is a major turnaround from the Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z. But if you look at the chart below Pusha T's drug references has only increased with time.
Remember also that these statistics were taken before his most recent album "Daytona" that featured a picture of Whitney Houston's bathroom littered with drugs and drug paraphernalia. The album even has a song called "Hard Piano" that features another former ex-dope boy "Rick Ross" that samples "High As Pie - Slice II by Charles Wright & The Watts 103 Rhythm Street Band". The title of the song is a double entendre referencing the hard hitting of the piano keys and the hard white that is a dope boys product. Again this is Pusha T at his best drug metaphors and double entendre's that the most skilled dope boy couldn't weigh up to.
So what's wrong with this prison that Pusha T has built? Nothing and at the same time EVERYTHING. Nothing because it's him maximizing on his strengths and going all in on them. He has a sense of self-awareness that has to be congratulated and I truly believe there is no rapper that can beat his Novocain flow. But everything is wrong with it because it shows no growth. It perpetuates an era that fewer and fewer can relate to. A generation that is becoming more and more aged out of hip-hop and are evolving or already dead. Ain't too many 35 year old and up D-boys. If there is, they choose the wrong business. This is why Pusha T's subject matter has to evolve. Like I stated earlier, there are examples. Jay-Z did. T.I. is becoming the next Malcolm X. Even Jeezy has evolved and talks about his community and uplifting his people. But as stated earlier, Pusha T built this prison. Some may argue he built it to his liking. But Pablo Escabor also built his own prison, and that was the start of his decline. Admittedly it would be dope if he did create a song called "La Catedral".
To sum it up. Pusha T can and will survive in the current climate of hip-hop. But it will never be because of his true talent, it will be because he will be seen as a niche' artist. His fan base will only put on his music when they want to feel like a dope boy. But is that where he wants his music to stop is the question? Like we said the crack era is over. Unless he's gonna start talking about meth his music will be niche' at best. Nostalgic at worst. And he's even made a track called "Nosetalgia" that whose title is a pun on nose+nostalgia, a double entrendre for your sense of smell that is linked to memory. In this case dope boy memories. Whether it be niche' or Nosetalgia, it's no doubt that he's King Push.
In hip-hop the line "Ima an 80's baby" has been shouted on track after track. Artists like Lil Wayne, Big K.R.I.T, and Drake have romanticized being apart of the 80s era. It was the era that truly defined music, as well as the beginning of hip-hop. That was then. Now it's 90s babies turn. And they have very different vision than their older predecessors. The division seems to start with whether you like Kanye West's album 808 & Heartbreaks, or if you thought this is when rap started to become too soft. What is also apparent is that this division is further separating the genre of hip-hop, and putting new school vs. old school. New versus old. Oldest vs youngest. But what about the Middle Child? The ones that are stuck between not being old enough to be considered old school, but also have been around long enough that they are no longer considered new school. This is the very subject that J. Cole has even tackling in his latest releases.
Rap beef is a dish best served cold. But what happens when this rap beef is served by a bully? Is it still a competition? Or is it a bully continuing to do the only thing that they know how to? Bully. Tory Lanez has started rap beefs in the recent years. Last years beef with Joyner Lucas proved that Lazez was capable of going at real emcees, and kept some rappers up at night from fear of being Lanez's next target. Now that Tory Lanez is calling rappers out and starting rap beef out of thin air. Is Tory Lanez now the bully? But what happens when the bully gets bodied?
Trae the Truth is one of the most respected rappers in the game. With H Town (Houston) on his back and the streets to hold him down Trae the Truth is a southern Hip-Hop legend that even the Drake's and Jay-Z's recognize as being one of the best. His quiet tone is matched by fast delivery that rivals rap spittas like Twista and E-40. But his willingness to give back to the hood has made him a staple in Houston music but more importantly in Houston culture. So it would be no surprise that Trae the Truth would be able to gather some of the dopest emcee's on one track. And as a fan he is able to get them all in one video. This is the power of Trae the Truth.
When it comes to a good story, the internet is undefeated. Whether it's comedy. tragedy, drama, or romance the internet has it all. It's the things movies are made of! And much like Michael Jackson's Thriller video the internet can be a horror movie. So what happens when the internet and the Thriller music video team? Another great #TwitterStory, told this time by comedian @roywoodjr. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and let's see what happens.
The internet was set a blaze when J. Cole, Jermaine, announced that he was releasing an album called KOD. This caused lots of speculation about what the meaning of the album truly meant. Did KOD stand for "Kids on Drugs"? Or is it "Killing or Demons"? Or better yet is it "King Over Dose"? The answer still open to interpretation and it seems to be the way J. Cole likes it.
Black Panther is undoubtable a classic when it comes to movies that are culturally impactful. The movie has won countless awards and has broken numerous records. But the true measure of how impactful this movie is, is still yet to be known. This undoubtedly puts a lot of pressure on the soundtrack to not just be a regular soundtrack, but a soundtrack guided by artists who themselves drive culture and influence. This is where the label TDE and most notably Kendrick Lamar comes into to play. Listening to the album there is no doubt that Kendrick has left his mark all over the album by appearing on 5 of the 13 songs on the soundtrack. But it falls short of having that one truly impactful track.
Super Bowl goals,
For Jay-Z it's the first bar that seems to prophesize the inevitable. A half-time performance at Super Bowl 52. Who would've guessed that after his wife performing at the previous Super Bowl that Jay-Z would be up next. The world's biggest stage with millions of eyes tuned in. For Hip-hop this would been a pivotal accomplishment in validating the genre's legitimacy and it's longevity. But as the lights dimmed and the music started to play, it became inevitably clear that this wasn't Hip-hop and it definitely wasn't Jay-Z. This was Justin Timberlake.
No truer words express the unattainable expectations that hip-hop has seen with the Grammy's more than the song 'Moonlight' by Jay-Z. The song itself talks about the movie "La La Land" being declared as the winner of "Best Picture" at the 2017 Oscars only to be announced moments later that the movie Moonlight was the actual winner. This is a snub that the culture has seen time and time again from award shows. So is 'the culture' stuck in La La Land? La La Land often refers to a euphoric state and a land of make believe. It's this same mind-set that many people believe Hip-hop artists are stuck in as they have often measured the success of their career and the pennicle of being a Grammy award. But is this truly realistic?