(NCS guest contributor Leperkahn decided that for a school project he was going to spend a week without metal. He received a lot of suggestions from our readers, and this is his report on Day 4 of the experiment.)
Very early on in my music listening career, I was very much into rap. Part of it might have been the combination of the ease of access to it (all I had to do was go to the Top 100 iTunes songs chart to find plenty of stuff for my young ears) with the misguided idea that girls had “cooties” or something, and that listening to other types of pop would make me “girly”. In hindsight, I want to slap my former self for ever thinking like that, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was the way I thought once.
Nevertheless, I used to be mostly a rap fan (specifically the popular stuff). That all changed when I first picked up, played, and became obsessed with Guitar Hero III (maybe as a third or fourth grader; I’m not in the mood to calculate when exactly it would have been). That elucidated to me the wonders of classic rock, and sent me on a decade-long tailspin that has landed me here, deeply entrenched in the metal underground.
When I began to get more immersed into rock, and especially once I found heavier metal, I began to swear off all types of rap, perhaps in realization of how awful my music taste once was. Honestly, I hadn’t even tried to look into rap for years, until this project hit.
I started my re-visiting of rap with last year’s release from Run The Jewels, a duo composed of Killer Mike and El-P that I remembered getting some praise from Professor D. Grover The XIIIth during 2013 Listmania. He described them as cut from a more intelligent cloth than most rap, and I’m inclined to agree, as their concise half-hour collaboration had me captivated lyrically while still keeping some tight enough beats to make me consider busting out a gangsta lean in the middle of journalism class.
I moved on to an album with which I had some cursory familiarity with a few songs, but which I had never actually listened all the way through: N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton. The first three tracks of this album represent some of the best rap I feel has ever been created, and were some of the very few rap songs I kept on my playlist even after I became more ensconced in metal. By now I was out of school, driving around with my good friend and fellow metal cohort. We both looked extremely white trying to move with the intensity of the music (despite the fact that only I had the excuse of actually being white). It was truly a sight to behold.
As for the album itself, after the first few tracks it hits a rather constant mid-tempo that makes it fantastic as some background music to other tasks, yet can still remain interesting when you tune back in. My one complaint might be that it goes on a bit too long; I’m not the kind of person who can listen to the same rap album for an hour (or longer, in other cases). Regardless, it fit well with my jubilation that came from knowing that I had (hopefully) just taken my last calc test ever (now on to linear algebra! I’m brimming with excitement).
I moved next to a suggestion proffered by my twin sister, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city. What I didn’t realize before delving in was that this was nearly an hour and a half in length – which may have been one of the only downsides to this album. For being an album so popular (and thus inspiring skepticism on my part), it has quite a lot of the somber look into the life of the downtrodden that made rap succeed so well in the first place, in its heyday of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The interludes are particularly revealing, and add a sense of eeriness in between each track full of Kendrick’s distinctive vocal timbre and smooth, flowing style and rhymes.
With that, I went completely off the deep end with a duo that went off the deep end a while ago: the infamous Death Grips, and their album Exmilitary. This is definitely quite some avant-garde stuff (that has been well-documented by Islander and others). I’m not sure I can add too much beyond what has already been said before, partially because I’m not entirely sure I’ve processed what exactly happened during that album. Dense, but certainly intriguing, and one I’ll come back to (especially considering it’s available for the low price of free on the duo’s Soundcloud).
The final album of the evening (which I’m still in the process of finishing) is Outkast’s Stankonia. I figured I needed a contrast with Death Grips, namely something happy and funky; Outkast gave me just that (as I knew they would do). I’ve always had fond memories of Outkast (there was a time when “Hey Ya!” may as well have been the only song that existed on planet Earth – it began every family roadtrip playlist), yet I’d never gona back to this album, despite it being what was probably their most popular. Though there are a few more aggressive moments, such as “Xplosion”, most of it has a tongue-in-cheek demeanor, and some of the interludes and skits are positively hilarious (the harmonizing wing-women in “Kim & Cookie” had me rolling on the floor laughing).
And that’s about it for the rap day. As it turns out, turning my back on it for so long may not have been the best idea ever, but then again I probably wouldn’t have been able to find the right albums to look back at until I had a music lover’s community like the one we have here to steer me clear of the crap that infects 95% (at least) of rap, and plenty of other music.
After four days, I’m still holding strong. I gotta say though, I could really go for some Deicide right now, and it’s killing me that I can’t check out the new Eyehategod song. All in good time. I think I might give electronic music one last chance before I send it to the gallows, and choose it as my soundtrack to tomorrow. I’ve been told that ambient stuff or chillwave might be good options. If you have any suggestions along those lines, or simply wish to tell me to stay the hell away from electronic music in lieu of a different genre, chime in below. I got to say, it was a good day.