Dr. Beardhussein’s Diagnosis of Web’s Latest Project
It’s Go Time.
Rap is fun. Hip-Hop is a culture. Music is expression. Art is subjective. The industry is fucked up.
You fall in love with rap the same way you fall in love with anything else. At some point admiration becomes affection, and when affection turns to expectation and you AREN’T disappointed, well, that’s pretty much how you fall in love.
I remember freestyling on the train with my two brothers back in December 1995. We were on our way to Manhasset to hang out with my big brother’s then-GF’s family. We were terrible rappers, just being goofy. In fact, the only line I can remember is “I’m on the mic/I’m just chillin’/Tryin’ to get home to eat some chitlins.” (fun fact: chitlins are terrible. just terrible. still, any caucasian trying to play the “i grew up in a mostly-minority town, I’m tough!” WITHOUT a chitlin experience on their resume needs to hush up and go back what’s on the CW).
Point being, I’ve loved and appreciated rap for a long time. At a few points in time, what I heard on the radio was what I needed to hear at those particular points in my life. Summer ’97, it was Puffy and Wu Tang. Late 2001 it was Nas & Jay-Z. 2004 it was Mr. Kanye West. (um, still is, actually…). Sad part is, in my own life I still have lots of turmoil–a horrible feeling of being held back, destined to never, ever get anything I truly want. Career, friend-wise, romantic stuff… It seems like whatever I want so bad that it hurts is exactly what I won’t get.
There’s beauty in the breakdown.
I’ve known Web for a good year, year and a half. He sought me out on MySpace as a fan of this blog and my work on the now defunct Alumnah.com.
I’ve let him write stuff up on this site, I’ve reviewed his work, and we’ve had many conversations on Facebook, thru E-Mail and on Twitter. He’s on the top of the list of internet friends I’d like to meet in person.
What I like the most about him is his passion. He feels for hip-hop the way I felt about it back in 2004. I was writing and recording my first album, and I was overcome with an intense, angry passion. Not only did I need to get all of these ideas out of my head, but I felt like the entire fucking world needed to hear them. The wheels fell off socially and musically at the time and I felt like I had the answer.
That’s what Web was feeling with Inferno.
It was that same intense, burning passion. The artistic equivalent of having your arms pinned to your side by a person much stronger than you. He’s listening to the radio and hearing what amounts to the same song being performed by 22 different “artists”. He sees the culture of hip-hop being bastardized and homogenized.
He sees something that used to pride itself on being unique at all times becoming like this: One guy does something original, then everyone else runsrunsruns to the exact…same…thing. Hip-Hop has always been about taking something normal, something pedestrian, and putting your own spin on it. You take a baseball cap and wear it backwards. You wear baggy pants instead of regular fitting pants. You take the laces out of your shoes. You put your own twist on something we’ve all seen a million times.
Your individuality shows, it shines through. People might imitate, but in the beginning, that’s okay. You show people that you don’t have to do what everyone else does. You show people that you can find your own way, make your own path.
In other words, exactly what’s missing from rap/hip-hop today.
I loved the first half of Inferno.
It was sonically different. It had some substance to it. More than anything, you could feel Web’s heart breaking on every track. This guy wasn’t rapping to rap, or rapping to cash in, or rapping to get girls. He was rapping to vent the poison that has built up in his own life.
It’s a zone that artists get into, a zone simultaneously full of bravado, confidence, passion and crushing insecurity. It’s the zone where you pound your chest and you scream at the world that you’re the shit, only with an unspoken “…right? Please?” at the end.
What I loved about the first half of Inferno was that it was desperate music. It had a sense of urgency, almost as if Web was pleading with the world, the music industry, and his own self to just please please come together just once and let him exorcise the hurt and embrace the hope that he was trying to convey in 48 bars of lyrics.
I keep saying “…the first half of Inferno“, and here’s why.
Indeed, there is beauty in the breakdown. There is something liberating and necessary and pure and, yes, beautiful in allowing yourself to be stripped down to your most innocent essence. There is beauty in the primal scream, the “driving 90 down the road singing along to a great song”, the humbling breakdown into a symphony of tears, and a pounding headache, and feeling like your chest is going explode and implode under the weight of your own breakdown and breakthrough.
That was the first half of Inferno.
I wish Web would’ve taken me all the way there. I wish he would’ve let the project go darker, go more truthful, stay along the so-called “Emo” route and tell us exactly how he feels. Instead, he switched things up and he expanded his vision.
Were those second-half tracks bad? Not at all. They’re just not where I thought we were going.
I’m usually of the mind that artists have the answers that regular people don’t. We can put things into words that the average person can’t. That’s why movies and music and paintings and books can make us cry. Great art, Truthful art always taps into our secret hearts, the place where we all keep the last few glowing embers of the person we were when we were first born.
It is in that place, that secret heart, that Inferno resonated with me. I know I’m just one guy and I have no idea how many people will read this, or even give Web’s album the chance to see if it can’t truly affect them.
In the end, I hope they let it.
‘Til then, an inspired effort by my friend Web. One day he will fulfill his destiny and create music that people need to hear for the times when they don’t want to throw money around or blame it on the alcohol or party. He has the talent to do it, and the desire–the burning passion.
Here’s to hoping that the next project–a follow up to a solid outing this time–will be an Inferno that Web will allow himself to be burned up in instead of deciding that it was too hot.
There’s beauty in the breakdown…
…and in the burn.
And now, here are my complete uncut notes on Inferno from my 2 listens thru the album.
the dream— great album opener.. awesome beat.. spitting hard.. last 8 bars were straight up ADM…good voice.. nice ethereal feel–like “Graduation” without sounding like it was trying to be “graduation” feely
in the beginning— story telling track.. dope trippy kinda beat.. “origin story”.. confident old school flow with new school feel.. slick rick-esque on the hook with a nice tip of the cap to jay’s takeover “noooo”.. riding the beat well.. got me hyped at 2:26 mark.. breaks down the van-city rap scene
drowning— voices overlap, easily to get lost ala “drowning”.. another trippy beat reminiscent of timbaland in my love/ayo technology, but with softer drums that let the synths ride, double-time flow.. no chorus.. nice breakdown at 3:24 “what if i’m meant to spend my whole life in the middle? or even worse: on the bottom?” I think it’d work better in reverse–for emo purposes–but still a sentiment everyone can relate to.
depression— already like it just off the name. song hasn’t started yet. oooh.. nice blueprint-era feel.. oh! no! deception! this is some good east coast rap right here. i fuckin’ love this guy’s passion and I don’t care how that sounds. i love this song. I need this song in my life. i might cry. budden-esque. this song might save someone’s life. cathartic.
“the natural”–passion. passion. passion. nice beat–808’s have a healthy bounce to them. this guy is pouring his fucking heart out. this album should be called “I have no Plan B-it’s gotta be hip-hop for me or else I’ll be miserable for the rest of my life.” I wish people had the courage to love something as much as this boy loves hip-hop. this reminds me of me in 2004–cry for help music, screaming at the sky music. this is headphone music, late nite drive music.
climbing up the downward spiral (interlude)— trippy beat. not sure how I feel about this, but he’s earned the pass. This is an ALBUM, a cohesive group of thoughts. I repeat: this album is gonna save someone’s life one day. Could be Web’s, could be someone else’s. I hope both. “Either this world is gonna feel me, or I’m gonna have to MAKE THEM feel me.” Amen. Awesome bluesy breakdown. Redeems the interruption in the flow of the album. I guess this is where side one would end on an album. Nice little break. Kudos.
A view of the world-– interesting beat. not sure if it works yet. web’s sounding like a pac-eminem hybrid, once again without trying to sound like it. Yeesh.. this boy is rappin’ his ass off. This is why they invented the “spit guard” on the mic. Not to crack a joke, but when you’re really going in, your delivery trumps your desire to not spit. Shut up, that makes sense to anyone who’s ever been in a booth. “heart still beatin’ i guess I’m still breathing, surprised after all these years I’m still breathing”–indeed. “Muhammed’s white Jesus with a suntan”–made me laugh, but it’s true. One King.
pray feat. ben arce— wow, farrakhan? okay. interesting–i thought this was gonna be a club/girl song, but it’s about religion. interesting. i never took Web as conscious, but he’s turning it up on the second half. Fix yourself first, then fix the world. Amen. Arce’s got a nice voice–mix might be off. Doesn’t need the strong double. Nice harmony. Also, Web’s got a great voice. Trying to decide who he sounds like. Like Kurupt crossed with Nas? Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s what I’m getting. going in on the Native American experience. I liked this one, but I’m hoping for a return to the Emo stuff. The emo ones usually have answers, and who couldn’t use some answers nowadays?
Warrior Drum-– i’m sorry, i just don’t like this one. i’m sure there’s a story behind this, but it’s almost disappointing to here a threatening “don’t push me” track from a guy with so much talent.
Never go back–Big Finish! oooh.. awesome beat. the drums are insane. epic kinda sound. the emo is back. not trying to feed off a guy’s sorrow, but there’s genuineness in pain. this is a great album closer. rhymed “princess” with “chin-check”. Me likey. “you’re just staying in touch/they’re betraying your trust/stab you in the back and expect you to thank them” Ouch. passes the “sad when it’s over” test.