What exactly is going on in your brain when you listen to rap music? In the most basic terms: thinking. Sober or not, stupid or smart, your brain reacts to what's being said as well as to the music. Lets focus on the words for a moment. The more complex or profound a statement or question, the longer it will take you to come up with a reaction and the closer this process will be to what normally is known as thinking: reasoning, judging, imagining. But the train of thought doesn't have to be that long. Whenever you listen to somebody, you enter a subconscious dialogue with the talker. While you're listening, your brain processes the incoming information and reacts accordingly to its current settings: what you know, what you don't know, whether you've heard something before or you're hearing it for the first time, etc. Your moral tolerance plays a big role in this. If you find what's being said appalling, your revolt can go as far as loudly objecting against what's being said even if the person you're talking to isn't physically present. Usually though it's just silent approval or dismissal - provided you have enough time to concentrate on the particular statement and enough own background information to make something out of it. Agreeing and disagreeing, this is basically what your reaction to speech boils down to.
You can apply that simple principle to your rap listening experience. How many times have you expressed disapproval of what a rapper just said? If you find yourself addressing the rapper you're listening to in that inner voice of yours, saying things like: "No, you're not," "No, you don't" and "No, you won't," you're likely to put that rapper in the 'phony' category. Kool Keith took it upon himself to pack all his doubts into one song when he recorded the simly titled "I Don't Believe You."
What's this got to do with today's aspiring MC, Detroit's Eloy? Well, you guessed it, I have my doubts about what this kid's saying. "You got to be a educated consumer," he loops KRS right before he presents himself as the 2002 version of a "real MC." And so I act like the educated consumer that I am and say: Claiming you're "taking it back to real emceeing" alone is just not enough. Unfortunately, what Eloy presents on "All You..." and subsequently on this whole promo joint is a forward-rushing flow that's constantly on the brink of stumbling.
Number one rule for any rapper searching for an audience is: try your best to make yourself understood. Getting understood is the key element, everything else is just accessories. Whether it's the melodious drawl of Knoc'turnal or the spitfire of the late Big Pun, you can actually hear what these guys are saying. Also of importance are an impressive voice and a flawless flow. If your voice and flow don't support what you're trying to get across, forget it. Nobody will believe you, not just the ever doubting Kool Keith. Eloy's voice is okay, it 'bites' just enough to grab your attention, his slight lisp is a welcome personal touch, but his flow is far from supreme and his lyrics still tend to dwell on the "I dare you to step to me"-level. In the end, Eloy is harmless, and this is no merit for a battle rapper.
It gets absurd when he calls himself the "Gangsta of Rap." He's right with the "this is raw, not a Timbaland track" statement, but unfortunately that's not something that works to his advantage. My bet is a Timbaland track would either be too much for Eloy or bring forth much needed artistic growth. Still, the "Gangsta of Rap" beat is not bad at all with some nimble fingers working the piano, but my fictional dialogue regarding this track and what he says about it would probably go like this: Eloy: "This is the dopest shit you ever heard." MJ: "Nah, not really." Eloy: "Word, the drum kicks and piano keys are absurd." MJ: "Not as absurd as they should be to be the dopest shit I ever heard."
Lyrically Eloy is still searching for the right formula as well. A Detroit rapper talking about killing his ex - sounds familiar? Well, Eloy's "R.I.P." sure does. But please don't get the impression that Eloy is anywhere Eminem's level lyrically. "I Wanna Die" sports a nice drum beat, but suffers from some amateurish organ sounds, while Eloy bores the listener with his miserable life. No wonder psychiatrists have such high hourly fees. Call me close-minded, but being the arrogant type suits a rapper much better. As evidenced by "Las Muchachaz," a bilingually told tale of his encounters with two ladies over a booming 21st century breakbeat.
The two rap role models Eloy haphazardly bumps into are Thirstin Howl III and Sir Mix-A-Lot. That's where this rapper of Mexican descent might find his niche, somewhere between the two. Now he just has to sharpen his wits, his skills and basically everything else that makes a rapper.
Music Vibes: 3 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 3 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3 of 10
Originally posted: May 7, 2002