Recently I received an e-mail about album scores at RR. The author while appreciative of the work we do at RapReviews had some grave concerns that we are far too generous in our scoring of albums and as such our reviews aren't as helpful as they used to be. In effect to paraphrase what the author wrote: "Is everything a 7 or better?"
I must confess some weeks I've felt that way myself. I'm definitely guilty of contributing to the problem because I probably overrate some otherwise mediocre rappers who are making a sincere effort, just solely on the basis of being so much better than garbage rap albums like Soulja Boy. The problem for me is that even a talking toilet lid would be better, so that's just not a good standard. It's either that or I'm getting too nice in my "old age" at 34 and I just don't have the "AWW THAT'S GARBAGE, THAT'S WHACK, THAT'S FUCKING BULLSHIT" passion I did when I was 21 - that or it takes something the level of Soulja Boy to pull that passion out of me.
Either way I'm being too nice, and I suspect that if I'm anything of a leader for RapReviews.com everyone else may be following my example. I'm not saying that our writers should necessarily start handing out 1's and 2's left and right, that would just be going overboard in the other direction, but maybe a 7 should be a little harder to come by and maybe we've also diluted what a "coveted" 9 really is. I can honestly look at The Nines page on the website and think that anywhere from 10-33% are things I don't own or haven't listened to. So either my library of rap is not big enough (which if you saw the amount of records and compact discs overflowing my house you would never say in a million years) or we've gotten very lax about what it takes to be considered a classic the level of Illmatic and A Book of Human Language. I think we can all re-evaluate what the RR ratings mean.
For argument's sake let's consider this a new INFORMAL guideline.
0 - Incomprehensibly bad. Doesn't even deserve a score. EXTREMELY RARE.
1 - Horrid. Frightening in an unentertaining way. Someone might have been trying to make an artistic statement but they failed abyssmally.
2 - Worse than bad, and definitely no good. Might have one passable song out of 10-14. Probably someone who could try harder and might suck less, but they're still such untalented hacks they'd suck anyway.
3 - Almost bad. Now we're getting into Soulja Boy range of "talent."
4 - Just plain bad. Probably marginally redeeming on some level. A 4 for beats or rhymes or a 4 overall says "some radio station somewhere might play this and people might think it's good by sheer repetition."
5 - Mediocre. Rises above being bad but just really isn't all that good.
6 - Marginally good. Something you might actually bother to rip for the fact there were good beats and good rhymes, but that you wouldn't end up seeing at the top of your "most frequently played" on iTunes.
7 - Acceptable. This is one we're handing out way too much of. How many things rated 7 and up would you ever go out of your way to listen to again after you're done reviewing it? If you wouldn't, score lower.
8 - Good. Now we're up to the level of Jay-Z, Nas, OutKast, De La Soul. Something you'd definitely listen to again. Something you'd rip and add to your favorites. Possibly an album you'd play from start to finish.
9 - Great. There's a timeless quality to the album. Artistic inspiration palpable in every beat and rhyme. The album seeps into your brain like a coffee stain on tablecloth that never goes away. Something you LOVE.
10 - BRILLIANT. This should also be EXTREMELY RARE. Even if you love it enough to be a 9, consider whether or not the masses would feel the same. Does the album transcend? Does it have a timeless quality future rap generations will recognize, or would the luster fade over the years? Theoretically there shouldn't be a bad song on it.
Hopefully this is helpful as we all read RR in the future. I'm going to try to be more stringent in my ratings from now on too.
Steve 'Flash' Juon
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