It was recently put to me that “younger writers” closer in age to the artists being covered would better understand the AutoTuned sing-song form of rap music so prevalent today. In particular my review of “Eternal Atake” was cited as an example of the generation gap in hip-hop, and I’ll be the first to admit there are things someone in their 20’s talks about I might not relate to in my 40’s. I’m also humble enough to say I’ve watched videos about his album pointing out anime references that I missed, which I will take as a personal failure since I’m a self-professed anime watcher. I have DVD collections from the mainstream favorites (Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist, Inuyasha) to the totally obscure (Azumanga Daioh, Hare+Guu, Chobits) and enjoy them equally. Suffice it to say that even though I liked “Eternal Atake” and gave it a positive write up, the style change between the rappers I grew up on and today’s emcees means I’m capable of being caught out there with my metaphorical pants down.
Let’s take Lil Mosey’s “Blueberry Faygo” as an example. Now I lived in Michigan for a little while when the Insane Clown Posse were very visible in pop culture (thanks to their frequent appearances in pro wrestling) so unlike a lot of America I understood their constant references to Faygo — the cheap-ass generic soda in every Meijer or convenience store I went to. Now I’m nowhere near as hip or cool as an 18-year-old like Lil Mosey, but my immediate impression was that “Blueberry Faygo” would be mixing generic soda with cough syrup to create a new version of “Purple Stuff” and at least one source suggests that I’m right. Nevertheless if they or I both missed the point of Mosey’s song, I’ll cop to being wrong. One thing I am sure of though is that his viral hit appeared on a recent re-release of “Certified Hitmaker” and that was a wise decision. Working with Trippie Redd on “Never Scared” was as well.
At only 21 years young, Trippie is closer in age to Mosey than I am by a wide margin — in fact I’m older than both of them put together. That’s not the point at all though. Their musical and lyrical inclinations seem to gravitate naturally toward each other. If they were in a rap group it would make perfect sense, although given how modulated their voices are it might occasionally be hard to tell who was “rapping” on the tracks. If there really is a generation gap it’s because I grew up on rappers having very distinct vocal tones, deliveries and styles. Chuck D’s intellectual baritone. DJ Quik’s high pitched Cali swagger. Too $hort’s Oakland pimping. Big Daddy Kane’s deep sexual chocolate. Ice Cube’s hard attitude. I unapologetically miss artists who don’t all sound the same as each other.
A more discerning listener can probably tell the difference between Mosey and Gunna without a second thought, but until I saw the video for “Stuck In a Dream” it wasn’t clear to me, and that was only because I already knew what Mosey looked like from the “Blueberry Faygo” video. Having watched it I can hear it now when I listen to the song again, but it’s so close that I’d argue they are interchangeable. Perhaps that makes me too old for this shit. On the other hand when I listen to Migos all of the group members manage to sound distinct from each other, so maybe it’s NOT me but the music certain artists make. There’s a subset of codeine laced rappers who get heavily medicated, deliver drowsily sung lyrics like “I’m wasted, smoking backwoods in the morn/I’m famous, I might put you on” on songs like “Dreamin.” Lil Mosey could be the late Juice WRLD, who could be Trippie Redd, who could be… you get the idea.
Sounding like someone else doesn’t automatically you BAD. With eight billion people in the world, there aren’t enough variations in dialect, pitch and delivery combinations to keep at least ONE person somewhere from sounding like you. Many comedians make a living off of their ability to do dead accurate vocal impressions of actors, singers, celebrities and politicians. It’s okay to sound like someone. If I take any issue with Lil Mosey on “Certified Hitmaker” it’s not that he sounds like everybody else, it’s that he sounds AND raps like everybody else. Royce David is a solid beat maestro, so songs like “Bankroll” featuring AJ Tracey and “G Walk” with Chris Brown are easy to listen to, but the only thing distinctive on the whole album is Brown’s R&B croon and that’s kind of unfortunate.
“Certified Hitmaker” is not a bad album. I wasn’t as entertained by it as I was by “Eternal Atake” but I didn’t HATE this release. It’s not horrible, it’s just uninspired. If you have to be in your 20’s to see it differently then you’ll have to forgive me because I’m happier now in my 40’s than I ever was then. I was a self-destructive mess and barely made it through that decade of my life. It’s hard now to look back on me then and think I even had the foresight to start this website, and yet somehow I survived and so did RR. Since we both lived through it I’m not going to pretend that a young rapper isn’t making music for a young audience. If it’s not for me so be it but that’s not going to discourage me from telling you how I honestly see it. I see Lil Mosey as just another dude. He’s no better or no worse than anybody that does what he does. To damn him with faint praise, he’s AVERAGE.