music notes: the anatomy of a hip hop album

recently, i happened to unearth a hilarious bit of writing from march 7, 2000.

yeah, nearly a whopping 13 years ago.  i was in college at the time and apparently found it odd how predictable rap/hip hop albums were.

i <3 the golden age of hip hop, including some of these songs below, but of course i had commentary.

what’s hilarious is that the synopsis you’ll see below is STILL true after 13 years.  i’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.  i’ve added further emphasis in [brackets].  sympathies up front regarding some of the language and grown folks dialogue.

do any of you have aspirations of being a rap star?  well, look no further.  the basic design of a new rap album is here for your personal use.  be sure to fire up those pentiums to create your computer generated covers, get some gold teeth, [a Jesus piece], and bust out uncle otis’ record collection to get some samples.

The Anatomy of a Hip Hop/Rap Album/ Track List

Intro

  • usually someone talking, in some instances, that someone is not the artist.
  • includes a million STUPID sayings like “Whah, yeah…whah” and shouting out folks over some beat that would be better used in a song and not in an intro – what a waste of production and studio time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxN_tUFUi5c]

The Money song (Can be duplicated and reworded as track 4)

  • features all of the current euphemisms or slang that refer to money or having money, like the artist recording the album actually had all that dough when they were making the album.
  • the video features cars that the artist does not own, women who should be naked due to extensive lack of clothing, cristal [and various drinks] that the artist cannot afford in abundance, let alone as single bottles, their friends, fellow folks, and various women from the block [or people have been cast to look like their folks, friends, and women from the block], gratuitous behind, nether region, and breast shots of the almost naked women, and crowd shots of people “throwing their hands in the air like they just don’t care.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glEiPXAYE-U?list=UUIZGqIYkST36dLp0uf9o9nw]

  • this got so bad that there was even a parody at the time.  lol

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qzacv8dtb4]

The Don’t be a hater song

  • refers to people who “envy” the artist in any shape or form.  “envy” is qualified as being jealous of their plentiful cornucopia of unpaid cars, scantily clad women, the number of kids they have [and the amount of child support they have to pay], and what a big pimp they are despite the fact that they probably couldn’t keep track of their own checkbook due to a lack of proper mathematical education.
  • usually has hidden negative messages/bust outs/clowns that refer to other rappers/entertainers/celebrities that the listener can pick out.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO34JwhB9M0]

The Money song #2 (Please refer to to track #2 for details)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nguE8o_CtBg]

The song for “less than desirable” people of the opposite sex

  • aimed at trying to either fight with “less than desirable,” trying to get some action from “less than desirable,” or to tell the “less than desirable” how virile or insatiable the artist is.
  • refers to sexual positions, escapades, or what the artist will do if they get a chance to bed one of the “less than desirables.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx9yypsIW_Q]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhCD9qxlczo]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqJAnQTwmJs]

The positive song

  • has some type of “positive” message
  • looks ridiculous when compared to the other songs on the album because everything else is negative but reflects the realities of the “strength of street knowledge.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u31FO_4d9TY]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggNymSJ52Fw]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Gf4-eT3w0]

The diss track

exactly what it is.  beef is beef.  so many of these.  lol  for example sake…

common strikes

cube and westside connect gang strike back

common strikes back.  and it’s over.  lol

the invite a fellow artist or collaboration song (can be duplicated as many times as the artist wishes)

  • usually makes up the bulk of the album now a days – does anyone buy an album for the artist or just for the features?
  • this sometimes results in a string of songs on each artists albums or collabo albums that shouldn’t have been made (see below).  this can go on for years until the listeners get tired of hearing or reading “so in so featuring so in so from so in so records.” or, in this case, there wasn’t even a video issued for the albums made.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiI5Vn1L-P8]

  • the collabo can be so bad that you don’t even bother listening past the first verse of the song.  example: notorious thugs by notorious b.i.g. featuring bone thugs lol

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6XhzXB3oY8]

  • the collabo with WAY to many people on it for you to ever listen to the whole thing lol

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFmiKodg1tc]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmX5TgWsfEQ]

the collabo where you forgot the main artist because the featured artist was THAT fire.  lol

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clZYtzm9ZLs]

my inner city life sucks song [recount that time i got shot]

  • refers to the life the artist lives or lived in the inner city
  • refers to stories that no one can ever figure out because they weren’t there when things went down (see below)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww9VlmXKYgs]

  • usually names so many people that you get lost trying to figure out who did what and when and during the “trade in staten or was it brooklyn over one hunned and eigff when my _______ baby boy and bowlegged with a kickstand joe got shot.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jwYAoxvfvI]

the album interlude (can also be done as many times as possible)

can be in one of the following formats:

  • the general conversation – the listener is let in on a allegedly “inside” convo between the artist and someone else – do we really care about this fools dry cleaning and what he says to his baby’s momma?  below, apparently george’s brother, lil haiti, and mike green’s from my block’s bids had to be captured on wax.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1tS2ppZ5tM]

    • the sexual act – listener is given the audio during one of the artists current sexual escapades with one of the “less than desirables.”
    • the criminal plot – listener is let in on a convo between the artist and one of their crew where they plot some sort of criminal act – why would anyone be stupid enough to incriminate yourself like that?  what about the man?  lol
    • the “i/we know what real stuff is” – where the artist says that they’ve got more bars/experience/clout and proceed to call er’body else out about how wack they are (see below)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N80Q6GURZpU]

  • the fight scene – listener hears audio from a neighborhood scuffle – what good does this do us when we can’t actually SEE what’s happening?
  • miscellaneous – artist decides to put anything they want on a track and call it an interlude

The outro

  • artist tells you how what you just listened to was so great, what they allegedly learned, even if you know, and they know, and you know that they know, that they just put this on the album because 1) they ran out of content, 2)they needed to complete an album to get out of a bad deal, or 3) they needed money.
  • may feature some sort of scarface-esque piano solo (see below)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtkUZM-uzKI]

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