by Will Butler
“Daddy was right — I never do listen/but the blind old c*** couldn’t really see my vision/credit score low and I never held a job down/snackin on Xanny-bars just so I could calm down/my friends question why I’m so offbeat/or why I choose to write my name in wet concrete”
Setting aside the fact that the sing-song raps on “Gucci Gucci” aren’t necessarily worth bragging about, it’s still a bit weird that Negrete hasn’t been able to share some of the limelight. He was obviously tight with Kreay (there are at least a few shots of him shaking his shaggy bearded self around in the “Gucci” video), and apparently before they met she didn’t even know what it meant to rap 16 bars. She’s even relocated from the Bay down to L.A. So why has Speak been so muffled when someone like V-Nasty has been so coddled?
For starters, true authorship of the song is a bit unclear. The dispute boiled over in an LA Weekly profile a couple weeks ago, when Negrete complained that while millions were mouthing his lyrics, he was stuck eating Spam for dinner. Kreayshawn sort of flip-flopped on the issue, admitting last Friday that, yeah, “he helped me write some of it."
It’s kind of a minor feud, but Negrete seems genuinely bent out of shape about being overlooked, and understandably so. And it’s not all about money; With the Internet adjusting itself in such volatile tides, a missed opportunity like that could be a devastating blow to his career. Supposedly he's had a rough go the past few years, dealing with depression and now the conflicted feelings that would most certainly follow a rapper forced to ghostwrite for major-label acts (like, most recently, No Doubt) to make ends meet.
Maybe now, with Odd Future behind him, he’s finally aligning himself with the right people, but it seems that no one gets their due unless they hop on the bandwagon and adopt one of the hyped-about tags; “OF,” “White Girl Mob,” or “ASAP” among them.
It’s easy to wonder if long-run success is a realistic goal anymore. Over Twitter last week, Speak bellyached, “6 months ago OF... 9 months ago Lil B.... 1 year ago Wiz... its a fucking joke. The net has made the art of music making disposable.” And these dudes certainly don't appear on the insane, exhaustive infographic put out by Spin Magazine to try and encapsulate the whole hip-hop universe. So how not to get used up and thrown away?
A few things seem obvious: ingenuity is rewarded, as is an intuitive use of social networks and the occasional transfixing viral video. Beyond that, what do young, talented hip-hop artists, armed with the resources to make and record music, need to do to make it? In our own backyard, Main Attrakionz have been putting out a whole bunch of good rap, under the makeshift Green Ova umbrella, but haven’t quite struck the critical chord to make their efforts a ringing success. For these rappers, fame is achieved at indiscriminate intervals, and the formula for catching recognition is becoming more and more convoluted.
Speak told LA Weekly, “When I put out my album, will the world care? Probably fucking not… It's depressing to have the world sing along to your every fucking word, and not care about you." Speak’s unique in that, as a rapper who’s got a decent amount to offer, he’s also one not afraid to be sort of thorny. Fussiness isn’t always a good quality, but his career soreness and his concern about the future of the industry seems warranted. Is there a place for consistently good rappers outside of a high-buzz/high-scrutiny atmosphere? Somewhere in between being a dejected ghostwriter and a one-song phenomenon?