Friday, April 23, 2010

It's the Soliloquy of Chaos

Haters took this shit too far, son...

This morning I woke up, checked my e-mail, checked Google Reader, and noticed a long comment posted on my O Blogger, Where Art Thou? piece. The comment was written by none other than Nah Right's Eskay. It's no surprise that he took offense to my words. After all, my post did call him out on what I felt was some ol' bullshit. What did surprise me was that A) he actually read it, and B) he actually responded. The way he responded, in particular, led me to believe that I may have dropped the straw that broke the camel's back. (The irony in that line is that in my subsequent Twitter responses, I drew a parallel of sorts, dubbing Eskay the Jay-Z of rap blogs.)

A barrage of tweets were soon fired back and forth between myself and Eskay. Soon enough, the Super Friends rap blog elite stepped in to fan the flames and/or drop their two cents: Dart Adams, Bol, Miss Info, Rafi, Ian, Combat Jack, G, Noz, Robbie and Jay Smooth. The conclusion? More talk. Look, this isn't "beef", nor was it ever intended to be. There's a difference between hating and critiquing/criticizing. The funny thing about this shit is that it really just boiled down to someone taking offence to my use of the word "sack". Really. Take out that "suave palming" sentence from the O Blogger, Where Art Thou? write-up and it's all squeaky clean, no lines to be interpreted as offensive shots fired - or so I would hope.

The convoluted nature of multi-layered conversations that are to be had on Twitter makes it difficult to reproduce a chronological, line-by-line transcript of sorts to fill you in on all the talk that transpired earlier today. I'm not even going to attempt to try to do that here. Instead, I'm gonna retrace my footsteps and explain my position to give you a better understanding of why I wrote what I wrote - and why I still feel that it's 100% valid. Here we go:

Thanks a Lot, Shyne!

Shyne drops a series of "freestyles" and remixes to hip-pop tracks. The votes are in and we have a unanimous decision: This shit is wack! The nicest thing you would have read about his music would've been something like "I'm sure he's just warming up." Soon afterwards, Elliott Wilson drops a post on the matter. In his op-ed piece, he writes about Shyne hitting him up on the phone. Right then and there I smelled the fish. It seemed like Shyne or L.A. Reid or whoever was trying to do some damage control by reaching out to one of the top blogs to try and sugarcoat the scene. No dice, YN wasn't having it. He didn't pick up the call. Bottom line: I appreciated the honesty in Wilson's post. Whether YN took the call or not isn't really the issue. The issue here is that he made it clear: "I'm not gonna play ball."

In Eskay's case, things were a little different. First and foremost, it's worth mentioning that YN and Eskay were both reached by Shyne (and/or Shyne's "people") at around the same time. That's no coincidence. To me, that's enough proof that this wasn't a "hey, this is Shyne just checking in" call, but instead more of a "hey, this is Shyne, I don't like what people are saying about me, can you cool it with the criticism, please" call. Right? Right. A well-oiled PR machine in motion. I'm assuming Eskay received the same call and PR schtick that YN would've got had he picked up the phone. I'm sure Shyne sold Eskay a sob story. I'm sure he talked about how he's changed as a man (even though his lyrics are still as violent as ever). Ha Ha! Slow Down...

At the end of the day, we've really just been arguing over bullshit. The crux of my post, which I feel got washed over in a sea of egos and petty nonsense, was on my own weariness about labels getting in bed with blogs - especially with the sites that influence and guide this culture we call hip hop. That's what troubles me. Eskay's got a big target on his back because he runs the busiest rap blog on the net. He gets all the props in the world from me for that. I'd like him to know that. But with that rep comes responsibility and accountability.

Lemme speak on my behalf: Every time I get an e-mail from a label - major or independent - and I feature or write about their music, admittedly, I'm part of "the machine." Every time I say "yes" to one artist or "no" to another, I've displayed my own bias(es). There's no denying that. But this game of telephone that's going on - which is by no stretch of the imagination a new occurrence - borders on shady and sheisty (shouts to the 'wood). It's a call from the higher-ups telling you to sway your opinions, to change your writing slant, to keep off the grass. Anyone who took a look at both Eskay's article and his tweets prior to the phone call would think they were reading the words of two different people. One minute it's "lol @ Shyne's flow" and even approvingly quoting Nah Right comments like "sounds like a dying lloyd banks", the next it's "I think homie will be alright." If that's not a 180° turn then I don't know what is. That's what stoked my suspicions - which are still, I feel, totally justified.

It's difficult to walk in Eskay's shoes and attempt to please everybody. Scratch that - it's impossible. As the old parables go, you can't please everybody; and nobody's perfect. But in Eskay's position, I would've handled the scenario a bit differently. One option would've been to report the content of the phone call and call it a wrap. Transcribe Shyne's message and leave it at that. Instead, Eskay reported the facts, but also dropped his two cents. He took a page out of the O'Reilly/Olbermann school of journalism. There's nothing wrong with that, but it leaves you vulnerable to criticism - especially when your opinions take a noticeable slant in the opposite direction after it's all said and done. A week ago, he was calling Shyne's music wick-wick-wack. Now, it's something we may not like, but should respect. C'mon, now. You can't polish a turd and call it a lollipop. Stay consistent or at least be upfront about how and why you changed your opinion.

Summing it all up: I've never been afraid to let loose my speech © Guru. I'm very opinionated. But at the same time, I'm not a shock blogger. Check my resume, character assassination is not what I'm about. I keep it on the humble 24/7/365, especially towards the people I respect. Like I told Eskay, "there's a difference between busting chops and going all out." As I see it, anyone who thought I was taking the latter approach and waging war against the Nah Right army is guilty of exposing their own lust for blood. Go vegan, 'cause the chef ain't serving beef tonight. One.