Louisiana rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again is currently at the top of the Billboard 200. He is pretty good rap guy, and pretty good. His dad was imprisoned for 55 years, he moved in with his Grandma, dropped out of school, got sent to juvenile for six months at the age of sixteen, came out, his Grandma died, he moved in with another rapper and they maintained their criminal activities to pay for their rap recordings. YBNBA released rap mixtapes and caught on, stories of the gangsta life. And now, at the age of twenty, he got it right. With any luck, he will never be broke again.
How good is he? He is pretty good, he is a good rapper and the sounds are autotuned plus pro-tool arranged around smart beats. What he doesn’t have is great songs. And that is why people think pop in the 21st century sucks: what you and I might consider next level songwriting, folks like Smokey Robinson or Holland-Dozier-Holland, don’t exist. The songs as sounds are remarkable and ear catching,. they are a form of background sounds, original and thrilling without being memorable. Because there are no tunes. Apparently, beats and hooks are considered enough for pop.
Within limitations, I tend to agree, they are enough. I would rather listen to Young Thug than, say, Elbow. But if modern pop guys worked harder on the songs they would make more music that lasts. I’m a hip hop head, I listen to rap all the time, but I have problems remembering it. I love the sound, the unsteady wooz of beats and voices, without finding em memorable. There isn’t enough to hold on to, to bring you back to em., to hum along to if you prefer.
It is a seachange in pop and it affects everything. A great songwriter, say Taylor Swift, arranges and produces her music so much it fades. One reason Kanye West is the primary songwriter of the 21st Century is that he can throw anything at a track and it remains Kanye West; he never, ever gets sucked into the endless whirl of Max Martin and cohorts, tricking out songs that might not need it.
Even so, at least it sounds good, it least it is exciting, at least it isn’t tinkling synth songs from the 1980s or bad grunge from the 1990s: it is its own thing. Finally, just as Joe Strummer promised, it is wide open, everyone’s a star. All you need is some beats and a recorder, you don’t even have to play an instrument. What’s not to like?
TaylorSwift’s “The Era Tour” Reaches MetLife Arena, May 28th, 2023, Reviewed
tried way too hard and ended up a crushing bore
US Top Ten Albums Tracking 5-19-23 – 5-25-23
Morgan is the first country star with twelve consecutive weeks at # 1 since Billy Ray Cyrus 30 years ago
Sneak Peaks: Upcoming New Album Releases 6-2-23 – 6-8-23
excellent, deeply melodic, indie rock
Going Steady: New Singles 5-26-23 – 6-1-23 Reviewed
sort of Neil Young without the head cold and in full pop mode.
L.A. Burning, West Coast Concert Picks, May 29th To June 4th
Grace Jones will be at OUTLOUD Music Fest
UK Top 10 Albums 5-26-23 – 6-1-23
outsold the rest of the Official Albums Chart Top 10 combined
UK Top 10 Singles 5-26-23 – 6-1-23
an EDM plonker on top
Dead Babies: Helmut Berger And Martin Amis Leave Us
about how time decays us
The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 5-26-23 – 6-1-23 Reviewed
a major slice of bad news
The Cure At The Hollywood Bowl, Wednesday, May 24th, 2023, Reviewed
The most heart-pulsing moments took us back through the past 45 years.