Bill Burr, Kendrick Lamar, Logic and Why Some Rappers Are Viewed As Corny
I come here to write these articles on a lot of kumbaya, world peace and unity stuff. I try to promote positivity, love, helping each other and trying to better ourselves and our surroundings. And I actually do actively attempt to live out those ideals in my real life. But as a 21 year old black man, that grew up with 3 brothers, it's difficult for me to spread love without somewhere in my mind feeling immensely corny.
I know that I believe what I am trying to do is a positive thing and I’m trying to help young people in my community because I believe we’re stronger together, but again, just typing out that line makes me uncomfortable. Comedian Bill Burr had a joke where he talked about this phenomenon. Burr said he decided to buy a pumpkin so he can carve it with his girlfriend, as he walked to the store to buy the pumpkin he was having all of these thoughts, like how he knew it was gonna make her happy to carve pumpkins together, and that they’d have a lovely time and then he heard a voice in the back of his head say “What are you a fag?”. The premise of the joke is that whenever a straight guy does anything remotely thoughtful, sensible or anything that will make you a more loving or caring human being, all of your male friends will begin to assume that you want to suck a dick. And he believed men let that feeling control us and repress our emotions into an early grave.
It could be something as sensible as bringing an umbrella while it's raining, eating pancakes with syrup or admitting that a puppy is cute. And as a person who’s grown up around men my whole life, this philosophy is deeply entrenched in me. I am the main person in the friend group to clown the guy that brought the umbrella when I didn’t even bring a hoodie. And I guess that's toxic masculinity or whatever feminists are talking about.
But this got me thinking about the label of “corny” that we place on some rappers and why we place them? Hip Hop is strange because there is always an outspoken community of Hip Hop heads that preach for lyricism and positive messaging in Hip Hop. The community is very outspoken and has been throughout every generation. This community is against the commercialization of hip hop, the fetishization of beats, the repetitive nature and simplicity in the mainstream. This community wants “that real shit back”. That real shit referring to 90's Golden Era Hip Hop. But then there’s people like Logic, who is arguably one of the few mainstream rappers still keeping that 90s style rap alive, but those people unanimously agree Logic is corny. King of the old heads Joe Budden has trashed Logic for the better part of the last 3 years, even calling him “ass”.
Denzel Curry, who also does a more lyrical style of rap that would actually mesh with Logics, referred to Logic's ambitious positivity. The bar was “ This next bar was bout to do some Logic shit, but now I gotta stop the shit and pop my shit”. Denzel Curry then went on to talk about how he wants to be positive but his friends have the opposite intention. And even he is clowning Logic, despite them having the same intentions, according to Denzel himself. Logic is probably helping a bunch of people around the world and I commend him for it, but I just can’t seem to remove the corny label from him. Some of it has to do with his abrasive light skin empowerment agenda, while looking white.
And then I had to think, is the fact that Logic is white the main contributor as to why I view him as corny? But then I thought about it and it’s not, because there’s black men like Dax and Hopsin that are viewed as corny. Both of them are good at their craft. I don’t think you’ll find many people that are trashing them because of their ability. They are lyrically not terrible with a message in their music. But I’m just not connecting, it comes off as forced and corny. But that’s not how I feel about everyone with a message. There are tons of people that aren’t tough guys, that are lyrical, who’s message is similar, that connects and resonates with me. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Earl Sweatshirt, Medhane, Mavi and Mike. All of these people don’t claim to be tough, their material is introspective, preaches positivity and is lyrical, and yet, they are not viewed as corny.
And it got me thinking about it, it can’t be the message that I’m not resonating with because I actually agree. It's the delivery. It’s the execution of the opinion. One group is telling me about their own struggles through the world and the other is telling me what’s wrong and what to do, as if it’s all my fault, or a specific person's fault. The delivery of one is a philosophical inquiry of their surroundings and the other is a shallow soapbox sermon. Dax and some white man have a song together called “Blame The Rappers”. This song places all of the blame of society’s problems on the rappers. It’s a shallow persecution of the problems society is facing today that blames exclusively rappers, as if rappers are the President or Governor.
It had the same vibe as Hopsin's Ill Mind Of Hopsin Part 5. The song goes on a tirade and attacks me, my parents, my favourite artists and everyone I care about and love. He blamed us all for society’s problems with shallow critiques, and he did it very, very aggressively. And at that point you’re just preaching and putting yourself in a holier than thou position. You’re acting like you’re above your listeners and your peers and that’s a difficult place to be in as an artist, cause you’re alienating a lot of people who want to relate to the art. And that led to the corny label being placed on him.
And I guess that’s when it gets corny. When you try to seem like you’re some perfect being without any flaws. All of these men are extremely wealthy and have large fan bases, and my opinion is obviously not slowing down any money, but there’s still a large segment of hip hop that unanimously agrees to them being corny. And that’s not always because of the quality of music, cause Logic gets beats from some of the most critically acclaimed Hip Hop producers of all time and is lyrically good enough at rapping for the beats he’s getting. But his art just doesn’t resonate with me.
And that’s just how it is. People are gonna have opinions but as long as you focus on the people who you're speaking to, you'll be fine. And that’s why we should admire artists like Logic. Logic is regularly called corny, but he’s still successful and gets to do that thing he dreamed of doing when he was a kid, and help people in the process. A lot of us let the “what are you a fag?” voice stop us from being better people, from following our passions, they stop us from caring for ourselves and each other. But I also personally don’t want to ever have a Hopsin or Dax delivery about my messages, because I don't like how it feels when I listen to a Hopsin or Dax delivery.
And that means I never want to make it seem like I’m not completely flawed, I’m not holier than thou, I might even be worse, and when I promote something it’s my own personal reminder, because of where I've lived, what I've seen and my understanding of what I know to be true right now. I operate from the standpoint that there was a global conspiracy to eliminate people that look like me, I've seen the effects and I don’t want to add to the systemic harm that’s been caused to my people and there’s nothing shallow about that. And that’s not being woke or holier than thou, that’s called being outside while black.
Kendrick Lamar is usually not brought up in the corny conversation. Part of it does have to do with his level of talent, but part of it is how he frames his arguments. Kendrick's official debut album, especially to the mainstream, is Good Kidd MADD City. Kendrick put himself in the middle of his scene during his philosophical breakdown of his society the MADD city. And he continued to do so throughout his next two albums. And in all of them he kept the argument on himself. It was a breakdown of the selfs role and view of society at large, and it was genius. Kendrick delved into prison reform, systemic racism, loving oneself, even the importance of positivity within music, and all of his albums so far have been critically and commercially acclaimed. And it resonates so much that black lives matter protesters were singing “Alright” at marches throughout the nation.