On the One ———- Extreme Rap ———- Vol. 2

[Song Samples Contain Explicit Lyrics]
skibadee.jpg Skibadee
Well, not extreme in the angry, offensive or scatological sense. Rather, extreme in the idea of two opposites of the same measure. Fat — skinny, tall — short… Except the extremes I’m interested in involve the speed of rapping/rap delivery. The speed of a rap has a profound impact on the feel and style of a particular track. Double-time rapping over a laid back funk groove can sound visceral and uplifting – no matter how banal or evil the lyrics; meanwhile, a slow, laid back rhyme can be hypnotic and pull you even deeper into the sound and vibe of the music.
Let’s start with the fast stuff. While East Coast rappers are often known for complex rhyme schemes, West Coast cats love their slang (foshizzle, flambostulatin, yadadamean), and Southerners play to the strength of their unique accent and culture, the Midwest is undeniably the home of quick rappers. This track by Do or Die is a good example. One of the most popular fast rappers got his start on a Do or Die track — Twista. His style and delivery made him a popular guest rapper in the 90s, and this track really shows off his abilities. I can’t forget my hometown of Kansas City and our local hero Tech N9ne. His track Midwest Choppers exemplifies fast rapping. If you listen closely to the production you’ll also hear the heavy influences of Southern and West Coast producers in the Midwest sound. Here are some other tracks with notably fast raps: Blackalicious – Alphabet Aerobics, Sleep – Introduction, Busta Rhymes – Break Ya Neck, Beatropolis & Shing02 – Embrace, DJ Vadim – Kill Kill Kill.
I’d be remiss to skip the UK when discussing fast rappers. The worlds of grime, dubstep and garage have their own share of fire spitters. While they may not be focused on quickness alone, their rhythmic intensity and ability to flit between double and single-time is notable. Check out this track by Dizzee Rascal or these tracks by Plastician and The Bug for good examples. But they’re not the fastest MCs in the UK. This is the territory of drum & bass MCs like Skibadee, Eksman, and Shabba D who pioneered a double-time, consonant heavy delivery that fits perfectly with the fast tempos of drum & bass. This track featuring Skibbadee, Shabba D, MC Det and MC Fearless showcases a bit of their style. The UK Rap/Electronic scene is evolving at breakneck speed and is well documented online with videos of great MC battles and performances by all the cats I mentioned.
Now in terms of slow rapping, the title undoubtedly goes to Houston for their Screwed & Chopped sound. This is a method of remixing rap music pioneered by Houston artist DJ Screw. Screw took cassette tapes, dramatically slowed them down, and added tons of reverb, delay, scratching and sound effects. Here is an original DJ Screw production. It’s immediately recognizable by the ridiculously slow tempo and freakishly deep vocals. However, the rapping speed is based on studio effects — so perhaps this title should be accompanied by an asterisk…? Check out these other super-slow Screwed & Chopped tracks by artists OG Ron C, Big Pokey & Lil Keke, and the Screwed Up Click. Stay tuned for more on the Houston sound in a future post – there’s much more to cover from this city!
djscrew.jpg DJ Screw
The mainstream rapper with the slowest natural flow is probably Young Jeezy. His style is deliberate, simple and strikingly sssslllloooowwwww. Jeezy is able to pull it off without sounding too boring — probably due to the depth and uniqueness of his voice and the fast subdivisions of his beats. Check out his track Standing Ovation for a good example. Here are a few other notably slow rap tracks 30 Rocks by 8 Ball & MJG and You’re Everything by Bun B.
Is there somebody I missed? Yeah I know I didn’t include the Guinness World Record holders — as theirs is more of a technical feat whose purpose is speed, not music. But is there anyone else? Perhaps there’s a Screwed & Chopped scene in Tuvan, or a crazy fast rapper living in the Australian Outback? Let me know!
PS – speaking of Australian rap – this track by Diplo makes me smile!
Chris Horgan [Senior Music Analyst]

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

22 thoughts on “On the One ———- Extreme Rap ———- Vol. 2

  1. nice post chris. love that you dropped alphabet aerobics by blackalicious in there.

  2. I’m always intrigued when rappers talk about East Coast vs. West Coast. Are there still gang problems arising from this culture of rap?
    I’d much rather stay away because much of their lyrics speak to destruction and disrespect.

  3. I just found Pandora Radio and I’d like to tell you…Pandora is AWESOME!!! The first thing I did was put a shortcut on my desktop to Pandora!

  4. Too complicated to play selections one wants to hear!Too much nonsense…I don’t have the time or patience to sort through all the minutia and the tons of verbiage to hear an artist and find out who is on a tune. Nice music,stupid set up! Why do two selections play at the same time when one switches to another selections. This is a set up to charge people for hearing music. I’d rather buy the CD to listen to what I like to hear. I’m not into the crap you are pushing(hip hop, rap, regaton, etc.

  5. I found Pandora Radio it is simply just awesome, all the difference it bring compared to other chanels… I like it and will make use of it as often as I can.
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  6. Billy –
    There is really no more East/West turf wars in hip hop – that I am aware of. While the sound has overall become much more homogenized there remain very distinct regional differences in the music itself. And while some of the examples do have ugly words, several are not vitriolic whatsoever (Blackalicious, Bun B, Sleep). But really this post was about rap delivery, not the content. There is a whole world of positive and emotional rap out there.
    YA Rakha –
    Didn’t realize I was pushing anything on you. It was not my intention and if I came across heavy-handed please accept my apologies. One great aspect of Pandora is to discover music that is new to you, and this blog post is an introduction to the fringes of a world of music that many people are unaware. Remember – you create and control your own stations on Pandora.

  7. Where’s the mention of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony? No representation for Cleveland? Art of War?
    @billyberue: That same accusation has been leveled at rock music as well, so I’m always surprised to hear people act shocked at rap music.

  8. Daishi –
    Bizzy Bone and the other members of Bone Thugs are definitely fast rappers! Their sixtuplet-based delivery was a unique/fresh sound when they came out, and it’s cool to trace the (probable) influence influence back to the ‘iggities’ of Das-EFX. I had to cut several rappers to keep the post from being too long – however bizzy bone IS featured in one of the tracks I mentioned – Tech N9ne’s “Midwest Choppers 2″. Thanks for reading!

  9. Why do we have to pay for pandora now? it is like if we had to pay for facebook or myspace. You have already annoyed us with all the advertisement that can not even be closed, and now we want everybody to pay for it. You certainly want to make a fortune out of this, but be more clever and do what google and facebook have done. You are losing one customer here. I can buy my music on itunes instead and listen it without needing a computer.