Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Since there is so much hoopla over hip-hop and what it means to be hip-hop in the context of Singapore blogging, lets put up three stories of hip hop and see where it goes.

There was once a white rapper named Vanilla Ice. He had a monster hit called Ice Ice Baby which is widely acclaimed as the biggest selling rap single in history. Ice Ice Baby made Vanilla Ice phenomenally big and ultimately, it was also the reason that led to his fall. In the world of rap and hip-hop, a genre of music inextricably associated with Black culture and which prides itself on being real and from the streets, credibility is always a big aspect of the music. Vanilla's spectacular success with Ice Ice Baby naturally created a backlash since he was white and pretty. The Black community accused Vanilla of exploiting hip hop to make money. Purists accused him of turning mean, hard-edged rap into candy floss music with weak-ass lyrics. Vanilla's spectacular success meant that some form of image branding was necessary. To enhance his cred, an "authorized" Vanilla biography had him growing up in the mean streets of Miami where he earned his legit status as a rapper. This were all lies of course. The fabrications were exposed when a group of high school students from Miami researched Vanilla's background and found that he actually grew up in Dallas, Texas. His real name, Robert Matthew Van Winkle, was also exposed. Paradoxically, as part of his image branding, Vanilla was draped in amazingly ridiculous outfits and even acted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the sequel. How these balanced the cred-building fabrications is beyond comprehension. What followed was the downfall of Vanilla. Flopped albums, drug abuse, failed suicide. Eventually, he retired from the industry, went into motor-racing, found God and resurfaced as an emo rock-rapper in the mold of RATM or Korn. He enjoyed limited success and seemed unable to shed off the baggage of Ice Ice Baby.

If one googles Vanilla Ice, the story is not as simple, according to Vanilla himself. Vanilla claims that he was dazzled by his initial success and eventually got into everything for the money. Including $850,000 just to put the word "authorized" on his biography which was written by his manager. He claims to have been manipulated like a puppet by his manager and his label. And his re-invention into rock rap is mostly therapeutic. Something that is the "real" him. Money is not the motivation since he had made such a ridiculously large amount off his Ice Ice Baby days. He remains in the wastelands of the music industry, performing small medium-sized gigs, cutting and selling records in modest numbers. Any headlines he makes is perpetually shadowed by his days as Vanilla Ice of Ice Ice Baby.

There were once two German models who were spotted by a record producer and hired to become the band Milli Vanilli. Their first single, Girl You Know Its True, achieved phenomenal success and created this new genre of dance-rap, much like what you hear from the Black Eyed Peas today. Their album was so successful that they actually won the Grammy awards for Best New Act. Except that the two models were actually lip-syncing all the songs. Not only were they lip-syncing in live performances, they did not sing anything in their album. They were just fronting for the real singers who were deemed to be insufficiently eye candy. The scam was exposed when Milli Vanilli's producer, exasperated by the models' increasingly wild behavior and clamour to be the real singers, revealed the truth. Their Grammy was stripped, their careers plunged and of the two, one committed suicide while the other is a broken man, not even in the wastelands, but in the dumps.

There was once a rapper called Curtis Jackson. Born in the mean streets of Queen's Jamaica, he peddled cocaine and heroin as a kid, got busted for a litany of minor offences and eventually found fame as a mean-ass rapper, 50 cent. Along the way, he was beaten and stabbed by the producers of a rival record company, Murder Inc, and a few months later, shot nine times. He survived and went on to record Get rich or Die Tryin which sealed his status as The Rapper as we know it in the hip hop scene today. He maintains the feud, or beef, with another rapper, Ja Rule, who was from the same hood. Indeed, the violence in his life, the stabbing and shooting, is mainly attributed to this beef between him and Ja Rule. Entangled between them is a real gangsta, a drug lord of Jamaica Queens, Kenneth 'Supreme' McGriff. Critics of this hip hop violence voice their concern that both rap artists are trying to bank record sales on this blood feud. Songs in their albums are laced with threat rhymes targeted against each other. That real blood is spilled adds to the drama and perhaps marketing appeal of their albums. Except of course that real gangstas, when they get rich and famous, to the heady levels of 50 Cent or Ja Rule, actually try to go legit. Try to distance themselves from the hood. While these two try to get more cred, more street in them.

In most specialised musical genres like goth, indie, metal or hip hop, there is always this question of cred and whether you are a poser. A poser is akin to wearing a black Bon Jovi t-shirt and claiming yourself as a metal fan. In essence, its the music and whether you believe in or grew up in the entire sub-culture of the music that makes you a fan of these music genres. So the problem of the P65s is really this : you cannot connect by pretending or posing to be into hip hop. There is no cred and it is simply uncool. The fact that you are trying and putting effort to dance to a form of music which you do not like and know nothing about is not a plus point. It just shows that you are posers, wankstas. Thats all.

If you want to connect, work on your strengths. Parliament is to be convened soon. Thats where your mettle will be displayed. Thats where your cred can be built. Thats where you can really connect. Will you do it?

For a start, we can even discourse the banning of FEER. Go to the FEER website now and you will see three articles systematically dismantling Singapore and its foundational myths. Ripping the sham of meritocracy. Exposing the fragility of our financial system. Three articles which can still find their way easily into Singaporean homes in spite of the ban on FEER. Three articles which symbolise that Singapore's control systems are archaic at best and enbarassing at worst. Try to figure that out and forget about all this lip-syncing to hip hop business. This is where your mettle can be tested, where your cred can be built. But only if you dare to talk about it.

Quote of the Day --

You say you a gangsta but you never pop nothin'
We said you were a wanksta and you need to stop frontin'
You ain't a friend of mine,
You ain't no kin of mine,
What makes you think that I'ma run up on you with the nine
We do this all the time, right now we on the grind
So hurry up and copy go selling nicks and dimes

Damn homie, in highschool you was the man, homie
What the fuck happened you?
I got the sickest vendetta, when it come to the chedda
Nigga you play with my paper, you gonna meet my berretta

Wanksta, 50 Cent


Blogger crankyed said...

Cosplay P65 MPs. That would be uber cool. hurhurhur

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't your exhortation of them to work on their strengths in direct contradiction to your statement that it is not neccessary to _do_ anything, but to simply vent emotion?

In short, are you not issuing a set of double standards, where only those people you rant again need to do anything useful and effective?

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not Fake is good.
That is true.

Hip Hop originates from the blacks of america. Therefore they have their version.
CoCo Lee tried her hand at Hip Hop with a song Hip Hop tonite.
Sound more like vanilia ice type of Hip Hop.

Anyways, i believe being true is what matters.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous gangsta said...

To anon 539 :

"But isn't your exhortation of them to work on their strengths in direct contradiction to your statement that it is not neccessary to _do_ anything, but to simply vent emotion?"

where is the statement you are talking about? about not necessary to do anything but vent emotion? cannot seem to find it in the entry leh

10:14 PM  
Blogger Kaffein said...

Nice post.
I have written in the p65ers blog comments - just be yourself. Be a common citizen sitting in the stands (not VIP, mind you).

The citizens don't need hip-hop performing MPs, just sincere ones to voice their concerns when the need arises and get the concerns addressed.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, gangsta, I draw your attention to the post about the cost of 21 grams where Xenoboy writes:

>But street protests are not about being pragmatic and practical. You need a failure of reason to understand a protest action. You need empathy, you need compassion.

In other words, it is ok in Xenoboy's code of ethics for nongovernment people to protest even though nothing practical or pragmatic is being done, but a MP must always do something concrete or be called a wanksta by Xenoboy?

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Cher said...

I really like how you drew parallels between 2 subjects which, at first glance, might seem totally unrelated.

Again, good job. :)

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NBA players are being paid to play basketball, but they have the right to do anything. They can say "singing is part of my career and it's part of the plan to please my fans". But fans buy tickets, and clubs pay for these players to play basketball.

8:32 AM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

anon 6.41,

In both your comments, I fail to see your point except your displeasure at my writing style.

You mention the 21 grams entry. Let me explain then : in the society I grew up in, we have been systematically dis-empowered by the regime. Utterly de-politicised. to the extent that any visible protest action is deemed criminal. Examples abound. the most recent being Mr Brown losing his job. Mr 400 Frowns detained and questioned for an online frown campaign in opposition to the 4 million smiles campaign.

This depoliticisation has been achieved by reason. I have no doubt about that. Enlightenment rationality. In the society i am in; any form of contrary political action is deemed un-reasonable. You have to be a politician to be politicised. I do not buy that. Hence, the deliberate use of a bogus theory of 21 grams to agrue for un-reason in Sg. Protest actions are hardly useless. But first, we must empower our minds. That we can protest. We do not have that yet.

You have my views utterly mixed up. The regime wants us to have something concrete before we can even articulate our grievances; and this means we must have solutions before we can articulate, before we can protest. But ironically, at this moment, the regime are the ones who lack this aspect of being concrete in this example of connecting with the people through hip hop.

On the use of "wankstas", it is a term in hip hop to describe posers, posers who act like gangstas. It is used by 50 cent.

I have no code of ethics. Life is simple. In the society I grew up in, i learnt that we must first empower our minds. that is the only code of ethic I believe in. Only when we have that, freedom in the mind, can we talk about taking on systemic and structural disempowerment strategies of the regime.

On the MPs. the premise is simple. They are politicians. Yes, of course, they have to compromise to toe the party line. But their mettle is not going to be displayed by how well they dance. Its going to be proven in Parliament where they can take up citizen grievances and BLOG about it. Thats my advice. It will give them the connection they so crave for.

If you wish to persist with this line of me being of double standards etc carry on. I have enough entries to fill a container of contradictions. But if you wish me to explain each and every entry, the crafting of my sentences and the allegories, than perhaps this blog is not suitable for you.

1:19 PM  
Blogger *The Lunatic Fringe* said...

F***ing cool!

Great post! Found my way here from TVD (The Void Deck's) post on the P65ers.

The Fakery that is Uniquely Singapore is really epitomised by the P65 blogs. The true wayang culture is not with the WP (as attributed by a PAP MP) but really within the ruling regime themselves.

Street cred is earned, not given.

May the farce be with the P65 bloggers. They still just don't get it?


9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were an MP, this is definitely better than marching during the NDP.

Anyway, be grateful that you can bitch about wankstas rather than dread about gangstas in sg. You lucky bastards dont know what is it like to have a school close because of an impending gang war in a bad estate.

Uncle in da hoodz

5:10 PM  
Anonymous mahomie said...

uncle in da hoodz:

bring em on boy, come on down and chill out in sunny sinapore.

bring yo hommies and check into our schools, let's see how long you guyz last before u pull out a gun

and shoot someone

9:43 AM  

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