When I first heard Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson’s song “Hood Sentence” I was instantly hooked on his raw, aggressive lyrics and producer MadLib’s smooth blend of samples. Being an album man, I decided instead of simply downloading the one song I’d get all 24 tracks of “O.J. Simpson”. This would be a mistake.
Who needs a “compound sentence” when you have a “Hood Sentence”?:
I didn’t make a mistake because Guilty Simpson is a one-hit-wonder; quite the contrary. Every song on the album echos the same raw flavor that turned me onto “Hood Sentence” in the first place. On “Cali Hills” Guilty Simpson pays homage to his late great friend J Dilla, telling the story of how the legendary producer made GS the MC he is today. The title track “O.J. Simpson” sounds like a combination of Method Man and Tribe Called Quest, rising and falling amidst a blend of jazz and tension. And the “New Heights” line “I’m the Adonal Foyle of the rap game” is just one example of Guilty Simpson’s self-deprecating humor.
The only fault with the song “O.J. Simpson” is the minute-long comedy routine outro…we’ll get to that:
No, my complaint with Guilty Simpson is not with the music. My issue lies with the interludes. 12 to be exact. The album starts off with a three-minute prelude that leads into a minute long introduction track. That’s four minutes without music! The only thing missing is a foreword written by Kato Kaelin. From there the album jumps between interludes to songs, breaking up that all too important flow. Over 24 of the 56 minute of the album are comprised of interludes. 24 minutes.
I’m not totally anti-interlude. Sometimes the mid-album interruptions can add to the aura, the storyline, or even scaffold major themes within the music. The Wu Tang Clan were the masters of this, creating alter-egos and building a narrative that connects from one album/project to the next.
Notice I said were. This isn’t just a rant on Guilty Simpson; interludes are running rampant in the hip-hop community and even the boys of Wu Tang have fallen prey to the meaningless meanderings. On the latest release from Method Man, Ghostface, & Raekwon, interludes tarnish the already amazing “Wu Massacre”. Whether it be the 30 second “Yo Mom Skit” or the Tracey Morgan rant on paying rent, “Wu Massacre” features strange little tracks that don’t seem to build the mythology of Wu or function in any way, shape, or form. Like mosquitos, they torment a beautiful scene.
A clip for “Pimpin’ Chip” and also a glimpse at the early leader for best album cover of 2010:
Rap is really the only music genre that utilizes the interlude, at least to this magnitude, and I think it’s getting out of hand. Jay-Z is one of the few rappers out there that strays away from the interlude format, and it may be time for him to step up once again as the Godfather of hip-hop and declare “Death to the Interlude” just like he did last year with the “auto-tuner”.