Street Cliches: Hip-Hop Albums’ Most Unoriginal Ideas

Just to let you know, I am a member of the Caucasian race. If the word “Caucasian” confuses you, let me put it this way: if you were walking down the cookie aisle of your neighborhood grocery store, you’d have better luck finding me by the Nilla Wafers than the Oreos. However, this has not discouraged me from enjoying music of a bit more “urban” flavor from time to time. In fact, occasionally I have been known to get “jiggy” with it, but I try not to being Catholic and all. As such, I’ve noticed a few trends emerging among rap artists and their albums. There are so many similarities, it seems almost as if a pattern had been established and adhered to by members of a Rappers’ Union, otherwise known as the Distinguished And Brotherly Organization of Mofo Brothers (DABOMB). How else can you explain that each member of the Cash Money Millionaires has more albums than illegitimate children? Therefore, I would like to present to you my calculated Rap Album Template, strictly followed by artists from Aaliyah to ZZ Top.

First off, begin with a picture of yourself on the cover of your album. If you’re a gangsta rapper, hold as many guns as possible. If you can manage it, try to clench a machete in your teeth and wear a necklace of active hand grenades. If you’re more along the lines of the bling-bling/party rappers, just put chrome and diamonds on everything. In fact, show that you have so much money that you’ve grown to despise your jewels and baubles, and in your attempt to eat and be rid of them, they got stuck in your teeth. You’re so rich, you try to eat diamonds, that’s how they do it on the street!

Now onto the music. You’re always going to want to start with an Intro, or as I like to call it, the “Finger Exercising Track,” because I can guarantee everyone is reaching for the Track Skip button on their stereo for this one. The Intro is usually you, a member of your posse, or a crackhead talking. It’s usually unintelligible, but a convenient way to gain that extra 1:14 you need to round out the album.

Track 2 – A Song Lamenting Death and Killing. This track gives you an opportunity to slow it down for a bit and mourn those around you who were taken to soon by mindless street violence. You plead for the Lord to save the streets from these awful acts, and remember that no matter what, your homies will always be by your side. This track gives you an opportunity to speak out to the urban community, and attempt to form a pact uniting everyone in the combined effort to eradicate violence.

Track 3 – A Song Praising Death and Killing. Here’s the track where you really flex your lyrical muscles and spit rhymes that would make Pol Pot blush. On this track, you brag that you’ve killed enough people that if it weren’t for your unbelievable sexual prowess, the Bronx would be a ghost town. That’s right, you claim that you singlehandedly populated the Bronx after you murdered everyone who currently lived there. Oh, and if you’re DMX, you also talk about how you rape the corpses. Gun shots and shotgun cocks essential to the beat here.

Track 4 – An Answering Machine Message. I’m not sure what it is, but every rap album known to man features an answering machine message in the middle of the tracks. I’m not sure if rappers just forget the tape is running when they check to see if anyone called, or if garbled phone recordings give one street cred. Either way, just have one of your friends call you up, let the machine get it, and have him ramble incoherently for roughly 45 seconds about anything and presto! instant album track.

Track 5 – Song About How Your Name Is Spelled. A popular staple of the hip-hop community, this track serves as the educational material on the album. However, instead of Sesame Street with Big Bird and Elmo, it’s 125th Street with Big Pun and Skee-Lo. Even though this song provides educational material for the youth of America, I do have one bone to pick: all the rappers who employ this track have names that are simple to spell. D-M-X, Snoop D-O-G-G, those names can’t be above a 1st grade reading level. Where’s MC Ambidextrous and DJ Onomatopoeia? Can’t we at least have Eazy-Egalitarian?

Track 6 – Song About Bangin’ Ho’s. Here’s where you put all the doubters to rest, and reassure the world that you do, in fact, have a gigantic penis and you use it almost constantly. Also, it’s important to emphasize to the public that you have no love for these ho’s, and that these bitches can’t keep you down. In fact, you hate these hoodrats and the fact that they’re constantly throwing their loins at you, attempting to produce babies at your expense. If you have to lay the pimp slap down on some of these hoochies, then that’s what a pimp’s gotta do.

Track 7 – Song About Your Momma. Time to pay your respects to the one who brought you into this world, your good old Momma. Thank her for taking care of you, for showing you the way, and tell her that you love her and you would never be where you are today without her love and guidance. Good to stick this song between the song about your desire for oral sex and the song about how you will shoot anyone who disrespects you in the face.

Track 8 – Song Demanding Dance Moves. Always a crowd-pleaser, the SDDM gets people up on the dance floor with its hot beat, and then you proceed to tell them exactly how they should dance to this song. Notable examples are Freaknasty’s “Da Dip,” Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up,” and Ice Cube’s “The Hokey Pokey.”

Track 9 – The Ballad. This track allows you to grow artistically and attempt to actually sing a few notes. It also serves as a reminder to the general public as to why you are a rapper and not a singer. This track usually is a bit more sensitive, many times a tribute to a child, an ode to the streets, or, if you’re Nelly, a country song featuring Tim McGraw.

Track 10 – Outro. Just as the Intro brings the album to life, the Outro assures that it dies a slow, painful death. The Outro gives listeners an opportunity to reflect on the album they just listened to, because they sure won’t be listening to this garbage. Find some more insane friends to babble for about another minute and a half, and you’re home free.

There you have it! Now you too, can record your very own rap albums! Just use my easy-to-follow formula, and you’ll be drinking Hennessey and riding spinners in no time!

Disclaimer: I really do respect hip-hop artists as musicians, and I do appreciate the talent and skill it takes to successfully produce a hip-hop album. I realize I preyed on a lot of stereotypes of your genre in writing this piece, and I apologize for it. Please don’t shoot me in the face for disrespecting you.

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