The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. This Week's Rapper: H-Kane This Week's Subject: Crafting a diss track; Poking fun at the Houston Chronicle
Ask A Rapper: Complex.com just put together a list of Jay-Z's on track disses. It's fairly entertaining. Let's talk about that. How does one go about crafting a proper insult within a song? H-Kane: Do your research. If you are going to talk about anything or anyone, intense research needs to be performed. Then you go with what hasn't been revealed to the public. But lyrical dissing can't cross the line into talking about family, children and so on. That's too far.
AAR: Are there any MCs in Houston that it's considered to be bad form for another Houston artist to release a diss track about? Don't think we've ever heard anybody say anything bad about Bun. H: There's no reason to diss anyone in the city. Right now Houston is on the come-up as far as getting back into mainstream pop culture. And dissing, even if it's just lyrical, doesn't fit into that equation. AAR: You've got a jab in one of your songs about Mike Jones, poking fun about how he got beat up at the Ozone Awards. When you wrote that, did you ever consider how he would feel when he heard that? It probably hurt his feelings. HK: Yeah, that was Verse, my fellow UNION member. I don't think it was a diss because it actually happened. It was a current event. It happened right around the time the song was being made. As far as it probably hurt his feelings: I doubt it. It wasn't a diss. It happened. AAR: Okay, we see what you're saying, but the disses that are based around something that actually happened are usually the most effective. Like, if your sister got pregnant when she was 13, it'd be a lot more hurtful if we called her a whore than if she was a nun. We think the fact that Mike actually did get punched makes it worse and, essentially, way more entertaining. And do you know why it was entertaining? Because it was a diss. Booyah. Response?
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HK: I'd rather talk about The Curfew, my album that's coming out on Jan. 29. Mike had his time, I'm tryna get mine [laughs]. Truthfully though, aside from being an outlet for expressing yourself, hip-hop allows for chest-beating. Sneak disses have their place, but I'm all for calling it like I see it. It wouldn't be hip hop if no one got shamed into thinking twice about coming at you lyrically. It's part of the sport. AAR: For as much tough talk as rappers throw around, why do most of them try to be all slick and subliminal with their insults? That seems counter-intuitive. The ones that people always remember, like, say Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up," are the really in-your-face ones. Why don't rappers realize that? If we wrote a diss song, it'd just be like, "Yo, you're awful, and you're terrible at stuff. I don't like you very much. And I hope other people feel the same way I do." That's how it should be done. Why isn't it like that? HK: Hip-hop took a turn towards WWE for a minute, and it was all about the entertainment. So when someone threw a subliminal shot, it was up to the consumer to find out who it was about, which is considered entertainment. Now that hip-hop is gearing back towards songs with messages and points and being thought-provoking, we will see an end to most subliminal disses.
AAR: Hip-hop is heading back towards thought provoking songs? Okay, that's fair. Like, we always thought "Mr. Hit Dat Hoe" was more layered than people were giving it credit for being. We mean, they call him Mr. Hit Dat Hoe, they call him Mr. Hit Dat Hoe, they call him Mr. Hit Dat Hoe. And when he hits the floor, shawty, wooaahhhhh. And when he hits the floor, he's gonna hit dat hoe. HK: Club music is its own sub-genre of hip-hop. It caters to a certain crowd. But since we brought it to the mainstream, I see how easy it is for media to accept that as the only form of hip-hop. So I can understand why you ask that. I do believe more of the underground hip hop is introspective and even expresses a concern for matters beyond just "the block." I mean, a mixtape from a Canadian rapper was practically the best rap album of '09. AAR: Good answer. Back to the diss thing. Let's practice a bit. Real quick, give us four insulting bars about, ummm, let's go with the Chronicle. Yeah, that's perfect, we'll end with that; a four-bar diss track about the Houston Chronicle. Go. H: Okay: "I don't read the Chronicle / 'Cuz most of it is funny like a carnival / Most of the articles are marginal / If they write about me they might blow up without an arsenal / But Houston Press deserves all my articles." CHEA! Get in line to buy H-Kane's new album at www.myspace.com/h-kane, follow him on Twitter at @headshake and watch him on Youtube at www.youtube.com/hdashkane.