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. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normally, this column comes together very organically. We'll search out a rapper that may have a particular area of expertise, then hit them with a few questions and go from there. This time, however, was the first instance in which a rapper emailed us with the specific intent of participating in the Ask A Rapper segment. He even had a subject all worked out that he wanted to discuss. This Week's Rapper: Hollywood F.L.O.S.S. This Week's Subject: The rapper's symbiotic relationship with technology Ask A Rapper: If you're looking at big picture-type stuff, rap and technology have sort of grown hand in hand since their fruition. Rappers nowadays almost have to be able to manipulate various networking sites and blogs to get themselves planted in the firmament. Has this had a negative or positive impact on the quality of music? Has it affected it at all?
Hollywood F.L.O.S.S.: It's definitely a positive and negative impact on the quality. I'll start with the negative. You now have lower-quality songs flooding your iPod, radio, and TV. I mean, let's face it; some of these rap songs sound like they recorded with a $10 karaoke machine from radio shack. The creativity for the most part is down and repetitive and it's no longer about the music for the artist but a quick payday. But there are bright spots. Artists who have had success using the Internet now control their projects and can gauge their fanbase and reach them through MySpace, Twitter and Facebook. It's essentially pushed aside the cutthroat suits, and now bands get money without sacrificing artistic integrity, which is pretty much the dream.
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AAR: Almost paralleling the rise of the cutesy hipster rapper has been the decline of the gangsta rapper species. Is the success of the former related to the decline of the other? From the outside, it really looks like that's the case. I mean, look at this. Now look at this. One of those pictures was taken before Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and all that other tomfoolery, the other after. I'll let you guess which was which. HF: There's two reasons for the fall of the gangsta species. a) Most of them just plain got old. Think about it. If you're 17-18 during 1988-1992, you're now well into your late 30's, early 40's. Not too much time to be nickel-and-diming and appreciating Gangsta Rap. It's time to retire that [laughs].
b) I think when the Kanyes, Pharrells, Commons, etc., arrived to the masses, it was like "Oh i dont have to pretend to be hard, I now have someone I can identify with. YES to bright colors, fashion and mood music!" [laughs] I'll tell you this: The big all-red suit is a no-go in any decade, and so is Drake's jacket!. But shout out to Wale and Cudi's kicks. AAR: Will a time come when we stop at a gas station in Acres Homes and are not approached by someone selling CDs out of a backpack or the trunk of a car? We sincerely hope not.
HF: No No No. I assure you that will always happen [laughs]. Tthe very illegal and always inconvenient self-selling of CD's - regular and chopped and screwed - is not dying down. You know why? Because you can't beat face-to-face transactions, and everyone isn't computer-savvy as they would have you to believe. Real gangstas don't surf the net! Pshhh. Get outta here. AAR: Fundamentally, this has been the year of the Internet rapper. And as horrible as XXL can be most of the time, they ask a pretty lucid question in their latest issue: Does Internet fame count? So, Hollywood F.L.O.S.S., who's spread his name outside of Houston mostly via the Internet, who's been featured on this site alone a time or two, who's actually conducting this inerview via email, does it?
HF: I agree, the internet rappers have had a great two years, and the fame does count. I mean, every new artist that has made any significant amount of noise is owed to the internet. Take Drake, Kid Cudi, Asher Roth, Big Sean, Wale, etc. Their stomping ground was the internet at first, and they definitely used it to their advantage [laughs]. Hollywood F.L.O.S.S. definitely lives by the Internet, but don't get it twisted, your performance game has to be right and the music has to speak to the audience as well. Internet just makes it easier to throw away if you not feeling it (right-click, move to trash bin). Face to face where you buy physical CDs, you're not willing to just throw that $12 away so fast. I promise my new album HOUSE of DREAMs is not one of those albums. You'll def. enjoy that one.