"I get 5 mikes, you say The Source ain't shit. If your favorite would've won, would you say the same shit?" - Bun B, "B.M.F. Freestyle"
Whoever came up with that saying "if you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" must have been a rapper at some point. Rappers are allergic to criticism. If you remotely utter anything negative about a rapper's work, there's a term reserved for you in hip-hop circles: Hater.
Never mind that the word denotes hostile actions motivated by deep resentment. This attitude, when applied to all criticism, is detrimental to hip-hop as a culture, but we'll get to that later.
"For every album labeled a classic, there are dozens of others that people feel deserve the honor. So I realize that people now feel they have to place my album next to others that they feel were more impactful, and argue their case."
Bun has a legitimate point here. Hip-hop is an engine fueled by passion. Rocks Off would know; we've spent countless nights arguing in parking lots and street corners with friends, trying to convince them that their favorite album ain't shit. Emotions run wild during these debates. That's hip-hop.
Bun B also came out swinging atop Rick Ross' "B.M.F.," hurling missives at unnamed detractors: "These muthafuckas mad they 5-mike'd me. Hating so bad, make 'em wanna fight me."
Wrong. No one wants to fight Bun B. We made it abundantly clear in our Battle Royal that he's one of few Houston rappers you shouldn't ever fight.
It's important to note that no album is perfect, not even the 5-mike albums we juxtaposed with Trill OG. The Blueprint had a forgettable song in "Jigga That Nigga," Stillmatic's B-side lacks replay value, and we could go on and on about the other 41 5-mike albums, but you get the point.
An album doesn't even have to be perfect to be 5-mike-worthy. It just has to be compelling enough to make the argument stick. What stirred up the massive online debate is that The Source awarded its highest accolade to an album that few hip-hop heads deem as Bun's best work. That said, an award is an award is an award.
As much as we loved Martin Scorsese's violent thriller The Departed (we even own it on DVD), it's far from Scorcese's best work. But it was The Departed that nabbed Scorsese his first Best Director and Best Picture Oscars. Scorsese was so surprised by the honor that he jokingly asked the Academy to double-check the envelope.
Just as Scorsese had been the greatest living American director without an Oscar, Bun had been one of the greatest living MCs without a 5-mike album. Trill OG is Bun B's The Departed. But Scorsese didn't go around flipping haters off because someone suggested that his Oscar should've gone to Raging Bull or Goodfellas.
This is where hip-hop needs to grow.
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A culture that fails to challenge itself with honest, respectful criticism will eventually die. The online response shows that people still care about Bun B's legacy, as well as the The Source's revered status as the premier hip-hop publication. That can only be a good thing.
The sad part about all this is that Trill OG's 5-mike rating has somehow managed to eclipse the music on the album. That's unfortunate because, as we pointed out earlier, this happens to be best installment in Bun B's Trill-ogy. Dude snapped on this album, and the producers whipped up brassy stabs to match his hardbody rhymes. Music and cultural impact should be the focus of any conversation on Trill OG, but the 5-mike debate is a valid one.
Regardless of where you stand on the debate, you can't argue against Bun B's stature in the game. J Cole recently released a song dubbed "Bun B for President," in which he touts Bun's status as an ambassador of the Dirty South. He's bled his heart out for the Bayou City in particular, reppin' H-town like a Phi Slama Jama for decades.
More importantly, he's a seasoned lyricist with the innate ability to summon internal rhymes and multi-syllabic rhymes at will. So, yes, Bun B deserves every award he can muster. Clap for him.