Mother Monster’s First Collaboration with Ariana Grande “Rain On Me” Is a Beauty of a Banger!

“I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive, rain on me.”

Fewer statements better encompass the overall sentiment of 2020 better than this one. 

“This is about an analog of tears being the rain. And you know what it’s also a metaphor for, is the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself. I’d rather be dry.” Lady Gaga explained via Vulture

In Lady Gaga’s second single from her sixth studio album Chromatica, she gifts us with her first ever collaboration with pop princess Ariana Grande. The team up, in their twinsies fetish wear, elicit a sentiment that while they both share powerhouse pipes in the same genre of music, that is where their similarities end as they each have unique expressions of their musical personas. Together they demonstrate through their complimentary/contrasting vocalizations and personal style attributes that not only is there room for more than one fierce femme in the pop game, they would rather be pop sisters rather than rivals. 

Musically the song is soft and upbeat, a contrast to the stormy lighting and set design of the music video. Yet Gaga/Grande conjure color in naughty neon pinks, lusty pastel lavenders, combining a sexy fusion of leather and latex punk with “pretty girl” fashion. By the end of the video Gaga/Grande appear as doppelgängers reminiscent of characters from the HBO series Euphoria, cool gals from the neighborhood that know how to get into dance clubs with fake ids, sexy outfits, lots of eyeliner and molly.

While many fans have been long awaiting a return to the avante garde Gaga we saw in the Fame Monster and Born This Way era (especially after the stripped down rawness of Joanne) Rain On Me is probably a bit more “mainstream music for the masses” than some would prefer. However considering Chromatica comes after a four year long hiatus between albums, returning with easy to digest, feel good tracks -is a smart move towards a sustainable comeback.

One must always remember when it comes to Gaga that while her sound passes as mainstream her intentions have always been to subvert the industry from within. Lady Gaga is a Queer, hard femme and judging by the esthetic choices in Stupid Love and Rain On Me she clearly doesn’t want you to forget it. Punk, leather and fetishwear all have their intersections in the queer community’s efforts to subvert gender norms and Gaga/Grande standing side by side as the hard and soft sides of the same femininity coin, owning their sexuality while defying expectations, certainly deliver subversion successfully. Futuristic fun was a fabulous choice in regards to makeup and hair styling, as Gaga/Grande’s flawless faces were BEAT to the gawds while they flipped and swished inches upon inches of rain slicked, gorgeous hair, stylishly serving dirty pop glamour. 

Despite the somberness within the song’s message, the video invokes jubilation in its choreography, laden with some of Gaga’s (a former gogo dancer) signature moves. From arms waving over head and jumping up and down, to pelvic thrusting and hip grinding, watching Grande dance á la Gaga, was more adorable than any of us could have imagined. Clearly Chromatica is a place of great diversity as we see a broad spectrum of back up dancers in Rain on Me, just as we did in Stupid Love. It is almost as if the storyline of Chromatica is that of a planet within the universe Gaga presented us with in the Born This Way video, as a continuation of the narrative (pertaining to unconditional acceptance and radical self love despite societal hardships) she started with it nearly a decade ago.

Back to the song itself, while some might find the repetition basic and blatantly reminiscent of Stupid Love, it gives both tracks a “song stuck in your head” quality that all hit songs have. In the case of Rain On Me, that repetition represents a mantra, a thought for meditation to recenter yourself and breathe. That’s what this song is, a reminder that no matter how difficult life is right now -if you are alive to learn and grow through it- you are winning.

This makes a truly powerful statement alongside a few others that resonate deeply to a millennial (born the same year as Gaga) like myself. In the  opening verse: 

“I didn’t ask for a free ride

I only asked you to show me a real good time

I never asked for the rainfall

At least I showed up, you showed me nothing at all”

There is a sense that the stereotype of the ‘entitled millennial’ is being confronted here with the sentiment of our generation’s reality; we were told we could accomplish anything if we just pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and worked hard enough (while being held to the highest expectations) regardless of being abandoned to fix a broken world left behind by our predecessors with no support. While Gaga has been able to break through using the Boomer method, this feels like an acknowledgement of how challenging it is for the rest of us to do so as well.

Then we get to Ariana Grande’s verse which brings up some intriguing implications:

“Livin’ in a world where no one’s innocent

Oh, but at least we try, mmm

Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in

So I don’t lose my mind, baby, yeah

These words really evoke an admission of being complicit in the systems of oppression that we are all guilty of perpetuating and the struggle to freely express yourself in a world of “cancel culture”. What makes this verse especially poignant being sung by Grande is the fact that the singer’s career has endured ongoing contention since her striking transformation after the cancellation of her Nickelodeon series “Sam & Cat” and the debut of her first studio album “Yours Truly”. Many critics of Grande have accused her of being a “Blackfish”, or a white woman profiting off her racial ambiguity, exploiting  the “exotic” appearance of minorities who regularly face discrimination. Though Grande has repeatedly refuted these claims, not all fans have been swayed by her responses. Perhaps this verse is meant to serve as a reminder to leave room for her humanity along with our own as we all make mistakes on the path to finding our identity.

Regardless of how one might feel about the controversial careers both artists have held, ultimately this song with its accompanying music video is a showcase of the endurance these two women have acquired to maintain successful careers while navigating the pain of heartbreak, tragedy and loss in both of their lives along with the beauty that comes from releasing those tears while dancing joyously in the cleansing rain. 

About the author

Guilty Pleasures: Divas of YouTube

I’ve actually lived half a life that if I wanted to learn about the latest music, I go to YouTube, Vevo, or Vimeo.  ‘The other half before, I would go to MTV, VH-1, or BET.  This isn’t one of those “yesteryears articles,” so don’t worry.  You’ll be spared of any stories.  I thought I’d talk about some of the ladies of YouTube that I’ve been occupying my time with, lately.. .If you haven’t heard of them, you might be glad you just did.  Each one of them are very unique, even amongst themselves, so I think you’ll be entertained by my choices  These are my Guilty PleasuresDivas of YouTube.

Yeah…I know. You try to find a better word for “woman who musically vocalises or stylises well.”

 

Lion Babe

“We wanted there to be a certain duality, like there is with Blondie, with me as the frontwoman, you might think I’m Lion Babe, but it’s like, no, we’re Lion Babe. We liked that. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and rocking it.” – Jillian Hervey  to Billbard magaine

Well, it worked!  Lion Babe is actually the duo of Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman, and I thought it was a diva that liked to show off her handsome boyfriend in her videos. Jillian Hervey is the singer/dancer combo we have all come to know and love in entertainment, and Lucas Goodman is a producer. I think that he plays guitar and some other instruments, as well as handling sound quality, but there is not very much written about him.

As a style, I would describe them 2 parts Erykah Bahu, 1 part Beyoncé at her funkiest, and a big pat of Doja Cat for thickening and smoothness.

Atmosphere-wise, Goodman does not stick out like “The Other Guy from Wham!” and have you wondering “WTF is he doing here!?” He’s more like “The Other Guy from PM Dawn.” You think, “Okay, I don’t mind. Just be good and don’t get in the way of the real talent.  (I’m kidding.  Hervey is very vocal that Goodman is the full other half of Lion Babe.)

Lion Babe has some visually appealing videos that compliment the music, well. Lion Babe has worked with Moe Moks, Disclosure, and Childish Gambino.

For trivia sake, you may want to know that Jillian Hervey is the daughter of Ramn Hervey II and former Miss America, Vanessa Williams. She is also the niece of actor Chris Williams and great-great-great-granddaughter of William A. Fields, a former USAmerican slave that was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives during Reconstruction.

 

Brooke Candy

“I have been kicked out of my home for being gay.  I felt that.”  –Brooke Candy

Brooke Candy is a straight up succubus that found YouTube and said, “Bet! I’ll never go hungry for souls and sex again!” Background-wise, Brooke Candy is a rapper/singer, songwriter, fashion stylist, and director from LA.

Her father is Tom Candy, a former CFO for Huslter. In fact, Larry Flynt was even in one of her videos. (Then WTF did she get thrown out the house for being gay!!? I guess you can be as sleazy as you want in the Candy Household.  Just don’t be gay…)

I think that musically speaking, she is probably still trying to fine tune her exact sound. She screams, “Brooke Candy is in The House looking to fuck!” That’s about it, for the most part.

She is one of those entertainers whom’s music is sometimes hard to separate from her videos because she puts so much into the imagery and story of the video, itself.

Some of her music is like that of many of the nasty girls of rap’s, but with a good helping of Lady Gaga and Lords of Acid. However, she is not above pop tunes like “Volcano” or “Paper or Plastic.” Brooke Candy even performs jazzy and happy songs like “Nasty,” and flat out sings ballads in songs like “Living Out Loud” and “Freak Like Me.”

If I could sit down with Brooke Candy, I’d love to get her drunk and have her tell me the real stories behind each and every one of her tattoos.

 

Zheani

“You said you fucking picked me, cos I looked like your daughter, sixteen.  You’re ‘disgusting paedophile cunt!  ‘Hope you’re glad that I’m finally gushing!” – Zheani, The Question

Zheani, also known as Zheani Sparkes, is an Australian rapper that received a lot of press and social media attention and from her controversy with Die Antwoord.

According to Zheani, she was a fan that was contacted, groomed, and then lured to South Africa to meet Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones), where he gave her drugs, alcohol, and performed strange sexual and mental acts both with and against her will at times. This was a part of his conditioning to make her a convenient human sex object.

According to Die Antwoord, Zheani has been called everything from a former girlfriend, a fan, an employee, and even a satanic prostitute looking to come up. Ninja said he had her flown to see him, but felt “catfished” when she arrived. Even though he was displeased with her, he had sex with her, became friends, and even hired her.

I’m not going to get into the controversy anymore. I felt that I had to touch on it for her background. As for the rest of it, much of the money she got for her career she got as investments from crowdfunding and what she might call “creative marketing.”

I think this is a shirt is actually merch from her site.

What can I say about Zheani’s style? Zheani sort of reminds me of an anime pixie with an angel’s voice, and a sailor’s vocabulary. She likes to sing and rap about having a good time and screams about the bad ones…but it ALL sounds great! Of course when she vocalises about lighter and happier things, the melodies of the music fit; it’s almost two different great styles.  However, I think she really shines when she’s angry or excitable, like in “Powder Tuff” and “The Question.”

Zheani was good enough to put her whole EP, “The Line,” on YouTube with filtered background images of her.  In fact she has many playlists on her YouTube channel.

 

Snow Tha Product

“Yo soy primero, no nunca creo en el last.  I don’t need a record label, I already got my fans.” –Snow Tha Product on Snow Tha Product Quotes Facebook, December 23, 2018

I get the feeling that her name is more telling than people realise, in the fact that the personality is somewhat of a product. When I look at the total package of Snow Tha Product, I get the feeling that she and several individuals sat down to think of the best YouTube personality that she could become…and that is the brilliance of who she really is.

While I do not believe that Claudia Alexandra Feliciano, the person, and Snow Tha Product, the entertainment personality are 100% the same, I do believe that Claudia Feliciano is a scrappy spirit with some street in her, and one of the laws of the street is that if you are a hustler, then have your hustle game on point; be the best you can be and to see all the angles.

I think that Snow Tha Product is the epitome of certain facets in Claudia Feliciano, so where there may be some exaggeration, there are still no true lies. Snow Tha Product is a product based on a true story: A Mexican-American bilingual, bisexual rapper that still loves to party and mix it up.

Snow Tha Product is just as entertaining and addicting to listen to when she spits English or Spanish. She’s sexy. She’s bold. She’s even cute when she wants to be. (not nearly as often as I wish she was, BUT…that could be a part of her charm that just isn’t meant for me)

Trivia: I believe that she is a mother of one son (about 11 years old), and said she wanted to be a social worker when she was growing up.

 

Ashnikko

“pooping is honestly the best part of my day I swear to god” – Ashnikko on Twitter, September 29, 2019

I think Ashnikko, Ashton Nicole Casey, is how a lot of non-Millenials see Millenials.

We are all products of our times, in some aspects. They try to mold us by their rules. ‘What’s acceptable for race, sexual, sex, professional, as well as so many other relations. As we grow up, we push, ignore, and create our own norms. The distance we travel and the morals that we establish, much to the dismay to the ones that came before us, become the new times that contribute to, and judge the new future.

I’m sorry, I tend to wax didactic. ‘Back to Ashnikko. None of the artists that I’ve mentioned in this article can really fit in a box. No style of anything should really be absolutely uniform or predictable. Ashnikko practices this concept very well. She raps. She sings, but what is her style? That’s hard to explain, because not only would Ashnikko not be able to exist 20 years ago, (Such fusions of styles and images would be far too unfamiliar and incompatible.) but her style is understood without words, as her image is almost cliché…for the times.  (Am I the only one that could see her dating Oliver Tree for a second, only to have him stalking her for the rest of her life?)

Ashnikko is a sign of the times. She is an avatar. She is Hip Hop with a Punk aesthetic, an weeaboo frame, a digital coating, and creamy inside that has a slightly more refined and aged taste than you would expect. Oh, and she smells female. She smells extremely female, which of course attracts other females. This seems to give her some amount of pride as well, despite not really trying for any male attention, except as a target for her rage for being mentally inferior. (“Stupid”)

Ashnikko: She’s NOW! Try some! You just might like her!

 

Jessi

“I don’t have to fake it. Real recognise real. They already know.” –Jessi, “Who Dat B

Ho, ho, ho! I had to write about this lady! She is the antithesis of many of the other ladies on this list! She is from the East, heavily dipped in music and culture from the West, and her love is serious! ‘Don’t understand? Just how Zheani surrounds herself in otaku kawaii in “LULU,” Ashnikko is portrayed in “Tantrum,” and Snow Tha Product gets down in her kigurumis in “NoWhere To Go,” Jessi immerses herself in the Hip Hop culture…However, Jessi can argue that Hip Hop IS her culture, and her claim to it is legitimate in almost every way. Let me explain…

Jessi was bourne Jessica Hyun-ju Ho, and as you might have guessed, is a Korean-American rapper/singer and songwriter. In fact, Jessi was bourne in New York, raised in New Jersey, and moved to South Korea when she was 15…Yeah, she was pretty much USAmerican when she moved.

I don’t know how attitudes are in South Korea, but I heard that North Koreans have a serious problem with Korean-Americans, and that would-be idols have suffered for it in the past.

Just like her Western counterparts that adopted music and culture from their opposite hemispheres, Jessi is attracted to the more flashy and attractive attributes of that music and culture.

Jessi is Gucci. Jessi is Cristal. Jessi is Ciroc. Jessi is Hennessy. I’m surprised there isn’t a project with Jessi and Lil’ Wayne somewhere. (Somebody get Weezy on the phone!)

 

Whitney Tai

“It’s been difficult releasing music, but I remind myself that everything made in love must permeate and keep us bonded together in strength.”  –Whitney Tai, April 13, 2020

I have been enjoying this woman’s music for some time, now.  I have listened to her music break through the mold of time and trend, and become something truly timeless.  Even songs like “To Be Loved” seem to have matured and evolved, when listen to, in recent performancesWhitney Tai sings with heart, soul, feeling,  and true talent, separating her from a sea of synth and autotune in her own atoll of sonic beauty.

If this was 4,000 years ago, Whitney Tai would be sunning herself in shallow waters luring mariners into the foamy depths with her beauty and song.

Whitney Tai is a true balladier.  Her style poetically and organically swims in pop, jazz, rock, tech/synth, and even country when the desire arises.  Whitney Tai’s music has no boundaries of stone; only of sensibility.

The 1905

While Whitney Tai definitely deserves the lion’s share of credit for her growth, she has worked with many people along the way, including an inner circle of similarly talented musicians and professionals in the biz.  Men like Tim Janssens, aka Sunfreakz, and Andrew Kingsley have worked with her for years on many occasions, forming a perfect synergy both on stage and in the recording studio.

In fact, Whitney Tai and Andrew Kingsley also have their own group, that like Lion Babe, is a full partnership in music, completely different from Whitney Tai in feel and style:  The 1905

Whitney Tai dropped her latest LP, “Apogee,” a couple of weeks ago.  Her single, “Surrender” is enjoying rotation on some impressive playlists at the moment, and is receiving great reviews from critics and fans of music everywhere. Her single, “Righteous,” comes out May 12, 2020.

 

Conclusion

These are some of my ladies of YouTube. There were quite a few others that I enjoyed to some degree, yet didn’t quite find them entertaining enough to feature in this article. I even contemplated making this a two or three part article, but in the end, I just wan’t feeling them enough. If you want to check them out, feel free:  Alice Chater, Nitty Scott, Bebe Rexha, AleXa, SoRi, Ängie, Qveen Herby, and Kerli.

Some of them like Alice Chater and Bebe Rexha sound somewhat dated and ordinary, while acts like AleXa, Ängie, and Qveen Herby should probably work well on paper, but also seem ordinary. I guess at one time, they would have been a little edgy, but you can’t just say “pussy” and expect be shocking anymore. You also can’t depend on trendy directing in a cool music videos to carry a song, either.

The one honourable mention that I wanted to be on this list was SoRi, but there just wasn’t enough recent stuff from her released. From what I understand, she had some small amount of success about 5 years ago, and she is in the middle of her comeback, but two songs are not enough to get a good idea of her.

I should say that I was impressed by what was out there, and both songs and videos were very different from each other. This speaks to me of hopes that her style is very versatile and that there will be different sides to her as an entertainer.

So what do you think? After you get a chance to check out some hyperlinks and listen to some songs for yourself, please come back and and share your opinions. Share and start some discussions. We would love to hear what you think.

Rango’s Smash Column – The Importance of Music in Super Smash Bros.

When Super Smash Bros. released in 1999, it brought with it 12 characters from 10 different franchises. With each character, a stage, and with each stage, a song from their respective game. These throwback tracks, arranged by Kirby composer, Hirokazu Ando, brought forth the love of Nintendo’s 18 year history. But when Super Smash Bros. Melee arrived in 2001, it changed the gaming music landscape forever.

Melee’s soundtrack changed the landscape thanks not only to its orchestral remixes, but the sheer quality and quantity of music. Not only did each stage feature one of these beautiful arrangements, but some of the stages even had a “hidden” track which could play if you held the correct button down while picking the stage. In addition to both F-Zero and EarthBound gaining a stage, Nintendo even brought over Fire Emblem’s recruitment theme, “Together, We Ride.” This piece in particular became an instant favorite among players. In fact, it created so much impact that Nintendo even re-used the theme as the recruitment theme for the first western release of the series, Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, in 2003.

You can listen to Melee’s orchestral playlist here.

My Music

When Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrived for Wii in 2008, director Masahiro Sakurai once again changed the gaming landscape. Introducing the My Music feature, players could pick and choose which songs they wanted to hear. No longer limited to one or two tracks per stage, each stage featured a handful of tracks dating back years to the series’ respective history. Brawl’s soundtrack even included music from series not represented by characters in Smash.

Not only did My Music bring in a much wider variety of tracks, but it introduced multiple composers to compose on the same game. Final Fantasy veteran composer, Nobuo Uematsu, composed the game’s opening theme. And various songs would be handled by well-known composers of video game music. Yoko Shimomura, Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, and more would contribute to a singular soundtrack. This tradition would continue through Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Smash 4).

In Smashville and Town & City, K.K. Slider would appear, on Saturdays, to play one of his songs.

One particular thing to note, unfortunately, is Square-Enix‘s lack of contribution to Smash’s music. When Cloud came to Smash 4, he was given only two battle themes from Final Fantasy VII. Neither were remixed. While fans lauded Cloud’s debut in Smash, many of them sent backlash towards Square-Enix, accusing them of being stingy.

The Ultimate Soundtrack

When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, it featured over 900 tracks. This includes nearly every track from the Smash series history as well as new ones featured for many of the stages. Even Capcom, creators of Street Fighter and Mega Man, let Nintendo use nearly their entire Street Fighter II soundtrack just for the Suzaku Castle stage. Plus, some stages received a prominent number of remixes. Wily’s Castle received a dozen new remixes alone just for the love and recognition of the Mega Man soundtracks.

Michiru Yamane, one of the composers for Smash 4, composed music for the Castlevania series. One game later, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would introduce the Castlevania series to the line-up. Sakurai would later showcase this in a Nintendo Direct. Much like Mega Man, Castlevania is highly reputable for its music among fans.

DLC

When Joker, from Persona 5, debuted in Smash, Sakurai did something special with the character’s stage, Mementos. Featuring remixes from Persona 3, 4, and 5, the song you picked on the stage would change the stage’s very color and thematic. Even Joker’s victory theme would come from the respective game that the song was playing.

Once again, however, with the debut of Dragon Quest‘s Hero in Smash, the character was given zero remixes and only a handful of songs from Dragon Quest’s legendary soundtrack history. Much like with Final Fantasy’s lack of music in Smash 4, fans would once again react similarly to Square-Enix’s reported stinginess.

On the flip-side, however, Banjo & Kazooie’s entrance into Smash brought many wondrous tracks from their titles into Smash. Sakurai even noted that this was the first time he collaborated with a western composer for music in Smash. The composer in question was none other than Banjo-Kazooie series composer, Grant Kirkhope. He would arrange the series’ main theme for Spiral Mountain stage.

Also noteworthy was Terry Bogard’s debut into Smash brought perhaps the single biggest selection of new tracks, including remixes, to the King of Fighters*** Stadium stage. Not only did this introduce many new fans to the wondrous tracks of Fatal Fury and SNK’s history, but even Sakurai showed his love for their music in his Nintendo Direct.

Finally, Byleth’s inclusion to Smash introduced the final bit of first-wave DLC. Their reveal included a stage – Garreg Mach Monastery – along with a new arrangement of their game’s main theme. The stage also received tracks from the critically-acclaimed Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Mii!

Finally, one of the biggest surprises for fans was the debut of Sans, as a Mii Fighter, from the notable RPG, Undertale. In addition to the Mii Costume entering the game, Sakurai featured a remix, arranged by composer Toby Fox himself, of Megalovania. Fans reacted with great joy upon hearing this news. Similarly, Cuphead’s Mii Costume also featured Floral Fury, a boss theme from the game, but it was not a remix of the song.

Final Thoughts

One cannot understate the importance of Smash’s musical presence. It contains over 40 years of history and roughly 1,000 tracks of memories and new introductions to players. All of these tracks either came from their respective games or were remixed by talented composers.  Furthermore, you can even take your Switch with you and play it using a Playlist feature. This debuted initially in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. With each game’s soundtrack building over the last, it would not be a surprise to state that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has one of the best soundtracks in gaming history.

What are your favorite songs in the Smash series? Let us know in the comments below.

Guilty Pleasures: Weird Rappers

This started out as a hybrid article in the “What’s Cool Now” and “Guilty Pleasures” varieties, but I realised that if this really was so cool, I wouldn’t feel so guilty enjoying it. There is a cheesiness to it. I obviously don’t mind proclaiming my love for things I consider a little tacky or weird; those of you familiar with the older version of the site will remember my old “Guilty Pleasure” series. I just don’t want to be one of those folks that lies to himself thinking that just because I like it, it’s cool.

With that being said, join me as I take a small voyage of the senses, and introduce to you several artists that I think fall into the category of “Weird Rappers.”

 

Necro

I remember seeing this guy’s stuff maybe 10 years or more ago. I came across one of his videos, White Slavery, by accident. From what I can remember, it began with Necro in gimp mask giving shout-outs to some folks before he began rapping and eating a hot Italian meal in an aluminum takeout pan, on the ass of what looked like a sex-slave in distress. It was definitely unsuitable for YouTube.

At that time I thought he was just some creepy, weird internet gangster with delusions of grandeur. Who would be afraid of this guy? Who the fuck is this guy killing? How is he enslaving women and bitches? Who the fuck is he?

Well, for better or worse, that was my first impression. The atmosphere of the video is meant to illicit a strong response, but then Necro also opens his mouth…Holy shit…some of the most disgusting shit I’ve ever heard in my life poured out. This guy has imagination and problems…but it doesn’t stop there! The boy can rhyme!

Richard Pryor’s supposed words of wisdom come to mind: “You can’t just have no curse show!” In other words, Necro wouldn’t have amassed his cult following on just being some disgusting weirdo with the manners and vocabulary of some MARTA dweller. The boy can spit! Necro is so witty and inventive with is rhymes, with the sick and evil shit he says, you actually start to feel ashamed of yourself. You have to acknowledge the skills. Your body is moving a little without your permission.

Necro is definitely a gimmicky and dark themed rapper. I’m not saying that he really is a gangster that kills people, sleeps on mattresses full of money, and has a dungeon full of hoes like he raps about, but the darkness and inventiveness is there and real, nonetheless.

 

Tyler the Creator

Tyler the Creator is probably the most famous featured name on this list. He’s one of the founding minds of Loiter Squad, a group of dare stunt lovers in the same vein of Jackass (associates and producers). (Loiter Squad also created skit and prank comedy.) Who he is as a rapper is more complicated because of what he was.

Tyler the Creator was a young, brash, and irreverent well-spring of energy, testing the limits of taboo, his own creativity and powers of expression, and senses of daring and adventure. A lot of his style that I brushed off as just childish gibberish was kind of a clever camouflage for other issues. However, like anyone that puts such cryptic allusions in their art, Tyler the Creator wants you to follow the bread crumbs to his secrets. He’s just not going to make it too easy or apparent for the average person that can’t handle them. He wants you to crack the code. He wants to be caught…Also, I do honestly think that some of weirdness was just for weirdness sake. (Yeah, that’s snarky youth for ya.)

Tyler the Creator needs to push you away three spaces for every one that he lets you in. I also think that in his creativity there is a mad scientist curiosity and amusement in seeing how people will react to aspects of his being, both what he presents and what they assume.

Okay, I just went a lot more into the person than his rap style, but that’s only because my ideas of him changed in listening to him and learning about the person. I think that you will always find the strange in his work. He is a stranger person. However, the average person often mistakes the strange, eclectic, or misaligned with goofy, immature, or mentally skewered.

Oh, BTW, if you haven’t seen any Loiter Squad, see you some. As a big fan of weird comedy, I whole-heartedly endorse them. If you like Eric Andre, I think you’ll like this; it’s comparable, but not exactly the same.

 

Oliver Tree

As a character, Oliver Tree is a weird vaping, bowl-cutted scooter boy with huge skateboy bell-bottoms,  Physically, he a mash-up of the same version of the same weird boy circa 1991, 1998, 2003, and 2018, but that’s not all that’s so familiar about him. Oliver Tree also has so many aspects that are almost frankensteined from some of pop culture’s best weirdos. His bowl cut would make Moe Howard proud, not to mention Doc Ock, who would probably sign off on his specs as well.

Oliver Tree is sort of famous and I didn’t even know it. He has a song, Hurt, that has been getting good regular airplay for about a year now. Calling Oliver Tree a weird rapper may be a stretch. He is definitely weird, but he is one of those singy rappers. He’s got a unique voice that lends itself well to singing, rapping, and that weird place in between that his songs tend to live in half the time.

Oliver Tree’s musical style is almost two styles. Some songs he straight up raps. Most of his songs are actually songs complete with chorus, but in which he sort of rap-sings the verses. It all fits together, though.

As far as what Oliver Tree raps about, each song is like a conversation with someone that he is apologetic to for some sort of weird misunderstanding. Sometimes his songs feel like the confessions of an alien weirdo pleading his case to a jury in the Court of Normalcy. Other times they are upwellings of emotions from not being good enough.

Oliver Tree is a lot like Tyler the Creator in the sense that his music is a major aspect of his talents, but not limited to it.

 

Shakewell

I actually discovered Shakewell in a video that he did with Fat Nick (also featured in this article), for a song called Pemex. While I thoroughly enjoyed the combined efforts of the two, when it came time to examine Shakewell on his own, I was disappointed.

He’s all over the place. Sometimes he’s a redneck nobody. Sometimes he’s playing gangsta. Even his rapping style is inconsistent. Sometimes he’s a mumble rapper. Sometimes he goes T-Pain and sounds like he has a synthesiser shoved down his throat. It’s like he primarily uses hip hop to fuel his fantasies.

How does that make him different from a lot of hip hop artists or rappers? It doesn’t. I suppose that I expect a little bit more from indie artists; I think we all do. We expect a little more substance and integrity because these indie artists haven’t “made it” yet, but sometimes we underestimate the allure of fame and even near-fame. I think Shakewell likes playing the part of a rapper.

Maybe I’m being hard on Shakewell. Maybe I just don’t like his work. Maybe he’s just not so good. *shrugs shoulders*

 

Fat Nick

Fat Nick is pretty much an extension of Shakewell. Both of them are a part of the group “The Buffet Boys.” They do a lot of collaborations and appearances in each others’ videos, and their styles are similarly all over the place. However, if Shakewell is a trailer park gangsta wannabe, Fat Nick is the the Mexican kid that watched too much Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon and enjoys the image of Thug Life.

Of the two, I would say that Fat Nick is the more lyrically talented of the two. Visually, he also more entertaining, plus he exudes a weird sort of rainbow-enema aura of positivity.

 

SonReal

SonReal is a pop rapper. If I had to describe him, I’d say that if Weird Al Yankovic could do the fusion dance with Justin Timberlake, you’d get SonReal. I wouldn’t say that he seems very deep or has something to say. He just makes semi-witty rhymes that are catchy and easy to bob to.

I wish I had more to say about him, but he really didn’t strike me as much else as what I’ve said.  He’s very polished.  His strangeness is mathematical.   His oddness is well rehearsed.

 

Awkwafina

Before she was the wisecracking funny actress pigeon-holed into Asian comedies, Awkwafina was an internet personality that went viral in her response to Mickey Avalon’s own viral opus, My Dick. (My Vag)

‘Awkwafina’s rap style? In comparison to some of the folks mentioned here, her flow is much more natural. It’s also effortlessly clever. This could be because she’s just a cleverer rapper, but I think there’s a bit more to it. She raps like someone that not only listened to rap her whole life, but as someone that grew up in the culture that cradled and gave birth to it.

I know that Shakewell is this guy that messes with the guns and has boys around. I know that Fat Nick is a person of colour, and one of Shakewell’s Buffet Boys, but Awkwafina strikes me as more genuine. This little woman with the nasal voice of Asian mother complaining about why you don’t call home enough, and a Yiddish mother that does the same, actually has more authenticity in her being. It also helps that her rapping voice tends to me a silky smooth and laid back version of her speaking voice.  The differences between Awkwafina and Nora Lum, besides voices, are probably very few.

With all of this said, I almost forgot to mention my favourite thing about Awkwafina: She’s really funny. I always get a laugh. She doesn’t have to be weird or goofy. She doesn’t have to try too hard. Awkwafina is a straight up clever, funny, New Yorker with some street in her bones.

 

Die Antwoord

If anyone else on this list could possibly rival the following that Tyler the Creator has, it would be Die Antwoord. Die Antwoord is the crazy South African rap duo of Ninja and Yolandi. Die Antwoord has a musical style to go with their lifestyle. Die Antwoord can be described as ranging from experimental electronic to heavy incorporation of both traditional Native African and contemporary African styles; a rapid-fire techie tinny, drum bassy, African sound blast that is Die Antwoord’s music, with words to match.

Somewhere in their songs I also feel a strong impression from some of the British club groups of the 90’s like the Stereo MC’s and The Shaman.

I wish I could be cool and say that heard about them because of their music, but I was introduced to Die Antwoord in Chappie. Supposedly their characters ended up taking shape very closely to the musical identities Ninja and Yolandi portray.

There were some bits of controversy about some racism, gay bashing, and human trafficking, (Ninja and Yolandi supposedly lured another artist to live with them as their sex slave), but eh: who knows.

On a personal note, I don’t know what to say about Ninja and Yolandi’s life together.  I remember Ninja being very insistent that He and Yolandi were merely best friends to the point of family.  Then I find out that not only do they have a daughter together, but they are married, and adopted three more children together.

There’s something in how you choose to describe yourselves, and perhaps the important part is that they consider themselves best friends that became family before any other definitions.

 

Conclusion

I’m sure that there are more weird rappers that I could list, but these are the ones that really stuck out to me at the moment I decided to write this.  With the way that rap is evolving, and becoming more and more accessible to everybody, I think that many of the mainstream rappers would have been eligible for this list 10 years ago.  Some of them I’ve only heard of, like Post Malone.  Some of them, are actually very talented like Lil Nas X.  This explosion of variety is to be expected with so much new blood coming from so many new places; the genre and its norms becomes that more fluid.

Here’s to weird rappers:  for better and for worse.  From serious to ridiculous, may they continue to be a guilty pleasure and not an embarrassment.

What’s Cool Now: 2/3/20

Okay.  Way back in November of 2019, when I was revamping the site and didn’t know what direction I would be going in, I decided this new article series be bi-weekly, but I’m going to publish it somewhere between when I can and whenever I want.  ‘Don’t like it?  Tough.’  Anyway, enough of that.  Let’s get on with the goodies, shall we?

Rico Nasty

I came across Rico Nasty looking at Doja Cat videos.  She was featured in a song with her called “Tia Tamara.”  I didn’t really like the song, and video was just odd;not even cool odd.  I guess I didn’t think their styles mixed well.

Anyway, from what I gleaned about her, her mother is Puerto Rican and her father a Black rapper from the mainland USA.  Rico Nasty has been a maverick from an early age, getting kicked out of boarding school for possession of marijuana and developing her own style of rap based on listening to her father.

What I enjoy about Rico Nasty is that her songs are filled with energy, personality, and varying styles.  I don’t get bored with her songs, and there is no gimmick to them.  Where it is the rule of female MCs to use their sexuality in some way and in varying degrees, Rico Nasty could be a man and her flows, beats, and rhymes lose no cleverness.  They also lose none from her being a woman.  I think she might be one of the best MCs in the business.

Poppy

I’m sure that most of you have heard about Poppy, but I never really wrote anything about her, and I thought it would be a good time to.  For those of you that don’t know, Poppy (originally “That Poppy) is a living meme girl that originally spread on YouTube.  She is the joint project of Moriah Rose Pereira, the person who performs as Poppy, and Titanic Sinclair (Corey Michael Mixter), and YouTube personality.

Apparently Titanic Sinclair had some falling out with a past partner, Mars Argo (Brittany Alexandria Sheets), took her image, changed it a little, and used it for Poppy’s originally template.

Looking at what Poppy’s channel has been putting out, I think that Poppy has something planned.  Her videos have seemed a little “Illuminated” lately, and forbode almost planned cryptic symbols in them.  Yeah…don’t mind me.  Sometimes I just say weird shit, but this time it’s because I saw weird shit.

***When I originally wrote this article, it was in November 2019.  Don’t ask me why, but rather than rewriting something when I find out new information, I like showing the process of thought and production, and favour amendments to articles…

 

Anyway, it appears that Titanic Sinclair has repeated past behaviours and has fallen out with Poppy as well.  Poppy has stated that Titanic Sinclair used mind games and strange tactics to get what he wanted not only in the studio and project vision, but with Poppy’s heart as well.   ‘What kind of tricks?  How about threatening suicide when he couldn’t get his way and even physical, mental, and emotional abuse? (The physical abuse is supposedly public record as he was actually arrested for it with at least Mars Argo.) 

Dr. Diablo and the Rodent Show

At first I thought Dr. Diablo and the Rodent Show might have been something cool, but the more I look and listen, it seems like a case of a famous couple that built some sort of media empire, broke up, and one of them tried to keep it up with a new partner. 

I’m not sure who Dr. Diablo is.   He’s out there for looking up. (Who am I kidding.  I’m going to look him and provide a link somewhere in all of this.  It’s what I do.) The most important part of this duo is “the Rodent,” aka Ratfink of Alien Sex Fiend, whom’s last project was something called “Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show.” (‘Seem familiar?)

Dr. Diablo almost seems forced into his position of replacement.  In promo ads and pictures, it looks like his best attempt at looking fiendish and evil is looking constipated or being fucked by a gorilla with a giant corkscrew dick.

In the end I think the imagery is pretty cool, a throwback to the great rock shows of old.

***Yeah, I looked for info on Dr. Diablo, but I couldn’t find diddley.  Who knows.  Maybe he’s the money behind this act.

Duckie L’Orange

Duckie L’Orange is a fucking weirdo, but like most weirdos, she’s also a genius.  Duckie L’Orange is a performer that not only specialises in entertaining children, but adults in adult fashion.  Hailing from Germany, she is known for her strange and unorthodox style of comedy

Recently, she gained a little attention because of a television appearance on Germany’s equivalent to “America’s Got Talent,” and her “Bumhound” skit.  There was a time when comedic geniuses like Duckie L’Orange received their due.  Now they get cult status from the few that get their humour, like Tim and Eric.

I’m going to cross my fingers and hope she performs here in The States.

Bonsai Pop

Bonsai Pop is a group of guys (Grant, Mike, Tyler, and Ryan) that write retrospectives on anime and their influences on pop culture.  Their pieces are very insightful, and the a part of the reason that I watch YouTube more than actual television and cable.

Bonsai Pop does a great job at disassembling their subject matter not only by plot, language, or other aspects of literary storytelling, but by explaining other intangible feelings that most of us felt watching these anime, as well as what the creators might have been trying to express.

Another part of their appeal is that they do not just pander to new anime, but anime from the turn of the century and before. (I find many new anime lacking in many areas.)

Other than that, I wanted to also share some new media. (Well, it was a lot newer in November, but I’m sure some of this is new to some of you.)

Midnight Pulp

Midnight Pulp is a streaming service for “All Things Strange.” Right off the bat, I gotta tell you that this reminds me a lot of the vibe I used to get from watching Night Flight late at night and being introduced to Indie films as well as the strange in Hollywood.

Well, while I don’t think that Midnight Pulp is as big on the Indie tip as Night Flight was in the day, they showcase some great gems from all cult corners of cinema, including sci-fi and kung-fu. 

Their collections are even grouped by innovators in acting, writing, and directing.

Tubi

If you do not know what Tubi is, then you are missing out.  Tubi is a streaming service that shows great movies, television series, documentaries, and mockumentaries for free.

Their video selection reminds me a lot of when Netflix was new, not featuring new movies from the last couple of years, but they do have some great ones from 3 or more years.  Tubi has a lot of horror and great B movies from the 70’s-10’s.

Tubi features movies and television from Filmrise and Full Moon Features, as well as many other film and television groups.  

I cannot stress how great a service Tubi is.  It was a huge factor in my canceling of Netflix after so many years.

Genius

Genius is s site that explores the meaning behind the lyrics of popular songs.  Sometimes they even have the artists explain the meanings of songs.  

That’s it.  I dunno.  Sometimes the idea is pretty cool.  Check Genius out to see what I mean.