Reks – Rythmatic Eternal King Supreme
ILB’s always felt a loose brotherhood with Americans who blog about (association) football. There’s something admirable about the purity of thought that leads a man to dedicate his online real estate to the lengthy and passionate discussion of a sport he never saw a game of until his teenage years, if not later.
And coming to football later in life and devoid of the surrounding media that treats it as a day-to-day concern allows them to be free from the tribal allegiances of the Italian and English and Spanish sports writer. Free from the ghosts of Il Grande Torino and Shankly’s Boot Room and that Spanish gypsy from the 1910s who scored 500 goals then shat himself to death. As a result, the texts that these Septics put together are often intelligent, learned, considered and vaguely embarrassing.
I mean, that’s the point: without a grounding in the culture of what you’re writing about you’re a tourist. And yes, many Americans write amazingly about “soccer”, many Americans can spin out a narrative that takes in Pep Guardiola, Jack Greenwell and fucking, idk, Ernest Mandel far better than I can ever dream of, but it’s all a little bit like watching a kid at a dinner party sing “Frere Jacques”: it all sounds nice but they have no real idea of what the words coming out of their mouth actually mean.
So this is what I worry about with rap: am I too far devoid from the culture to be anything other than a permanent herb? ILB’s not worried about herbishness per se – we rep for Danny Wilson and Del Amitri, we know what’s poppin’ – it’s just that I don’t really want to stand toe-to-toe with Americans on this shit. This is why every time I’ve been asked to write about rap for American websites I kinda lose the invite in my coat pocket.
Remember crunk? I found that a big problem with this. Crunk broke in the UK circa 2002/3 and while it never really had a big populist following it got a lot of traction from people who’d never cared for rap before, apart from when Kid 606 was scratching the words “titties”, “ass” and “niggers” over and over again at a Shoreditch club night.
When I was a yoot, the path into rap fandom was basically set in stone: you started off with the Beastie Boys, went into Run DMC and De La Soul, went through a conscious rap phase, got into “Illmatic”, realized that “Illmatic” actually has a lot of guns on it so you go “fuck it” and buy “Ready to Die” and there you are. A rap fan. I’d say maybe 80% of British rap fans between the age of 23 and 35 followed this path to a loose extent. And I’m 99.99999% sure that most American rap bloggers didn’t have their eyes opened to the magic of hip-hop via “Three MCs and One DJ”, so I stfu.
What has this got to do with Reks? “Rythmatic Eternal King Supreme” is a really good album, probably my favorite rap joint of 2011 so far. It has a really weird track where he raps about killing every single rapper he enjoys (Blu is forced to swallow acid, smothering Jean Grae with his ass if you’re curious). He thinks Barack Obama is too white and he doesn’t approve of Tiger Woods’ taste in blart. He comes down pretty heavily in favor of Chris Brown via the gonorrhea rumors. And he didn’t enjoy the 2001 horror movie “Jeepers Creepers” (bet you’d forgotten Eileen Brennan was in that).
The problem? It’s boom bap. When was the last time you saw anyone with the ability to write about rap music coherently praise a boom bap album? Like 2002? Tumblr should probably invent some sort of hot key to insert “lol a dj premier production in 2011” into posts (Preem’s behind “25th Hour” here, one of the album’s best track).
So I worry, man. Maybe I like Reks because I don’t “get” rap music. Or maybe because I live in a world without Big Gulps and Taco Bell and Benny Hill being regarded as a comedy genius, I’m more qualified to call “Rythmatic Eternal King Supreme” the best rap album of 2011. Who knows?