Ca$his The County Hound EP

[Shady/Interscope; 2007]

Styles: hip-pop, pop-hop, pop
Others: Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Nelly, Puff Daddy, J.Lo

I don’t know where Marshall Mathers finds these losers, and I don’t care. Everything Eminem has touched since the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile has been a hilariously tragic and trivial farce of what gangsta rap was supposed to be 10 years ago. Remember when this kinda music was authentically dangerous and rappers didn’t hold press conferences for their feuds? Seems like a lifetime ago. Slim’s latest project is Windy City-cum-Orange County twerp Ramone Johnson, who decided to sell out the memory of Muhammad Ali (a.k.a Cassius Clay) and, by association, the entire African-American struggle and civil rights movement by naming himself Ca$his. Apparently -- prepare to be shocked -- Ramone is a gangsta.

Okay, he’s not really a gangsta. That’s just what his publicist wants the buying public to believe. After the obligatory, cliché, played-out, “shoot that nigga for standing on the wrong sidewalk” intro, the first track is actually called “That Nigga A Gangsta” and features the predictable-as-gravity chorus “You lookin’ at my face sayin’ ‘That nigga a gangsta.’” Well, ignoring the fact you can’t see his face on the album cover because it’s masked by a flimsy garage sale bandana, the only people saying this yuppie motherfucker is a gangster are also on Interscope Records. Naturally, the rest of the EP follows the same lyrical rap formulas of I-kill-niggaz-for-no-good-reason, fucking bitches, look at my shiny jewellery/vehicle, and, boo-hoo, the hood is so rough that has been done a billion times over in the exact same way, but still sells gold records based solely on a bullet-riddled, wife-beating image and a continually lowering minimum of tangible skill. This American Idol wannabe reject wouldn’t know what a gun looked like if it wasn’t in his press photo. Real gangsters don’t move from Chicago to LA just to try to get a record deal, like Ramone did. Real gangsters are too busy being gangsters to pursue their art across the country. Now I’m not “hating on” a brother for trying to make something of himself. I’m calling this a$$hole out for bettering his own situation at the cost of his former people’s future. In any color, that’s complete horseshit.

For whatever reason, people have this disassociative disorder that allows them to identify with this shit, where they think Ca$his is talking about them and their lives or something remotely close. Listening to a self-proclaimed criminal talk about the life he’s seen other people lead in the ghetto (didn’t you see CB4?) has the pornographic effect of allowing white kids who leave stickers on their non-curved New Era caps to live out the fantasies MTV told them to have, encouraging them to forget they’re on their way to work at Starbucks and lull them into being mindless little citizens. Yes, ‘angry black people’ also buy this music at HMV with the aim of justifying and, which is more, glorifying the shit end of the stick they’ve been dealt since Whitey stole gunpowder from Japanese fireworks, packed it into metal tubes with steel pebbles, and started policing the world, and that is also a major problem. Since the people who buy this bubblegum tripe have such narrow, singular tastes, it’s destroying any chance of socially positive mainstream hip-hop making a real impact (Kanye West being one of the rare exceptions since The Fugees broke up). Which is more, every word Ramone says, down to his sacrilegious name, is raping and condemning the entirety of black culture in America to face the repercussions of having to fit the mold he’s perpetrating but never personally lived. Ca$his is selling a government-grade disease, and the lineup to get it goes around the block.

As you would expect, County Hound is as musically stale as trend-defined pop always has been. Its beats are all the same cookie-cutter, gun-clap banality 50 Cent made profitable, except Eminem makes the mistake of producing half of the EP. Marshall shockingly provides the best beat he’s ever made for “Ms. Jenkins,” based totally on his sampling of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but the fact is he really needs to stop producing tracks and, more importantly, albums. Even the ditties Shady isn’t personally responsible for aren’t a whole hell of a lot more fulfilling artistically. They’re all so creatively stagnant and horribly basic that anyone with a copy of Reason or an MPC1000 and a few hours could make pretty much the same album, minus the pointless rhymes. Naturally, you or I couldn’t get the rights to sample Queen, but that’s all that separates them and us as musicians. Don’t let these soulless wankers spoonfeed you your art and sell honkey rejects your culture. Make it better and let these fucks dissolve into the inconsequential sludge they are. Once you know these celebrities don’t exist, you can see right through them.

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