Notes Antic Disposition

Rap Confronting the Record Biz

A short history of rap songs that confront the nature of commercial rap and the record industry, amongst other things.

Check The Rhime, A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Industry rule four thousand and eighty”. Hip hop would never be the same since ‘88.


<h3>I Don’t Understand It, Big L (1994)</h3>

Big L was still a teenager when this was recorded. The song focuses on the dire state of rap at the time and the trend of ‘actors with record deals’ beginning to dominate the charts, stealing the limelight from artists with real skills and true backgrounds in hip hop.


<h3>Decisions, Decisions, Goodie Mobb (1997)</h3>

Notable for being one of the first groups to bring the Dirty South to a wider audience. Couldn’t be ignored because of its brilliant ending, with Cee-Lo jumping on the final verse to tell a vivid story about what happens to one unfortunate recipient of a rap contract.


<h3>Collude/Intrude, Company Flow (1997)</h3>

Released at the height of Big Willie mania, this is the song that defines the mantra independent as fuck. This represents the New York underground’s take on the degeneration of the artform into crass commercialism with fake gangsta aesthetics being used to feed record sales.


<h3>Deception, Blackalicious (1999)</h3>

This tells the same story as Decisions, Decisions, expanding it into a full song, with associated music video. The key message is something that everyone, not just rappers, could benefit from.


<h3>Freedom of Speech, Immortal Technique (2003)</h3>

It was probably not a good idea for A&R people to court Immortal Technique on behalf of mainstream record labels. It was an even worse idea to tell him he should tone down the political messages in his raps.


<h3>2nd Time Around, Brother Ali (2008)</h3>

Has nothing changed?