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August 10, 2010


So for some reason I started collecting acoustic covers of hip hop, some amateur and some professional.  Jet from the Overdrone hooked me up with some, and others came from this insightful post over at Cover Laydown.  Then I found the vast trove of Youtube covers.

A lot of people get really pissed off at these; I guess they think they're insulting or mocking.  But it's far too much work to learn to play a song just for a stupid joke.  The literally thousands of covers you can find on YouTube are sincere in their own way; they're not blackface or wiggery, they're covers on the ukelele or $15 Target guitar.  This is not appropriation but, like any good covers, transformation and re-working within the musicians' (sic) genre, instrument and voice.

There are some covers I don't like, like the Ben Folds cover of "Bitches Ain't Shit" or the Obadiah Parker "Hey Ya", and most heavy metal covers.  There's a lack of contrast, or not enough cognitive dissonance, or something, that makes them uninteresting.  Then there's Duran Duran's "911 Is A Joke", which is just...too what-the-fuck.

I know I said last post these are not hip hop, but transforming music into something your own, and feeling it so much you gotta spit it--well, that is hip hop.  Look at the ukelele kid.  Holy shit, that is one un-gangsta motherfucker right there.  I especially love the comments:

Fallenknight155: You Fagget motherfucker why would you disgrace that song it's a rap song not one of your gay club songs. If I ever see you in the streets I'll deck you you in your chin

ChrisWestaway: i am ready to fight you.

But he loves "Bring The Noise" that much...?  That's the power of hip hop.  It makes some cats uncomfortable that kids at North Springfield Middle School know all the words to every song on Liquid Swords, but that didacticism is 20 years out of date and does not dilute hip hop one bit.

I keep thinking about that line in Michael Herr's Dispatches where he says "I saw a platoon [of Marines fighting in Vietnam] done up in Batman fetishes, it gave them a kind of dumb esprit."  There's a dumb gravitas to, say, "Gangsta's Paradise" which becomes a dumb mournful gravitas when it's remade into something off the Liquid Sky soundtrack.  There's a root in the blues in "The Message" which isn't apparent until it's covered as a blues song.  Is there an essential quality to "C.R.E.A.M." that is lost, or retained, when it's covered in the style of John Cougar Mellencamp Unplugged?

Or, you know, not.  I don't know, maybe I've lost my fucking mind.  They are pretty hilarious though.

Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuttin' To Fuck Wit - Joey, In The Dining Nook / Tubas Ain't Nuttin' To Fuck Wit - ThatKidsFine / Acoustic Wu-Medley - Sam The Recordmann / Cash Rules Every Acoustic Melody - Joe Reilly / Bring The Boise - Chris Westaway / Fuck The Police (Karaoke Version) - Joe & Derek / You're Gonna Get Yours - Joel Badeaux / Fight For Your Right (To Party) - S-Word / Gangsta's Paradise - Battery / Straight Outta Compton - Nina Gordon / The Message - Willy Mason / Gin & Juice (Deep Thoughts Mix)