Music

Willie D: Loved By Few, Hated By Many

Dave Heaton

Willie D

Loved By Few, Hated By Many

Label: Virgin
US Release Date: 2000-10-24
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

The eternal debate about the genre of music simplistically labeled "gangsta rap" is often over whether the musicians are merely creating accurate snapshots of inner-city life, reporting "from the streets," or whether they are playing up the violence and toughness because that is what sells, because middle [white] America loves to buy the concept that "black" is equal to "gangsta".

"It Ain't Easy," a track from Willie D's latest album Loved By Few, Hated By Many, fits squarely in the former camp; it's a portrait of the effects of institutionalized poverty on society, using people's stories as examples. He touches on spousal abuse, drug use, black-on-black crime and a host of other topics. Using a soulful chorus as backup, Willie D raps about life in the projects in vivid detail, while turning a critical eye toward the societal factors influencing the tough conditions: "Growing up in the projects, where you can buy sex, and there ain't no telling who could die next / We wet our foes up consistently / I didn't make this .45, why you pissed at me?" A few other tracks follow similar patterns, especially "Dear God," a reworking of the XTC song of the same name, where Willie D turns his blame for inner-city living conditions towards God. The anger beneath the surface of these two songs blasts out to the front on "If I Was White," a snarling, blazing cataloguing of racism in daily life, from encounters on the street to larger issues involving police brutality and the criminal justice system.

If you listen to just four tracks on this CD (the above three and "U Special"), you might think that Willie D has something to say, or that he truly cares about people and the conditions in which they live. If you just listened to the other 14 tracks, you might throw this CD in the garbage without a moment's hesitation, depending on your tolerance for guns, machismo, egoism and more guns. While Willie D spends four tracks explaining, in a seemingly sincere way, how society has led his people to murder one another, he spends most of the album talking about how much he loves doing just that, murdering anyone who looks at him funny.

Willie D speaks with his guns, likes that the younger "killaz" look up to him as a role model, and has no time for women unless they're down on their knees. He spends over an hour letting us know how much of a man he is, all to flat-out boring beats. Of course it's possible to rap about inner city violence in a way that is descriptive instead of critical, and to do so well; the examples are endless. But Willie D relishes his role as a "killa" so much that when he tries to be some kind of social critic or attentive journalist, it's completely laughable, and his rhymes throughout the album are so unimaginative that they are equally laughable. It doesn't help that his skills as an MC are mediocre at best. His years with the Geto Boys built him enough of a reputation that he can keep making albums with major label distribution, but lord knows why. His persona is too cartoonish to be believable, too disturbing to be entertaining, and too dull to be either scary or the least bit worthwhile. To me, anyone who can say "I let my nuts hang to the floor cuz I don?t care!" and expect me to take him seriously is out of his mind. Leave this one on the shelf, unless listening to somebody brag about how big his guns are turns you on.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image