Wednesday, November 01, 2006

K-Fed and Lady Sov voted Least Likely to Save Hip-Hop, Class of 2006

Perhaps it's an appropriate sign of the times that Lady Sovereign and Keven "K-Fed" Federline released their debut hip0hop albums on the same day.

Tuesday marked the release dates for K-Fed's "Playing With Fire" and Lady Sov's "Public Warning," almost 13 years to the date that another famous late October release date brought us the classic hip-hop albums "Midnight Mauraders" from A Tribe Called Quest and "Enter the 36 Chambers" from the Wu-Tang Clan.

That date seems like it was a hundred years ago, compared to the Tuesday releases.

Lady Sov and K-Fed are two sides of the same coin: both are rappers who come from foreign lands (Sov is from London, K-Fed from Fresno County), both have aliases that represent authority figures (Sovereign means chief of state in a monarchy, while Federline may be the first rapper ever to incorporate anything with "Fed" into their MC monikor), both are white but allow little to no reference to that fact in their respective music.

(Reading up on the two, I've been surprised by the amount of media coverage they've recieved. In fact, two stories on the news wire appeared today only one story apart, separated, appropriately, by a story on Keith Urban)

But that is where the comparisons end. Reading wire stories on both artists this week, I'm reminded of how times have changed, yet at the same time, almost nothing surprises me regarding hip hop anymore. The fact that these two will share shelf space in the hip-hop section at Best Buy is everlasting proof.
For those keeping score at home, Lady Sovereign was Jay-Z's big find, a London raptress who would appear to be the anti-Fergie. Sov is hyperactive, noisy, and possibly the rap rookie of the year. Her song "Love Me or Hate Me" shot to number one on TRL, and she's about to blow. Oh, and she's an indy rapper with some credible talent.
K-Fed, on the other hand, seems to have the talent of a man who has made a living getting other people to do stuff for him. He's been framed as the ultimate tailcoat rider, and the world's second-biggest kept man (behind only that guy from the AAMCO commercials who bagged Barbara Streisand).

While K-Fed may or may not possess actual rap skills (I only heard the leaked single "PopoaZao" and, not surprisingly, I was left quite unimpressed) he does have the wherewithal to hire people who do have credible rap skills. Namely, Bay Area rapper Ya Boy is among those who were enlisted to write K-Fed's rhymes. K-Fed also hired producer XL, who has worked on some of The Game's mixtapes and songs.

Ultimately, what this weird release date signals is that anyone who puts even the most minimal amount of effort into it can release a hip-hop CD. Sovereign is a cockney high school drop out who came up under UK grime and is now recording tracks with Missy Elliott; K-Fed just got lucky with the right teen pop queen and is now trading verses with some of Oakland's hyphy elite.

Maybe one day, when I release my rap album, I'll reach out and get Lady Sov and K-Fed together on a track. It'll be a remix to my first single, "Everybody and They Momma (or Famous Baby Daddy) Can Do This Rap Thang." Barbara Streisand's husband will produce the track, and Britney will make an uncredited appearance on the hook.

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