The city of G’s
It’s readily apparent that hip-hop is a musical form that has been driven, primarily, by African-American artists, with the notable exception of Eminem, arguably the only critically respected “white rapper” in the history of the genre. But mainstream hip-hop has become hamstrung by its own conventions. Songs are littered with the same kind of overt posturing that originally made hip-hop so different from the typical pop offerings—posturing that brags about bitches and hoes, that overtly calls for drug or alcohol abuse, that frankly discusses violence and that presents the speaker as some kind of street-thug Superman.
On the other side of the fence is hip-hop that turns its back on the thug-Superman act. Case in point: Mr. P Chill, a local white hip-hop artist who performed last week at Shady Brady’s in Roseville. Backed by a full band dubbed “Trunk of Funk,” which included DJ Double Ace on turntables, Chana on bass, Javier on drums and Vlad on guitar, Mr. P Chill offers a relatively high-speed barrage of words that is reflective of his own life experience. It’s an interesting standpoint, and it’s an important one given both Mr. P Chill’s ethnicity (Anglo) and his environment.
However, it would be wrong to say that there is no hip-hop posturing in Mr. P Chill’s stage show. Of particular note is Chill’s continual insistence on calling himself a “real MC,” so much so that in one song, he compares himself to P. Diddy, the implication being that P. Diddy is phony while P Chill is authentic. The central concern here is that underground hip-hop is more authentic (i.e. more honest and less polished) than its slick, radio-ready big brother; hence, P Chill is a “real” MC while P. Diddy is only a corporate phony. The viewpoint seems at best incredibly arrogant and at worst a nod toward exactly what P Chill claims to be against: hip-hop posturing. Even in “City of G’s,” the song that very well could be P Chill’s anthem, his commentary on the prevalence of gangsta rap in Sacramento is placed in stark opposition to what he’s doing as a “real MC.” In the end, though, his comments are of exactly the same character as other hip-hop artists rapping about their bling bling: i.e., what I’m doing is better than what you’re doing.
Mr. P Chill has a lot going for him: His band is tight, and seeing hip-hop played by actual live people on the stage, rather than by a sequencer, is already a step above the norm. (I particularly enjoyed Vlad’s guitar work, which was surprisingly subtle, given the music.) With a little more fine tuning, one hopes that Mr. P Chill will find a better balance between the “real MC” material and the “City of G’s” posturing. Otherwise, he seems to be falling into the same camp that he is trying to avoid; he’s just coming into it with a different microphone in his hand.