As I indicated earlier in the week, I wrote a proposal for an entry in the 33 1/3 series, which is a pretty awesome set of books if you're into theory-heavy minutiae about albums most people have never heard of. If they picked me up and signed a contract with me, this would be for their 2011 roster, so I would have lots of time to un-AutoCorrect "ho's" and "Birdman." I don't think I have a good chance though. There are a lot of big-time critics who submitted ideas, and 33 1/3 has only started to include rap music recently anyway. We'll see. And don't feel bad if you don't read this all the way through. It's much drier than the actual book would be.
Um, Skip? You forgot to say "no homo." No, wait. You didn't.
When it leaked to the public in 2007, Lil’
My entry in the 33 1/3 series would begin with an examination of the musical climate into which Da Drought 3 was released. File-sharing programs and torrents have cut into traditional record sales—that’s old news—but we are just beginning to feel the impact of a culture whose music has none of the tangible media that signified it in the past. For example, in an age in which hip-hop audiences scrutinize Soundscan numbers as the only true measure of rap power (witness the 50 Cent vs. Kanye West battle from last year), it is impossible to calculate the concrete impact of Da Drought 3. We can only measure its sway by how many people quote “yellow diamond ring lookin’ like a little Funyun,” which is exactly what rap currency used to be. As contemporary as it is, the record is still a throwback in many senses. The fact that Lil’ Wayne invites people to get the music for free serves as a dare to any challengers, and the laissez faire attitude associated with the album’s release is the equalizer that shot him to the crossover stardom of Tha Carter III.
Countless sources have interpreted the question of how disposable music has become to the listening public. What they fail to do is negotiate the effects of that culture, and that can be done best through the prism of Lil’
At 2:37, Wayne actually uses air quotes.
An analysis of the give-and-take between the artist’s intention and the audience’s reception of the mixtape would also be essential. What kind of balance between those two elements shapes pop culture? For example, Lil’
So far, I’ve been using “mixtape” and “album” interchangeably, but a significant portion of my book would be an interrogation of what those terms mean in this new era of recording and promotion. Lil’
Da Drought 3 is a fascinating cultural development, but I haven’t mentioned anything about the experience of listening to the music itself. If I could criticize any aspect of the 33 1/3 books, it would be that the more academic entries don’t get across why people care about the music in the first place. Dai Griffiths’ pedantic OK Computer actually angered me with its refusal to touch on how viscerally satisfying listening to that album is. Above anything else, the music of Da Drought 3 speaks for itself. Into a bland climate of ringtone rappers and self-satisfied superstars, it was an idiosyncratic blast of sunshine. Confident in attitude but hesitant in delivery,
Here, there’s not only a need for a more in-depth, intricate analysis of Da Drought 3, there’s also a commercial opportunity for Continuum Press that goes along with that “most popular musician” tag. If even two percent of the two million people who have bought
As for the question of artist involvement, I don’t think I would seek Lil’
The main problem I foresee with this project is exposition. I would hope to strike a balance between telling the reader what he needs to know about Lil’ Wayne’s early career and the circulation of mixtapes while staying away from the shallow spoon-fed histories of those magazine articles I mentioned earlier. For someone to pick up a book about a prominent mixtape in the first place, it should be assumed that they have a modicum of knowledge about hip-hop. At the same time, however, I have to explain the spread of mixtapes to be able to argue about them, and understanding Lil’ Wayne the teenaged rapper is the key to understanding Lil’ Wayne the adult rapper. With his 33 1/3 book Achtung Baby, Stephen Catanzarite navigated a similar minefield in dissecting a turning point in U2’s career, and I would use his work as a model in that respect; in a short section of the text, he communicated the backstory he needed and moved on to the social and theological contexts that form the heart of the book. Structurally, I admired Don Breithaupt’s Aja, which he divided into logical, organic chapters focused on the preparation, recording, and aftermath of the album. I would not dedicate as much space to the specifics of recording, but I would strive for his clear organization. As far as tone, I would like to be more personal and warm than some of the more academic entries in your series, but, at the same time, the book is not about me. While my responses to the songs are important, I’m not going to be waxing about how Da Drought 3 stopped me from killing myself or anything. Again, this will be a balance between purely academic writing and, on the other end of the spectrum, the more interior, subjective criticism of something like Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk about Love. It would also share some of his knowing humor, despite how dry this proposal might be.
While I don’t write for a nationally-recognized magazine or website, I have deconstructed hip-hop and Lil’
If published by Continuum Press, I would be an active author on the promotional side. My day job as an English teacher allows a lot of holidays and time off in the summer, when I would be happy to tour in support of the book. I’ll do anything you want really. As Weezy would say, “I’m so hungry I could eat a star.”