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Pompous Circumstance: Rappers Behaving Badly

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Pompous Circumstance: Rappers Behaving Badly

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Releasing an album on 9/11 isn’t the only political thing about 50 Cent. In the upcoming issue of Rap-Up magazine, he acknowledges that George W. Bush has one talent: “He has less compassion than a regular human being.” But just when you think Fif isn’t so hateable after all, he goes and says something retarded like, “When I took a trip to Iraq—‘cause I went to perform for the soldiers in Iraq—they had the same vehicles that I ride around in New York.” Yes, little boy, it’s called a Hummer. you’re riding around the congested streets of Manhattan in a gas-guzzling war tank with trim, leather interior, stereo radio, and air conditioning. Makes you feel like a big strong man, don’t it?

In other annoying news…T-Pain, the man responsible for the Video Music Award-nominated, Hooked on Phonics-deprived, inexplicably chart-topping “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” recently spoke with MTV about the irritating voice-enhancing technique he employs throughout the song (and others—he even stinks up Kanye’s next single “Good Life”). He uses Auto-Tune, the software that, for the past two decades, has helped bad singers sound decent by pitch-correcting their recorded vocals. The effect is similar to the more retro vocorder, which uses filters and modulators to turn the human voice into something that sounds a lot like a robot and has been used by artists like Kraftwerk for decades. Only, according to T-Pain, to get Auto-Tune to sound funky, “you gotta sing in a key that’s between off-key and on-key,” which is almost exactly the same description French producer Mirwais used back during a 2000 interview when discussing his use of Auto-Tune on a certain pop superstar’s album. And that brings us to the most obnoxious thing about T-Pain’s interview with MTV: He essentially implies that he invented the technique, one that sounded passé when Madonna used it seven years ago. “You gotta ask my permission [to use it], man. That’s me,” he said. Apparently “me” is Cher circa 1999.

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.