I was recently caught in a youtube vortex where I eventually came across a video entitled Justin Bieber Exclusive Rap Hot 97. As a life long fan of rap, I took the bait. I was expecting the worst, but when the young musical prodigy began to rhyme, I was blown away. I found myself saying the same thing Dame Dash said when he first heard Kanye West rap, “he’s not even wack… he’s actually kind of hot!” Justin’s flow, his lyrics, and even his voice were, in a word… dope.
Since Justin is a white, pop-star teenager from Stratford Ontario, who is not known for rapping, the obvious question that came to mind was – who wrote these lyrics? Then I asked myself, is it that unbelievable that a person with a lot of life experience, a quick wit, a bank account full of money, a superstar girlfriend, a passion for music since a young age, and an acute perspective of the world could put together some crafty words? Who did I just describe – Justin Bieber or Jay Z? So far the pedigree adds up.
Music is inherently subjective so we’re never all going to agree on who’s the greatest rapper alive. However, most will put Jay Z, Eminem, or Nas in the top five. If Justin actually wrote his own raps, I would put his freestyle up against any of these greats. In one of the videos that I watched of Justin rapping (I watched three), he spit the following lyrics:
Number one hits, I got number one flicks, and the number one kicks, and number one chicks. Fast like Gordon, and my jams like Jordan, and my Tims like Hortons, and my jets all aboard in, and my wheels are like a fortune, and it feels like extortion. Is it for the fame or for the fortune, like this, mic-ness, so I can recite this, people in their basements say that I didn’t write this, people say I’m white so I couldn’t do it like this, checks like Nike let me give you a good night kiss…
Like his fellow mentor, Usher, Justin is forced to deal with a singing career while transitioning through puberty. In the same youtube vortex, I caught one of his recent performances and his golden voice was noticeably deeper and shaky at times. Usher pushed through this obstacle and parlayed his new sound into becoming one of the most successful recording artists of all time. Perhaps Justin will try to do the same, or he will abandon the voice that brought him to the dance and use this new sound to focus on his rapping instead.
Sure, calling Justin Bieber the Greatest Rapper Alive may be a little premature – he doesn’t have a 5 mic album in The Source, in fact he doesn’t even have a rap album, or even a charting rap song for that matter, but ask any Canadian about Justin Bieber and most will tell you that we are really proud of him. I for one will look forward to hearing more from this young talented rapper.
Article by Edward Mullen
Host of The Edward Mullen Podcast