Charisma and personality have always been a huge part of Hip Hop culture. Today’s youth call it swag, and though Revisionist and “segregationist” try their hardest to tell people otherwise, one view of Style Wars will depict SEEN talking about graffiti techniques while creating a corner store mural that shows & proves this fact. From the golden era to the height of the “lyricist age” of the ’90s, figures such as ICE T, Public Enemy, and ODB have shown how much charisma and personality are a part of this culture. The thing is they also had an undeniable talent. They respected the culture and took time to develop their craft to legendary results. As mainstream media and the internet have propagated and reinforced the culture of personality, the swag rapper has seen their inevitable rise. Ironically, as purest love to chastise and bemoan their existence, the inversion of the swagger rapper also developed. Emcees so hell bent on just being excellent rhymers true to the art form, they scribble insular repetitive thoughts into their notebooks and forget to “swag shit out”.
Unfortunately for San Diego resident Blame One he falls into the latter category. On Endurance, Blame is an “everyday man’s” type of emcee who pours honest reflective rhymes over traditionalist boom-bap production to very results. Ain’t nothing wrong with speaking about work, kids, and the good old days, but when one lacks lyrical dexterity, engaging concepts and experimental syncopation, there is little need to be an active listener, because we have heard it all before. I cringed as Blame One rehashed the tired territories of Hip Hop not being what it once was and wack rappers getting fame. Though his the lamenting is manageable, Blame’s mundane voice and formulaic song and album construction still made it difficult to sit through some songs. High-quality standout tracks like “Step It Up”, “Endurance”, and “Glass House” can’t save an album full of forgettable at times sappy corny shit like “Ateteaeight”, “The Illest”, “Right to Exist” and “Left Shattered”. When I listen to rap in 2010 I really don’t want to feel like I’m listening to music that would have a hard time existing on underground radio shows in 2000.
At times it seems Blame One is just going through the motions, lacking passion in his voice to resonate with a potential listener. Yet, it is clear from his content Blame One is dedicated to writing rhymes, cares how Hip Hop is represented, and more than likely is a real good dude away from the mic. Yet, those qualities aren’t the only recipe for making a thorough rap album. What mainstream swag rappers and underground post-backpack heads don’t seem to understand is that you need equal parts honesty (what we use to call keeping it real), charisma, personality, and talent to create great, not average rap music. Than again I could be misrepresenting Blame One as wanting to achieve such heights. Though it does begs the question: if just doing it for the love isn’t intrinsically tied to crafting something memorable, why create it at all? Endurance, like so much of today’s music will fade into obscurity, even if their are some moments worth checking out, and I say this because it sounds an artist sharing a hobby rather than a love.