Boogiemporium

Boogiemporium: Baby Love Lullaby: Lullaby Versions of Jay-Z

Don’t sleep. No, really, don’t sleep.

In the new era of baby products and products positioned for the young parent, Q. Records took hip hop where it had never been before. To the crib. Like, really, to the freakin’ crib. Enlisting the help of what I can only describe as some of the loneliest and saddest studio musicians on the planet, Q. Records went for a market that (I’m sure) they felt was being grossly underserved on the lullaby tip—the hip hop parent and their little hip hop spawn. And because any kid of a hip hop head couldn’t possibly listen to regular lullabies. No, those would simply not work. Instead, they opted to recreate instrumental versions of classics by one of the greatest rappers ever. Now, I’ve been around the music industry for nearly a decade now. To help differentiate something for you, when I say “industry” versus “business,” to make it easy, “industry” refers to the desperate, sad, vacuum of reason where products are shamelessly whorish and designed not for the pleasure of the end consumer, but rather to sucker the consumer out of their hard-earned cash in exchange for a lackluster end product. “Business” is where rappers ride around in limos all day sipping on carbonated beverages leaving them in a sustained state of intoxication. Sometimes the two separate entities cross paths, but it’s rare.

When I was a kid, I’m not entirely sure what lullabies I listened to. Possible I didn’t listen to any. I came from a classical family, but that was long before the notion that listening to baroque could turn you into an astronaut or whatever it’s been proven to do. I probably found my way to fall asleep to anything. Suppose that’s probably the goal on the early going. Make it so they can fall asleep to a stampede of elephants.

But Q. Records decided somewhere along the line that it did matter and that you do have a choice and because you do, you should buy something that both babies and parents can enjoy. Like stripped and diluted versions of Jay-Z classics in which all the culture and context has been completely removed from the composition and what you’re left with is a product that is vastly empty and eerily absent. Take, for instance, my personal (er) favorite, “Big Pimpin’” in which the verses which tell the tales of a col’ playa who has mastered the game and is now internationally seasoned are gone. The Baligh Hamdi loop, a classic Timbaland sample, has been replicated on piano and, in the reduction and recreation, ends up sounding like something you’d score Sleeping With the Enemy with. You know, the scene when Julia Roberts is hunted in her own house by the guy with the good moustache. It certainly doesn’t sound anything like peaceful sleep. It’s straight-up terrifying.

Maybe “Big Pimpin’” is less your steez. Maybe your child is more a “Jigga That Nigga” type. Over even “Takeover” where the Doors’ “Five to One” loop has been endlessly flattened by some moron on the right side of the piano. I guess if you’re shooting for a recording that is so underwhelming and boring you’re reduced to sleep, this might actually work. Probably more effective on adults though than it is on babies.

This is the output of an industry (music) that has tried almost everything and has reached desperation and another industry (baby products) where the absurd and downright laughable are expected. It’s the perfect match in that way. The unfortunate part is that it aims for a bull’s eye on the wrong target and misses horribly. No one wins from products like this. Jay-Z doesn’t win. The babies don’t win. Parents don’t win. The criminals who made this record don’t win. It serves as an embarrassing reminder of how the game got col’ pimped, repackaged and force fed down the throats of a consumer who could care less.

If you’re gonna let your kid listen to Jay-Z (which is really not recommended), let them listen to unfiltered and unedited Jiggaman. Probably better than the recreation and misrepresentation of a culture. Of course, it’s not like a baby can pick up on the concepts in a Jay-Z record anyway. But even still, there are products for the three-footer that have little tikes performing popular rap hits and it makes me wonder if it’s almost worse to let Mickey Mouse rockin’ a dookie-fat gold chain lead the kids in rousing rap-a-long to “Rapper’s Delight” and fool the child into thinking he/she understands a culture. Products like this are the Joe Camel of the rap world. They represent a cute, baby-ready recreation of very adult music. Sure, seems harmless, but moreover, seems useless. And from a cultural preservation perspective, packages like this are the very worst pimpslap that any genre of music can be dealt.

Then again, you’re talking about music for an infant. It’s not like they’re the most discernable listener. They could fall asleep to a lawnmower but then scream until they’re hoarse if you put on Bach. Maybe it doesn’t matter to the end consumer, but it does matter to the protection of a culture in serious erosion. Such products on further advance the damnation of hip hop. Shame on Q. Records and anyone affiliated with such a product. It doesn’t matter if they sold fifty or 50,000. The attempt alone is enough.

Official Boogiemporium rating, half a Dirty.

But, to remain somewhat objective, if you like this drivel, perhaps you’d also enjoy torturing your newborn with lullaby versions of Slim Shady himself where every song sounds like music from a horror film.

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