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Saturday, July 23, 2011

SpinTunes #3 Round 3 Review: David Santucci

I used to absolutely hate rap. Not all rap, but in general, I hated most of it most of the time. Having a teenage son, I have now grown to appreciate some of it. But I still hate the fact that so many multi-millionaires are made just for being self-absorbed arrogant thugs who can rhyme their words. And I still hate a lot of rap, and dislike the majority of it. I find most of it annoying more than anything. The sound of it just tends to rub me the wrong way.

I’m a music guy. Always have been. Even when listening to non-rap music, I tend to pay much more attention to the music than the words. To this day you could recite (not sing, but recite) a lyric from some of my favorite songs ever and I might not even recognize what song it came from. I’m unusual that way… I listen to the music and don’t pay much attention to what the lyrics are saying most of the time. Probably the thing I dislike most about rap is that a lot of it is sadly deficient in the music department. And a lot of the catchy songs with any decent music in them STOLE the music! So I just don’t have much respect for the artists who can’t even create their own music and have to sample other people’s work to create a catchy song. Music aside though, the anger and arrogance in rap is a real turn off for me. So much rap out there is just this vile, vulgar vibe being spewed.

Now, having said all that, I have to say I was really impressed with all of these entries. I gave points first and foremost for what sounded good to me. The sound, and the way it grabs me, is of prime importance to me, in this and every round. I tried to be as objective as possible though and gave importance to the quality of the rapping. (I don’t hate all rap, and I can enjoy and appreciate some of it if the sound of it doesn’t completely turn me off.) I tried to keep in mind that the challenge this round was to write a rap, so I tried to focus on the rapping at least as much as the overall musicality of the songs.

In all, I actually enjoyed all of these songs very much. I think I can safely say I like rap a little more now than I did before this contest.

Jutze – My Friend Kay

Inventive rhymes, very odd flavor for a rap with the use of the banjo. Good humor. Unconventional meters used here and there were kind of an acquired taste for me. Wasn’t sure I liked them the first time through but the second time decided I did like them. I didn’t like the use of the audio faltering/stuttering effect in the first chorus; I assume that was deliberate and done for effect, but I didn’t like that. The song was catchy. One thing to be careful of—a couple times you didn’t quite finish the word at the end of a phrase and it was kind of “clipped” in your delivery. Overall, I liked this song.

Edric Haleen – Sarah

Intro much too long. After the second time you sang “Sarah” the rap should’ve kicked in. When that didn’t happen, then I thought for sure it was going to kick in after “screw it.” Then it still didn’t. I generally don’t listen to hip hop, but if I did—you would’ve lost me long before the rap portion ever started. Much too much music and not enough rap for a rap song.

When the rap finally did kick in, I appreciate the humor of the awkwardness and the multiple attempts to say and be cool. But again, by the time you got to the part where you were “nailing it,” if I was a hip hop listener you would’ve lost me long ago in the first two rap portions because they didn’t have any conviction, no balls. I know that was the point, but from a listening standpoint that makes for substandard rap.

As a comedy piece, this was great. Good music during the musical portions. The lyrics and presentation was funny. As a rap though, it was pretty weak for all the reasons already noted. It’s a real shame your entry last round occurred one round too early; that would’ve dominated this round in terms of being a rock solid rap song.

The Offhand Band – Not Cool

Really inventive lyrics and great flow! Good humor too. Like many of the competitors in this contest, the sound of your voice doesn’t scream “rap,” but you overcame this limitation very nicely because your skill, talent, and creativity with your rhymes and lyrics really took me on a journey. I was only thinking “this guy doesn’t have a rapper’s voice” for a couple lines and then the rest of the time I was thinking, “Wow, this guy can rap!” Great job!! I liked the chorus too. I didn’t notice the length of it until after it was over, and I was surprised because I didn’t feel like it was too long. Kept me very entertained.

Ross Durand – Camp Romance

I enjoyed this very much because of the musicality of it. And it conjured up fond memories for me. Funny, and good flow. Really creative, especially the use of campfire songs and other camp clich├ęs. I wasn’t too keen on the sound of the lead vocal at first (having it stacked in unison and/or I couldn’t tell if that was a lot of reverb or what), but it grew on me by the end of the song. Good balance in the amount of rapping and the amount of music. For me, rap is like a lobster with a hard shell that you can’t eat. Your song has helped me crack the shell and get past it to the good soft tasty meat inside. Good job!

Wait What – Six Years Seventeen Days

Fun tune. Clever use of the little elements like the flipping page scratching sound effect, reference to the Naked Eyes song, the car horn, bunny boiling stalker reference, etc. During some of the choruses the female vocal seemed off key on several notes here and there and this was really distracting for me. Like some of the other entries I think maybe more focus could’ve been on the rap itself and a little less on all the music going on; this would’ve made it stronger in my opinion. Overall though I found it enjoyable.

Pat and Gweebol – Ticki Tock (Top Tad)

True hip hoppy feel right from the beginning, that stayed all the way through. Great attitude in the rapping. Good flow, great rhythm. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a yuppie white girl voice that kicked so much ass at rapping. Great caricature by the female vocalist, great performance by both. Very high marks! This had everything. Humor, attitude, an authentic rap “feel” to it, and great execution. You guys made this sound easy!

Matt And Donna – Anatomy Dance

This almost seemed like a song designed to help teach medical students anatomy but with little other point to it. From a musical standpoint I found it very listenable, but halfway through I realized that all the medical terminology was just going in one ear and out the other and this wasn’t really taking me on a journey because it was, for lack of a better explanation, a bunch of blabbering that went above my head. I usually enjoy cerebral lyrics but I found that I was completely tuning out what you were saying. I was still boppin’ along to it, however, so it wasn’t terrible. Good flow and skillful rapping, but I think this concept just didn’t work in the actual execution of it. I enjoyed the music of it, and it was well put together, but it relied on so much medical/anatomical terminology that I ended up not following along with the rapping.

Caleb Hines – Two Musicians

I enjoyed this very much and it’s a shame that you didn’t write or even perform any of the rap. Because this challenge was for you to write a rap. From a creative standpoint I’m impressed and I love what you did with this. For purposes of this competition though, I feel you avoided the whole point of the challenge. The challenge didn’t say “create a rap” or “produce a rap,” it said “WRITE a rap.” The very first word of it was “Write.” Even if you didn’t perform the lyrics yourself, you were at least supposed to write them yourself. You didn’t do either… I still love what you did with this and it makes me sad to have to score you basically a zero.

Charlie McCarron – Trail In The Snow

Love the haunting intro. I liked the chill feel of this a lot. Really unconventional feel for a rap. I liked the slightly odd beat and all of the instrumentation. Your voice isn’t typical for rap, but you took lemons and made great lemonade by making the whole song work together with the subdued quality of your voice. Maybe relied a little too heavily on music and not enough focus on the actual rapping, but the whole thing turned out so listenable that this is a pretty minor criticism and that’s the only one I can think of. I liked this a lot.

Steve Durand – A Place For Love

Funky, groovy, smooth, and jammin’, this absolutely kicked ass. Great use of the horns! Really creative and humorous lyrics. Had me chuckling at multiple points from the great visuals. You really took me on a complete journey with a story that had me hooked from beginning to end. My only criticism would be that you could’ve used just a touch more soul in the execution of a couple of key lyrics—you could’ve nuanced the timing and emphasis in the pronunciation of “cuBICLE” and “maintenANCE” so the rhymes there were more flawless. This is minor, however; the difference between an excellent rap and a practically perfect one. I loved the fact that it sounded like you had absolutely zero use of any electronic instruments. All natural, all organic, real instruments. Good old school funk!! Loved it!!!!

Dr. Lindyke – Politics And Promises

Knowing the style of your previous entries, I have to say you surprised the heck out of me with this! Great attitude & conviction in your rap, good rhythm, all around very good execution. Very creative lyrics with an intelligent but easy to follow message about government abuse of power and hypocrisy. On a couple of notes the female vocal was a little off key but this didn’t occur so much that it was a major problem for me. Very impressed with your versatility… I wasn’t expecting this at all! No extra points for exceeding my expectations though; this was a solid entry with good musicality but anchored in a well executed rap.

Jon Eric – The Dance

Good groove. Grabbed me right away. Good fast flow with the rapping, very fluid. At first I wasn’t sure I liked the over-the-top silly expression in your voice, but it grew on me very quickly. Musically I liked this a lot. I feel like this would’ve been better if the female vocal was just one single track, or perhaps harmonized. Just not in unison. Whenever you stack a unison vocal like this, any slight variations between the two really stick out and, for me anyway, it kind of detracts from the quality of what I’m hearing. It distracts me. It’s fine with rapping (assuming your rhythms are precise, with yours are) because you’re not producing notes per se, but with singing it magnifies any inconsistencies between the two if they’re note exactly on key together at the same moment, and this can make these moments sound like off-key mistakes. Overall I liked this though. I think your rapping was excellent.


  1. I'm really glad you liked the song as much as you did. I'm not only glad that you didn't notice the length because you were kept entertained, I'm really pleased that you were actually taken on a journey. I've gotten a fair amount of pretty understandable criticism about the song's length, but I felt that, with the topic, and especially with the genre and the tone I was taking, it seemed a time to take the opportunity to say what I had to say. I'm surprised how much of the reviewing made little or no mention about the substance of a number of the songs, including mine. But I felt like I was going somewhere with it, and I'm really happy that the song took you there. Thanks again.

  2. Lobster? Are you sure you didn't mean brazil nut?