July 9, 2009

Shooting an Elephant - The Finest in Hip-Hop Beef

Relying on Fox News to deliver the freshest in new music is like trusting Dick Cheney to invade Iraq with the best interests of its people in mind. But if you're that musically bankrupt, and you happened to check out Mike Huckabee's Fox News show a few weeks back, you might have caught the most insulting knee to hip-hop's balls since the 1985 Chicago Bears' “Super Bowl Shuffle.”

Straight from the slums of Dartmouth College come the Young Cons, two khakis and blue-blazer wearing sycophants taking aim at the “obamatrons” whose “ideas are lightweight” and careers are “in checkmate.” Yes, “cons” as in “conservatives.” Their flow is backed up like septic and their knowledge comes out of a Dick and Jane version of Republican talking points. Most likely attempting to fast-track their way into punditry, I'm sure they're unaware of the repugnant irony in co-opting a street-born culture, regurgitating it to fit their ignorant philosophies, and flippantly slapping slang like “con” – which more realistically refers to the one in nine black men aged 20 to 34 who are locked up or the 32 percent of black men born in 2001 who will do time in prison at some point during their lives.

Enter the Ol' Dirty Needle chamber, a/k/a Chris Faraone, a/k/a Fara1, a/k/a Goldman Sack, staff writer at the Boston Phoenix alt-weekly and human hip-hop encyclopedia. Until this point, ODN's MC career consisted of inebriated late-night freestyle cyphers and a half-joking appearance at one of Bloody Bean boom-bap mogul Edu Leedz's rap battles. But this obamatron can write like Al Franken smoking Eazy-E's dust (he's currently penning his city-by-city underground hip-hop scene travel book, tentatively titled Notes from the Underground).

Once Needle heard the Young Cons' “Young Con Anthem,” he ditched the work in front of him and started scribing. Lines like “My conservative view is drill baby drill / you can say you hate me but I'm praying for you still” and “Superman that socialism / Waterboard that terrorism” couldn't go unanswered. He originally tried spitting over the “Nas Is Like” DJ Premier beat, but realized it and many other classic joints were far too fast for his skills. Going through his instrumental collection, he settled on Eminem's Dr. Dre-produced “Just Don't Give a Fuck” for his “Shooting An Elephant (a/k/a Fuck the Young Cons).”

“This isn't about stooping to their level,” says Needle. “This is about diving into the abyss beyond that. The right-wing Fox News demographic doesn't respond to facts and reality. Maybe a bit of hyperactive hyperbole will get them squirming.” While the Young Cons stay true to their name and keep it clean, Needle full-on unloads the clip with f-bombs, sperm shots and church-steeple shanks.

“And fuck your game of chess / I 'll put RZA to the test / And bring ruckus like Wu-Tang up in that double breast.”

Though his rhymes slay and his references are impeccable (check the shout-out to Nas' invincible Jay-Z diss, “Ether”), Needles readily admits his weakness in flow. But that's not the point. He had to do it. “I'm incredibly aware that any decent MC could have done this better, but no decent MC would subject themselves to such a task,” ODN says.

“Wack Ivy League phonies / Don't tangle with Faraone-y / Not a Clinton fan / But you sure as hell can blow me.”

Needle's video, directed by Matt Abramson, toys with liberal stereotypes and features him in front of Starbucks, tossing a bottle in a recycling bin, and bouncing on a trampoline (?). Staying true to hip-hop's roots, unlike the Young Cons disaster, it slings gunplay, train tracks and weed smoke.

“Don't retreat to Nantucket / Man, fuck it / I catch your oyster ass out there and just straight up fuckin' shuck it.”

If this is the beginning of the beef, Needle says he'd rather hear a diss track from Dick Cheney in response. “He's Suge Knight without the rap sheet,” he says.

-By Nate Leskovic

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