Jay-Z knows what’s on your mind. And on mine too, come to think of it. What is with you Rappas Ternt Wannabe-Sangas?” Why you gotta drown your songs with a sorry excuse for a voice that’s so annoying that the only reason people aren’t bleeding out of their ears at the club is because they’re too wasted to notice the (T-)pain their ears are in? Hova’s new single, “Death of Auto-tune,” is stirring up almost as much controversy in the hip-hop world as Chris-Brown’s-fist-versus-Rihanna’s-face. I know, I know; it’s a stretch, but you know what I mean. Jay-Z knows how to get attention when he wants it. Just in time to sell some Blueprint 3 records too.
Make no mistake; auto-tune’s made its rounds since way before hip-hop’s less vocally gifted jumped on the bandwagon. Remember Cher? Ever since T-Pain came onto the scene with Rappa Ternt Sanga, he brought with him that wonderful little program called Auto-tune, and detonated it all over the face of hip-hop. To give T-Pain credit though, he does know to write a catchy hook. That’s why “Buy U a Drank” was on every radio DJ’s database, “Blame It (on the goose, gotchu feelin’ loose)” was hot at the clubs, and “Freeze” was spewing out of every kid’s iPod ear buds. The guy knows what he’s doing.
But when you start having Lil Wayne and Snoop “singing” about erupting lollipops, we’ve got a problem. For the fans who love the electric atmosphere of a good hip-hop concert, no matter how good those songs sound now, they’ll never be performed live. Well, they might, but it won’t sound anything like the album version – I promise. Kanye West would know. His entire 808s & Heartbreak album was auto-tuned to pitch-perfection, and it did phenomenally on the charts when it first came out and everyone was oohing and aahing over the utter craziness that is an album fully saturated with voice distortion. While I have the utmost respect for Kanye as an artist, ego or no ego, “Heartless” and “Amazing” didn’t last long in my playlist after the novelty and catchiness wore off. I have an Auto-tune Quota, and “Love Lockdown” unfortunately filled most of it.
Back to Jay-Z’s declaration of war on auto-tune: he’s careful to not name names, but really, you know who you are (i.e. any rapper who’s tried to actually sing one of his auto-tuned songs live and have it turn out like a half-rapped, half-shouted mess). Ironically enough, Kanye is producing most of Blueprint 3, though he promises to keep the auto-tune far, far away (is that why Jay-Z didn’t call him out?). Whenever you pour on the hate though, you always get some back, especially if dissing you means instant publicity. Jay-Z’s gotten his share of criticism for “D.O.A.” already from younger rappers who think he’s getting too old for the game, but I have to give Jay the last word: “Get back to rap, you T-Pain’n too much.”