Today we’re exploring the junction point of indi artistry, hip hop, comedy, and candidness… namely the self-described “Rhyme Minister” from Bromsgrove, Mr. Dan Bull. Having cultivated a devoted online following, in part owed to file sharing culture, Dan Bull is known for penning delightful odes to games and other media, for his comedic twists on familiar subjects, and for his intimate manner of encapsulating his own life experiences. On his latest album, Hip Hop Hooray, Dan Bull tackles subjects cheerful, silly, grim, and dire, offering fodder for celebration and analysis alike. Join us as we peer into the mouth of this “vicious beast”, and as we briefly address the topics of file sharing and fan art at the top of the show.
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Next week’s review:
Smooth McGroove Remixed
Hello hello! Long time no write! Which is a total bummer but since I’ve started college again I’ve found it difficult to find time to sit down and truly provide robust feedback, but I’m here to at least chime in once again and hopefully in the future I can continue to find these little pockets of time! 🙂
First of all thank you for bringing this album to my attention. I’ve been a part-time fan of Dan Bull for quite awhile though but I say part-time as I’ve never actually sat down and listened to one of his proper albums. I’ve always just watched his gaming raps on Youtube from time to time. I’ve always been astounded by his lyrical and vocal abilities but for some reason I’ve never thought to even *check* to see if he had actual albums out. Imagine my surprise when I listened to you reveal that he has something like a dozen albums!
Alright I’m going to attempt to keep this brief, so here’s some of my thoughts concerning the album and the points you made.
Overall I really enjoyed the album and I feel like it wouldn’t be a StarF comment if I didn’t tell you that your analysis was on point and for the most part I agree with you guys! I can’t think of anything you said that I want to call out or challenge, but I can think of a lot of things you either may not know or simply overlooked!
First off: Rugbuggery. Fantastic and fun song and easily one of my favorites off of the entire album. I don’t remember who made this point but one of you did point out that while it’s a great track it doesn’t really serve as a great thesis for the album as the rest of it after British Teeth does kinda trail off into massively different territory, and I’d like to endorse that notion. The first two tracks of this album had me expecting a way different experience than I ended with – although perhaps that is by design. Someone had also pointed out that this is pretty much the most British that hip hop has ever gotten (or something to that effect) and while I agree that it’s pretty dang British, I would like to turn your attention to just about any song by Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, and I’ll throw in a good word for the track “Shelltoes Or Brogues.” Trust me, you’re in for a good time and I would wholly recommend the entire album “Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop” for more music in this vein!
On Can’t Be Arsed you started mentioning the lyric “Can’t be arsed to wake up and get out of bed // I’m the laziest from A to… Eff-it can’t be arsed with the alphabet.” which is an amazingly clever lyric, but you didn’t point out the bit I love about it! Which is particularly the fact that it’s extra clever in that it sets you up to think the rhyme will be “A to Zed,” but interjects not only with a humorous and fitting line, but one that starts with a different letter of the alphabet (that, obviously being “F”).
I was a little surprised that you guys didn’t mention this next bit, because it stuck out to me immediately as I was listening to the album even before I listened to your analysis of it: The two tracks “I Hurt Myself” and “Stroking A Cat.” You talk about how I Hurt Myself is this incredibly powerful and moving piece, personal and serious, and how it then moved into Stroking A Cat as both a pallet cleanser for the listener but also because stroking a cat is literally a coping mechanism for depression/anxiety. This is literally the exact same thing that happened on The Impossible Kid between the tracks Shrunk and Kirby. Okay maybe not *literally* the same but pretty damn close. Shrunk may not be about self-harm but it is about dealing with mental illness and struggling with one’s self, which moves into Kirby in which Aes raps about his kitten and specifically notes that his cat is “more than a pet to worship, it’s an MD recommended sense of purpose.”
That song structure is weirdly similar and while I wouldn’t say Dan Bull “ripped it off” (because first of all his songs are obviously genuine and that’s kinda of an absurd thing to put on him) but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a fan of Aesop Rock. Specifically due to a bit that comes on the track How To Smash Your Mirror. I’m speaking of the very first line of the song which is “From Brother Ali to Forest Whitaker.” Brother Ali is a Minneapolis based rapper on Rhymesayers – the same label that Aesop Rock is on. So clearly Dan Bull is a fan of at least one artist on the label and I would not be surprised to find he’s a fan of others as well. But I also want to talk about how fantastic that line is because while Dan Bull is referencing those two specific people, he’s also referencing the fact that Brother Ali has a song called “Forest Whitaker” which is about body image. How To Smash Your Mirror is pretty much a direct homage to that song which I would absolutely recommend looking up.
Finally I’m going to skip to the last track: Fuck Everything. I had a lot of thoughts about this track, mostly because the thing was so fucking long that my mind kept wandering off and allowing me to think about it, come back and realize “Oh he’s still going.” I’m going to be honest: While I think the track is perfectly fine in its construction and presentation, I got really bored of it. More than five minutes of that gimmick with really no pay off is simply too long. But here’s where it gets interesting: I probably would have liked that song a lot more… if it were the first time I’d heard it. Because even the first time I did hear it my immediate thought was “oh here we go again.” This is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination and I’m actually super surprised that Matt didn’t bring up the fact that Schaffer The Darklord has done this exact thing before (with much better execution) on the track Fuck This Song from the album Mark of the Beast.
But guess what, Schaffer still wasn’t the first to do it! To my personal knowledge the first instance of this concept was used in 1999 by the Insane Clown Posse on a song called Fuck The World. I actually used to listen to ICP back in junior high (although I feel compelled to point out that at no point ever did I consider myself a juggalo, I’ve always just been fascinated by ICP… Actually they are a really interesting group and their story is worth looking into, but I digress…) and after hearing Dan Bull’s “Fuck Everything” I went back and listened to ICP’s “Fuck The World” and even ICP has bested Dan in this arena because there are STILL lines in ICP’s version that make me laugh. Particularly the weirdly specific line of “You know the guy that operates the Rouge River draw bridge in Delray on Jefferson? FUCK HIM!” or even the moment of self-examination on the line “Don’t bother tryin to analyze these rhymes, in this song I say fuck ninety three times!”
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! I’ve saved the best for last because even though he wasn’t the first to do it and Dan Bull has not proven he wasn’t the last, Bo Burnham bested the concept of the “fuck everything rap track” in his song simply titled “Eff.” It’s half the length of Dan Bull’s, it’s more musically engaging, and quite frankly it’s just more clever. I can’t recommend that (or honestly any of Bo Burnham’s material) enough.
Alright I’m going to leave it at that but hopefully I’ll find more time to comment more often! I still really want to participate in the 2016 year in review, so I’m sure I’ll eventually pop in over there and leave a nice lengthy comment because 2016 had some really cool music.
Keep being rad!!
Damnit I really should proof read these comments BEFORE I post them. I of course meant to say that Dan Bull has *NOW* proven that Bo Burnham wasn’t the last to make a song in that concept.
Also while I’m here I should mention that I really like that you talk about the album cover nowadays! Album covers are important yo. 🙂
StarF! Great to hear from you, and of course, great to see a fellow wall-of-texter.
Glad you enjoyed the album. Matt had certainly made me a fan of Dan Bull, and he didn’t expect me to like it! It was one of those unexpected leaps in taste. I’m sure we could’ve spent a whole ‘nother episode isolating and breaking down lyrical favorites, but you’d be surprised how quickly two hours goes by sometimes. That said, I am quite surprised myself that we did not consider the comparison between “I Hurt Myself” / “Stroking A Cat” and Aesop Rock’s “Shrunk” / “Kirby” (especially since the chorus from “Kirby” has a way of floating around my head throughout the day). The similarities are definitely there, and although it wouldn’t surprise me if Dan Bull is a fan of Aesop Rock, I would imagine it’s a fairly intuitive track pairing, i.e., if you know yourself, then you’ll know the coping mechanism. Now, if you don’t know yourself, then it’ll probably be that much more of a challenge. If an artist can muster the strength to discuss the harrowing subject in question, what then? Do they just press along? Do they end the album?! Do they juxtapose it? Pair it? It would make for an interesting poll, I think.
Now the big point of discussion:
It’s actually quite amusing you bring up your dislike of the final track, “Fuck Everything”, because actually, Matt did in fact address the similarity to Schaffer’s “Fuck This Song”. (Albeit off-air.) See, during the group listen, we were engaged in a little kerfuffle over this tune, collectively acknowledging that it’s not the cleverest of endings, but quibbling over certain points of it—as we’re wont to do. Matt actually brought up its similarity to “Fuck This Song” to defend the fact that it’s relatively the same concept, just a different approach… (the difference of course being that Schaffer’s doesn’t present itself as a litany of items and appears to have more structure. For sure, if each track were taken by itself, separate from their respective albums, then Schaffer’s would probably take the gold. Furthermore, had “Fuck Everything” appeared anywhere but the very end, I might have written it off entirely. But the basic takeaway for us, in the end, was that it provided a necessary catharsis for many of the subjects posed earlier in the album: essentially that life is full of external pressures and judgements and sometimes you just have to release it all. Simultaneously, the track serves a blunter version of “Sellout”, confronting his haters and drawing a hard line in the sand against those who take his work (or art in general) so seriously. (I mean, screw us, right? 😛 ) Well actually, Crash Chords’ mission statement aside, I like that concept! Rather, I enjoy his symbolic appraisal of his own situation. The album drifts between outright silliness and inconsolable woe, boastful confidence and crushing insecurities, pride in his work and fear of failure… ‘A’ for ‘B’, tit for tat, etc., etc., and so he chooses to conclude the album with a track as scatterbrained and polarizing as his own artistic instincts. Only then do you get the full picture of the artist.
Now once again… I’m not saying that the song itself is high art. On its own, I’d probably call the track lazy, perhaps even unattractive in light of its point-blank indifference/irreverence. Too many rappers are guilty of worse, but without the album arcs to back it. But sitting where it does, I think that the sensation of catharsis provided by “Fuck Everything”—again, given the album—was a rewarding enough finale for me. It shuts up (and/or provokes) the trolls, unstraps him from the bonds of artistic scrutiny, and grounds himself (much like “Stroking A Cat” did). It’s a catch-all ending, and thus, a slightly higher concept than it appears (compared to Schaffer, ICP, and Burnham? — tough call), but shrouded in a much, much baser delivery. A delicious irony, given what we do…
That said, skip away! 😛
P.S. – “Shelltoes or Brogues” is, indeed, quite British… quite… but so is “Rugbuggery”! Dash it all, I can’t choose! I shan’t choose!