Okayplayer = The Fox News of Hip-Hop Journalism
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Okay, maybe the title is a little too much, but seriously, the dudes at OKP have some explaining to do.
Last week they posted an “interview” with the Shop Boyz, the ATL group responsible for the massive summer hit “Party Like A Rock Star.” At first, I was skeptical. OKP interviewing a hip-pop artist? Seriously? After clicking the link my skepticism was realized, because the Interview consisted of this:
OKP got writer Dixpop on the horn with the Shop Boyz- here’s the story:
Seemingly oblivious to the decline of the music industry, sophomore slump, one-hit wonder-dom or the idea of post-modern minstrelsy, Demetrius “Meany” Hardin 21, Richard “Fat” Stephens 21, and Rasheed “Sheed” Hightower 20, the affable “Shop Boyz,” are country as hell and completely happy to be in the skin of the moment. The trio has raided the pop charts with the anthemic “Party Like A Rockstar”.
The track, whose allure rests in a blackface reification of the early 90’s white slacker caricature, is a melding of air guitar ready riffs, a “loser” parlance and the hard boiled aspirations of three black kids that grew up broke and disenfranchised in Atlanta’s notorious Bowen Homes.
The phoner with these guys was what one would expect from south of the border “Ringtone Rappers”. Thick drawls, at times unintelligible, difficulties distinguishing voices that would finish each other’s sentence fragments and a sense of optimism that bordered on the simplistic. I couldn’t help but root for these guys.
Their story goes something like this.
They used to steal and chop cars, and hang out at Bankhead’s legendary Poole Palace. The Shop Boyz decided to take rap seriously after seeing fellow Bankhead act the “Laffy Taffy” bound D4L blow shit up at said Poole Palace. They created and recorded their hit song in twenty minutes with producer Richard “Fire” Harris and executive producer Brian “Bingo” Ward.
The Boyz want to have fun, lots of fun. Their style is gutter and they call their brand of rap hood-rock. As for what the future holds … “getting rich and making movies.” They would even consider doing a MTV type reality series provided they don’t have to humiliate themselves. They have had their record deal for all of two months. The third single will be “Totally Dude”.
The Shop Boyz “Rock Star Mentality” in stores, for now.
Look people, say what you want to about the decline of good hip-hop, minstrel rap, and whatever, but if you don’t like an artist then just don’t do the interview. Simple as that. Are the Shop Boyz the best thing for Black Music? Probably not. These dudes really were only put out to sell ringtones, and that type of business practice is destructive for the industry. But still, everybody’s got a hustle. Even the wackest artist has a story to tell. This just strikes of elitism and holier-than-thou backpackerism (to grab a term from my homegirl Tara Henley) that makes you look ignorant, unintelligent, and more ignorant the people that you’re trying to portray as such. OKP owes the Shop Boyz an apology, but I know they’re not man enough to do it.