Monday, March 19, 2007

Rappers Who Suck: Lil' Cease

A popular phrase often used by hip hop bloggers, such as XXL's Byron Crawford (who also runs his own fairly-entertaining site) and Noz (who also runs Cocaine Blunts, which is a great site for stirring up memories of times in hip hop that you never knew existed), is "weed carrier", which is meant to refer to a rapper whose entire existence is largely due to him being a crony of a more-famous rapper. This does not always mean that said rapper may not possess the talent and/or drive to have established himself on his own -- but simply put, for the modern weed carrier, that just wasn't the desired outcome.

Nowadays, weed carriers are almost as important for a platinum-selling rapper to have as expensive jewelry and mean mugs. T.I. has one. 50 Cent has a handful. The trend has even trickled down into the world of sports, as Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony has a couple, literally. On a few rare occasions, there may even be a role reversal between the weed carrier and the rapper who brought said weed carrier into the limelight. Case in point...

... you tell me which is which?

One of hip hop's first weed carriers were the Junior Mafia, The Notorious B.I.G.'s crew. It's fair to say that Lil' Cease (or Lil' Ceaser, if you're cool like that) was the third most-recognizable face out of JM, after Biggie and the back-then-still-somewhat-attractive Lil' Kim, but I can't say I know exactly why -- either it was because he got the most time on the mic besides Biggie and Kim on JM's lone crew album, 1995's Conspiracy, or because he was so wack that it was hard to not notice him.

Today's usual weed carrier at least has the courtesy to come off a little differently than the rapper that brought them into the public eye. However, listening to Cease rap, you can't help but get the impression that Cease wanted to rap just like Biggie -- and furthermore, you can't help but get the impression that Cease was nowhere near Biggie's level. His attempts at matching Biggie's cleverness and intricate rhyme patterns often fell flat, and I can think of no better example of this than Cease's first bars to the opening verse of the (otherwise) classic JM track, "Player's Anthem".

"Now, who smoke more blunts than a little bit?/
What are you, a idiot?/
Listen to the lyrics I spit"

Yeah, Cease, we're the idiots. You're the one who claims to "smoke more blunts than a little bit" -- the fuck does that even mean? That's such a wide range to put on an amount of blunt smoking, it could practically mean anything. I'll cut myself off before I get into the even-worse "toss your clothes like a salad" line from "Crush On You".

Though rather short in stature (hence the "Lil'"), Cease's rap voice held an uncharacteristically deep tone to it, almost as if he was forcing himself to further sound like Biggie. It didn't help that he had a terrible rapping voice to begin with, sounding like he had food in his mouth throughout his verses -- mind you, not sounding like he was eating, but rather as if he took a big bite of a sandwich, recorded his verses, and then commenced to chewing and swallowing. Listening to a Cease verse was like witnessing a game of Chubby Bunny that had gone on for too long. Perhaps in Cease's daily schedule, his routine mouthwash gargle always overlapped with his recording sessions?

How you like that, gingivitis? What are you, a idiot?

Bad voice, bad lyrics, and a complete lack of rhythm -- all of these things add up to but one: suck. It has been 10 years to the month of Biggie's unfortunate murder, and the only relevance to hip hop that Lil' Cease holds are the references to him in some of Biggie's classic verses, be it visions of Cease playing Nintendo, or offering a ride home to a Biggie one-night-stand the morning after. To me, though, Cease will always be remembered as a victim in one of hip hop's most ambiguously gay lyrics in recent memory, courtesy of Jadakiss in "Knock Yourself Out":

"I'm like Big wit the murder mamis up in Belize/
But I'll still fuck a chickenhead like Lil' Cease"

A chickenhead like Lil' Cease, eh?

Oh, chin up, Jada. I won't tell anyone.