Rap music has been officially dead to me for about six months. If we played a game of Clue to figure out who killed it, the answer would be, “Kanye West, in studio 8H at Rockefeller Center, with a lipstick-red microphone.” Instead of crying about it, I turned to “The Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest for validation of “industry rule No. 4,080: record company people are shady,” and De La Soul’s “Buhloone Mind State” for reassurance that their music “might blow up, but it won’t go pop.” Since December, when Kanye killed the music of my life, I’ve gone back to a time before rap went platinum to await its rebirth.
I’m confident that artists like Lupe Fiasco and Charles Hamilton will eventually be the lyrical defibrillators who bring the music back from the dead, but I’m concerned about the post-“808’s & Heartbreak” landscape that allows somebody like reality-TV personality and aspiring rap vulture, Spencer Pratt, to think he can pick over the body. I’m not worried about what he might do to the music (nothing could be worse than Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” on SNL) as much as I’m worried about what some other wannabe-rapper might do to him. It’s hard out here for a pimp — and there is something Spencer needs to know before he books any studio time.
If you don’t know who Spencer Pratt is, consider yourself lucky. As the All-American-frat-boy-you-love-to-hate on MTV’s faux-reality show, “The Hills,” he’s the guy Andy Warhol had in mind when he said everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.
Spencer is at about minute 10 — and apparently has decided the best way to extend those last five minutes is to release a rap album under the name “Great White.” I’m not sure if he’s referring to the boxer or the shark, but it doesn’t really matter because either way, it ends badly.
Judging by his interview in Complex magazine, it seems as though his plan for breaking into rap music is to pick fights with people. His first target was Asher Roth of “I Love College” fame. “I’m so paid, and he’s broke,” Spencer said, “simple as that. That’s my whole point, being that I’m fly with tons of money, and he doesn’t have that yet.” Then he compared himself and his wife, Heidi, to Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z, of whom Spencer claims to be the white version) and Beyonce Knowles, saying Mrs. Pratt is “a little bit more than the white Beyoncé. Beyoncé had to be built by a group like Destiny’s Child, but Heidi shines solo.” He goes on to say, “I’ll actually give you an exclusive: I could guarantee you Speidi’s [Spencer and Heidi’s] ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ version is going to stunt on Jay and B’s version.”
Of course, there is no danger to Spencer in making either of those statements. While a lot of records have been sold thanks to drama with Jay-Z (see: Cent, 50 and Wayne, Lil), I’m pretty sure his reaction to the interview would be, “What the @$#% is a Spencer Pratt?” And Asher Roth doesn’t want beef with anyone unless it’s his mom’s brisket.
Being public enemy No. 1 on “The Hills” is one thing, but being an enemy of the state in hip-hop nation is much riskier. In Spike Lee’s incredible “Bamboozled,” Damon Wayans learns that lesson the hard way. I’m not saying a group of black-nationalist rap revolutionaries are going to kidnap him, tie him to a chair, and give him the full Guantanamo. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Great White found himself in the middle of a good old-fashioned Public Enemy-style bum-rush (Google it) if he ever tried to get on a stage and grab a microphone. And I promise you that afterward, neither the scene nor our little Spencie-poo would be pretty.
The problem with embarking on a career in rap music as a tongue-in-cheek, joking way to possibly make money off ring tones (Spencer’s stated ambition with this project, should it ever actually happen) is that there are a lot of rappers out there who take their music and their job title very seriously.
They believe in living their lives like they’ve got nothing to lose — also known as “keeping it real” — and they won’t tolerate a “phony rapper” or “sucker MC.” Young Mr. Pratt is both and he knows it. It will be interesting to see what happens when a guy who made his name on “reality TV” gets an unexpected dose of reality served up to him at one of his own shows without a producer telling him what to do next or a director who can stop the action by yelling, “cut!”
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider living in Santa Monica who thinks Spencer should spend all his time making sure Heidi is camera-ready. His past columns are archived at www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.