Some music seems so personal, so real and tangible, that it often comes across as uncomfortable. For many artists this is exactly the point. I cannot help but think about the rock band Blue October. The front man crafted a record about losing custody of his daughter in the aftermath of a divorce, filled with actual voice mails from his ex-wife and narrative stories about him hiding all his money in a couch so his wife and her lawyer couldn’t get it.
And when he gets angry and then depressed and then miserably self-abusive we get chills because we know- in our hearts and minds- that this singer is suffering.
I get a lot of this feeling from the rapper Charlie Scott, but it is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Charlie Scott is not reflecting in the moment like Blue October but reflecting after the moment. The pain is the same, but the difference is seismic. Scott reflects on extremely personal events as almost an outsider and a victor, whereas our other singer is in the mud and loathes himself.
Part of this victorious feeling and this battling through the aftermath of pain and suffering comes out in the title to his most recent mixtape, Lyrical Therapy 2. This music is therapy for him, but this is not a new idea. It is in how it is all presented. He brings forward these ideas in such a positive and cheerful way. Take the song “Little Man’ where Scott recalls his fighting parents, his drug abuse as a teen, detentions, and homelessness. These are all dark topics about very real things he has faced. But the lyrics are matched with a production that features subtle chimes and uplifting spirits. A hook about ‘why I feel so small” is something many people can relate to. But through this somewhat self-deprecating story the song sounds happy and Scott, despite what is being said, IS happy. He has gained victory over his own flaws. He knows it is an ongoing battle, but this is his post-story.
Scott is merging spirituality with grim realities about being a kid and hearing his parents destroy things, his reliance on hard drugs at a young age, and the pain that comes from sleeplessness and a lack of hope in “Bigger Plans.” But listen to that production? It is downright cheerful.
I think comparisons to Eminem are common and expected, but they are so far off base. Eminem is a caricature. His earliest days, particularly the Slim Shady LP had such sinister production, and the way he processed the darkness of his own reality was through embodying some evil presence. It was all exaggerated hyperbole and only in the years following did we learn that Eminem was troubled…really troubled.
Charlie Scott is more akin to modern day Eminem, female vocalists and all. Eminem can afford Rihanna, where Scott nabs the probably more talented Sylvana Joyce on the ballad “Stay on Track” or Evelyn Perez on “June Baby” who provides to that cozy R&B fervor. The only real similarity between the two is that both at some point became aware of how close they came to death, and they manage to record a record about it.
Charlie Scott is an honest rapper. He hardly curses, he talks about God, and he name drops Nas like any rapper that knows the greats of the genre. Scott is for someone that likes their rap relaxed and humble.
You can find Charlie Scott’s music on iTunes, Amazon, Xbox Music, and a number of other outlets.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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