I signed up for Twitter back in 2007 - well before it became the social media juggernaut it is today - but I'm nowhere close to as obsessed with it as so many are. I typically log on for one main reason: To stalk celebrities. The handful of Twitter connections I know in real life take a distant back-seat to reading mundane musings and viewing stupid Twitpics from celebrities, as well as the occasional "Twitter beef" where some lame rapper/pornstar trades mean-spirited bons mots with some lame child star/former comedian on some "internet courage" s**t. Besides, who doesn't wanna know what's on Alyssa Milano's mind as soon as she wakes up in the morning?
However, Twitter has been paramount in exacerbating a now-commonplace problem within the blogging/social networking zeitgeist: rappers flying off at the mouth when they would be better off shutting the hell up.
Hip-Hop has, of course, always been a medium that lends itself to braggadocio. I think most loyal fans of the genre have long ago accepted that a good 87.286 percent of what rappers say is dramatically exaggerated or flatly inaccurate; this is acceptable considering rap is one of many forms of entertainment in which the entertainer projects a fantasy.
Ice Cube publicly admitted long ago that gangsta rap is purely entertainment, and the run and gun'em lyrics are not to be taken literally. But the difference between rappers and other music artists is that their bada*s "sheen" is terribly exaggerated to the point of being comical; rappers that kill two to three "lame a*s n***as" per track and sell enough cocaine in one LP to keep the Betty Ford Clinic open for five years are obviously reaching.
Ergo, one might think it'd be counterintuitive to show the public much of anything outside of that persona, but rappers are now more than ever prone to talk copious amounts of s**t because they have laptops and smartphones.
I first noticed it a few years ago with Little Brother's Phonte, who wrote many amusing and legendary blogs on MySpace. But when the group started having problems, he spent more and more time b***hing about that, as well as all his "challenges" with being a "misunderstood" rapper - all of which made him less palatable as a rapper. If he could have just kept things humorous and limited his blogs to talking about silly country negroes, thick women and fried chicken, I wouldn't roll my eyes when starting to read his long-form prose.
Talib Kweli is another rapper with diarrhea of the pen: sometime after his The Beautiful Struggle album, he wrote an entry on Okayplayer.com taking shots at the naysayers criticizing his declining quality of music, in which he said that he doesn't make records for fans, but he makes them for "himself." I lost a bit of respect for him over that load of garbage - he's a rapper who makes a living off of his craft, so he had better consider his fans when he makes music. Just a couple weeks ago, Kweli leveled a tweet bragging about all the artists he had on his Eardrum album. Bottom line: rappers bragging sounds great on record, but not in random tweets. Considering that his relevance is rapidly dwindling, he should focus less on talking trash online and more on making records that appeal to his core fan base.
If there's any rapper above all whose consistent silliness has, in my eyes, diminished his rep, it's Joe Budden. Dude will probably never be a mainstream rapper, and his JoeBudden.tv video blogging and constant tweeting probably serves him well in terms of reaching an audience who will actually spend dough on him. But in doing so, he does a splendid job of making himself come off like a douche nozzle. His stream-of-thought ignorance and the fact that he takes every opportunity he can to point out that his penis is often inside Black Men's Magazine models might actually resonate with some of his fans, but I'll posit that the bougie college student set that appreciates Budden's boom-bap bonafides finds a lot of that off-putting.
And if that isn't enough, his webcam was on after Raekwon's people stole on him at Rock The Bells in Los Angeles last year. Budden likes to play up the "loser rapper" angle, but chatting in the camera while smoking a cigarette and holding ice above his eye? C'mon, son.
Kanye West is the only rapper I can think of who actually benefits from revealing a bit too much of his actual persona off-wax. As b***h-made as he is - and as b***h-made as I think he wants us all to perceive him - it actually adds to an overall essence - a "Kanye-ness" - that sells records. The whole Taylor Swift fiasco and his subsequent departure from the limelight only to return with this quasi-redemptive new album is one of the best things that ever happened to his career. Judging by the fact that his joining Twitter in late July actually made news and that I read about his clinically insane tweets everywhere else except his feed itself, I'm guessing Twitter isn't the worst look for him.
But everyone isn't Kanye West, and a lot of these goofy-a*s rappers have images to keep up. It's dissonant for Budden to rap about, "copping something that only comes with a tripod" and to hold his eye in a video after getting socked. My advice to rappers who wanna maintain an image? Find one and be consistent with it. Put the Twitter down, do your interviews, scare the white people a bit, then shut up and get back in the studio.