So, I went to California last week. Saw a few girls, had a few drinks, took a few pictures…maybe you read about it. But my trip wasn’t all Playmate watching and haunted houses. Like any good Midwesterner, I did a healthy amount of tourist stuff while I was in town. Most of those tourist activities centered around Hollywood Blvd.
And I have a picture with homeless Spider Man to prove it. I have no clue why we’re saluting.
That picture set me back five bucks. Was it worth it? Of course not, but by the time you’ve asked if you can take a picture and they say “yes,” you almost feel like too much of a dick to shoot them down when they ask for a donation. Who among us hasn’t needed drug money before? I can relate. In fact, I blew through $20 within the first 10 minutes of setting foot on Hollywood Blvd in nearly the exact same way. But the money wasn’t all spent on pictures with urine-scented superheros. In fact, the remaining $15 went to CDs.
Along with the buskers and carnies pushing star home tours and caricature drawings, there are tons of aspiring rappers hoping to shove their music into your hands on Hollywood Blvd. And they do just that. Shove that shit right into your hands. And touching it might as well be a binding contract that would hold up in a court of law. You touch it, you buy it. It’s obnoxious, but you at least have to admire their hustle.
Rather than attempting to fight off every single rapper’s attempt to sell me the same music I could likely download for free if I knew so much as their stage name, I decided I’d put my negotiating pants on, buy some music and give a few unknown rappers a bit of the attention they crave.
Here is a review of three CDs I got hustled into buying on Hollywood Blvd.
Lyrical Reign – The Reign’s World EP
The Transaction: This was the first stop on the super duper independent CD shopping spree. It set the tone for all future negotiations. I offered $5. It was a deal. Not so much as a “you can’t make it ten?” Just like that, there was a new rule. I haven’t paid CD prices for music in years (I prefer vinyl, RIAA, don’t sue me). No way am I going to start going overboard today. No more than $5 would be spent going forward. For all I know, most people get 6 for $1 and hand them out as white elephant gifts at the office when they get back home. But it was my rule, and I was going to live by it.
A brief Facebook investigation leads me to believe that the guy I bought this CD from is actually Lyrical Reign. I’m not 100% sure, but it doesn’t matter, because under no circumstances would I call another man “Lyrical Reign” during the course of casual conversation. Nice guy though.
There was probably never a time when buying a CD from a stranger in front of Madame Tussauds included jewel cases or long boxes (look it up, kids) or anything else resembling substantial packaging. Everything is paper sleeves these days. So all I really have to judge here is the disc itself. This one earns points for including a little bit of artwork. It’s printed right onto the disc. That’s classy.
I have to deduct points for the contact info though. A Hotmail address? How am I supposed to take anyone’s career seriously if it’s attached to a Hotmail address? Also those social network buttons don’t work. I clicked all of them a bunch of times.
The Music: You’re out of your mind if you think I have time to listen to all this stuff. Instead, I’ll use this area to post whatever music I can find that’s embeddable. If I can’t find any, well, I guess you’re just a shitty marketer, bud. Here’s what I found for “Lyrical Reign.” Give it a listen if you’re bored. At the end of the article, you can tell me who’s the best.
Shorty Mack – A Reminder
The Transaction: There’s not much to be said about the transaction here. While I was chatting up the first guy, someone else strolled up and handed this disc over. Dude was about four inches shorter than me and dressed in all white. He was like a mixtape angel. I had to buy it.
A little Internet detective work confirms that the person I bought this disc from is definitely not Shorty Mack. Apparently, this guy was on the UPN sitcom Moesha for a bit. And he totally knows Ray J.
He’s like the Kim Kardashian of unknown rappers. No way is he selling his own shit on the street.
Are you kidding me? A QR code? That’s fancy! And it works! Scanning it into my iPhone took me to all the information about Shorty Mack I could ever need which, I’ll be the first to admit, isn’t much. But still, it’s nice to see technology embraced in that way, especially on something as low budget as a burned CD. This was the clear winner in the presentation department.
The Music: Look at fancy pants here with his own Vevo! You could probably buy a house in Detroit with the money spent filming this video. I hope he’s paying that little mixtape angel well.
Yohighnas – Swagg Music
The Transaction: The guy selling this disc was definitely not the artist on the disc, but he was super motivated in the money making department nonetheless. I asked him if he’d take $5. He told me he’d rather take $15. I told him I’d need the entire stack of discs and the master tapes for that price. He thought that was funny. Then he accused me of “robbing the black man.”
It was all lighthearted banter though. We had a quick palaver about the “once you go black you never go back” rule (long story, but not always true) and shared a few laughs and I was on my way. Definitely the most enjoyable of the transactions. Seemed like the kind of guy you could smoke a blunt with. Probably because he had dreadlocks.
The one person who tried to jack my $5 price up was also the one selling a CD with no label on it. It took me a fair amount of Googling just to figure out what that shit even said. Yohighnas. Cute name, but it doesn’t lend itself to shitty penmanship very well. Buy some printable CDs, man.
The Music: Things are really going off the rails for myself and Yohighnas. As if trying to pass off chicken scratch for CD labeling isn’t bad enough, now the one spot where I think I can maybe find music to embed from this guy is on Myspace. MYSPACE! And when I clicked on the “share” link, it asked me to login. To MYSPACE. Who remembers their Myspace login? What is this, 2006?
It doesn’t matter anyway, because I DID figure out my Myspace login (hey, why the fuck not, click here to friend me on Myspace) and I still can’t find any music that I’m able to post here. The only option I was given was to post the songs on my Myspace profile. So, in lieu of judging Yohighnas based on his music, please use this picture from his Myspace page instead.
And Now, You Decide…