Liner notes (by Christopher “Scav” Yuscavage)
“I just want to thank God and dude that changes my oil and my ma and my boy from the gym and….”
Ah, the fabled liner notes of hip-hop records. What used to be a quick shout-out to anyone directly involved in the making of a record has transformed into a grocery list of everyone involved in a rapper’s life from God all the way down to the janitor that cleans the studio at night. With this being my first feature article for AltRap.com, I wanted to start off my time here with a quick shout-out to everyone that has helped me to jump-start my journalism career thus far. But, then I realized, “Wait a second, which format am I going to choose?” Behold, the latest craze in the hip-hop that claims to be bigger than shell-toes and gaudy gold chains: the liner note shout-outs…
THE “OH DAMN, I’M A RAPPER” LINER NOTES
This form of liner notes is most popular amongst the mainstream hip-hop world and includes literally EVERY rapper that caught a deal off of one hip-pop record. Characteristics include long, drawn out shout-outs to literally everyone and anyone that he/she can think of, because, hell, without that kid that he/she went to 8th grade with, how would he/she have ever made it into the clubs with a hit record from the hottest producer out? Or without the always on the top of the list, “Almighty/God/Heavenly/All Powerful/etc.,” what good is the new iced-out chain with matching cross? These liner notes are often the least read, and if you happen to know the rapper, good luck finding your name in there. The notes have more words than all the lyrics of the album’s tracks combined!
THE “UNDERGROUND” LINER NOTES
Once you move outside of the hit records, the liner notes do a complete 180-degree turn with the underground and fallen former mainstream rappers now signed to independent record labels. Notice how the ice cream man included and shouted-out on the mainstream shout-outs now gets cut, as does the 18th and Main St. gang that “helped raise me.” Also, a new section in the liner notes usually pops up as well: The F You’s! Specially designed for the forgotten or often ignored underground rappers, this list may include some of the people that originally were on the shout-outs just last year!
THE “YO, MY BAD” LINER NOTES
Ever been knocked out by Mike Tyson and then asked to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance?” How about had one too many drinks and asked to say the ABC’s backwards? Then you know how these rappers feel when they are creating the liner notes. The concept is so new and foreign to them that they grab a pen, haphazardly scribble down everyone and anyone that they can think of, and make sure to attach the necessary ryder to the end: “Yo, to anybody that I forgot, I been mad busy and didn’t have much time to get this done. I’m sorry, but thanks!” Someone should do a follow-up to the rappers that include this at the end. Hey rappers, ever remember your greatest influences but forget to shout-out your girl? I want to interview that girlfriend…
THE “ORGANIZED” LINER NOTES
The equivalent of spring cleaning for hip-hop albums, if you have too much of one thing, just slap different things into different categories, and get things organized (don’t even worry if the CD is mastered or not, or if the album is sloppily thrown together)! This is the quickest solution and most convenient way for people that might be in the shout-outs to get in and out of the cover insert as soon as possible without having to do too much searching. Here’s a nice example of how this can be done:
FAMILY: Shout-out to God, my ma, daughter, wife, etc…
FRIENDS: Yo, Baby Nyce, Lil’ Man, Flip-Dip, holla!
DJs: Thank you DJ Clue, DJ Who?, DJ Kay Slay, DJ No Way…
By placing your shout-outs neatly into this convenient format, everybody wins! No time-consuming searching for all the rappers’ people and less stress and forgetfulness on the part of the rapper (see above “YO, MY BAD” Liners).
THE “I DON’T DO LINER NOTES” LINER NOTES
This is rare. Some rappers just don’t want to shout-out anybody, or by their eighth album, no one is left to shout-out. Seriously, saying thank you works two, maybe three times tops, before people are already like, “Okay, whatever!” But never God, thank him for longevity, at least! (Oh yeah, and remember your girl, she’s still upset about the first album!) Not much else to say here, this type of rapper is getting in and getting out with the most general thank you he/she can find!
So, now back to my dilemma, writing my initial shout-outs to everybody that has helped me out thus far in my journalism career, remember? Oh, the hell with thinking about it, let’s just give it a shot…
First and foremost, thank God for giving me this ability to write (don’t know where I would be without it!), Thanks to my parents, my brothers and sisters, my grandparents, my uncles, aunts, cousins, all my family… Thank yous to all my friends and all the people that have helped me throughout my young life, whether good or bad influences I learned something from everybody. People from all my old schools, people I knew through basketball, through college, through whatever means, thank you for everything. Thank you to the all the web sites that allowed and continue to allow me to gain experience right now with this writing stuff: HipHopSite.com (props to Pizzo and Matt Conaway!), MVRemix.com (Yeah, Hugo and LOW KEY!), Altrap.com (SHOUT OUT TO DJ A TO THE L, especially, it is your site, man! Glad to be a part of it!!), and to all the publicists, promotional teams, rappers, etc. that have gotten at me with free promos and news, keep the stuff coming’ and I promise that we can make some beautiful music in the future! (anybody want to join the club? Get at me!)
Thanks also go out to all my teachers and anybody else that helped me out along the way! I could not have made it without the education I received. “F” You’s go out to anybody that is halting my progress! If I get at you, I don’t expect all the help in the world but a little note back would be appreciated and not too much to ask! Hope and pray I don’t get put on somewhere ’cause then I’m straight up ignoring people! My bad if I forgot anybody! You know I appreciate it all though!!!
Oh, but I don’t do shout-outs, that’s right. So forget all that (but shouts to God and my barber on W-M and Kuser for keeping my head on straight!!!). Sorry, it’s just too much fun to pass up on…