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Astroworld & The Original Tragedy

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 16 Nov 2021

One of the greatest flaws in rap lyrics is the over-reliance on rhyme for its own sake.  It's a remedial, beginner's device, and no one who has ever written more than 2 songs is entirely unguilty of it.  There's an inherent writer's thrill at discovering a "new rhyme," and the beginner is unlikely to resist the temptation of mistaking this feeling for originality or wit.  It's exhibitionism at its finest.  The writer is flaunting his "skills," and possibly even "talent," in the manner which requires no skill, and the least amount of talent.  Rather than dropping gems as an afterthought, like so many forgotten hand grenades, shedding "new rhymes" as effortlessly as a snake sheds his skin, the beginner marvels at the ease with which simplistic, clunky words that have the same suffix fall on the page before him. 

It's a necessary, unavoidable step, probably, and anybody who is currently in the phase of artless, exhibitionist rhyme-forcing should continue on the path until they're clear of that minefield once and for all.  If they're talented, there is no way they won't get through it.

If they're not talented, they have a real shot at becoming an auto-tuned Illuminati shill in the New World Order.

This post is inspired by a recent article on Vigilant Citizen titled Something Extremely Dark Happened At Travis Scott's Deadly "Astroworld" Festival.  Indeed, something extremely dark did happen at the recent Astroworld Festival, but the weird, ritualistic "gates of hell" vibe, inexplicably-large attendance numbers, and mad stage rush that resulted in the deaths of almost a dozen people are only part of the story.

The other part is less dramatic, but no less important.  The other part came first, and is therefore in some ways responsible for the recent tragedy in Houston.   I'm talking, of course, about the amateurish songwriting skills of the people involved in crafting the daft, unlistenable material performed that night, and the apparently-total lack of broader cultural awareness that led thousands of people to attend this false, ridiculous event in the first place.

A quick search for "Travis Scott" on YouTube yields many derivative, dated examples of an art form that was mastered decades ago by people who were actually talented.  In my brief, painful foray into this world, I did hear him rhyme "Spanglish" with "language," which is clunky, but also alright.  If anything, IT PROVES HE'S NOT BIGGIE SMALLS, but it is more than I expected to find, and I found it fast, so... okay.  I'm not here to win.  There is no artistic battle here; the true artistic battle is against myopia, ignorance, and stupidity.  Maybe he has talent.  The prefabricated, producer-reliant sound (as opposed to the producer bringing out the artist's sound) makes me think otherwise, but maybe I'm wrong.  I don't care.  Even a fan should be able to tell he isn't Biggie Smalls, who was actually a poet.

Compare any Travis Scott line with these gems from "Niggas Bleed:"


"That's when Ron vanished,

came back speaking Spanish,

lavish habits,




"took it to trial, beat it,

now he feel he undefeated,

he mean it."


I could post the lyrics in their entirety if I wanted to.  It goes on like this from the first verse to the very end.  The entire song is basically made of these quick, rapid-fire lines that fold over each other like so much verbal origami; the guy effortlessly spits so much poetry in such a short space of time that it makes the clunky Travis Scott line look like something you'd hear from a lazy drunk who accidentally signed up to perform at an open mic.  His words are the incoherent ramblings of a self-absorbed amateur, compared to the effortless, intentional poetry in the Biggie Smalls song.

The effortlessness is the key.  The ease with which the lines float around the beat is the sign that you're listening to a real artist.  The "Spanglish/language" rhyme in the Travis Scott song is an example of something forced.  An okay-looking rock in the road that is stumbled upon, at best.  A gem of artistic intent, by no means.

The music is another hint.  I mentioned it before as an afterthought, but to give it its own paragraph:

If the producer isn't enhancing the original and unique sound of the artist, but is creating a derivative, prefabricated sound comprised of studio tricks designed to stimulate the public into purchasing Skittles and cough syrup, you're dealing with a fake.  It's fake art.  It's fake music.  There is no unique, idiosyncratic vision behind anything to do with any of it.  It's materialistic noise on a grand scale.  It's comprised of nothing but pure idiotic drive, like the desire of a tweeker to scour the cracks in the sidewalk for dropped, forgotten drugs:  Will Find Speed.  Will Make Money.  Will Fool Millions.  Will Become Rich On The Road To Hell, etc.  Whatever happened to the famous clash of vision between artists and producers?  The Ramones vs. Phil Spector during the End of the Century sessions, and the like.  Do any of these frauds ever clash with their producers, or do they spend every minute of every session admiring themselves in the mirror and pretending to write about their wasted lives?

Does anybody look at Travis Scott and think, "here's a man who has something to say?"

Does anybody look at Biggie Smalls and think, "here's a man who didn't?"

Can you see the difference?


Any sound product in which the fake "artist" is merely another personality-free ingredient, an interchangeable fly in the murky soup of digital enhancement who is doing nothing more than the bidding of the only people who will ever make him rich and famous (which, like all bores, is where his vision begins and ends), and who is more replaceable than secondhand socks,

is cheap, patronizing garbage that will never be remembered except as an anomalous memory in the heads of people who will wonder what they were thinking when they used to listen to it, way back when.

It is the opposite of art.

It is the absence of art.

It is a vacuum of art.

It is anti-art.

In the case of the Astroworld Incident, this anti-art is The Original Tragedy.  It brings death, not life.  The tragedies that follow as a result of not avoiding it are terrible indeed.

This Original Tragedy, this anti-art, is the wannabe art of the anti-creator, the destroyer, the world's first lawyer, the devil, the great disheveled rebel, Satan himself, the fraud, the marauder, the dying deadbeat daughter, the ultimate deceiver, the first and final unbeliever, the baiter, the satyr, the mad, radical hater, the decomposing de-creator, the goat-headed shepherd-hating separator, who created a cloven crater when he fell naked like the Terminator

from the heavens in a lightning bolt.

Indeed, another prime example of the effortless use of internal rhyme.  In fact, because it's so forced and comically transparent, it's a great example of rhyme for its own sake engaged in for the most gratuitous, egocentric reasons. 

Like practicing scales to enhance the motor memory of your fingers, but instead of just having a few laughs to keep the chops up, taking the next step by presuming to entertain or enrich the world with your exercise routine.

The original tragedy.

Pablo con Dios,


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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket.


Replacing my blog at

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