This or That? Father vs. Father MC
You don't call yourself Father unless you feel like a God. To be a young rapper who recreates himself in the image of a patriarch is self-deification -- a ritual almost all rappers dabble in, from Hova to Yeezus to Raekwon. It's a preemptive power move in a country that once saw black folk as only three-fifths human. That power derives from independence; in this society, Father makes the bread. Father steers morality. Father runs the show. Even James Brown couldn't help championing women without pointing out that they stand behind the man. Othello swallowed racism and killed his lover to be included in the (white) boys club. This is a man's world and Father creates it from his loins, apparently.
One look at Father MC should convince you. In 1996, he posed naked for Playgirl, becoming the second and final rapper to pose nude for the magazine after Big Daddy Kane. Find the spread at your own risk, but know this -- clearly Father MC could give a f--k about what you think of him. There he is in all his fleshy glory, exposing himself with more confidence than every other rapper who wouldn't dare. Yes, if you call yourself Father MC and hang your dong in Playgirl, you might be a God, regardless of your music.
Father MC's music was far from godlike. The rapper born Timothy Brown was signed to Uptown Records, where Puffy shaped Jodeci with boots and baggy clothes. Uptown R&B artists like Mary J. Blige borrowed heavily from hip-hop, roughing up their image to attract hip-hop listeners. Father MC actually put Mary on 'I'll Do 4 U' from his 1990 debut album 'Father's Day' before Mary was a priority at Uptown. That song was one of two hits from Father MC's first LP -- the other one was 'Treat Them Like They Wanted To Be Treated.' That song, along with 'Lisa Baby' from the same album, served as the public's introduction to Jodeci before their debut single, 'Gotta Love,' in '91. Father MC wasn't the illest rapper, but he had a golden eye for collaborations.
He wasn't a terrible rapper, either. His soft subject matter was completely at odds with hip-hop's dominating ideology -- f--k bitches -- and made him something of a stylistic outcast, despite talking s--t like the Smooth Operator before him. His s--t was a little too fluffy for the early '90s, when even LL was back with 'The Power of God,' and he was quickly eclipsed by pretty much everybody else at Uptown, but he wasn't overly corny. He was genuine enough to serve as a credible platform artist for Jodeci and Mary. Uptown flaunted artists with crossover appeal that never compromised their core sound, and Father MC was just another on-point example of their brand.
There's nothing corny about Mississippi rapper Father. He caught pneumonia in his fist on his first semi-popular single, 'Look At Wrist,' with Drake's new child iLoveMakonnen and rising Atlanta rapper Key! (formerly of Two-9). Father's music is pared down, simplistic and knocking. He singlehandedly owns a label, Awful Records, that houses 13 artists, and he produced every song on his new album, 'Young Hot Ebony.'
He doesn't have the star power of Young Thug or Rich Homie Quan, but his music doesn't aspire to the heights they've reached, either. He's more Tyler, The Creator than PeeWee Longway -- a one-man entrepreneurial force who does his own cover art and produces his own music without asking anyone for permission. He grew up on Miami Bass and New Orleans Bounce, he loves 'Rick and Morty,' and his moniker was inspired by Lil' B The Based God. In short, he's the man.
'Young Hot Ebony' is the strongest project Father has dropped since he debuted with 'Pretty Boy Satan' last year. He used to go by Father's Liquor Cabinet, if you haven't already realized this guy doesn't give a f--k, and his music doesn't sound like any of the muddy, gargled music that Gucci has been cultivating. Blankets of bass get pierced with spear-like drums, bringing him closer to a cult phenom like Bones than an outlier like iLoveMakonnen. The second half of 'Young Hot Ebony' is his sweet spot; 'Why Can't I Cry $$$' is as millennial a plea as ever to just have money replace our feelings already; 'Comin Back' gifts us with Father's quirky pronunciation of the word "gone"; 'Dossier' sounds like the skeleton of a Neptunes beat. Other parts of Father's production have the faint fingerprints of The Neptunes, but it might be via Odd Future's influence on his sound. The Cali collective's impact is unavoidable, and their simple, raw aesthetic is on display once more with 'Young Hot Ebony.' Seeing how Tyler often takes musical cues from Skateboard P, the Neptunes-Father connection is a little more apparent.
People weren't checking for Father MC like that when he came out. He was already criticized for his name and his steez in the shadow of Big Daddy Kane, but his music was above average, so he got a pass. His popularity was definitely tied to Jodeci and Uptown's image, though, so in a way he was just another Puffy pawn.
Father is forging his own path. His raps are laid back drug dealer musings, but his vision is all encompassing. He wants to shoot commercials (again, like Tyler) and help grow the talent on his label. Best of all, he doesn't sound like anyone else coming out of the South. 'Look At Wrist' only skims the surface of Father's talent, and as long as he continues to hone his own sound, we'll be talking about in the future.