AUDIE CORNISH, host:
Atlanta is the third coast of rap, an alternative to the sounds of New York and L.A. One of the latest stars to come out of the Atlanta scene is Waka Flocka Flame, who's racked up almost as many detractors as fans. Commentator Jay Smooth is still on the fence.
JAY SMOOTH: Waka Flocka Flame. Any man who is willing to call himself Waka Flocka Flame is clearly a man who's not afraid of being made fun of.
In recent years, Atlanta has given birth to a new generation of rappers who basically thumb their nose at all that northern sophistication with an extremely raw, simplistic, aggressive style of rap. And Waka Flocka Flame has become the rapper who carries that anti-musical, anti-intellectual hip-hop out to its ultimate conclusion.
(Soundbite of music)
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME (Musician): (Rapping) (Unintelligible).
SMOOTH: On his hit songs like "Hard in da Paint," Waka Flocka Flame simply shouts the simplest couplets imaginable at the top of his lungs, often mixed with wordless grunts and growls and screams over a beat that sounds like the marching band that would come with the four horsemen of the apocalypse as they destroy the earth.
(Soundbite of music)
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME: (Rapping) (Unintelligible).
SMOOTH: For Waka Flocka's detractors, that complete lack of musicianship and absence of lyrical skill represents everything that's gone wrong with hip-hop music with this younger generation. But for fans of Waka Flocka Flame, that rejection and scorn from hip-hop's latte-drinking elite is a badge of honor. And they would point to that extreme simplicity as adding to the emotional catharsis and release of that raw, aggressive music.
So for those who still struggle to make sense of Waka Flocka Flame, the best way to understand him might be that Waka Flocka Flame has become the leader of hip-hop's Tea Party movement.
Over the last few years, the Tea Party has built up a passionate following by aligning themselves with complete outsiders who hold up their lack of Washington's traditional qualifications as the most attractive qualification you could have.
It shouldn't be too hard to understand the allure of the untutored outsider that's made Waka Flocka Flame such a big hit. For all those Americans who are unable to align themselves with the Tea Party, you might want to try listening to some Waka Flocka Flame and venting your rage against the machine that way.
CORNISH: Jay Smooth blogs at illdoctrine.com.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.