Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cheez-Its Jump the Shark

I am well aware that patience is not my strong suit, but when it comes to my favorite things, I can usually exercise some restraint, but no more. I can no longer sit idly by as Cheez-It rolls out insipid flavor after flavor and dilutes their whole brand. I have loved Cheez-Its above all other cheese-centric snacks, but after trying their newest "Mozzarella" incarnation, I took their experiments as a cry for help, and decided to stage this intervention. After putting all varieties into my flavor algorithm, I have devised a clear/concise list of winning products, and those that should be cut entirely, salvaging the Cheez-it name and saving considerable supermarket shelf space.


Original Cheez-Its - The OG Cheez-its are perfect in every way, although there can be severe shifts in quality on a bag to bag basis (trust me on this). Aerodynamic hole, crimped ends for grip, generous salt sprinkle. These are the elements of a well-thought out snack, and the reason why Cheez-It has towered over  pale imitators like the apocryphal Cheese Nips.

Pepper Jack  - This recent introduction to the family was a fiery breath of fresh air, and proof that the folks at Cheez-It are not completely devoid of innovation after all. Improving upon the bizarre "Tabasco" flavored Cheez-Its, this creative venture offered a more nuanced heat, with a unique, irresistible flavor profile. They gave me hope that Cheez-It may still have something left in the tank.

White Cheddar  - When it comes to the "dusted" genus of Cheez-Its, I have serious apprehensions. While the powdered cheese adheres to the cracker admirably, I have a sneaking suspicion that Cheez-It uses this cheap flavor powder to eschew making a quality cracker beneath the pandemonium on the surface. It all feels a bit gimmicky, and to top it off, after eating a few of these, your fingers become completely lacquered in the dust, forcing you to excuse yourself to wash your hands, or lick them like a psychopath. White Cheddar are the exception. The cracker beneath the explosive dance party on the outside has a tang and a sharpness to it that other varieties lack, and the cheese powder they use has addictive properties rivaled only by crystal meth.


'Hot and Spicy' AKA 'Tabasco' - These have always been the black sheep of the Cheez-It line, and with the emergence of Pepper Jack, their surfaces are no longer needed. Please exit stage left, and never come back.

Party Mix! - GTFO. Chex Mix has done it better, and will continue to do it better. Cut your losses, and stop barking up the Party Mix tree. People that eat Chex Mix are NOT your target demo. I AM YOUR TARGET DEMO.

Reduced Fat - Listen ladies. You eat far worse things than Cheez-Its on a daily basis. I've seen it. Practice moderation and you'll be fine. Do NOT buy these cardboard frauds to save 20 calories a serving. You will lose your Cheez-It privileges. I will make sure of it.

BIG Cheez-Its - The biggest head scratcher of the lot. Perhaps they were intimidated by larger snacks and this was their attempt to branch into the chip game. Whatever the inspiration, the recipe did not scale up well. Someone in their QC department needs a stern talking to.

FLAVOR BLASTED! (Baby Swiss, Cheddar Jack, Colby, Four Cheese, Parmesan, Nacho Cheese, Mozzarella) - As I alluded to earlier, this is the new trend in cheese snacks, and it has to stop. If I want to be covered in cheese particles, I'll buy some Jax. Don't come up with new flavors by extruding dried cheese matter and slathering it on a sad square of dough. These cheeses are terrible, and the reason you have resorted to "blasting" it on crackers is because they aren't good enough to carry a cracker flavor on their own. You can't cover weakness with a flavor blast. If you can't do it right Cheez-It, don't do it at all.

With all this being said, I remain hopeful that Cheez-it can get their groove back. In fact, I'm going to extend an olive branch right here and now by giving them a head start on an amazing new flavor they have forsaken all these years:


Get to work.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Best Films of 2011

I know this list is a bit tardy, but believe me when I say I've spent much of 2012 scrambling to see 2011 films that are just now getting a wider release. As a result, my Top 10 list has undergone some serious reshuffling in the past week, but I can finally say I've seen almost everything I intended to see, and can begin to shape them into some sort of order. First, here's a list of well-reviewed movies that I haven't had a chance to see yet, in case you feel their omission is a tragedy:

Take Shelter
The Skin I Live In
Uncle Bonmee
A Separation
The Guard
Attack the Block
War Horse
A Dangerous Method

Not too many, even though it looks like a lot on the page. I'm sure some of them are top-notch, but like I said, I had to play movie triage recently, and sadly, these didn't make the cut. Next, I have my most overrated film of the year. This film has been fawned over by critics much of the year, and pops up on a number "Best Of" lists, but didn't manage to stir up anything substantial for me:

With that out of the way, I'd like to move on to my honorable mentions. As I've whittled my list down to 10 movies, several fantastic films had to be snubbed, and I wanted to take a minute to give these second 10 their due. If you have a couple hours free, you could do a lot worse than choosing any of these.

Phew. So there's that. Now it's time for the Top 10. I'm going to spare you any commentary on the choices, as most of them have been analyzed to death, and I would scarcely have anything to add to the conversation. With that disclaimer, here goes:

10. Midnight In Paris

9. The Interrupters 

8. X-Men: First Class

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

5. Drive

4. Buck

3. Margin Call

2. Warrior

1. The Tree of Life

And there you have it. My Top 10 (er, 20), of 2011. A good mix of genres represented, a good year for movies overall. It's no 2007, but I'll take it. If you haven't had a chance to see some of these, do your darndest to make time in your schedule. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Clock

Imagine if Girl Talk's Greg Gillis, the "Maestro of the Mashup", applied his superhuman ability to films, dovetailing and rearranging clips to create a massive tribute to cinema. Now imagine that instead of making it the length of a typical LP (40 minutes or so), it was 24 hours long, and instead of a few hundred samples, it featured 10,000 (roughly) snippets meticulously threaded together. You would probably call this a staggeringly ambitious project. Now what if I told you that the entire "mashup", takes place in real time; that is, when your watch strikes 4, the clocks on the screen also strike four. When you start to get hungry around 6:37, the clips on the screen show people sitting down to dinner at precisely 6:37. That is what you can expect when you pull up a seat to watch Christian Marclay's "The Clock" at the MFA.

Perhaps I'm not explaining it well. Take a minute to view this clip to get a better idea of the incredible detail of this piece. And believe me when I say that the clip is woefully inadequate at expressing what makes the project so enthralling. Simply stitching the clips together would be a gargantuan effort, but Marclay was not satisfied with this simplistic endeavor. He constantly teases at certain scenes, just as a master DJ plays a tiny piece of a pop song minutes before he segues into it. While I watched it from 5:30 to 7 tonight, I was first confused when he showed Napoleon Dynamite in a van for no apparent reason, only to feel foolish 15 minutes later when Napoleon stood in a field looking at his watch waiting for Pedro to pull up. Certain films, like 1960's "The Time Machine" are the perfect tongue-in-cheek material, yet manage to pop up several times on their own merits, as George demonstrates the instrument to his friends over the course of a meeting.

The entire piece works on so many levels, it's a wonder no one had ever thought of it before. You can play "Name that Movie" with friends as films gallop by, you can sit back and enjoy as legend after legend flickers upon the screen (in my 90 minute session I saw nearly every movie star in film history*), or you can treat it like an actual film, as there is real drama and comedy in the film pairings and chosen scenes. People walking out of frame in one scene will be matched with people walking into a room in another. A knock at the door in one film will be answered in the next. When the clock nears the top of the hour, the loud music swells and the clips take on the gravitas that films usually do when time is running out for our hero. And of course, the complete work itself is an astute commentary on time and how we are both enslaved and liberated by it. It will inevitably mean different things to every person, but its net effect will be no less profound.

This blog post has gone on much longer than I expected, but such is my enthusiasm for this effort. If you have a chance to see it at the MFA, please do so before it leaves the city on December 31st. You won't regret it.

* Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Penn, Robert Deniro, Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, etc

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 20 Songs of the Year

Why Hello There. Thanks for dropping by. Grab an agreeable beverage, pull up that Snuggie, and cuddle up for my favorite songs of the year. I'll try and keep commentary to a minimum here, and just get to business. There were many wonderful songs this year, of which I have plucked twenty to share with you. I am confident there will be some familiar characters, but probably a great many unfamiliar choices, of which I implore you to give a listen and keep an open mind. I listen to a lot of music, but the more I listen to, the more I learn that a great song is a great song, regardless of any real or imagined barriers that have kept them out of your ear.

Honorable Mentions:
Das Racist - Booty In The Air
Other Lives - Tamer Animals 
Wale - Chain Music
Wilco - Art of Almost
Wu Lyf - We Bros

20. Radiohead - The Daily Mail

Say what you will about "King Of Limbs", Radiohead's 8th studio album. Failed experiment? Brilliantly dense gem? No matter, as they saved their best song of the year for a December "single" release. Whether it didn't fit on King of Limbs or just wasn't ready, it's a fantastic tune that captures the dark atmosphere and flexible melodies that made Hail to the Thief such a disturbing listen.  

19. Cults - You Know What I Mean

Cults have surfed their own buzz to a contract with Columbia Records and a BNM crowning by Pitchfork. Their tight, gorgeous songs serve as brief time capsules that trigger an avalanche of grainy imagery and black and white photos. Who knows if people will tire of this nostalgia, but this song will never wear out its welcome on my iPod.

18. Justice - Helix

Justice's sophomore album was full of disappointments, but what salvaged their rock experiment and gave fans hope for the future was this wonderfully energetic diddy. Using the briefest of samples and an intoxicating guitar part, "Helix" was as much fun as anything on their debut.

17. LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem

I don't need to link this song, or even say anything about it, but I will. For those of you who think it is a terrible, manufactured, obnoxious excuse for a song, I am here to tell you that you aren't THAT old, and that you can still have fun. It was the song of the summer in my humble opinion, and still elicits a few instinctive shuffles before I can get a hold of myself.

16. Childish Gambino - Freaks and Geeks

The Gambino backlash is here. Camp has sold over 100,000 copies, Pitchfork dismissed his album with withering ferocity, and Community is on the ropes. Donald has always said he thrives on criticism and has dealt with haters every step of the way. I hope he keeps that hoodie pulled tight and ignores everything else, because this song is still amazing.

15. Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing

Something happened to Lykke Li. She was a cute, precocious girl who danced her way into your heart three years ago, in 2011, she developed a prickly side, one that eschewed her playfulness for a heart-to-heart. Sadness is a Blessing is as powerful as it is entrancing, and the video is a perfect compliment to the sentiments contained therein.

14. The Weeknd - The Morning

The Weeknd came out of absolutely nowhere (well, Toronto) to release two of the strongest R&B records of the year (for FREE). This 23 year old went from cooing into his laptop to getting hooks on Drake's album in 6 months, and he shows no sign of letting up, with even more albums set for release in early 2012. The Morning is the first song I heard of him, and the one that made everyone sit up and take notice.

13. Jessica Lea Mayfield - Blue Skies Again

People who lament the lack of "good" country/folk music these days, need look no further than Jessica Lea Mayfield. Seeing her live cemented her remarkable talent and stage presence. She sings in a feathery twang with wisdom well beyond her years. I can't wait to hear what she does next.

12. Florence and the Machine - What the Water Gave Me

Florence snuck up on me. I heard rumblings about her, but never made an effort to connect the dots until her sophomore album started collecting accolades and became undeniable. I'm glad I gave in to her charms. While I like "Shake it Out", some of her songs dance dangerously close to Sarah McLachlain territory. "What the Water Gave Me" is the perfect amalgam of her reining in her voice and the band picking up the slack.

11. Cut Copy - Take Me Over

I loved Cut Copy's "In Ghost Colours" more than I can express in a sentence, so I approached their newest release Zonoscope with trepidation, fearing they would try to shake things up dramatically and make fans run back to their first album. Thankfully, Zonoscope did none of that, as demonstrated by the masterful spring and build of "Take Me Over".

10. Architecture in Helsinki - Contact High

Architecture in Helsinki have yet to cobble together a GREAT album, but they can always be counted on for a few fantastic singles, and 2011 was no exception. "Contact High" and its hilarious is one of their strongest songs, and hypnotizing live. The more songs that keep Kellie on the keyboard and her voice in the background, the better.


9. Glass Candy - Warm in the Winter
I know very little about Glass Candy. I listened to some of their other music after falling in love with this song, and nothing grabbed me like this song. Usually, song titles are pretty dumb. They are just a snippet from a lyric in the song that people can yell out at a concert. But "Warm in the Winter" is something else entirely. It is the perfect descriptor for this song. I can see myself listening to it driving in the snow, or by the fire, and it was my go-to running song all year whenever I was feeling droopy. It never failed to warm me up and bring a dumb smile to my face. There's a version with lyrics and a purely instrumental. I prefer the latter.

8. St. Vincent - Cruel
St. Vincent had herself a very nice year, and although I can't say that I loved all of "Strange Mercy", I could not deny the brilliance of "Cruel". She has a stellar voice, and this song is the ideal stage for it.

7. Youth Lagoon - Seventeen
I just wrote about this song a few weeks ago, but it is still as devastating and inspiring as ever.

6. The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love?

The Rapture, like many buzzbands of yore (ahem, Strokes, ahem), spent 2011 trying to get their groove back, or at the very least a bit of that precious buzz. Well they did a pretty stellar job on their debut single, a jangling hand-clapper that was the first of MANY songs to invoke the saxophone this year. So what if the chorus sounds a little too much like "The Thong Song?".

5. Lil Wayne - 6 foot, 7 foot

As the biggest Wayne apologist I know (recently I've been seriously considering getting a YMCMB vanity plate), I was a little nervous at Wayne's prospects fresh out of the pen, so imagine my relief when I heard 6 foot, 7 foot for the first time. I can only liken it to the feeling you get when your plane lands safely. I know Wayne has been hit-or-miss the rest of the year, but at least this song proved to me that the old Wayne is still in there somewhere.

4. Adele - Turning Tables

I wrote about this song a while ago also, and while Someone Like You and Rolling In The Deep were massive hits, I still think this is her strongest song to date. Riveting and chilling, Adele is a talent unlike any other.

3. Drake - Headlines

Drake's "Take Care" improved on his debut album in every possible way. He handed off the singing to the capable The Weeknd, and focused his energy on his lyrics, evolving so fast and so completely that any prior criticism of him no longer stuck. Those who dismissed him were forced to take a second look. They found   a far more calculating and intelligent rapper than they expected, all of these new found skills evident on the amazing "Headlines".

2. Bon Iver - Holocene

I am happy for Bon Iver. He has a humility that few artists have. Sometimes it gets him into trouble (See Grammy comments), but mostly it keeps him honest and earnestly trying to improve. With his second album he has shaken off his Kanye-glow and his cabin-in-the-woods mythology, and finally it seems as though he has earned himself a clean slate. Holocene is a wallop of a song, and needs no introduction if you've ventured outside your rock.

1. M83 - Midnight City

Yes. I am aware that this is the exact same #1 song as chosen by the tastemakers at, and I am perfectly ok with that. It is a song that transcends pretension and turned up noses and sneers from jaded hipsters. It is a lit firecracker that brought all the mopes and pessimists on to the dance floor. The album itself is huge and nearly collapses under its own weight, but this song is enough to set it on the right course and give it a hearty boost.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 in Books

I'm excited to start squeezing out Year-End Lists, as it likely means I am done with finals and have the time/mental fortitude to list out some of my favorite things (No Oprah). I thought I'd start the festivities off with a list of the books I read this year, roughly categorized. Not counting textbooks, I read 15 books this year. Not a banner year, but I'm sure I missed a few and really shifted into high gear over the last couple months. After taking a while to get into the groove, picking up my Nook has developed into a satisfying habit that is in many ways better than paper and ink. Without further ado:


The Pale King - David Foster Wallace, 560p

Classic Feynman - Richard Feynman, 528p

TBC #32 - The Corrections- Jonathan Franzen, 576p


Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself - David Lipsky, 352p

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson, 672p

Steve Jobs- Walter Isaacson, 656p

TBC #27 - The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde, 178p

TBC #29 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick, 210p

Moneyball - Michael Lewis, 317p

Awake In The Dark - Roger Ebert, 512p

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Le' Carre, 400p


TBC #33 - Mao II - Don Delillo, 256p

Life Itself - Roger Ebert, 448p


TBC #28 - King Lear - Shakespeare, 384p
                                                            Looking good, Gandalf ;)

TBC #35 - Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 487p

TBC #36 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot, 400p


TBC #30 - Monster - Sanyika Shakur, 400p


The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
Sex At Dawn - Christopher Ryan
Common Ground - J. Anthony Lukas
American Prometheus - Kai Bird
The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach
Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises

I'm sure I forgot a few of them, but these are the books I could come up with after a cursory look around my room and my Nook. Some Great, Some Meh. Some I didn't finish for one reason or another. Doesn't seem like much when you cram it all into a blog post, but it shakes out to 7,336 pages all told, or 20 pages/day. Not staggering, but better than I would have expected, all things considered.

What have you read this year? Anything great? Any overlaps? Please share in the comments, I'm always itching for something new to read. Adieu!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I will concede that this blog has hit a bit of a rough patch. Aside from a handful of photos one week and an ill-conceived rant the next, I've hit a bit of a wall. I have attempted to eschew music reviews, as I am keenly aware that no one reads them and I'm trying to avoid movie reviews so I can get it all out of my system at the end of the year when I come up with some sort of hierarchy. In one of my first entries, I confessed that this blog existed more as a means for me to express opinions more articulately than I otherwise may have, and should be read as a journal more than a manifesto. I still feel that way, but I wouldn't be linking the entries if it was an entirely solitary pursuit. What I'm saying is; the blogging will be probably be sporadic, and on my terms. This entry will address luck.

I've stopped reading the Oppenheimer biography 'American Prometheus' because it was excruciatingly slow and dry, and entirely too detailed. For Oppenheimer scholars, it may be fascinating to read the minutes of every meeting he ever attended, but I couldn't take any more. Instead, I moved laterally to 'Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself", a 300-page "conversation" between Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and the late David Foster Wallace in 1996, just as Wallace was finishing his book tour for Infinite Jest and wrestling with his sudden celebrity. While I have only read 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again', 'The Pale King', and only made a small dent in Infinite Jest, I consider myself to be a big DFW fan. I hold his Commencement speech near and dear, and am saddened when I realize his output is finite, and some day I will have no new DFW material to read.

What I have been struck by most in Lipsky's book is the humility that DFW has in the wake of the fervor that Infinite Jest produced, and how he dismisses compliments and finds the accolades "scary", in that they are only raising expectations for his next book to unreachable heights. He was a brilliant man, and one who refused to view art with one iota of pretension, instead using it as a means to tease out fundamental, universal truths. He was not one to roll his eyes at cliche, so long as it was effective and not insulting, unabashedly enjoying old country music due to the very deep material it contained, regardless of the surface subject matter. I won't get into all of his intricacies, but it gave me a profound level of respect for him on a different level than I had before. Maybe it's because I see some of myself in him when he discusses his twenties, and it scares me when I consider how his life ended. One of the most devastating passages involves Wallace explaining how incredibly lucky he is, in spite of everything, to be doing what he enjoys. While not an edgy topic, I considered the same, and decided to quantify how lucky I really am to try and visualize it a bit better. So that's what I did. Below are the odds for each of the following characteristics, provided the above is true (for the most part).

These numbers are courtesy of the most recent US Census (

Note: I am not saying any of these attributes are better than the alternatives.

US Citizen: 1 in 22
Male: 1 in 2
White: 1 in 1.5
Middle Class: 1 in 2
Non-Divorced Household: 1 in 2
High School Graduate: 1 in 1.2
Bachelor's Degree: 1 in 2.5
Master's Degree (knock on wood): 1 in 4
No Debt: 1 in 4
Full Time Job: 1 in 1 (Low unemployment rate for MS graduates)
Less than 20 minutes commute to work: 1 in 3
Healthy: 1 in 3 (guess factoring in obesity and all other fatal/chronic diseases)
Good Looking: 1 in 3
Full Head of Hair: 1 in 2
Winning Smile: 1 in 4
Well Read: 1 in 5
Charming: 1 in 3

Total: 1 in 41 million (in all seriousness, more like one in 115,000 if you ignore the frivolous things at the end)

Puts things in perspective a bit, doesn't it? And who knows how far off some of those estimations were.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The term "Legacy" is one that carries both gravity and pretension. It's something I've been chewing on a lot lately after reading Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography and tackling a Richard Feynman collection after. Now in the throes of the J. Robert Oppenheimer bio American Prometheus, the concept of legacy and what it means has become quite fascinating. Steve Jobs created revolutionary products that delivered intuitive computers for normal consumers, but was a notorious asshole who routinely berated his coworkers, swindled his friends and was often too busy/callous to spend quality time with his family. Steve Jobs often fretted about his legacy, but at the end of the day he chose to be worshiped by millions of strangers than revered in his own family.

Feynman was a different character entirely. He possessed the same ferocious curiosity of Jobs, but his curiosity was not limited to a specific discipline like computing or design. He embraced everything with the zeal that few of us can muster for even our most interesting pursuits. He planned a trip to Brazil, so he taught himself Portuguese and became immersed in the culture, picking up the drums in his spare time and soon mastering them. When he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project, he taught himself lock-picking and spent hours mastering the craft and learning new tricks. He was a kind and gentle and nurturing influence on his students at Cal-Tech and was equally patient and beloved by the scientific community at large. He became interested in hallucinations but was reticent to indulge in drugs, so he spent many hours in sensory deprivation chambers to satisfy these questions. He made landmark Biology observations and even became popular enough as an artist to warrant an exhibit under his pseudonym "Ofey". He had two children from a long marriage to his third wife (his first died of TB and second divorced him), and proved that genius need not be a ticket to a solitary life.

For the rest of us, does the word "legacy" even apply? Does it even matter? Some could effectively argue that concerning yourself over how you will be remembered is a pointless pursuit, and I would not disagree. But the fact of the matter is that life is an end sum game, and having a nice legacy is a validation of a life well-lived, even if your memory dissolves quickly. What's interesting is how these legacies can change over time, and how your life can be distilled into a sterile paragraph that scrubs away any complexity or dimension. Watching Boardwalk Empire, I was struck by a portrayal of a KKK member as a family man. When you have the KKK on your resume, it doesn't matter that you were a doting husband or a wonderful father or that "things were different back then", your legacy is sealed. Perhaps those who are fighting tooth and nail to defend marriage from a "liberal assault" will enjoy a similar fate in twenty years and they try to explain themselves to their grandchildren who simply dismiss them as an old bigot.

There is so much unhappiness in the world today, that most people can only cope with it by channeling it into frustration and impatience that only serves to propagate the problem. It is exceedingly difficult, but we would all be better served if we understood that everyone is struggling in some way, and that their actions are their response to this. This sentiment is better expressed in David Foster Wallace's commencement speech, but it's something I try to come back to when I am close to boiling. Perhaps legacy is an inappropriate motivator to get someone to treat others with respect, but if it gives you a moments pause before you beep your horn or spout profanity, maybe it's not such a bad thing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hip Hop Onomatopeias

I'm not sure when rappers decided seeing their name in the credits wasn't satisfying anymore, but my best guess is sometime around 2009, or when the king of hip-hop onomatopeias himself, Gucci Mane arrived on the scene. His music was equally playful and bizarre, with a healthy dose of danger for good measure, but what kept his music fun were his hilarious sound effects that ended every verse and filled every gap in the beat. Never one for discretion, Gucci had no less than THREE sounds that he dispensed with ruthless precision. There was the declarative "BRR!" that announced his presence, in case the listener was unaware, the affirmative "S'gucci!" (an assumed contraction of "It's Gucci!") to confirm what you had already suspected, and finally, the concilliatory "Aye", a goofy shoulder-shrug to explain away everything that preceded it. These days, EVERYONE has a trademark sound effect that they sprinkle on everything they touch, a little rap fairy dust to make the song a hit. These effects range from endearing to obnoxious, but trust me, they are all completely unnecessary. For your reading pleasure, I've organized them into categories so you can identify these artists by their alter egos.
Sounds: "Huh" "Yeah" Assorted near-grunts
Example: Mr. Lover

I guess if we're splitting hairs, Shaggy might be the first one to do this with these sounds you can only make by clenching your buttcheeks (try it, you'll see) but he is neither relevant nor a rapper so I'm not about to give him credit for anything.

Sounds: Heavy breathing, strange gasps, generic "Ungh"
Example: Otis

Jay-Z has been around long enough to know when something is a passing fad (hello Autotune) or worthy of his attention, but even HOVA himself can't help but get in on the sound effect action. Jay-Z's delivery has always been breathless, like he just ran 12 blocks to deliver this verse, but in recent years he's sounded even more out of breath, and he's developed a strange "GASP!" that he drops randomly like he just woke up from a bad dream. Of course he still has his tried and true "ungh" to fall back in a pinch.

Lil Wayne
Sounds: Lighter spark, random laughter
Example: Entire "Sorry 4 The Wait" mixtape

Lil Wayne is deranged. In the best possible way. He has the most fun of any rapper, from skateboarding until 4AM after shows or spending absurd amount of money on a diamond encrusted grill to showcase his winning smile. It only makes sense that his sound effect share his sense of humor. Nearly every song he releases opens with the spark of a light and Mr. Carter taking a deep breath of "something", followed by a few unintelligible mumbles and his first verse. Inside the verses themselves, Wayne giggles and chuckles yet somehow manages to stay on the beat, and once his verses are complete, he unleashes a maniacal laugh of a mental patient. It would be troubling if it weren't so fun.


Kanye West
Sound: "Eh?"
Example: Who Gon Stop Me?

Since Kanye emerged from the Taylor Swift controversy, he has had a swagger that is unmatched in hip-hop, which is saying something. He has always had an edge to him, but on Watch the Throne, he ends almost every verse with an "Eh?", sounding a lot like the meow of a confused cat, but also like something Maximus would say.

Rick Ross
Sound: The bark of an obese dog
Example: John

Rick Ross is a big guy, I don't think anyone will argue that, but he doesn't need to make it THAT easy. His trademark is a bark. The deep, hearty woof of a morbidly obese dog waiting for his dinner. Perhaps this is an apt sound for Ross, since he just spent a music video in a wheelchair and had two strokes on a flight, but to my ears it is a cry for help. That doesn't mean I'm not terrified of him.


Pusha T
Sound: "Yeccghh"
Example: Any song from the past two years

Pusha T is half of Clipse. Maybe that doesn't mean anything to you, but it does to me. It mostly means he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. Especially with something as annoying as his sound effect of choice, an obnoxious "YECCGHH" that is distracting. No one wants to visualize someone retching over a toilet in the middle of a song. He's been hanging out with Kanye lately, so maybe he put him up to it, but he needs to stay strong and stick to rapping.

Sound: "He-heh!"
Example: It's Good

I had a hard time spelling out Jadakiss' phrase, not because I couldn't remember it but because it is so obnoxious I can't bring myself to listen to it and figure out exactly how to spell it phonetically. Imagine if the Wicked Witch of the West sucked on a helium balloon and then was tickled. That's pretty much what you can expect. I've never been a fan of Jadakiss, and his recent output has not endeared him any further, with his  raspy cackle and moronic verses. Rappers don't retire (See Jay-Z), but Jadakiss should make an exception and hang it up.