EARMILK WRITE-UP – “Rap Is A Joke.” – Frank Stacks
Understanding Frank Stacks is something most sane minds do not want to undertake. As a battle rapper, Stacks has built his name upon a word that the LGBT community will cringe at: Faggot. But before the flood of hate begins, I think it is important to understand Frank Stacks. Download: Rap Is A Joke – Ridin Through The Town I first met Stacks at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton, CA, sometime in late 2008. At the time, I was a radio personality in the Bay Area, and we were introduced by a mutual friend. I was first struck by his sheer intelligence. His vocabulary is a veritable cornucopia of the English language. He mixes an Oxford dictionary with Bay Area street terminology, and dissects conversations with his quick wit. Simply put – he’s a really funny guy. Download: Rap Is A Joke – Rap Costume Frank Stacks is a persona, but it is a persona leveled with a depth and clarity that most other rappers don’t (or can’t) pull off. Recently, Stacks released his follow-up album to “Rap Is A Joke”, titled “All Jokes Aside”. It provides a counterpoint to the laughable, parodied nature of “Rap Is A Joke”. Writing about Frank Stacks on Earmilk had never really crossed my mind until one of our readers sent me a video of a rap battle between Stacks and O’Shea, a battle rapper from England. It was literally the funniest, and most intelligent rap battle I have ever seen. (No disrespect meant to greats like Thesaurus, etc. – Stacks is just better. Frank Stacks is the Michael Jordan of disrespectful wordplay.) So I looked through my BlackBerry and called Stacks. I hadn’t talked to him in a few years, and just like old times – he had me laughing through the phone call. Download: Rap Is A Joke – Put Me In The Game The phone call with Stacks was quick. He told me a little about his partner L-Money, and re-branding themselves as “Rap Is A Joke”. “The main difference between us and other ‘joke rap’ artists is this: We’re rappers doing comedy. Everyone else is a comedian doing rap.” This is consistent with their music. Rap Is A Joke has a sound familiar to anyone into Bay Area rap from the mid 90s. It’s easy to get lost in all his side projects, the jokes, the Andy Milonakis connection, and his long list of rap battles. Frank Stacks & L-Money are entertaining, talented, and harsh. Rap Is A Joke brings a new feel to the sound that made Bay Area rap great in the 90s and early ‘00s. Frank Stacks never got caught up in “the hyphy movement”. When The Bay got went dumb and got hyphy, Stacks distanced himself for the nonsense and waited for the storm to blow over. Now he’s the only one left standing, and with his partner L-Money, Rap Is A Joke is poised to make noise in the Bay Area. Both of their albums are free to download on his website, rapisajoke.com. One is funny, one is serious – but they’re both equally good for their purpose. “All Jokes Aside” features a who’s-who of Bay Area underground rap names: AP-9, Goldie, T-Nutty, Spice-1, LushOne, The Jacka, Mayhem, Dirtbag Dan, and a few more. The wordplay hits hard and fast, his flows move quickly, and you have to think quickly to catch all the references they make. Download: Rap Is A Joke – Romeo & Juliet The Bay Area seems to have a few different styles, and they all begin with the letter H. There’s Hyphy rap – defined by nonsense, shaking dreads, ‘going dumb’, and being an idiot. I was never a fan of it. Then there is Hipster/Horrible rap, currently being made by artists Lil B and Kreayshawn. They intend to make a mockery of rap (I think), by Andy Warhol’ing words and images until they are meaningless. (This is not meant to slight Kreayshawn either. She’s an incredible music video director, and her flair for visual style is impressive – I just don’t think she’s a very good rapper. She has a career because her cute/bad white girl rapper image is brand new.) The other kind of rap is what the Bay Area has come to be known for over three decades: Harsh rap. It began with RBL Posse, Andre Nickatina, Too $hort, and Messy Marv. We’re now seeing the generation after them, the kids that grew up listening to these Bay Area greats, clearly influenced by their style. Download: Rap Is A Joke – It Ain’t Easy Rap Is A Joke also brings another “H” into the mix, and I believe that’s what really sets it apart. This isn’t just Bay Area rap. This is Hayward, also known as “The Haystack”, from which Stacks gets his name. Stacks aims to put Hayward on the map. And knowing Stacks, he probably will. Rap may be a joke, but Frank Stacks and L-Money are certainly not.