Is Fresno's Princeton the Great One, or PtheG, really "the worst rapper in the Bay Area," or is he having a laugh at rap's expense? The conceit of "Cheeseburger" is asinine, from the rhythmically braindead chorus to the way P keeps forgetting to lip-sync and reaches for the steering wheel instead, but the verse -- all 36 seconds of it -- isn't actually that bad. Not Fabolous caliber, but you probably wouldn't think twice if you heard it on a Dipset track.
The chorus here ("She's mad and I know why: simply because she's not I") is appealingly transgressive in a Shakespearean kind of way, but nobody in his or her right mind would classify P's wretchedly autotuned caterwaul as "good," or even as "music." And given the trappings of the video -- the Kanye shades, the slapstick lover's quarrel, the fact that the only set piece in sight is a picnic table -- one suspects that wasn't the spirit in which it was intended. The most open-minded members of the YouTube community have come to the same conclusion. "Dude if you weren't trying to clown on Kanye with this and you are serious," writes WhipperWhip, "you just took an L."
True, PtheG has put in an awful lot of work if this is an inside joke. He's released at least eight mixtapes in the last three years or so -- his barely grammatical MySpace page effuses that his new one, And Then There Was P..., is "availible [sic] now!" -- and, with those odds on his side, every now and then he drops something downright competent. One of his best tracks, "Thanks," is an earnest declaration of gratitude to his fans (and haters) worldwide. He's even got T-shirts and tote bags for sale.
But P sure doesn't sweat the presentation: if he did, it might have occurred to him that it's bad form to have back-to-back a cappella tracks on Hood Status consisting, respectively, of him muttering to himself while checking his MySpace ("Checkin Myspace") and of him muttering to himself while checking his YouTube ("Checkin Youtube"). So yeah, there are some bones to pick with his M.O. -- the tracks on his mixtapes are sequenced in freaking alphabetical order -- but maybe we're not giving him enough credit.
Maybe PtheG is neither purely clueless nor purely cynical: not as bad as Willy over at Nation of Thizzlam makes him out to be, not doing this as an extended lark or unsuccessful cash-grab either. My bet is that he's another enterprising young buck seduced by how easy it is these days to be a self-made, or at least self-styled, internet phenomenon. (He's no worse a rapper than Soulja Boy, and the jury's still out on that particular case.) Enjoy him or abhor him, PtheG has taken to heart the Wesley Willis principle that enough content, with the right percentage of complete inscrutability, will eventually get you noticed. You win this round, Princeton.
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown