Tim Fite: Over the Counter Culture

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“All the best rappers get shot by guns,”
– Tim Fite, I’ve Been Shot

I received my promo copy yesterday of Tim Fite’s new album Over the Counter Culture, which isn’t all that much of an insider’s get considering Fite is making the entire album available for free on his Web site on Feb. 20.

Over the Counter Culture is many things: a statement, a concept, a satire. Mostly, it’s brilliant in its execution and follow through. Fite, an experimental-folk eccentric signed to Epitaph/Anti, is getting promotional backing from the label even after his insistence of making the album available for free. How many labels are going to support that? (Though, it is a swift PR move in that Epitaph/Anti no doubt will ingratiate itself to fans who rail against the major-label model.) Really, Fite probably had no other choice than to give it away, lest he be labeled a hypocrite. As Fite told Billboard, “You cannot address politics about consumerism and put it out in the same way that any record would come out. It would be wrong. It is not classy.”

Over the Counter Culture is a hammer over the head of consumerism, specifically the way it has influenced hip-hop. The mainstream vs. independent/underground tug of war is never going to die, and Fite certainly wasn’t the first to call out the glitz-and-glamour way of rap; De La Soul’s De La Soul is Dead (1991) is mandatory listening in this regard.

The highlight, for me, of Over the Counter Culture has to be I’ve Been Shot, a parody obviously inspired by 50 Cent, who we all know by now doesn’t go anywhere without his bulletproof vest. The song is preceded by a 14-second skit in which an interviewer is asking kids who their favorite rapper is; the answer, of course, is 50 Cent. Again, subtlety has no place here.

“Every now and then I ask somebody to graze me/
Just shoot me a little bit, man/
Make it look good/
Well, not every rapper does it/
But every rapper should”

The album is an admirable and important message – from both Fite and Epitaph/Anti. Here’s hoping all the fans who cry about label politics put some faith in this (free) record.

  • Tim Fite | I’ve Been Shot
  • Tim Fite | Place Your Bets

Get Fite’s great 2005 release Gone Ain’t Gone (unfortunately, not for free, but only $5.20 at Insound).

Tim Fite resuscitates Trunk Federation

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