State of Hip-Hop: Is it still Alive? Part 2

Although hip-hop has changed in the eyes of the many, there is the spectacle going around that it is no longer alive or that its remaining spirit being killed off by the so called “techno-driven, pop oriented, simple rhyming, bounce-induced method” that is taking the clubs and eventually radio by storm. Leaving those who crave for the spiritually conscience and lyrical content obsolete and deprived. Erykah Badu made this statement not to long ago:

“How y’all gone stand by and let our music turn into pop techno cornball ass music. We don’t own our music no more. Come to think of it, did we EVER own it? when I say own our music , I’m not talkin bout the artist I’m talkin bout the people … let me be quiet. I wanna hear from the young people? easy for me to complain about this techno-pop cause i have a taste for something else. but how do u feel? These rappers ought to be shame of they damn selves, I’m talkin bout the mc’ s rappin over this pop techno music. I believe in pimpin the system buy got DAMN! not like this. I love house and techno as a side dish .But now it’s served as the main course AND that’s ALL u gone get. like chittlins in the back house. I love music PERIOD. just not ready to say goodbye to the boom bip and the hump .. kinda painful for my generation to see. just strange 2me. Yes, no1 wants 2B poor again. artist have2 sacrifice integrity of the music sometimes 2 make ends meet. this is understood. but gotDAMN now. if you’ve never tasted good p*ssy your satisfied with ass hole. (that’s terrible ain’t it .) lol”

I respect Erykah Badu comments, including the last metaphor, classic. However I must say this, and a lot of people will disagree with me, but I’m the writer here so live with it. Lets compare hip-hop to a human being, born in the hood and was raised by his parents, Soul and Funk, who also had a godfather by the name Cool Herc that showed him how to mix his roots into something innovative. As a child he wasn’t accepted by his peers, they said “he will never catch on, he wasn’t one of us and he never will be”. Naturally he started to rebel and started his own school to bring out his own style, utilizing dancing, art, and the microphone in his curriculum the way his peers, R&B and Disco used it. . The world took notice, and all they wanted was him and his many students to showcase their talents. Some students were dancers, some were kids from a broken home, some where drug dealers, some were gangsters, and some just wanted to be heard. His students came from many backgrounds, some blended their styles together, and some beefed over who was the superior student, but all eventually graduated from silver, to gold, to platinum, and double platinum. And like any other institution, classes have come and go, year after year, some Alumnus are still relevant in their studies today; becoming professors in their own right, and some are losing grip on their influence on the curriculum. Because of that many are disgruntled, resentful, and angry at the new school, the new board of directors, faculty, and the new study methods.

Being that hip-hop is very much like an institute, I suggest that these students-turned-teachers stop hating and sitting down watching the changes happen, and actually do some teaching. Instead of just sitting back and losing students to different electives like snap music and pop rap, do what Hip-hop has taught us to do, FIGHT! Fight to keep your teachings relevant, not for the sole reason of trying to relive your glory days but to make sure the glory days of hip-hop never end. Guide the young students of hip-hop, don’t criticize them because they are different from your generation. Some of them are under a lot of pressure to produce these records that you don’t like, just like you were. There was a time (though many want to forget was a part of hip-hop) when lyrics were simple, just straight dance tracks, made popular by professors Kid-n-Play, 2 live crew, Kriss-Kross, Big Daddy Kane, and Missy Elliott not too recently. They themselves received criticism, yet they all gained legendary status because of it. Hip-hop went to the west, and Professor Common wrote a love song about losing it. Gangsta rap was frowned upon by many, yet today despite all its controversy in the past, its pioneers like former and current board directors, the late Tupac and Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre, have become icons and father figures to many of the new school today. Presidents Run DMC, Rakim, Wu Tang Clan, LL Cool J, Nas and Jay-Z gave the new school style from clothing, to superior lyrical story-telling content. Hip-Hop went from just turntables and a MC on a mic, to a MC rapping in front of a symphony. It went from the parks and sidewalks of the hood, to the our current President’s Ipod. If that isn’t an inclining that Hip-Hop still lives on, I don’t know what is.

Stay tuned for the Part 3.

See Part 1 Here.

State of Hip-Hop: Is it still Alive? Part 1

Forgive me if I might be all over the place, but I will try to sum up this article the best I could on my view of Hip Hop.

One of the greatest experiences I had was back a few years ago when I was part of the Island/Def Jam street team. I remembered flying up to New York just for the soul purpose of being inside Def Jam’s HQ. I believe this was around the time that Jay-Z released “Kingdom Come”, and Nas’ released  “Hip Hop is Dead”, which was some of the projects they were trying to push heavy in the streets. The excitement was mind-boggling, the anticipation could be felt from the streets of New York waiting for these two Titans to release timeless classics like their predecessors. It was even more satisfying when the records made it to shelves, and the product value quenched the thirst for truth, love, pain, balling bravado, and stories of reassurance. I was glad to be apart of that, but many of my fellow hip-hopsters have seen that the product has become limited or next to nothing with the current class of the genre.

Hip-Hop is variety, from its most humble beginnings. Two turntables a microphone, lyrical content that shook listeners to their bones. Break-dancing geniuses with moves that would prove that hip hop was here to stay, from the block parties to the Walkman headphones that use to sooth the soul. It made us dance, it made us rebel to fight the powers that be, it made us THINK. Yet many question if these aspects still live on in 2010. Some say you may find a couple of traces of it left in many of the artist today, but many see that a lot of artist have abandoned what its essence was and still needs to be for the sake of its survival. And for that, it has sparked anger and resentment towards the new school from fans and even other artists.

Justin Bieber is a rapper now, 50 Tyson just inked a deal with Atlantic Records, every black girl is calling themselves barbies now, Waka Flocka released what is being slated as the most anticipating album “Flockaveli”, Antoine Dodson has become part of the industry people!!!! The Industry has changed dramatically to the point that artist have to have a gimmick approved by record execs for more revenue and publicity. Jay-Z says “Women lie, men lie, numbers don’t” but what happens when artist are speaking truth and virtue, does numbers matter then? Apparently the label heads see it different, quality has taken the backseat to quantity and it is accepted as business as usual. Its to the point that artist like Nas, Lupe Fiasco, and Shyne have to write letters and threaten protest with fans to have their music put out due to their unwillingness to conform to industry expectations.

Here is excerpt from Nas’ letter entitled “Put My SH*T OUT”

“The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty f*cked up situation. This isn’t the 90’s though. Beefing with record labels is so 15 years ago. @ this point I just need you all to be very clear where I stand and how I feel about “my label.” I could go on twitter or hot 97 tomorrow and get 100,000 protesters @ your building but I choose to walk my own path my own way because since day one I have been my own man.”