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

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Lil Wayne

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.

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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.”

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H. Sylver
Born and raised on the island streets of New Providence, Bahamas; H. Sylver grew up in a Haitian household that nurtured his love for music and theatrical performances, spoken word poetry, and writing. This passion gained him a spot on Island/Def Jam's Street Team, where he became an ambassador for hip hop, promoting artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jeezy, Nas, Rick Ross, and many more. He has great insight and analysis of the current music scene, providing written reports on trending news, and original think pieces. He currently resides in Baltimore Maryland with his family, and is currently writing his first novel.

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