Last night I got this email from an “avid reader from Texas” who was turned off by my recent comments about hip-hop. She had the nerve to call me a sellout because I had the nerve to post some Bloc Party tracks (“THAT AIN’tHIP-HOP!”) she said. WTF?
But after careful reevaluation of what I wrote, and after reading what Clyde said about my post, I decided to re-explain my positions on the genre. For the record, I don’tsit in front of my computer looking at Soundscan numbers and cheering when a much hyped hip-hop album doesn’tgo gold. I don’thave time for that mess.
No, my anticipation for the demise for rap falls along the “Phoenix rising from the ashes philosophy.”
Two weeks ago, I was chillin' in South Carolina with some college friends. Almost every bar that we went to played what the kids call “old skool” hip-hop. Tribe. Queen Latifah. Big Daddy Kane. You get the gist. Every track that played gave us this sort of sense of euphoria, ya know? It was something about those tracks that was real. You could feel the artist giving his all into this track because even then, rap was an unproven medium, and everything he did was “make or break.”
Then, a few days before I wrote the last article, I got Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night CD. I'm gonna admit, I didn’tget into Camp Lo besides “Luchini” and “Spanish Harlem,” (sorry Rome), but damn, that album is a classic. I mean, almost 10 years later, you can still play this album and it eclipses anything that’s out today.
Same with Tribe. Or The Chronic. Or the Luke or even old Lil' John, and Trick Daddy. There just seemed to be a distinct effort to make music, not money.
Fast forward to today. You have Mobb Deep doing club tracks. Rappers like Papoose (who should be the next in line) are doing cameos for C-List pop stars. The only female rapper of note that’s releasing an album this year is Paris Hilton.
Why has hip-hop gone down the tubes? Money. Club tracks are instant radio hits. Paris Hilton could buy her way into to any rap record this side of the Mississippi. And let’s not get started with the violence thing. (As I type, rapper Beanie Segal got shot this morning in Philly.)
So my conclusion? Black music needs a shot in the arm. Yes, hip-hop is the most creative genre that has ever existed, and the cultural evolution could be considered an phenomenon itself. But the stuff that people are producing and calling music just dilutes the genre.
The chick who emailed me said that I wanted the behind the scenes people, (A&Rs, choreographers, producers, publicists, and the occasional weed carrier) to, as she says, “get put out on the street and shut out from the only industry that will give them a chance.”
That’s not true. Hip-hop is not going anywhere. “The Industry” will always survive. But why do we have to continue to settle for mediocrity? This is not the essence of hip-hop. This is not the essence of music period.
Okay, I'm done. I know that I sound like a 35 year old man and if you want to flame me for it, feel free.