Monday, December 8, 2008

Finals Week Rant: Hip Hop died because of Us.

Just kidding.
I don't think Hip Hop died.

I started thinking yesterday when I saw a video of Lupe interviewing Common Sense about his latest album Universal Mind Control. Common said that he noticed that his deejay, Dummy, never played any of his records in clubs so he wanted to make an album that was "club-worthy." I realized that everytime I go to clubs I end up hearing the generic mainstream of today and those classic old tracks such Tony!Toni!Tone!'s "Feel Good". Then an epiphany hit me that many of these underground "good" rappers did more harm than god to Hip Hop by "saying true."

Hip Hop, as a culture, was around before there was rapping. Go figure. Back then, Hip Hop was about having fun. Listen to Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" and tell me that the lyrics were so "true to the world." But you can't, you know why? There are none. Then Sugar Hill Gang came around and added a syncopated vocals which became what rapping is today. Their music has dance-able and had a lot of positivity and truth in the lyrics. Then years later, certain "good" lyricists such as Atmosphere, Living Legends, and Supernatural to name a few decided that lyrics were more important than the music. They gave up the B-Boy aspect of Hip Hop which was very crucial to its existence. Soon enough, people started to proclaim "Hip Hop is Dead" just because the artists they were into weren't popular in the mainstream but instead were wack MCs such as Soulja Boy, Ying Yang Twins and that crunktastic man Lil Jon.

I personally couldn't distinguish who is "more Hip Hop." On one side there is a rapper that still cares about having fun and the dance aspect of the music while the other side is mainly concerned with preaching the positivity message seen in the earlier stages of the music. If anything it it just as much the good rapper's fault. They wanted to turn Hip Hop into this preachy form of expression which I could care less about when I'm in a club. Maybe if they decided to use more dance-friendly beats, the mainstream would like it more. Hip Hop is suppose to be for everyone, not just intellectual. Hip Hop started with the music, not the lyrics.

The Hip Hop afficianados always try to points fingers at these new MCs because of their generic lyrics and self-glorification but I don't see underground rappers doing any better in trying to keep Hip Hop alive. They're trapped into this belief that Hip Hop is all about sharing knowledge but that's not necessarily true. Pioneer Afrika Bambaataa said Hip Hop was about "peace, unity, love, and having fun." "Good" rappers, realize that. Hip Hop is alive. Just separated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%. I'd like to think that ALL hip-hop is socially concious in some, way, shape or form, ie rapping about getting rich is relevant because it talks about coming out of the ghetto. Mike Jones is saying the same shit that Talib's been saying, but with less words and more fun. That's art.

When Jay-Z said "Lyrically I'd be Talib Kweli" that's what changed it for me. It's better to make a pop-song with a message than for a song with a message to go pop.

Mainstream > Underground
...all day everyday.

- chris g.