Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
I remember the good old days, rushing to Sam Goody, The Wherehouse, Music+, V.I.P., everywhere they sold music, I was there, at least once a week, to see what was new and to make sure I kept my Hip Hop stock full. It was kinda like my first taste of addiction. I had to have it, And not even those big, bulky, plastic security cases would stop me from getting my fix.
Back when there was no ‘Net, and the closest we got to an album leaking was an exclusive sneak peek via 1580 KDAY, late Friday night/Saturday mornings. The year my dad bought me my first Walkman as a Christmas present, before I opened any other gifts, I loaded the 9 volt battery into my Sony, found KDAY on that weak AM transmission signal, and the tuner was never moved. I risked life and limb to catch whoever, play whatever, during those wee hours, just to make sure I was up on that new-new. Early that next year, he bought me my first boombox, dual cassette, and my mix tape game was impeccable. Real (pause)mix tapes, as opposed to Generation Y’s loose interpretation of the phrase. I’m sure I’ve spent double digit thousands in allowance/odd job money just to hear what (else) my favorite rap cat was going to say next. I loved Hip Hop, and I felt that Hip Hop loved me back. The good old days, indeed.
Those days are long gone.
Today’s Hip Hop is a plethora of non-specific ranting and raving at no one in particular. I don’t even think artists have fan-bases anymore. It seems easier to cater to everyone, and hope for the best. An audio/video dragnet, if you will, where whoever gets caught is liable to be pulled into the fray if they’re not strong enough to break the hold. I find myself dodging hella dragnet traps as of late. Each trap, less ingenious than the last, some downright insulting to my intelligence. I’m not gonna name drop specific artists who I think may be responsible for the less than noble state of Hip Hop music, but I’ll blame mankind’s fervent thirst for monetarily compensated under-achievement. And that way, the umbrella covers all parties involved. Rappers these days aren’t born. They’re manufactured. Somewhere there’s an assembly line, and a couple of times a year, the newest model of audio hustler is unveiled and unleashed to the public, under the guise of representing an art form, a culture. No dice. These niggas are in it solely for the possibility of getting paid. No more. No less.
Whereas, MC’s would brag about how nice they were with the words (with a little color commentary to compliment), rappers ONLY want to brag about what they have, and what they can do. Problem is, the rappers far outweigh the MC’s, but without our support, maybe that wouldn’t be the case.
There’s a trend right now; people don’t buy albums. Even the good ones have a hard time moving off of shelves. Rick Ross’ ‘Deeper Than Rap‘, and DOOM’s ‘Born Like This‘ were the first two physical albums I’d bought in awhile. In fact, 2009 marked my return to album buying, period, however short-lived it may be. There’s just too much music. Free music. An abundance of homeless songs every time you power up the hard drive. Thus, people aren’t willing to shell out recession scratch to buy a CD just because it’s out. Especially when most albums now usually have more features than a Drive-In movie theatre. Fuck your “hot” 16 bars. I’d much rather some good, thorough music.
And don’t get me started on the “push-backs”. Push-backs are the new in-store album signing.
If this trend continues, it may not be such a bad thing. Since at least 75% of rappers appear to be all about the money, if the money’s dries up, they may also. Which would leave us with the artist’s who rap and rhyme for the love, as opposed to the paycheck. There’s nothing more fulfilling to a Hip Hop head then an MC’s relentless pursuit of passion. Though they are far and few between, actual MC’s still exist, solely for the purpose of sharing their talent(s) with whoever will lend them an ear. The fiscal appreciation is bonus. That’s when the ‘Net becomes the end all, be all of the music game. If dudes feel there’s no longer cash reward for their hustles, they simply switch grinds. The record sells decline trend could be a veritable tell-tale sign that quite a few dudes may in fact, need to switch grinds. Try as they might, making music just isn’t for everyone. Half these clowns ain’t even getting it in like they make it appear, but that’s a post for another day.
If life teaches us nothing, we learn that things move in cycles. It’s inevitable. Skinny jeans aren’t new, they’re just straight-leg Levi’s, with a metrosexual twist. I saw a young cat the other day rocking the two-tier, Gumby flat-top fade, a la Tupac in ‘Juice‘. Just saying. And I’m not stuck in the 80’s, or attempting to revive the “Golden Era” of rap music, I just miss quality. I guess it’s a case of “the chicken, or the egg”; make it & we’ll buy it, but we won’t buy it because they don’t make it, or something to that effect. Maybe a boycott is needed, after all.