Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
I don’t have a lot of real world friends I can discuss rap music with. No shots, just observations. & it’s not that they don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s just that it’s hard to discuss what happens in Hip Hop when what happens changes so quickly.Sadly (?), the only people who I can hold those types of cognitive conversations with are people who are plugged into the matrix. In the matrix, information is continually current, & 20 minutes is a “long time ago.”
Unless you can’t afford to, the modern life is lived at least 50% online. Whether it’s shopping, perving out, watching movies, or playing video games, we are all plugged in at some portal or another. At one point it was inevitable, now it’s actuality. This digital [r]evolution has many perks, but along with said bonuses come hidden dangers & back lashes that weren’t expected. For example, no one saw (or told us) that the internet surge would be the beginning of the end for so many brick & mortar industries. Social scientists couldn’t predict (or again, didn’t tell us) that the social networking craze would become man’s alternative universe, giving birth to a “new” type of criminal element, among other things. It’s a progressive chain of events that, even if we could change it, most people wouldn’t alter it in hindsight. That’s the savage beauty of technology. The possibility of future hip cancer means nothing in comparison to the instant gratification of always being available to the matrix, so to speak. According to some of the smartest people on Earth, all these events, mixed with man’s natural curiosity & penchant for “bigger, faster, stronger” is leading to something called “the Singularity.”
Loosely, the Singularity is an event based on man & machine eventually becoming a one unit, in an evolutionary fashion. For illustrative purposes, envision becoming biophysically linked to your smart phone, but in an unimaginably super-intelligent, cyborg way, & not by choice, but rather because that’s what would be needed in order for you to survive in such a world… It gets deep, but the point is that – eventually – technological advancement pushes forward until it blurs the line between man & machine. Per Ray Kurzweil (a man whose opinion is as frightening as it is enlightening), this (& much more) will happen. & according to my Jehovah-bestowed common sense, I don’t see why the hell it wouldn’t (assuming the system of things continues, but that’s for another day). The question that must be asked now is has rap music – with it’s unfiltered perception & ultra violent surrealism – finally blurred the line between it’s entertainment & reality?
First Person Rap, sometimes referred to as “dry snitch music,” has long replaced the narratives songs & third person perspective ‘hood tales about real shit that really happened in the streets. At some point, “rappers” began devising career moves based around their own legitimately illegal activities, far beyond the juvenile realm of smoking weed in public or fighting every once in a while. On top of that, the introduction of the camera phone – & the subsequent underground video upload sites – took rap music one step closer to the block, & we’ve been keeping it real ever since. So real, in fact, it may not be safe to be a rapper in a decade.
Now while this uber-realistic, self-surveillance isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, 24 hour access to your favorite rapper, even on holidays, is, & this is where interactive entertainment may have pushed the envelope beyond entertainment & deep into it’s own augmented reality.
Check this out: A rapper in 1993 could create an alter ego – within the lines of somewhat believable reason – & sell that pseudo-personality as a character to deliver their music. People did it all the time when privacy was still a guaranteed right & record labels invested money into potential
tax breaks artists. It wasn’t uncommon for an MC to be completely different at home than he was in his videos, on stage at shows, or even walking through Magic Mountain with his gang crew posse entourage. But what if that same persona or caricature – solid & cultivated – never got an opportunity to rest because it’s always “on?” What’s to stop the artist from believing in the reality they’ve built around themselves if it becomes all they know?
There’s only one reality, & when that logic is challenged, the outcome can be (obviously) fatal. But instead of taking my word for it, ask the crew of the “Event Horizon”.
The odd thing about “The Singularity” is that, much like Global Warming, it probably has to happen, regardless. If rap music’s singularity is really upon us, expect rap shows to join breakdancing & graffiti as Hall Of Fame-worthy relics of Hip Hop’s humble beginnings. Expect Twitter & Facebook to be ground zero to many more rap gang conflicts, geotagging option be damned. Rappers – in general – are slowly becoming who they rap about, & if 2011 is any indication of what’s around the corner, it may be time for some of you to seek other career goals while you still have a chance.
Be careful, y’all. & ya don’t stop.