Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
As the Hip Hop way of life & rap music change, we – the powerless observer – are forced to cope with the metamorphosis or leave the culture to the vultures. Most of us choose to stay, & even if we bitch & moan & complain, we live & breathe Hip Hop.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed many changes in the music & culture, & for better or worse, there’s no reason for the changes to ever cease to, um, keep changing. Instead of complaining or wishing for the golden era, it’s easier to ride it out, until the proverbial wheels fall off. In the meantime, though, it never hurts to reminisce about the way things used to be.
Allow RAWIFDP to educate & entertain you about the past & the present with these 5 things that rappers don’t rap about anymore.
5. Selling Millions Of Records
The recording industry is merely a shell of what it used to be. I predict that – once they stop fighting the internet – record labels will again regain the legal power it’s so thirsty for. Since it’s inception, the music industry thrived on the ownership. Of it’s artist’s & their materials. Once the ‘net blew massive [loop]holes through the unnecessary paperwork & red tape, music – like air & water – became sorta free to the public. Those who want the higher quality have no qualms paying for it, but for the most part, it’s a ‘reach-&-grab’ scenario. That leaves a lot of monies taken off of the round tables of the machine & it’s tit-suckers.
Back in the day(s), rappers needed to sell enough albums to pay off their recording contractual debt. Now, they don’t need to move those units to be considered successful anymore.
Today’s popularity is internet-based & livelihoods can be made from various sources, none of which involve a nosey, revenue-slurping third party that eats artistic integrity for breakfast.
4. Keeping It Real
If you bring up Rick Ross the Rapper in a conversational setting, expect his credibility to be questioned by someone. Following this attack, someone else will bring up his music as a defensive tactic, which is really what it’s all about; the music. In the process of making the music, though, the whole notion of “Keep it real” has been tossed out of the proverbial window. Rap music is full of character & caricatures & there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that the line between real & fake has been completely blurred.
The “K.I.R.” movement of the 90’s spawned countless songs about how & why one should keep it real, whatever that reality may be. Oddly enough, it came right on the heels of Def Jam’s Bo$$ being exposed as a fake gangsta rapper falsely promoting that lifestyle to her fans. After she disappeared, Hip Hop became more strict on how a rapper could present their proverbial package, & in doing so, keeping it true to themselves if no one else.
Those days are long gone, though, & if you don’t believe me, bring Rick Ross the Rapper’s name up in a Hip Hop environment & watch the vultures come for him. & not for nothing, but the same cats that call him a fraud wouldn’t listen to a dude rap about paying bills or taking his kids to the beach.
“Keeping it real” is the biggest catch-22 in the music industry.
I’m not sure when rap love songs jumped the shark, or if such an act was even necessary for their eventual extinction, but I remember a time when love rap songs were not only the norm, but a requisite if you expected the listening public to take it/you seriously. LL Cool J, Father MC, to name a couple, all old school acts who never forgot about the ladies, all successful & lucrative acts in their time. A time when selling records is what defined your career. (Rap music has continual transformed over the last 25 or so years, & it’s important to remember that.)
Over the years, as rap music became more aggressive & less lady friendly, songs like Pac’s “Dear Mama” & The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” would stand out & carry on to become timeless Hip Hop music, as the remainder of that genre of rap music came to somewhat of an end.
Today’s love rap song is for the love of the money or the collective bitches that are indelibly tied to said finance. Rarely do rappers sit & compose songs structured atop their adoration for another person.
2. Funny Shit
Hip Hop once had a sense of humor. There was a time when rapper’s made songs to make you purposely laugh at their ridiculous behavior (as opposed to their behavior that’s so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at it. See what I did there?). Nowadays, image has overshadowed artistic output & content isn’t as important as superficiality. The costume has become more important than the clown, so to speak.
Remember The Afro’s? Or how about Biz Markie’s “Me & The Biz” video? Before every rap song was centered around cars, drugs, & girls, Hip Hop was a place where people laughed. My theory is that rappers stopped dancing & telling jokes around the same time, & that happy-go-lucky attitude that melted away may never be rekindled.
Life is art, & today’s art is a reflection of the stealth desolation & misery that the common man can’t help but to wallow in. Rap music has always been a first line of communication to urbanized America, & the message being sent is that nobody’s laughing because nothing is funny.
1. Being Proud To Be Black
Next February, take a moment to notice how “Black History Month” is viewed & acted upon. Compared to when I was a kid, it’s a virtually nonexistent occasion. There was a point in time when all types of informational commercials started flooding free tv airwaves near the end of January. These days, not so much. & that’s the same dismissive attitude that Hip Hop has adopted over the years, as well.
In the 80’s & early 90’s, rap acts from coast to coast found unity, solace, & strength in being Black & proud & they broadcast that umbrella of ideology upon the listening Hip Hop nation. For. Example, Tragedy Khadafi was known as “Tragedy, the Intelligent Hoodlum” during this era, & his most popular song was arguably “Black & Proud.” Tragedy eventually moved away from the afrocentricism & knowledge of self the culture once radiated, like most MC’s from that era did.
When Styles P dropped “I’m Black” a few years ago, it was a definitive throwback to when rap cats made it a point to have some pro-Black movement music sprinkled throughout their catalog. But the music has long since moved away from it’s message-delivering roots, & as mankind barrel rolls into an automated future, where humans are becoming less & less important, people seem more & more eager to hate each other rather than love themselves.
It seems the only color that really matters is green, & as cliché as the saying sounds every time you hear it, it always smells just the same when you say it.
Words by Tony Grands