Words by PHLIP
If Biggie and Pac were still alive [rapper] wouldn’t be rapping.
I cringe a little bit every single damned time someone says that shit. Yes, Tupac Shakur and Biggie were good at what they did, and were successful in ushering in differences in how popular hip hop was made in their time.
No, however, they were not harbingers of a continued uplifting of the culture of hip hop. Yes, you read that right, they were BOTH popular artists who treated the task of being popular for profit as their jobs, and who could blame them with as much money as there was in hip hop before 360 deals and EVERYONE getting coined for their masters.
Worry not, though… The initial statement is actually kind of true. I can’t HONESTLY say who among the current crop would NOT be around, but their remaining in the spotlight for a couple more years of their lives might change the landscape of music a little bit. Notice that nowhere in that sentence did I say that their continued existence would make current popular hip hop music any better. Audiences have always been and will always be fickle and the people in charge will ALWAYS decide who gets to be popular for any amount of time. I say that to say that their hanging out a little longer might have changed the desire of some of these people to get in the game, but SOMEONE would have. Given the course of ALL American music as we have listened to our parents and grandparents complain about, and now are growing to see for ourselves, nothing really gets better than generations before it honestly. Could be nostalgia applying an emotional value to it or it could be reluctance to change but the fact is that it exists.
Tupac would have, as he was actively doing, gone on to do movies and release albums part time. The money in a decision like that is just too big a draw NOT to. Biggie would have gone broke fuckin’ with Puff, signing over his masters for cash loans to maintain his lifestyle. Jay-Z had the blueprint (pun intended) and would have made it out just fine. The grandest test of his friendship with Big would have been whether or not he continued to let him languish in that snakepit that is (or, really, was) Bad Boy Records.
I have challenged people to PLEASE tell me what Biggie and Pac ever did or said in any song or even an interview to make anyone think they gave a FUCK about hip hop and what would happen with it when they decided that they were done with it. I usually get called a “hater” with no other attempts to expound on why I am a hater or to answer my very reasonable query. I have said it before and will continue to say it: there is nothing about having your death certificate signed off on by the coroner and notary that makes you ANY better at what you did in life. Respect for the deceased should NOT come with a sweeping revision of history.
If you want to peg me for the opinion of someone who has been vocal about whether or not to continue to make albums in the shithole that popular music has become over the last few years? Look up some of Scarface’s interviews from around the time that Emeritus came out. That is the voice of someone who is DOING it who actually cares.
Words by PHLIP
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