In light of the new Macklemore joint, “Downtown” and the surrounding controversy about cultural appropriation, I felt the need to discuss why I still love HipHop culture, despite its flaws. Now Macklemore is not “traditional” HipHop because he blends a bit of pop and rock into his songs, but you can’t deny his stuff is hot. I was feeling him ever since I walked into a Foot Locker and his Thrift Shop video was playing. Macklemore is creative, witty, relatable and honest. He comes off as being passionate about music and positively affecting his community with his creative expressions. I think that accusing him of cultural appropriation or using the OGs in HipHop as a gimmick is unfair. He seems to genuinely appreciate the culture and is attempting to include some of his influences (Melle Mel & Grandmaster Caz) so they can get some of that new generation money and shine. Although, I don’t believe that the old heads are owed anything, as some of them imply, I do think that it is a noble act to reach back and help artists that may have lost their relevance. Unfortunately, only a few artists with platforms choose to do so. However, back to the subject at hand…
I get so tired of hearing my peers, and even people decades younger than me, complain about how “this music nowadays sucks”, “these youngins don’t know real music” or my favorite “back in the day, we had real hip hop”. Huh, really did you all suffer an amnesiac episode? What exactly IS real HipHop? Don’t act like it was all the Daisy Age with De La or UNITY with Latifah. Don’t act like you didn’t get hyped to Ante Up by M.O.P. Don’t act like you weren’t down with OPP, knowing damn well they were talking about THOTish behavior. Y’all know you were grinding it out to 2 Live Crew “Me So Horny” or Skeeting “From the Window to the Wall” with Ying Yang. I have met the most conservative people, on the surface, that know all the skripper songs, and they sing along like they didn’t just hear the man say he was going skeet on your face. LOL
All of the old school HipHop was NOT conscious. Artists like Kool G Rap told you “Real Niggas Do Real Things” and 8 Ball & MJG put you on to that Space Age Pimpin’. HipHop was all about competitive lyricism, which included the subject matters of drugs, sex, materialism and murder…just like today. Another thing, all rappers from the 80s and 90s were NOT brilliant…just like today. I sit and watch VHI Soul and some of the Music Choice channels and I am amazed at how they try to pass off mediocre shit, that didn’t even get airplay back in its era, as old school “hits”. Unfortunately mainstream media and corporate conglomerates force feed us bullshit music and try to convince us that artists like Chief Keef, French Montana and Young Thug are representative of the new breed of hiphop fans. The good thing is with the Internet, we have options people. Back in the day, before we got spoiled with all of this mainstream radio airplay, you had to do a little research to find quality hiphop. The same is true in 2015.
In my opinion, real HipHop is channeling raw anger, frustration and the desire for more in life into poetic flows over hypnotic beats. Real HipHop is subjective just as all art forms are. I can relate to all of these raw emotions because I still feel them daily, like when I hear that James Blake was mistakenly arrested for basically Standing While Black. The intensity of these emotions change with the various stages of my life, but for the most part, I feel like Mobb Deep, “I need that shit, that real life shit, to boost my adrenaline!”
I’m from the Bronx, the birthplace of the genre, so I guess it will always be an intricate part of my life. HipHop music seems to be the quickest way for my brain to absorb life concepts, like when Drake says” know yourself, know your worth”. Or, when Meek Mills says “these B’s be acting up, and these Niggas be letting’ em”, he is simply reminding dudes that they might have put themselves in that drama. Another Drake classic is on Amen when he says “I’m the type to say a prayer, then go get what I just prayed for”. I mean that’s the type of boldness I need in my life so why not meditate on these lyrics? I even tried to hate on Big Sean and then he came out with IDFWU, Blessed and One Man Can Change the World. He took over from Ghostface Killah with the love-scorned rapper thing and I’m loving it. Kendrick, J. Cole, Black Milk, Talib, Action Bronson, Tink, Pharaohe Monch, Jean Grae, Slum Village, Lupe, Joey Bada$$, Chance the Rapper and Vince Staples are some of the artists I am listening to these days. I also find most of my music by following DJs on sites like Soundcloud, Mixcloud, DatPiff, OkayPlayer, OkayAfrica, LargeUp and Ambrosia For Heads. Some of my favorites are Mr. Sonny James, DJ Jahsonic, DJ Danny T, DJ Raydar Ellis, DJ Parler, and for all things mixtapes #MixtapeMondays on Twitter or Instagram. Once I get my time management together…that’s a whole other post, I will list links to some music that might be new to some of you. If you all have any suggestions of artists that I might like, of any genre, please send them my way. I am always trying to expand my musical tastes. To sum it all up, please don’t throw out the baby with the bath water by dismissing the whole genre of HipHop because of a few sucky rappers. At least take the time to listen to the lyrics and you may be pleasantly surprised at the cleverness of many of these artists that Corporate Record Labels don’t want you to know exist. One last thing, every song isn’t supposed to be some deep reflection on life…sometimes it’s about just having a good time. So relax, it’s okay to Whip, Nae Nae and Stanky Leg just like it’s OK to Wobble. It’s Only Entertainment People!
Until next post..Sleeping With The Enemy Pt. 2.
Blessings to you All!