Written by Sam. Enjoy.
They killed an artist named Hip-Hop.
This is an opinion piece.
o·pin·ion [uh–pin-yuhn] (noun); a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
An opinion may be biased based on a person’s personal and acquired tastes
Hip-hop is a culture. Not a sub-culture, not a phase, and definitely not a dying trend. The culture itself is here to stay. The attitude, the arrogance, motivation, hustle, determination all fall within this culture. There is no definitive definition to hip-hop, although collectively, people can agree that the music of this urban culture is the blueprint, the groundwork. That however, is not what I am here to discuss. My true frustration lays in the image that is; the image that was.
My question has been since I listened to my first album; ATLiens is this… Where in the FUCK did this heavenly music come from? I would like to believe it was personally crafted by the hand of God, but I saw two black males on the cover and I just knew this was so real. So human. Maybe they were angels. I remember feeling like I had found my life soundtrack. Don’t mistake me however for being narrow-minded when it comes to music, I’m extremely eclectic.
It’s just that I had never experienced music in THAT way. That genre was alien to me and it became so addicting, so fast that it felt like I had known it forever.
Music that could evoke emotions I wasn’t sure I even knew existed; that painted pictures of a world I had never seen with my own two eyes but had now, witnessed with my ears. At times it felt like I lived the lyrics, as if they were my story. Rhythmic purity laced with honest lyrical perfection painted onto a canvas that would later prove to be the backdrop of my life, time and time again.
As I grew up I fell in love with rappers older than my father. I slept with KRS-One in my ears, let Slick Rick tell me a Children’s Story; MC Lyte was my personal and still is my personal Wonder Woman. I can remember learning about every member of Wu-Tang… I was irritated that Redman wasn’t in the clan until I listened to him and saw why; laughing because A Tribe Called Quest was a sentence.
Thinking that this music genre could only get better and as I evolved as a consumer, I learned to love the different flows and mannerisms behind the music. I grew with the music that had already surpassed me in years. I wanted to learn everything about it, and had so many questions. How could Bone Thugs N’ Harmony could keep up with Busta Rhymes? The same Busta Rhymes who destroyed The Coming. How Nas could use a mellow & almost serene tone while saying the grimiest, disrespectful shit? I loved how Tupac just didn’t give a fuck. He just said what he wanted when he wanted whenever he fucking felt like it.
It didn’t matter to me the year. There was no chronological order to my passion. My addiction became overwhelming at an alarming rate. I knew one day, while lying on my bed and reciting all the words to One Time 4 Ya Mind as if it were a natural function like breathing, that there was no turning back.
I was in love.
And then something changed. To me hip-hop was a bible: Real stories, lyrics that meant something, and poetry that happened to flow to the beat of the drum. I was hooked, at the same time it was holy; it would cause the devil’s heat to course through my veins.
Till this day I can listen to Ether and it evokes some raw emotion; listen to Ice Cream by WU-TANG and know if I was white, I’d be blushing; listen to Mos and Talib on Black Star and (involuntarily) think for hours about topics that would never seem to end. I even fucked with NWA, but they were sincere. Real.
That doesn’t even scratch the surface of my unhealthy obsession with hip-hop and my love for it.
Then… It became a gimmick and we got a shift. Somewhere along the line, the poets became the players; the divine goddess became the disposable bitch. Not to be dramatic, but a cataclysmic change. The art started to tarnish. My heroes started to fade and the villains started to win. Lyrics where no longer about growing up, respecting women, love, and their history. They became lyrics about money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes, and the hoes. Being B.E.T 106 and Park gangster top video was the goal.
All of sudden hip-hop became strictly a man’s game. You had to be a “first lady” to be recognized. Everyone was wearing bulletproof vests. Lyrics don’t matter, as long as there’s a fat ass, stacks of money, and a Lex Luger beat. Gone was the beauty that I had fallen in love with so many years before. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some rappers out there who are the silver lining: Common, Lupe Fiasco, Elzhi, Classified, Saukrates, Kendrick Lamar just to name a FEW. The list continues but it feels like the recognition they truly deserve will never properly find them.
A salute to the artist who finds his/her passion in lyrics and not the money. A broad thank you to the poet who decided to flow against a trickling snare. To the griots who tell us tales we could never live but somehow manage to live vicariously through their words.
I guess however, it’s no longer about the art. The art itself is now long and gone unfortunately and all that remains is the paycheque. To me however, and those who worship the skill and those who possess the talent. Hip-hop will continue to be. We’ll still run Illmatic every time we feel a little aggression and rawness coming through; when we need a little sense we turn to Common; mellow out with Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation and if it’s time to whoop some ass turning to 36th Chambers. But out there? To all the kids who have to grow up with the over materialistic, shallow records that now stream through our airwaves. The children who will never take the time to understand why Biggie made that chilling call to Puffy or how Big Daddy Kane gets the job done… I’m sorry you never got a chance to meet hip-hop.
Hip-hop must have moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address so we could catch up.
Either that or…