Sunday, March 04, 2007

The End of An Era?

Hip-hop music is in a commercial and creative rut. Some wonder aloud if the music is dead.

I say, that may be that's a good thing.

Then again, I can't say that hip-hop is dead because it continues to be a pop-culture force. Unfortunately, that influence has become harder and harder to defend. Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up here and post three times a week, singing the praises of a musical genre that nowadays is only good for strip club anthems? (I never want to make it rain, and I don't want to be there when someone does).

Hip-hop is six steps away from death, but even then, according to who? If it stops being the corporate money maker it once was, will it be buried unceremoniously? If no more Public Enemies or Tribe Called Quests emerge, will the music's revolutionary verve get lost in a cloud of blunt somke?

Nope, because first and foremost, hip-hop sets the trends.

Hip-hop is the pulse of the streets, whether their paved with gold or gutter residue. From the burbs to The Bronx, hip-hop is on the lips of the children who foster cool.

It's scary when the music stops meaning something (hip-hop with substance is almost dead). It's a frightening prospect to the powers that be when they start losing money (which I could care less about).

But the culture will not die anytime soon. For all of it's drawbacks, hip-hop is still the beat on the street (gosh, that sounded corny).

The DJ never dies, thus, the hot wax will continue to get bumped in the club.

As long as nice cars with loud sound systems are in vogue (and isn't that the American way?), hip-hop will provide that boom-bap.

And as long as American youth continue to embrace a cool like dat aesthetic, hip-hop will provide the attitude, the rebellion, the necessary swagger.

What needs to change is the overarching principle that if it's not on crack, it's whack. If the violent and over-sexxed imagery is not what's selling, then maybe it's not what's hot in the streets. Can we get some substance on the block, por favor?

Can we get a sense of dignity back in the game? Not saying everyone has to come on some positive vibes, but how much more dying does the culture have to promote in order to turn a tidy profit for rich white dudes?

At what point do we realize that the suffering being commited to record and put forth to the public is no longer a reflection of what's going on in the ghetto, but rather a single-minded excuse to exploit the lower-classes? As much drugs, gunplay and sex that happens in the 'hood, you'd think there was some room to talk about the good times a little more, without having to degrade a woman or a race along the way.

Hip-hop is far from dead, but it may need life support. If anything, the band-aid over the shotgun wound is starting to peel off, and it's time to take a better approach to recovery.

1 comment:

C-Bug said...

How does Hip-Hop move on to other areas when payola, accountant run record companies, and the death of the independent recording artists/companies are road blocks from sending worthy music to the radio to hungry ears? Radio (and video) is big business: Artists either have to know Clive or Diddy personally or they gots to have CASH MONEY to get any type of play. And judging by the 20 songs in repetition that I hear on central coast radio, payola isn’t gonna stop any time soon.

Radio follows video. Sick shit, but this is the reality. The radio isn’t turned on anymore, my friend. But Music Turned Violent and Blacks Evolutionary Turnaround is churning out slop after slop. And radio must pick up after videos mess in order for it to make money

And it looks like POSITIVITY has no room in this arena!

My friends’ daughter didn’t know about Lyfe Jennings until she spotted him on VH1 Soul. THEN she started liking his music. His song, “Let’s Stay Together”, would not be played down here. TOO POSITIVE!! AND WHERE’S THE ASS-SHAKING?!?! And I believe that is why there is nothing but non-original, no-statement having, four sentences and an elementary school chorus, look-at-my-rims-but-don’t-look-at-my-credit bullshit out there.

You asked “If no more Public Enemies or Tribe Called Quests emerge, will the music's revolutionary verve get lost in a cloud of blunt smoke?” If no one gives the new groups that are on that PE or TCQ tip a chance, you will get what you give. And they are out there; radio just needs to give them a chance. And if they are good, SUPPORT 'EM. Otherwise, Hip-Hop will go down the way of Rock, Blues, and now, Jazz: It'll be something that Black people USED to do.

I hope my mentorship in broadcasting ends soon, because I want to give radio a shot in the arm. My dream is to own, operate, and broadcast soul music. But not like how it is now. I want to flip some scripts. Play ALL SOUL and the cream of HIP-HOP, just not what’s popular and in a box. Give the underground a chance and play the old school, but not beat people over the head with it. And, like brothers selling their homemade CD’s from the trunk of their cars, the only way is to do it independently.