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Discussion in 'Music' started by John Watson, Mar 31, 2004.
Very interesting article
I agree that it's interesting, and excellently researched, but I see holes in his reasoning. There is a slow renaissance happening, in "Backpack" hip hop, with Common, Talib Queli, etc. leading the way. Missy's albums have essays about getting back to the basics. Not to discredit the "golden age" which was amazing, and which may not be repeated, but I believe that there are still amazing artists out there that will evolve the genre further. It always comes in waves. Commercially, I agree that most commercial stuff has backed itself into a corner. However, there are artists, again Missy, also Dre, Outkast, etc. that are breaking boundaries right and left and starting new threads anew in the music. They've said that it would die ever since Rappers Delight was called a novelty song and a fad. I just love Hip Hop too much, so call me biased!
This article is all over the map. In its' defense, 25 years is a lot to cover in one article. Many of its' points I don't agree with.
Sure paper-thin artists with nothing to say but what already has been. But look beyond the persona and fallacies of an artist like Tupac Shakur. What other artist of that time was able to snapshot the city of LA and its' demise?
The hip hop that is served to the general public does appear recycled and generic. There have always been the underground acts though, if sought out. I think the fact that acts like Common, the Roots aren't as popular says something much more than "the state of hip-hop." Higher conscious lyrics have never been as popular (PM Dawn, Arrested Developement) and it appears that still the case.
But every once and awhile a good act makes it big, Outkast, Eminem
25 years after the inception of rock 'n' roll people were saying the same thing- it's run out of ideas, has nothing left to say, etc, and it's still alive.
The writer takes a shot at the rapping (delivery and lyrics) itself, but the MC skills of today are usually much superior than that of the old days. He also bemoans the fact that production technology and ability has improved, which I think is absurd. It's hypocritical to demand the music must change but then bitch about the tools with which that can happen.
Mainstream, MTV populating, commercial rappers have as much (or as little) to say as their rocking counterparts. Both are equally indulgent. Talking about your Cristal is not much different than talking about your "darkness" or whatever post-feminist bullshit Stained and their ilk qvetch about these days. Gangsta persona, rebellious sensitive persona, it's all an act.
I think rap exposed the "free verse phonies" of modern poetry, by restoring rhyme and meter to prominence, but the substance of most of the rhyme I heard (aside : not a lot I admit - when the dancer is pointing at her nether regions and saying, "You can't touch this", all we're doing is yelling back, "Who'd want to?") didn't blow me away.
Too often I had the feeling that the deep bass of modern music machines and recording technology was seducing me, and making me overlook the paucity of the philosophy.
BTW, that last phrase would make a good rap lyric, wouldn't it?
anything that the author said about rap music today can be said about all pop music, which makes sense since he (was it a he? i dont remember) only talked about mtv/clearchannel rap.
I think that 25 years later hip hop has gone underground again most of the major labels are making very bad rap music there is no skill in the rhymes of most rappers on major labels and the quality of some of my favorite rappers have gone down big time. I think that is because mtv and clear Chanel run the labels and dictate what is hot so many artist must try and cater to the masses and sell a little of their souls. Not that i blame them really because if you got mouths to feed you will have to do what needs to be done to make a buck. And i think until you stop letting lawyers and accountant's run record labels that we will get watered down crap in all music. My last point if you want to hear underground hip hop you must do your homework because there are alot of artist that are still doing music. Jazzy Jeff of "Jazzy Jef and the Fresh Prince had a great cd that came out last summer . Big Daddy Kane also had one. You just have to go to record stores that cater to dj's and indie lables.
Interesting article. I'm a big big fan of rap, and think that there is still amount of great new rap being released. Last year alone saw King Geedorah: Take Me to Your Leader, Charizma + Peanut Butter Wolf: Big Shots, Ty: Upwards, and of course Outkast: Speakerboxxx.
This year, there's the Kanye West album, the new Murs which dropped last week and my own personal fave (so far) Madvillainy.
The one aspect article I take issue with is when the author says:
There's A TON of records out there for the creative producer to sample. People go out record shopping across the world looking for "raer" records. It's not just Steely Dan, James Brown, Grant Green, or The Incredible Bongo Band being sampled. While sample-based hip-hop may not be the same as it was in the early 90s (due to changing copyright laws) it certainly still exists. Not to mention the "unofficial" releases, such as The Grey Album or "Welkshake."
Here's to hoping rap has another enjoyable 25 years.
Just hope the masters quit dying.
I'm debating saving up for a Rane mixer or buying a crappy vestax that will suck in 6 months... my first mixer! Finally got the two decks... Doubles of Peter Piper here I come!
Also, strangely, I had a dream about meeting Digital Underground last night.
Thank god for Hip Hop!
yo! that madvillain album is awesome. well i havent had a chance to sit down and really listen to the lyrical content, but the beats are _solid_ and the lyrics flow really well with it
Yeah, after being hyped for almost a year I wasn't sure if the full LP would live up to it. For me it does. I never heard the leaked version, but have both 12" singles. I think it's Madlib's best beat-work in a while, and Doom comes correct, as usual.
I guess the movement is real slow since Common (Sense) has been out for 12 years. Hip in 2004 is in a sad state. Even the MC's that remain from the "Golden Age" aren't as good as they once were. I'll just make a list of hip hop acts from the "golden age" and I challenge anyone to list acts of the last 5 years that match up. Please don't put Nelly or Ludacris either. I'll give you Em, Nas and Jay Z.
Kool G Rap
Boogie Down Productions
Special Ed (not of Crank Yankers)
Big Daddy Kane
De La Soul
A Tribe Called Quest
In my opinion, Biggie may have been the most talented MC ever and Tupac doesn't hold a candle to him.
are we talking pure lyrical talent? or does there have to be some element of commercial viability?
i think i can make up a list that rivals it with respect to pure lyrical talent. however, most of who you named are going to go down in history as some of the best, no matter how long rap lasts as an art form. so give me some time. ill take the three you gave me and try to get 7-10 more.
This is a great point. I'm not going to argue that Eric B. and Rakim aren't influential - the albums they made are certifiable classics! But, we've had 15-20 years to reflect on some of that stuff. Will the stuff on my list hold up in another 5-10 years? I'd like to think some of it will, but time will tell. Heck, my own favorite rap album "Dr. Octagon" is going on 10 years now and I still find it a fresh, excellent album with Dan the Automator, Kool Keith, and Qbert all at the top of their game.
edited for spelling/grammar
Perfectly sumned up!
ok, here are my rules for my list.
A) must have put out a cd in the last 5 years.
B) no specific numbering
C) is heavily biased by what i have listened to. meaning that there may be MCs out there that belong on the list but i dont know because i havent sat down and listened to them enough that i can make a subjective decision about their lyrical skill (that i am willing to stand behind).
Sage Francis - he does the backpacker rap, he does "real" hiphop, he battles, he does slam poetry, he honors the people on Mark's list, interesting word play, different rhyming schemes. there isnt anything he doesnt do well.
Slug - i probably shouldnt have listed him right after sage considering they are already battling the white "indierap" label (and what a dumb label it is), but slug is so smooth in his delivery, and he can tell a story as well as anyone i have heard hold a mic.
Del The Funkee Homosapien - both sides of the brain dropped in 2000, as did Deltron 3030, the gorillaz album came out in 2001, and he was on the handsome boy modeling school album in 99. has he done much since then? apparently not, but thats about a good a three year span as you can have.
Ghostface Killah - sure the Wu Collective's time was in the mid90s, but all of Ghostface albums but ironman have been released in the past five years (including the upcomng pretty tony album) and he is one of the Wu's best rappers.
ludacris - ok, he masks himself behind the current rap paradigm (but so did a lot of great rappers) and hes not out there confronting political issues, but he has a great style and hes F**cking hilarious with his raps, and i dotn think there is enough humour in hiphop, too many people take themselves too seriously.
MF Doom - forget about his past with KMD (not that he wasnt a good rapper then, but the MF Doom persona is what we are talking about) and just look at operation doomsday and the new madvillain albums. pretty fucking solid. all this and he is a great producer.
Blackalicious - i dont really know what to say, other than listen to their albums and tell me they dont stack up to the best. in fact, the whole quannum records crew is pretty fucking sweet (in particular the song latryx - balcony beach).
Ok thats 7 acts plus Jay-Z, Em, and Nas. i put down all the rappers i considered below so you can see what kind of stuff i am biased towards. i dont think any of these peopel will have the commercial success as mark's list, but thats not what i made it about.
ps. overall, producing has improved a _lot_ since the golden age.
Rappers/Groups i considered (so you can see my bias): [Aceyalone, Murs, slug, blackalicious, brother ali, buck 65, dose one, El-P, cunninlynguists, Del the Funkee Homosapien, dizee rascal, freestyle fellowship, Ghostface Killah, GZA, jurrasic five, kool keith, latryx (lyrics born), Living Legends, Ludacris, mc paul barman, MF Doom, old dirty bastard, outkast, prefuse 73, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, the roots, sage francis)
haha, i almost put kool keith in my list, for this album alone, but i wanted to base it off stuff that was done in the last five years.
ps. i love almost everything that dan the automator has ever put out.
I'm a big fan of Kool Keith but it's been a while since he dropped a must-own album. Spankmaster had about 2 decent tracks, and The Lost Masters isn't bad, but it's not great either.
My theory is that he needs a decent producer to reign him in so he can focus on oddball raps that he does so well.
Case in point:
Back in the Ultramag days, when Ced Gee was producing tracks...(gotta love Critical Beatdown), arguably Keith at his most "normal."
His work with Dan the Automator as Dr. Octagon as well as Sinister 6000.
Kutmaster Kurt's production on Sex Style and Dr. Dooom.
And my other favorite Kool Keith album - The Cenobites - where he teams up with Godfather Don and production is handled by Bobbito. 'Kick A Dope Verse' is a classic track. That whole album is excellent.
Since he's managed to alienate Kutmaster Kurt and Dan, he's produced his own material, and at one point had family members produce an album. It's just not as tight.
What? No love for Kool Keith's Black Elvis/Lost In Space? You gotta give the Original Black Elvis his proper respect!
But seriously, there comes a point in every revolution when the movement's first goals have been achieved and the revolters stand around for a little while saying "Okay, what now?" Hip Hop's successfully becoming fully mainstream in the early 1990s is that first flush of success, that first goal, and the intervening decade may just be a pause for breath. Every now and then an act comes along that I think wants to push the movement toward some new social/artistic goals, such as Outkast, Digable Planets, or Busta. The movement just hasn't caught up with its own momentum yet.
Hip Hop is fine--now. If it's still treading the same water in another five years or so, it's time to start worrying. But I don't think that's going to happen. I think the fabulous success, both artistic and commercial, of Outkast, could launch a new era of more creative and risky rap artists. Outkast could be on the verge of being Hip Hop's Beatles.