Fuck What You Heard...Hip Hop Is DEAD!
So there's been a lot of talk lately about Nas's album title Hip Hop Is Dead. Many people, including Young Jeezy (for those that don't know he and Monie Love had a spat, live on the radio about it, amongst other things) feel its disrespectful to the new breed of rappers, in particular to the south. It is viewed as a purist statement, a pining for the good ole days of boom baps, backpacks and the like. To say hip hop is dead is to take away from all the current emcees coming up, all the producers and djs giving us beats to move to, all the people who make a living off or contribute this art form right? Yes and no.
I say yes, he is wrong for saying that because that's such a general blanket statement. I remember Sports Illustrated doing a cover story a few years back on how the NBA was dead, Jordan was gone and the "showtime" b-ball we all came to love had been replaced by the most boring shit on earth. A few years later we had Kobe, Lebron, Melo and all of a sudden it was revived. But as the saying goes, the game never changes, just the players. Hip Hop itself has always been alive and well, so is it that the players have changed so much and these old heads that either quit the game or on their way out is just salty at the new guard? That could be it. Or it could be that the players before were really passionate about the sport and really wanted to leave a legacy behind as opposed to cashing in and being famous. With that being said, Nas wasn't wrong for calling his album this. And I'll tell you why.
Hip Hop is dead man. As far as the idea of what it was suppose to be at least. See America has this tendency to take things from the black community, rape it and make it their own and then turn around and say "it was never yours and it's racist if you don't agree." Nah fuck that. I'm sick of that game man. This is what it is, and yes, its changed and people of every race and creed are in here now but this is what the intention was - The idea of hip hop was for the young people of urban America to have a voice. That voice might be one of introspect (Nas), gangsta shit (Jeezy, Cube) dancin' and partyin' (Kid n Play, Hammer--don't laugh they are all relevant) education and revolution (KRS, Immortal Technique) and so on. But now what's happening is that there is only one voice that America wants to hear now. And that's the voice of the coon. The caricature of the black man at his worst. The savage, gun totin' nigger who sells drugs and kills other niggers and brags about it. The voice of the "streets" they say.
Well let me tell you about the "streets". Itís filled with thugs just like its filled with church ladies and good hardworking people. But to them, that's corny. That's not hot. Who wants to hear some nigger tryiní to sound smart and say something that might trigger someone to think different. No no no. We want the coon. The ignorant motherfucker, whether he be southern, east coast, west coast or whatever. Just as long as he is talkin about ignorant shit and itís got a dope beat then that's what's up.
But in the same breath will big up a band (Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley) for being dope ARTISTS. Bands that make terrible mindless music they play on the radio aren't hot. They aren't making any groundbreaking music. Ok, so why don't they hold the same standard up to Hip Hop? Is it that this music is so disposable and dumb that we shouldn't expect our emcees to make songs that move our souls and not just our feet?
And who are "they" usually? You know the people who determine what's current and "now"? The bloggers and magazine editors and trend jumping scenesters and djs who usually don't live in the hood unless itís a gentrified hood and even then be scared to death when someone who looks like one of their favorite rappers is walking down the street late at night. I say that because these kids don't seem to understand that music has never ever been just music.
Nah son, that shit is more powerful than any teacher or mentor in the hood. These kids idolize, mock and devote their lives to the ideology of rappers. Pac said it best when he claimed that many of us were raised by rappers. And yeah, that's fucked up and where are the parents and rappers shouldn't be made to role models etc etc. That's a lame excuse man. The fact is they DO and if all they have to listen to is kill your own people (yeah, I said "your own people", because letís face it, the first rapper to make a whole album dedicated to killing white people is going DOWN) then motherfucker HIPHOP is DEAD.
The idea that we could use this music to uplift urban youth and speak about the problems of the community. The real community which consists of my grandparents and little brother and cousins and friends who don't sell coke and might still die this year want to hear some intelligence and learn about black heroes and laugh about the good times and not be made to feel "corny" because of it, then the whole point of this as an art form is dead. And maybe that's what old head was saying by naming his album that.
So please, don't just say Nas is just some bitter old head with no point. And don't make Jeezy out to be the reason the hood is so fucked up either. And don't make it into some east vs south shit like y'all (media whores) made it out to be last time because (once again) black men will get shot and they'll be the same people calling us savages. But most importantly and above all don't believe that the only voice of the ghetto is one of murder and drugs. When you dismiss the kid who wants to say something different or is talking about how fucked up things are as a corny purist who can't let go of the 90s, what it says is we don't want to hear no black person try and change their surroundings for the better.
I'm not saying go buy a bunch of fucking Tribe Called Quest records and hold hands, but damn man, stop denying that people have a point when they say the current state of this art form is one sided and stereotypical to what my mother told me was the savage. The ignorant nigga as our mascot? I say no. Because what yíall call the streets just ain't niggers with guns. And until the powers that be recognize that, then my dude, Hip Hop is dead. - Sharif Lacey aka Reef The Lost Cauze