20 May 2010

Hear Today, Gong Tomorrow

Everyone wants to be a rapper or DJ nowadays. It's easy, too. Kids get their My First Mic sets from Playskool and their Fake08 drum kits and they think they're the next Run DMC. *sigh* Don't get me wrong: I believe everyone should have the opportunity to showcase their talent to the world...IF they have talent.

It saddens me to see that hip-hop is seen as a disposable genre. So many artists come in with a hit single about nothing in particular over a snazzy beat by DJ Gobbledygook and "invent" an energetic dance that mimes some childhood antics and then blow away like dust in the proverbial wind. For the sake of creative differences and so that we don't step on any toes, we won't name any names in today's article, but hip-hop heaven knows I want to. Let's just say that, after reading this article, if you find yourself offended...well, if the shoe fits, right?

This is how it goes down. Some kid in some random city decides that he can be a rapper because 1) he received a grade of "A" on his poetry assignment in the fourth grade eight years ago, 2) his favorite rapper's favorite rapper, Lil Young CT, the West Coast Down South Eastside rapper from New York came up with a hit song entitled "Granny Drawers," and 3) Diddy offered him a contract. That, unfortunately, is the recipe right there for a hit single. There's nothing wrong with being a poet and crossing over into rap. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by your fave artist. Shoot, there's nothing wrong with Diddy (...), but that does not make for a successful CAREER.

Where is the substance in hip-hop? Where are the lyrics that make you think? Where is the story? I know for a fact that so many fans are sick of hearing about cocaine, dubs, money, dirty ho's and liquor. Some of these things are fine when consumed within reasonable limits (I'll let the reader ascertain which of the aforementioned items are "fine") but there has to be more to hip-hop than that. I've seen artists come and go and get a "Where Are They Now" special on VH1 and they all admit that they don't know what happened to their careers. I'll tell you what happened: you didn't have staying power. I swear, I wish there was Viagra for rapper's careers (pause, lol).

I know this world and this society is built on forward progression. Hip-hop is no different. I cannot demand that we return to the days of old. That's not fair to the genre or to our artists or DJs, but we need to return to a sense of true style. We have to expect...no, DEMAND more of our artists and of ourselves. I watched the Country Music Awards this year (yea, I admit it) and was astounded to see country artists that were performing and highly successful PRIOR to my birth not only being recognized by the modern genre but also still highly successful. The same goes for Rock: KISS still goes on tour occasionally and so does Ozzy Osbourne and they sell out crowds. They are considered icons to music as a whole. I hear about Travis Tritt and Twisted Sister more than I hear about Rakim or Slick Rick. That saddens me.

With that said, I have nothing against the Soulja Boys of our day. He will never be Nas, Jay-Z or KRS-One but he is doing his thing and he is successful. He's had a string of hit singles, which means the public is enjoying his work. I can respect that. I just ask that the young brother take it further than "ringtone raps." What are ringtone raps, you ask? Songs that have no definite meaning in them and do nothing except contain a catchy hook, a slick dance and/or a fly beat. These are the songs that iTunes ringtone section are made of. Do they usually sound cool? Yes, but they have no substance to stand on. Let's Do Better for ourselves, and for our genre. If we don't fight to keep it alive, trust me: Dolly Parton, who has been performing for over 30 years in country music, and Willie Nelson won't.

And for the record, I don't know and have never heard of anyone by the name of DJ Gobbledygook or Lil Young CT. These are names I made up for the sake of discussion. If your stage name happens to be Gobbledygook, then I'm sorry...but you need help. And I don't mean help suing me.

Tune in next time when we return to our Pioneer Series, this time discussing an influential figure in the world of rap. If you have any comments on this or any other article, feel free to shoot us a line here at www.bestinthemix.com!

No comments:

Post a Comment