Today on Blogcritics
Home » Music » Explaining The Fall of Hip Hop

Explaining The Fall of Hip Hop

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Much like the original formula for a rap song — now called “old school” or “indie rap” — I I have been accused of using too much verbiage. So, I will further support my previous article, in which I explained that the landscape of hip hop music has been altered due to both the laws of capitalism and regional personalities, from a historical standpoint rather than a philosophical one. Along the way I'll explain how the change has created an environment where Drake, the Canadian version of Ricky Schroder whose bar mitzvah was held in his wealthy hometown of suburban Toronto, can receive a first class ticket from Nickelodeon Studios to the rap life as a gift from Lil' Wayne, the multi-platinum artist and privileged son of rapper, Byrdman.

Forgetting the funk offspring, filtered through the two-year disco boom, which spawned the breakdancing craze ultimately becoming the entity called hip hop and had already made appearances abound, it is agreed that hip hop originated in the parks of uptown New York City and spread instantaneously to the other Burroughs. It was a development that I witnessed first hand and I repeat that fact solely in hopes of being awarded some credibility. I would find it difficult to discredit a Vietnam Veteran's insights on guerrilla warfare. There is no agenda stemming from a regional beef or endorsement of any fabricated sub-genre. The idea is simply that hip hop is in its original form when it reflects the model of the early pioneers .

 

A common argument given, at this point, is that if hip hop still sounded like Kool Moe Dee, it would never have lasted. I agree completely, however artists who resemble the original rap music thirty years matured are those who use their time on the microphone to be a charismatic Master of Ceremonies, or MC, and to battle other rappers –in a test of skill — for the right to continue. Today the emphasis is on their lavish lifestyle, rather than their lyrical skills. While the production, also due in part to sampling laws, has become more keyboard based tunes over a down-tempo groove.

As in any major movement, the days where an MC fought for respect one block at a time are long gone. I don't expect to see the same competition as we saw when there were a handful of contracts to be given out, by the handful of labels that would come within 50 feet of rap music and every city block housed prospects. We are the at the same point in the progression (or saturation) of hip hop that the Friday the 13th saga was at “Jason Takes Manhattan”, but what were we really expecting at that point?

Around 1990, we saw the face of rap begin to change with the arrival of artists from the West Coast. While still conforming to the the basic mores of the culture, N.W.A. and the rest switched the topic from parties and respect for skills, to California's infamous gang life. The new “gangster rap” style, marked by black Raider apparel and a distinct sound, became wildly popular for its unique message. Incidentally, NY rappers, who had originally welcomed the growth, became resentful of the West's popular alterations, and this time also marked a divide where half of the East Coast artists followed suit, and the rest played the role of hip hop's guardian, dissing the new style and advancing the political rhetoric of Public Enemy and KRS-One.

This continued throughout the 90s, as hip hop's commercial appeal began to peak. The pioneers started to lose their right to the term “rap music” and were being called “underground,” as they continued to claim their authenticity and superior talent to a group of constituents that was dwindling each year.

The climatic deaths of two rappers in 1997, resulting from the East vs. West tension are well documented, to the point where much less subtle dynamics were occurring generated by the meteoric rise of two present day icons, Puff Daddy and Eminem. These two artists, a shrewd business man and an intricate character with tremendous skills and a unique message who was discovered by N.W.A.'s Dr. Dre, changed the course of development.

Puffy was an anomaly who was truly ahead of his time when he decided to represent NY in neither of the two main images. Instead, he chose a third image, that of flashy cars and jewelery. While the West Coast artists were seen mostly in white t-shirts and black everything else, and the O.G.'s were partial to big gold chains, Puffy went with platinum and diamonds, a look which admittedly caught the eye of another rapper with an entrepreneurial mindset, who was determined to do it bigger and better and achieved that goal after kicking off an entire movement down south, marked by the well known phrase, “Bling,Bling,” Master P. The multitude of artists under him were hardly interested in upholding the ancient rituals of the East Coast, they were interested in getting paid.

Another group with intentions of financial gain were the CEO's of every corporation on Earth. By now, the original struggles were over. Not only was hip hop accepted, but it could be found everywhere from a Burger King commercial to episodes of Blue's Clues (which is the type of conduit through which Drake appeared.) It only stands to reason that the turn of the century (when financial interests began pouring into rap) brought about an inflation of the time's current style. “Bling, Bling,” while the original model, now called “underground rap” had become dated and second tier. What businessman wants to invest in something passe? The romantics were now called “back-packers” referring to the element of old-school rap, where graffiti artists needed to carry multiple cans of spray paint through the city at night. This began the so called “dominance” of the Dirty South, while the throwback artists of New York lost support from major labels and were reduced to internet hustling and independent labels, or “indies.

On another front, Detroit-based, Caucasian rapper, Eminem, played a different role in shaping the music. The early culture had seen few white rappers after the Beastie Boys played a pivotal role in its acceptance and a handful of other NY residents, like 3rd Bass, said their piece. It was less racial and more demographic, as the elitist New York bias seldom accepted those who weren't a card carrying resident of a major city, preferably New York. Then, Vanilla Ice, the Texas-born prankster, who incidentally, has the so called “street credibility” of Shaft compared to that of fellow Grammy winner and former teeny-bop heart throb, Drake, was vilified for presenting himself in a false light (which was easier before the time of the internet), to the point where he single-handedly made white suburbanites a general persona non grata in hip hop.

Then came Eminem, whose talent and originality, officially stamped by N.W.A.'s super-producer Dr. Dre, were strong enough to finally end the embargo, both on “white-boys”, and to a lessor extent, middle America, as he called Michigan home. His undeniable popularity, skill, and arrogance, while referencing skateboarders and the suburban type party scene, allowed the acceptance of your average suburban mall-dweller, regardless of his childhood. It was only a matter of time before this happened, as I maintained in the last piece, you could only keep something for so long before it becomes public domain. (As a side note, it is interesting that Eminem's fellow Detroit rappers, such as Royce Da' 5'9”, and the Crown City Rockers, make up a large part of the “back-packer” rap, which is the original hip hop.

There you have it. The sum of all the dynamics mentioned, from the natural expansion, to the “Puffy” effect, which kicked off the commercial success of “Bling, Bling” and caught the eye of thrill-seeking tycoons and smart businessmen with their finger on the pulse of the youth, launching the Southern “dominance”, to the acceptance of suburbanites with European roots on the coattails of one gifted lyricist, have contributed to the “Fall of Rap”.

I say that because I am a purist, similar to a baseball fan who is against the DH. To a romantic like me, stuck in the past, when a set of standards that are twenty years in the rear view and would have handed the guy who played “Brandon” on Beverly Hills 90210 the same fate met by Vanilla Ice, dictated hip hop.

Powered by

About ProfPlume

  • Jordan Richardson

    You’ve done a decent historical review of hip hop, sure, but you’ve still arrived at the same basic conclusion that goes generally unsupported in your piece: that Drake is less than worthy of the spotlight because he was on Degrassi.

    You don’t describe his skill or your opinion on his lack of skill and you merely dismiss him as a vehicle of marketing because, again, he’s not from a traditional hip hop background. All the history lessons in the world won’t make up for the fact that you are merely approaching Drake from a position of elitism: he’s not a hip hop purist, therefore he’s no good because he didn’t walk the road I want him to walk.

    And my response remains as it was before, hip hop and MUSIC in general is a big tent. There’s plenty of room for people of all different backgrounds and walks of life to express themselves and their abilities. The public can reject them or not as they see fit, just as you can reject them or not as you see fit and so on.

    I think your reasoning undermines the elegance of the music industry and the democratic sense of how and why we choose certain artists. If we merely judged people because of where they came from or where they didn’t come from, I think we’d miss out on a lot. And that’s what I get from your opinion, Professor. It’s too bad.

    You do admit to being “stuck in the past,” which is a step in the right direction. But imagine if Afrika Bambaataa was too stuck in the past to play with break beats. What an unfortunate turn of events that would have been!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/londunn Lonny Dunn

    This is the Senior Lonny Dunn, the Editor/Author, not the Rapper, that’s my son.

    I read along, researching, and studying in the mornings, as usual, and I note the dialogue between writer and commenter. All of this about “purist” and trad’l I find counterproductive. Music, is successful because of the listener. You can get anyone some air time, you can package a teenage kid out of nowhere, and call him Usher or Bieber. Big Deal? Without the fans to buy the stuff, there is limited success. On the flip side, we have Prince who uses vertical integration to manage, sell and promote his own stuff, completely avoiding the “traditional” labels, and he seems content with that.

    Marketing bridges that invisble void between artist and listener. With no marketing, there are no dollars, and the artist could be the greatest in the world, but stuck in his ivory tower, refusing the traditional marketing techniques, nobody will ever know, he has no listeners.

    All artists set out thinking they are “Original” and nobody does it like them, and guess what? They are correct 1,000 percent of the time. It is when they run head long into the reality that nobody is going to buy their stuff unless they go “mainstream” that they are all for marketing.

    We still live in a world where we buy basically what is the best promoted, best marketed stuff, and every now and again, we break out, find the truly unique, find the one who nobody has ever heard of that touches our soul……And two weeks later, they go on Oprah, and we have to find another Indy Hip Hop Artist!! Have a great week and a great day. I tweet at http://Twitter.com/ProDevNetworker

    Lonny Dunn
    Editor/Author

  • profplume

    Jordan,
    Obviously due to your viewpoint, you continue to miss mine. I am not saying that Drake is no good. I also acknowledge his success. Vanilla Ice found the same type of support, also winning a Grammy Award and selling millions of units.

    The difference is that Hip Hop has changed in that Vanilla Ice got “dissed”, in another words, his career was finished because he didn’t have the “street credibility” to support his lyrics.

    That environment no longer exists. In that way, Hip Hop has changed and, in my opinion, fell.

    This is the opinion of a purist. I never once say that Drake sucks, only that he would not have flourished (or would have been quickly discredited) under the old rules.

    Hey Lonny,

    Thanks for weighing in. I actually agree with you. Just as I described, Hip Hop took the natural course of capitalism, steered by a couple of anamolies, to become what it is today.

    Your point is verified by history, as you correctly explain.American corporations will put a stranglehold on any and everything profitable, and it always helps to drag it on Oprah. lol.
    So, as in anything, especially music, you will always have a divide, where the corporate backed entities “dominate” the small market support for purists, who pump out “cult classics” which are deemed as failures because they lack the bottomline generated by the big stuff in the mainstream.

    I am simply bringing this to light, without giving an opinion as to the music quality, only noting it’s change. Of course, I am an “elitist”, with an unpoular opinion. Unpopular because it is most likely held only by, let’s say, Hip Hop fans (or their associates) from the New York area over the age of 30.

    It is exactly the measure of support that an old football fan would receive if he proclaimed that football today is crap and there hasn’t been a decent superbowl winner since the Green Bay Packers won the first two in the 60’s.

    While he may wholeheartedly believe that, and he may be completely supported by older Green Bay residents, there are millions of Steeler, Cowboy, or any team’s fans, or young fans of Brett Favre’s championship Packers who will say he’s crazy. (or “elitist swine”)lol

    What WOULD be factual in the above analogy, besides the authenticity of his opinion, is the fact that no team executed Vince Lombardi’s famous option play in a super bowl to the level that the ’66 Packers did.

    I hope my words can reach you. If this obvious point misses you, I can only blame myself.

    Thanks again

  • profplum

    Jordan, I must also add, in response to your comments about Democracy dictating music, that I suppose you feel that George W.Bush or Clinton or Obama, were the BEST men for the job of Commander-in-cheif because they were elected democratically.

    Now if you say yes, then we can agree to disagree. If you say that was our only choice then I say, “exactly”,

    Don’t you think that an album on an indie label has the same chance as someone who gets played for 40 minutes of every hour on the radio? Wouldn’t the indie artist be falling in the polls?

    And, yes, I’m stuck in the past, and would rather Affrika Bambata’s “breakbeats” still ruled, or actually were advanced by digital technology and the evolution of lyrical skills.
    And that would be my “indie rap”

  • Jordan Richardson

    Obviously due to your viewpoint, you continue to miss mine. I am not saying that Drake is no good.

    And I’m not saying he’s good. You have, however, elected to use Drake as your singular example for the “Fall” of hip hop, explaining that he never would have had success in the “good old days.” This, you posit, is due to his background and the notion that he is propelled by a marketing machine.

    You leave talent, for better or for worse, out of the equation entirely and simply lament the “industry” as having “changed.” This is what I’ve been taking issue with the whole time, Professor. Of course the industry has changed. Of course marketing has taken centre stage. But your insistence that Drake somehow does not belong because of this is, again, misguided and unfair.

    The difference is that Hip Hop has changed in that Vanilla Ice got “dissed”, in another words, his career was finished because he didn’t have the “street credibility” to support his lyrics.

    I’d argue that there were a lot more forces at work in Vanilla Ice’s career than simply a lack of street cred, but let’s remember that Eminem was also initially compared to Vanilla Ice when he first came out.

    I’m not sure how much value such comparisons have. I’ll judge Drake by his own standards, not by the standards of another.

    That environment no longer exists.

    What environment? One in which artists who lack “street cred” get “dissed?” I guess my answer to that would be: so what?

    This is where the idea of hip hop’s “big tent” comes into play and where my argument along those lines follows. We don’t need to dismiss artists due to a lack of “street cred,” Professor. I dismiss artists due to a lack of passion, to a lack of talent, and so forth. That’s why I dismissed Vanilla Ice back in the day and that’s why I continue to dismiss countless artists now. There are far, far greater reasons to dislike an artist than “dissing” them based upon where they came from.

    I never once say that Drake sucks, only that he would not have flourished (or would have been quickly discredited) under the old rules.

    But you’re lamenting this fact, Professor. You’re essentially whining about Drake’s success by describing the situation that allows an artist from “Canadian Nickelodeon” to flourish as “the Fall of Hip Hop.” Explain to me how it’s unreasonable to draw the conclusion that you aren’t overly fond of Drake.

    in response to your comments about Democracy dictating music, that I suppose you feel that George W.Bush or Clinton or Obama, were the BEST men for the job of Commander-in-cheif because they were elected democratically.

    Absolutely not. Nor is Stephen Harper the “best” man for the job as leader of my country.

    But this entails a lengthy discussion first about whether or not the United States actually is a democracy (it isn’t) and whether or not democracy is about producing the “best” candidates or about the people have the ability to choose. Then we draw into a discussion about the alternatives, for instance if democracy isn’t going to produce the “best” results, what political alternative do you utilize to usurp the peoples’ right to choose in order to put in the “best” man for the job? Moreover, how do you decide who the “best” man for the job is? Is it like Aristotle’s philosopher king idea or…?

    You get the idea.

    If you say that was our only choice then I say, “exactly”

    But Drake is far from your only choice and mainstream appeal has ALWAYS had a limiting impact on what’s heard in the public square. The difference now is that seekers can and do explore hip hop as a broad art form. And your article elects to compel the narrowing force of mainstream music by serving as a mere lament, not as a spiritual revival.

    Imagine the power of your writing if you say that there are still passionate artists out there, that there are still emcees who love the craft so much that they don’t care about lame radio play (does radio play even still matter?), that there are still DJs pumping good shit in all-night clubs, and so on.

    Instead, you focus on where hip hop was and complain about it not living up your standards. You stress the idea of being stuck in the past like it’s a good thing, refusing to acknowledge actual talent (as you yourself admit to) and focusing instead on the alleged “Curse of the Mainstream.” I think you do this at your peril.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I am simply bringing this to light, without giving an opinion as to the music quality, only noting it’s change.

    Wrong. Your articles have decried this as the “Fall of Hip Hop,” Professor. You can’t distance yourself from the obvious negative connotations of what you’re saying so easily. If Drake was a good artist, in your opinion, his “lack of street cred” wouldn’t or shouldn’t matter. If it does matter, it’s such a superficial argument that it’s hard to take seriously.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Consider today’s news that Drake’s free concert in NYC was shut down today because too many people showed up. The crowd erupted violently after news of the show’s cancellation hit and people were seriously hurt as a result. 18,000 people showed up when promoters were only prepared for 10,000.

    Another angle, Professor, is that you overemphasize street cred in an art form that demands more. You state Vanilla Ice failed and was “dissed” because he lacked street cred. What about talentless artists who’ve only made it in hip hop because they’ve had street cred.

    Isn’t the idea of hip hop being bigger and more diverse in terms of backgronds and such actually a good thing? Why does an abundance of styles, possibilities and backgrounds represent a “Fall” in the art form? And why are you so eager to dismiss talent and style in favour of where a particular artist hails from?

  • zingzing

    dr. dre. “street cred” is all marketing. all of it. how’d you learn about it? from the hood? nope.

  • profplume

    You make good arguments, however they are aimed in the wrong direction.

    First off, your revelation that you are Canadian completely explains your beef, just as my origins explain mine.

    Please pardon the stereotype, but it is like a hardcore Canadian who watched the first hockey game and loved it in its true form, before some changes were made to prepare it for the world stage. now railing against the NHL.
    He will be called a lunatic by the drones of fans accross the continent, but does that make his viewpoint irrelevant?

    I can almost leave it there, as simply patriotic pride, only it’s so much more.

    Your theory of the tent holds true if suburban rappers spoke of the mall and soccer practice, but they don’t. They steal the lives of the original urban kids, then make it their own to sell records.

    Allow me to please curtail the use of these terms which I sarcastically incorporated into the articles:

    “street cred”– this is a fabricated media term used to describe the lifestyle that inner city residents call life. I even noted it as being “so called.” Plus, it doesn’t matter what a person’s life is like. The problem arises when you act like it’s different, or “harder” than it is.

    De La Soul was very “soft”, preaching peace and residing on Long Island, yet they were well respected because they didn’t pretend they were something else.

    This was Ice’s downfall and I suspect Drake is guilty of the same thing.
    I haven’t heard one song about private school or acting on a teeny bop show or anything. Why not? The inner city kids who started rappin absolutely spoke of their life. That’s what it was about!
    You must see this point, Jordan.

    “indie rap”–again, a person who saw the birth of Hip Hop doesn’t qualify it. I explain above how that term came into existence.

    ##So, before the hoardes of people start pouring in with comments like Dr. Dre’s fabricated street cred — I don’t care, because that is not what the article is about.

    Jordn, I truly thank you for the debate, but I fear that if you will not take my word for it, then I cannot explain something to you that you did not witness.

    Your key misfire is that you compare Hip Hop to other forms of music when in fact it is a culture, specifically geared for the streets.

    Why can hip hop not be spread, as you suggested, but only let rappers speak about their real life and not the lives they dream of. That, Jordan, is the true spread of the music. That would be the conditions under which I would hand it over with blessings.

    Only, I truly doubt that a CEO would hand a budget to a rapper who talked about his shift at Starbucks. Thank You, my friend

  • Jordan Richardson

    First off, your revelation that you are Canadian completely explains your beef, just as my origins explain mine.

    How does my being Canadian explain my “beef” with your issue that street credibility trumps talent? I could be from anywhere on earth and would still raise the same objection. We could be talking about ANY art form and I would still raise the same objection.

    He will be called a lunatic by the drones of fans accross the continent, but does that make his viewpoint irrelevant?

    For a true hockey fan to rail against the NHL would be a little silly because of the pure TALENT he or she would be missing out on. A pure hockey fan that pays no attention to the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and others and is only interested in the non-NHL “purity” of the game is no pure hockey fan because their approach to the sport is symbolic rather than actual.

    If you are a true hockey fan, you appreciate and follow TALENT as pertains to the sport. I am not a fan of Gary Bettman by any stretch of the imagination, but as a paid hockey blogger (hard to believe) and a true fan of the game, I watch his product on the ice as often as possible because that’s where the game’s most talented players are.

    Taking the analogy to the music industry isn’t as clear-cut, of course, as there’s a lot of talent that will remain unsigned and underpublicized. But ignoring talent that is “mainstream” or well-publicized is a foolish game.

    They steal the lives of the original urban kids, then make it their own to sell records.

    I believe artists can be storytellers, much like a dancer does not have to have an ailment in order to put on a beautiful performance about a woman with cancer and much like a writer doesn’t need to have the perspective of a zombie in order to tell the tale about such a creature. So too can a musician appropriate another lifestyle to tell a story. It happens in country music frequently, as it has happened throughout musical history with all of the great protest songs and the like. Does Neil Young need to be American-born to criticize and rail against the policies of George W. Bush? Does Springsteen need to have fought in a war in order to take on the character of a former soldier? And so on.

    Surely you’re not suggesting that ONLY legitimacy in a historical sense can make a good artist. Some of the greatest artists of all times were successful and passionate creators because they knew how to perform. If all art was so limited as to only be a regurgitation of real experiences, the industry would be amazingly shallow.

    The problem arises when you act like it’s different, or “harder” than it is.

    I absolutely disagree. I explained my reasons above, but I think it’s important to outline my objections again. Performing is all about acting “different” than it is, Professor. It’s about transporting the listener or viewer or reader somewhere else. There’s room enough for “legitimate” artists couched in the harsh realities of the streets, like K’naan (hopefully you won’t discredit his Somalian experiences because he’s a Canadian now) and others, and there’s room enough for artists who’ve been able to capture the essence of those harsh realities and have been able to own them.

    I haven’t heard one song about private school or acting on a teeny bop show or anything. Why not?

    You want Drake to talk about being on Degrassi in his songs? Or about his real life? “Deceptions” is one example, as it’s a song about his relationship with Keshia Chanté. He even references her mother in the song.

    In a remix of one of her songs, he says the following: “Keshia, Keshia, do you remember the old us? They said we’d never be together that’s what they told us. Immature kids, to entrepreneur kids.”

    Thank Me Later is a record about being uncomfortable with sudden fame and about striving to hold on to it at the same time, so it’s a record about conflict. It’s not as though Drake is rapping about slinging dope on the corner, Professor, so your critique rings hollow based on the actual content of the album.

    I fear that if you will not take my word for it, then I cannot explain something to you that you did not witness.

    Then you had better write only exclusive to New Yawkers about this particular topic, Professor. Not only do you feel the need to condescend to everyone who wasn’t “there,” but you make a pisspoor case for it. It’s little more than glorified nationalism, shrunk down to cover a movement you mistakenly believe you were a part of. It’s insulting and unnecessary to talk down to your readers in such a way.

    Why can hip hop not be spread, as you suggested, but only let rappers speak about their real life and not the lives they dream of. That, Jordan, is the true spread of the music. That would be the conditions under which I would hand it over with blessings.

    What an incredible ego you have! “I would hand it over…” Are you serious?

    Again, hip hop is not just what you want it to be. Music in general is not about “letting musicians speak only about their real lives” and so forth.

    More bizarrely, you state above that this very sentiment is not what this is about but then run full circle to the same point. It seems like you’re a little confused about the very point you’re attempting to make, Professor, and that’s unfortunate.

    If you truly believe that musicians and artists ought to only be “let” to reflect their own experiences, I’m afraid you’re in for a rather narrow artistic experience. What if we said filmmakers could only talk about their own lives? Or writers could only write about what they specifically have experienced firsthand? What, then, of fantasy or science fiction? Would you truly have art be so narrow?

    If that’s the world you live in, Professor, then I truly feel sorry for you.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Your key misfire is that you compare Hip Hop to other forms of music when in fact it is a culture, specifically geared for the streets.

    Baloney.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    If you want to be awarded some credibility for being in NY since way back in the day, spell “boroughs” correctly.

    Also, you should look items up. Straight Outta Compton and Eazy-Duz-It came out in 1988 and helped usher in gangsta rap, which was marked by black Raiders apparel. I was in Southern CA at the time when the albums dropped, which I mention solely in hopes of being awarded some credibility.

    “I haven’t heard one song about private school or acting on a teeny bop show or anything. Why not?”

    How many people could identify with that?

    “only let rappers speak about their real life and not the lives they dream of.”

    So you think Ice-T actually killed cops?

    Are you sure you are 36 and not 76? Because you sound like Grandpa Simpson complaining about how good things used to be. I am sure you had a grand time growing up amidst all this but since you didn’t have anyone dip you in amber, did you not expect things to change over time? Seems inevitable with new people taking part with new ideas and different influences. Hip Hop didn’t fall so much as morph, but who expects 2010 hip hop to be 1985 hip hop?

  • profplume

    As you see, I love to respond to all comments because my goal is always a healthy debate, but picking out things like a mis-spelling or a technicality of 2 years followed by name-calling is laughable. lol

    ** Yes, NWA dropped the album in 88, opening the door for a West Coast surge….I still wouldn’t change a single thing I said. Something that begins in the middle of ’88 and runs from 88-97 (roughly) can be described correctly, just as I did.

    Nice try. Just agree with Jordan and you will be better served.

  • profplume

    and I don’t think Ice-T killed cops, even the hardest gansters know better than that, but he wanted to kill them because of what he witnessed.

    If Drake did a song about murdering the principal of his upper-class boarding school or a disagreeable director on the set of Degrassi (lol), I would be fine with that, because I’m sure he wanted to and would have a good reason.

    Your shallow arguments and personal attacks do nothing to advance your opinion, sorry. Still, I’ll be here when you have a worthy thought.

  • profplume

    “How does my being Canadian explain my “beef” with your issue that street credibility trumps talent? I could be from anywhere on earth and would still raise the same objection. We could be talking about ANY art form and I would still raise the same objection.”

    Everything that you wrote above explains it exactly. lol

    You claim that it is OK to falsify experiences in his rhymes, but THAT IS EXACTLY what original rappers got discredited for. Nobody demolished Vanilla Ice’s career because he was white. They destroyed him because he pretended he was from a place he wasn’t and I suspect (of course it is only assumption that I cannot possibly verify) that Drake would attempt the same thing had it not been for the inception of the internet.

    It is a sure sign of loosing your grip on the debate when you begin to nit pick and attack on a personal level.

    — The hockey diatride was not necessary, as the WW2 one wasn’t. The analogies both hold up on the most elementary level, but admittedly I should have added, in my hypothetical, that hockey had been tremendously watered down, more than usual, and there was, less say, no fighting, two goalies, and no ice….is that better?

    — Of course I was not being “arrogant” by saying I would hand rap over. I know for a fact that you realized the metaphor there.

    But since this is the type of opposition I am attracting (like the ’88 and not ’90, or the misspelling of “buroughs, sure signs of defeat), I should have said “I wouldn’t be complaining”

    –I certainly did not lose my point or do a 180. I maintain that rap has changed. It has lost its authenticity; it has lost its values and in my opinion, has fallen. Period.

    — You continue to mention that I am isolating and that I should only write for NY’ers. I say no way.
    First off, what good is an opinion piece without an argument the other way and everybody in NY already knows this. It would be a case of “preaching to the choir”.

    Again, Jordan, I commend you for your precise arguments and your passion. You have certainly emerged as the creme de la creme of the “commercial” rap defenders.
    ( hey el bicho, check the spelling on that)

    However, I’ll repeat the “baloney” that Hip Hop is not the same as other music. Take rock, for instance.
    Although many people have claimed to be its founder, it was a music for all and your argument there is valid. True, you will here many people argue over sub-genres and different bands, but there was never a “code”.

    As ridiculous as it sounds to someone who knows nothing but Hip Hop as a “mainstream”, corporate-backed melting-pot, it DID have a code. It was built on that code. That code was the basis of every song.

    As I document repeatedly, one’s valor and credibility directly affected their status in the culture. “Fronting”, or lying about your experiences, in an effort to sell records is something that had been deemed a sin, punishable by an exile from the music.

    This seems laughable today, because the next generation only knows these artists who have gotten away with all of the above with no backlash.

    So, while you are the only critic still worth defending against, your cavalier attitude toward this code not being present is EXACTLY what I’m describing.

    To some of us, it does matter. You can say what you want, but literally, people had been killed over rap, and I don’t mean 2Pac and Biggie. I mean inner-city kids who were trying to acheive the same fame and fortune that Drake was handed on a silver platter by Lil’ Wayne and thanks to his teeny bopper fame.

    They had to go through the rite of passage and gain that respect that you say you could care less about, and trust me when I say, it got pretty heated sometimes. People Absolutely lost lives doing this.

    Obviously, they cared and regardless how silly that seems to you, I believe they at least deserve an article, rather than all of us collectively saying “who cares.”

    Thanks again.

  • zingzing

    prof: “Nobody demolished Vanilla Ice’s career because he was white. They destroyed him because he pretended he was from a place he wasn’t.”

    horseshit. his audience was never the “hard” (or whatever) types, it was white, tween-aged kids. if he had been able to make a decent follow-up, he’d have been fine. his career stalled because he only had the one song.

    “paying your dues, “street cred,” “the code,” that’s all just you sucking up the marketing. those parts of rap, and music in general, are essentially meaningless, except for how they affect marketing. sure, some of it is based on truths, but what does it really matter to the music? unless you’re more interested in the personality than you are anything else…

    besides, a whole bunch of the golden-age rap stuff is so good because they branched out and talked about other things rather than themselves. it’s when rap changed from its initial set of rules/code/whatever that it started to take over the airwaves. i’ll agree that it’s a little burnt out right now, but that’s not because things changed, it’s because things haven’t changed enough over the past few years. fresh blood and new ideas is the key, not sticking to the original rules. break the rules, change the game, yada yada yada.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    but he wanted to kill them because of what he witnessed

    he also shot a man in reno just to watch him die.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    What’s laughable is projecting yourself as an expert on a subject when you can’t get the easy things right in a submission to an online magazine. It suggests you trust what you know to be correct with no desire to find out if that is truly the case.

    And where’s the name-calling? Because I wrote you sound like an old man complaining about how things have changed? You seem overly sensitive for someone who called “Drake, the Canadian version of Ricky Schro[e]der”.

    And speaking of shallow, what’s with the Drake obsession? You appear unable to post without mentioning his name. Are you part of some guerrilla marketing campaign to get his name out and about, or did he steal your girl?

    “I don’t think Ice-T killed cops, even the hardest gansters know better than that, but he wanted to kill them because of what he witnessed.”

    So what you are saying is Ice-T dreamed about it. Too bad he didn’t know rappers were only supposed to “speak about their real life and not the lives they dream of.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    You claim that it is OK to falsify experiences in his rhymes, but THAT IS EXACTLY what original rappers got discredited for.

    No it isn’t. This has already been mentioned by nearly everyone involved in this debate. Expressing fantasies or telling stories, whether they happened in “reality” or not, is an integral part of songwriting, Professor. I cannot stress this enough.

    It is a sure sign of loosing your grip on the debate when you begin to nit pick and attack on a personal level

    I’m not really sure where I’ve done this, Professor. If anything, your attempts to discredit your philosophical opponents are entirely couched in “where they’re from” or what their experiences have been or haven’t been. If anyone in this discussion is discarding arguments or discussion based on notions that are “personal” rather than topical, it’s you.

    I know for a fact that you realized the metaphor there.

    Yes. It’s incredibly arrogant to suggest that you, metaphorically or not, are in the position to hand anything over – let alone an artistic form of expression.

    As ridiculous as it sounds to someone who knows nothing but Hip Hop as a “mainstream”, corporate-backed melting-pot, it DID have a code. It was built on that code.

    Professor, can you make a single comment without lacing it with a personal attack? Whatever gives you the idea that I “know nothing but” the mainstream side of hip hop?

    More to the point, many things were built on a code. Are you suggesting that hip hop should only belong to a certain group of people from a certain place with a certain attitude? How utterly arrogant of you to even suggest such a narrow-minded thing!

    “Fronting”, or lying about your experiences, in an effort to sell records is something that had been deemed a sin, punishable by an exile from the music.

    NO, IT FUCKING WASN’T!

    God damn it. How many times do we have to go over the same thing?

    It seems to me that you are inventing a “code” because you are dissatisfied with where hip hop has gone so you think it’s “fallen.” The problem is that when you misappropriate an industry standard, such as a “code of ethics or behaviour,” you’re exceeding your opinion and stating something is true for all. That is, again, really arrogant.

    You can say what you want, but literally, people had been killed over rap, and I don’t mean 2Pac and Biggie. I mean inner-city kids who were trying to acheive the same fame and fortune that Drake was handed on a silver platter by Lil’ Wayne and thanks to his teeny bopper fame.

    Give me an example of an “inner city kid” killed because he or she was trying to achieve that sort of “fame.” Just one example of the correlation.

    Musicians of all stripes were killed by “fame,” directly or indirectly, and the pursuit of it, directly or indirectly. There are scads of examples of such things throughout the history of MUSIC, not just hip hop. You should know better.

    They had to go through the rite of passage and gain that respect that you say you could care less about, and trust me when I say, it got pretty heated sometimes. People Absolutely lost lives doing this.

    Name one rapper who died because of Lil Wayne’s “teeny bopper” fame.

    Obviously, they cared and regardless how silly that seems to you, I believe they at least deserve an article, rather than all of us collectively saying “who cares.”

    I have reverence for musical history, Professor. You don’t. It’s you who spits on the history of hip hop by thinking it shouldn’t be allowed to evolve past the point you deem it as being at its best. It’s you who pisses on the alleged “graves” of those who died for the art because you think only some should be able to make it famous and that it shouldn’t belong to the people; it should only belong to certain people.

    It’s you who lacks respect for the ART FORM because you think it matters where you’re from first and what you can do second.

    And if you think the fallen “soldiers” of hip hop deserved “at least an article,” you might be right. But they deserved a better one than this bullshit you’re trying to pawn off on us.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And what zingzing says in #16 is dead-on. You, Professor, are just as servile to a form of marketing as the “mainstream” fans and the “teeny boppers” you decry now. You bought the “narrative of the streets” sold to you at the time by executives and artists who wanted to move units.

  • zingzing

    i’d say it’s the fact that rap changes so rapidly is what makes it interesting. even the mainstream stuff, really. look at rap in the early 80s vs the late 80s vs the early 90s, etc, etc, etc. rock and pop seem to fluctuate in cycles, but rap is always pushing forward, always changing to a remarkable degree. techno (to use a broad term) does this as well, but it’s never quite achieved the popularity that rap has. if rap didn’t change, it would die. change is good.

    although i wouldn’t mind it if the bomb squad made a comeback. that was some good production.

    i’ll admit that a lot of my favorite stuff is two decades old, but i think the genre as a whole looks to be about to make a great breakthrough on 1988 proportions. it’s mixing more and more with pop and indie-rock, and everyone is taking cues from everyone else. new schools of thought are emerging all over the underground, and it’s only a little time til they bubble up into the mainstream.

    if the times don’t suit you, that’s because the times have left you behind.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Exactly.

    Hip hop would be an incredibly uninteresting art form if it was still talking about the issues of the 80s.

    It really is the inevitable evolution of the art.

    Early black nationalist movements used hip hop, with artists like Paris and Tupac digging into the issues of the day. Then you have the Marxist rap of The Coup, the great hip hop about the class struggle as told by artists like Emcee Lynx, the socialist groups like Dead Prez and even Sweden’s Looptroop Rockers, and Iron Sheik’s Palestinian nationalistic tendencies.

    This isn’t meant to suggest a rundown of categories in hip hop, of course, but rather as a way of expressing the broadness of the form. Back in the day, as the Professor surely knows, Fresh Prince would tour with NWA and it was understood that they were coming from different places but could still rock the mic in their own unique ways.

    This New York Times article sums it up like this:

    “This nostalgia is especially entrenched among underground or ‘backpacker’ rappers…”

    and further:

    “The cult of the old school also smacks of basic New York chauvinism. Now that the hip-hop diaspora has spread worldwide — and current-day rap history is largely being narrated in a Southern twang — it is silly to argue that New York has some kind of monopoly on hip-hop authenticity.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/patrick-taylor/ Patrick Taylor

    I’ve heard a couple songs off of Drake’s album. Not terrible, but not my thing. I’m taking a pass. You’ve wasted too much of your time worrying about him.

    Instead, I’m listening to Diamond District, Shabazz Palaces, Apollo Brown, Tanya Morgan, Power Struggle,Madlib’s Medicine Show, and all the other solid underground hip hop that has come out in the past twelve months. I’m looking forward to the new Black Milk, the David Banner/9th Wonder collab, and whatever else comes out. It’s a great time to be a hip hop fan. You have to separate the wheat from he chaff, but there are enough good, real hip hop albums out there to make it worth while.

    The Flying Lotus album is amazing, and is taking hip hop in the avant-garde direction that Dilla’s “Donuts” promised. Indie rock artists like Sleigh Bells and Phantogram are rocking hip hop beats.

    In the Bay Area, we have artist like J Stalin and San Quinn making solid street rap that generates enough album sales to make it worth their while. The glory days of Thizz Records and hyphy may be gone, but there is still a community here.

    Plus, equipment is getting cheaper and easier so that there can be more and more bedroom beatmakers. This means a lot more bullshit, but also more opportunities for some kid from nowhere to discover his inner RZA, and dudes working full-time jobs to be able to record raps in their spare time.

    Mainstream hip hop may not be as exciting and innovative as it was in the glory days of Timbaland and Dre, but there is so much good stuff out there you don’t have to worry about how weak a lot of the other stuff is. And the fact that hip hop is no longer a cash cow means that there are more artists making underground and street rap rather than trying to cash in on the latest trend. Making it rain on strippers and platinum chains have gone the way of 401k’s and the property values. Chamillionaire just got foreclosed on, for chrissakes.

    Ignore the bullshit and soak up all the great music that is being made.

  • http://AlongCameMatchstik.com Matchstik

    @profplume I feel your argument… I’ve been featured in Billboard Magazine, Yahoo.com, iLike.com and most major blogs..

    I just recently did my follow up album which I think you will really dig for it’s originality.

    Hope this answers your question to where is hip hop going.

    -Match

  • Drake Fan

    Hip-Hop has not fallen, it’s still alive and well and has changed as the society has changed. Stop the preaching.

  • Drake Fan

    There are newer artists that you should research.

  • profplume

    Patrick,

    Of course there are artists who conform with the original structure. This article began in response to the Hip Hop Honors and their celebration of the Dirty South’s dominance. The artists you mention recieve no such honor. They are shunned.
    As far as me wasting my time, I’d say that this was as good a topic as any to write about, judging from the ongoing debate, which is what I always strive for.

    Thanks for your input

    Matchstik,
    I’d like to check out your stuff. I also write reviews for a music site. I’d like to feature your product if you hit me with a link.
    Thanks

    Drake fan(s),

    I am giving a wikipedia-style account of rap history through my lens, which is regression, not progression, although debate is encouraged.

    We, as fans and artists, have always been focused on a rappers persona as well as his skills.

    Anyone can rap. If I were to go outside and claim to be auditioning for a record deal, I would get a line around the corner and most would be good enough to flow on beat. The appeal was their substance, what they were talking about and when a chink was revealed in their armor, they were exposed. again, look at Vanilla Ice.

    You could even forget about the “frontin”, because for the most part, Drake doesn’t REALLY violate THAT MUCH, but…..

    …..I must be on another planet. Can you imagine a silver-spooned rich kid, who transferred in to your school from an exclusive, Jewish boarding school ( or any other exclusive boarding school ), who was an actor on a tiny bopper show, bragging about his fancy clothes and cars ad nauseum, while they hustle dime bags to make a buck? and then he was put on by the snap of a very influential, fellow privileged kid’s fingers, while they huddle together in a cypha, dodging bullets (which was no exaggeration), and hoping to get a couple verses, or even worse being the best of the pack, bust having no “connections”?

    Do you mean to tell me that he would not be challenged????

    Well, you can take solice in the fact that you’re not alone. That setting has changed. he CAN do just that in these times, but I’m still going to mention it. We are all preachers, aren’t we? That is my position.

    Finally, regarding the new artists I should be focusing on, I actually do a 3-hour radio show for a college station here in NY and play nothing but Hip Hop as I percieve it, playing a mix of old-school and the new artists. That’s just it. My show is labeled “alternative rap”, or any of those other crap addendums. Meanwhile, the primetime show and all of the mainstream shows around the world that play the mutated rap claim to be Hip Hop with no qualifier, not to mention they get the greater listenership.

    You are correct because you have the majority behind you, and we know that if it is the majority opinion it MUST be correct.

    I am in the minority, a group of hopeless romantics who are in the lose-lose position of trying to defend authenticity.

    Thank You all for the comments.

  • profplume

    Drake fan,

    Sorry, in the 5th paragraph to you, starting with “..I must be on another planet…”,

    the pronouns in these sentence clauses are confusing, it should be “you” and not “they”:

    “…,while they hustle dime bags to make a buck?” and
    ” , while they huddle together in a cypha, dodging bullets”

    I hope that’s clearer.
    thanks, again

  • http://AlongCameMatchstik.com Allen Forrest

    Profplume, thanks for replying… I would love for you to write a review on my latest album “Along Came Matchstik” check out it’s such a cool album… hope you enjoy it…

    -Matchstik

    [Personal contact info deleted]

  • profplume

    thanks (my computer’s on the fritz rite now, but it’ll be up in a minute, then i could check it out.) looking forward to it. I’ll email u, too.

  • http://www.myspace.com/gp_the_only POST

    I myself am a recording hip-hop artist aspiring to make it in some form or fashion someday. It’s a hard road and with the industry being so financially biased, it’s almost impossible for independent artist to be heard.

    I started out listening to 8-ball & MJG, Jay-Z, Mac, Ja Rule etc. When those artist began they had to earn their way every step of the way as supposed to now all an artist has to do is the popular thing and they are an instant up-start.

    Nothing is earned in the industry anymore which gives some of us more intellectual listeners a hollowed feeling with some of these new artists, who become superstars off of a few singles and features. 10-12 years ago features got you notoriety not music awards before you even had an album out.

    Now everything is more so based off of sales, the dummy that sells is better then the genius that doesn’t. For me people like Drake are only a small problem, it is in fact your point that is the problem actually. The street creditability associated with hip-hop is also un-like it once was, points were made to detour bad decisions in the streets in an effort to set a more positive example for future youth.

    Now all rappers basically do is tell the youth it’s OK to be ignorant. There are no individuals who just wanted to be a rap star anymore and are comfortable with that fact in itself, now all rappers have to set a stigma by portraying themselves as everything from drug dealers to crime bosses.

    People say the industry has to change, that may be true but it should not change at the cost of the spirit of music. I never wanted to be anything more than an MC and I’m proud of it, as soon as the industry is done with fads for money their may be hope for hip-hop yet or just music in general cause I hate labels.

  • profplume

    Hey Matchstik,

    sorry computer was crapped out, they deleted your link. Send it to my email, please. It should be in my profile. thanks man i want to check it out.

    POST,
    exactly what I mean. I started out when IT started out, but rejoice in one aspect (and it’s my next music article) The internet/Napster came in just in time to crush the evil record labels that were charging us 20 bucks for a CD with BS on it.(22 tracks, 10 songs!)

    Now that music is once again a service and not a product, the labels are grasping for straws and using the idiot public as a weathervane. They don’t know how to make money anymore with all of the downloading! So, that puts the power back with the artist. If they’re fans would donate 2.00(even 1) for the CD then the artist still gets what he would make on a crappy deal, but the middle man is cut out.
    The artist almost makes loot on shows and merch and all that. Unfortunately, corporate America is strong and the public is dumb, but it could possibly be the greates time for recording artists since recording!!
    Thanks for weighing in.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Matchstik – is your first name Kevin?

  • profplume

    I meant the artist “also” makes loot, not “almost” lol

    The old way was for the label to shmooze 100 artists and give them an advance so they can run around and buy cars, knowing that 99 of them don’t have a chance and they put no money behind them. Then those artists wonder why they sold 100 copies and they have to pay back the 100g’s.
    Meanwhile, the labels bank on the ONE platinum artist, that get all of the promotion and shit.

    dude, if you do get a deal(and I hope you do, bro) just be sure that they are gonna do the right thing on the promo side. meaning a dope video(not a crap one, at least 10g’s.there is a standard.), a full page ad in Sourse or Vibe or something, you know. You want to be sure that people KNOW ur shit is out.

    You probably know this , but…Good luck, also send your stuff to my email if u can.

    2 u and Matchstik, I could also play it on my radio show, it’s only a small college station, but hey……

  • happygirl

    hip hop is lost, it use to tell stories for kids growing up in the hood, now it tell stories of the girl you met last summer camp. Whois to blame all the hip hop pioneers who did bother to give the boys in the hood a voice. people like Li wayne,puffy all the greedy guys who forgot that the were the came from. it nolonger has soul because any sub- boy with money can buy there way in, hip hop is for sale just bring lots a cash. Indie artist is the ones without cash.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/londunn Lonny Dunn

    I can sympathize with a “purest” or elitist attitude in any profession, whether a movie or music critic, or Hunter S. Thompson, the orig “gonzo” journalist: Meaning he was self appointed media critic. If as you indicated, then your own street cred, then on those terms, I can appreciate as well as identify with the historical perspective of your piece.

    Lonny, my son for instance is of the same opinion as you are, that anyone after say the first ten rappers had or didn’t have “cred” and that determined the commercial viability. Then there were chicks getting arrested and trhown in jail to establish so called cred.

    Taking a measured and precise look we might see that the evolution of both Hip Hop and the music business as a whole is somewhat diminished, and the influences the big Studios have over the population is declining. Look at Prince today on the News, having a tiff with Kenny G about whether or not the Internet is dead. Now, we all love Prince, and God Bless him. But a more ignorant and backward statement has never been made. It is the Internet that is killing off the music “business” as a business, it is the internet that will create entirely new stars and formats and venues. Anyway, it’s getting late, you guys make sure to listen to one of my sons beats and tell me what you think. He Tweets This is Lonny Dunn I Tweet at ProNetWorkBuild

  • profplume

    @ happygirl

    Sorry, your comment got lost in there lol BUT you said it perfectly, much better than I could. I’d love for you to linger around here. We could all benefit from your insight.

    Thanks

  • profplume

    Wow, I missed some very good comments. After a long and healthy discussion, which I enjoyed and I hope you guys stay around, I see that the survivors, as usual, are those with the clear vision.

    POST,

    very well said. You have grasped the concept well. I hope you stick around.

    Lonny,

    Thank you. I’m sure your son understands well what I mean. Thanks for your open mind.

  • livedeeper

    Its not a question of whether or not Rap is dead. BTW hip-hop is not rap but a variation similar to rap. Although I agree society today only seems interested in cheesy repeaters and for what I like to call.. lack of talent. Rap we all know and love is still very much alive today. Simply put in a new category.. Underground Rap. Do some research in this category and you will find artists like CunninLynguists, Cyne and Bumps the GooseGot. Reason these guys arent being played…. society wants sinple, mindless dance crap worthy of the shit music award.

  • profplume

    Hey, livedeeper.

    I understand that it is quite common to enter these long discussions and only read a handful of comments. Unfortunately though, by doing that you missed the idea in its entirety.

    Actually, this is a part 2 of 3, of sorts, to “The Fall of Hip Hop.” The original had begun a lengthy debate, which continued through out.
    Along the way, and in fact, as the main theme of the article, I mention the artists who are the “rightful” bearers of the torch, artists like Guilty Simpson MF DOOM and the ones that you have given during your illumination.

    I do appreciate being reminded to “do research,” lest I would be some hack who just jotted down the first thing that came into my head and shoved it through the editors. However, I can assure you that the ideas presented are done so and defended to a single comment in a complete manner, from a first hand perspective.

    With that said, I agree totally. Thanks Bro

%d bloggers like this: