Seems like it to me, and also to Pierre Bennu:
- I know you’ve been thinking it. And if you haven’t, you probably haven’t been paying attention. The art we once called hip hop has been dead for some time now. But because its rotting carcass has been draped in platinum and propped against a Gucci print car, many of us have missed its demise.
I think the time has come to bid a farewell to the last black arts movement. It’s had a good run but it no longer serves the community that spawned it. Innovation has been replaced with mediocrity and originality replaced with recycled nostalgia for the ghost of hip hop past, leaving nothing to look forward to. Honestly when was the last time you heard something (mainstream) that made you want to run around in circles and write down every word. When was the last time you didn’t feel guilty nodding your head to a song that had a ‘hot beat’ after realizing the lyrical content made you cringe.
When I heard Jam Master Jay had been murdered, it was the icing on the cake. A friend and I spoke for hours after he’d turned on the radio looking for solace and instead heard a member of the label Murder, Inc. about to give testimony about the slain DJ’s legacy. My friend found the irony too great to even hear what the rapper had to say. After we got off the phone, I dug through my crates and played the single “Self Destruction.” The needle fell on the lyrics:
They call us animals
I don’t agree with them
Let’s prove em wrong
But right is what were proving em’
The only thing that kept me from crying was my anger trying to imagine today’s top hip hop artists getting together to do a song that urged disarmament in African American communities, or promoted literacy, or involved anything bigger than themselves for that matter. I couldn’t picture it.
All I could picture were the myriad of hip hop conferences where the moguls and figureheads go through the motions and say the things that people want to hear but at the end of the day nothing changes. No new innovative artists are hired to balance out a roster of the pornographic genocide MC’s.
In their place, we’re presented with yet more examples of arrested development – the portrayal of grown men and women acting and dressing like 15 year olds. Balding insecure men in their mid 30’s making entire songs about their sexual prowess and what shiny toys they have and you don’t. The only hate I see is self-hate. The only love I see is self-love
All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: “Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?”
To quote Puffy in Vogue magazine Nov, 2002: “Diamonds are a great investment… They’re not only a girl’s best friend, they are my best friend. I like the way diamonds make me feel. I can’t really explain it, its like: that’s a rock, something sent to me from nature, from God, it makes me feel good… It’s almost like my security cape.”
If rappers read, they might know about the decades of near-slavery endured by South African diamond miners. Or the rebels in Sierra Leone whose bloody diamond-fueled anti-voting rampages leave thousands of innocent men, women and children with amputated limbs….
There’s plenty more – the heart is gone.