The music blogging scene seems to be a pathetic mass of stressed-out, teary-eyed and paranoid late-twentysomethings, forever hustling between their beloved ones (if anybody wants to be seen with them at all), their jobs (if they haven’t been sacked for blogging at work), their education (usually way behind a few years) and their blogging (which they’re constantly bitching about for not having the proper time to do so – cos they can’t do it at work anymore.) Then, when they do get round to making a post, you don’t wanna leave out the ubiquitous reference to the Golden Era of hip-hop, back when we were young and innocent and clueless, and when our culture was about jams and rocking your own style with cheap clothes you got from the supermarket because there were no rappers with their own expensive clothing lines. It’s all about the good old times cos hip-hop is wack now, or isn’t it?
So, to get with the program, I’ll join in as well and just take this rare moment of nothing-else-to-do to go through an arbitrary handful of classic tunes that should get some play again, just to reminisce on the olden days.
Cypress Hill – When The Shit Goes Down (Extended Version)
Sometimes I wonder if those same classic debut albums we love to death would get the same kind of attention nowadays. Take Cypress Hill, for instance. Even to today’s standards, Muggs’s production is still off the hook, and the way B-Real and Sen Dog trade verses with their distinct voices, one high and nasal, the other low and lazy should still work for most of us. And then there’s the gats-and-blunts-and-don’tfuckwithme theme which will probably never go out of style. — But would cats still be able to take the time to actually let this stuff marinate on them like it’s supposed to? Would these three Southgate cats still be able to stand out in the densely-populated crowd that is the hip-hop scene? Back in the early 90s, if you made it onto Yo! MTV Raps, you had the world pretty much conquered. The rest (albums, tours, money fame and respect) was just details. Or at least, once you were on Yo!, everybody knew you and you entered the pool of common hip-hop denominators that fans embraced as their people.
Now, folks’ attention is a lot less focused on one medium like TV. Even if you make it big on one of the stations, in one of the mags, or in some of the internet forums, you may only reach a small part of hip-hop listeners, because the fan crowd (and I’d say also the artists, though to a lesser extent) are divided into factions and sub-categories — they may always have been, but with the growth both in terms of number of artists out there and also in terms of geographical spread, it may well be that two people who both claim to love hip-hop to def find out that they hardly listen to the same groups at all. So whatever tags you want to put on the corners of our diversified scene(s), commercial, gangsta, conscious, backpacker, East or West, Midwest or Southern, international or alternative, hip-hop nowadays has something to offer to almost anyone, which is a good thing, I guess, and it shows that all sorts of people identify with some aspects of the culture, and that’s one of the reasons why hip-hop is so huge these days. But it also means that it’s grown out of its quaint underground basements and street corners, and some parts of our culture are trying to enter the mainstream market where the big money is. With hip-hop as a means to achieve everything else. The industry, in turn, takes advantage of the attention our culture generates to create hip-hop-flavoured commercials for everything you could possibly think of, drive in, wear or gobble down. And since those parts of the culture that accept this deal and play along will automatically get more exposure, one might get the impression that hip-hop is nothing but that. The fact is that one (relatively new) part of it is getting overexposed while the rest of it is still pretty much where it’s always been.
Anyway, this is not supposed to end up as a dime-a-dozen rant on how hip-hop is decaying, because diversity is a good thing, and hip-hop is everything but dead. If you think it is, then stop releasing music albums for the “hip-hop” section of the record stores and go farm some cattle. Those rappers that claim hip-hop is dead – yeah, I’m looking at you, Nas – may feel gutted that it’s not 1994 anymore, but by ignoring the cats out there who are giving their heartblood in their basements and garages is what really puts the nail into the coffin in the first place. Or is “hip-hop is dead” just another way of saying everybody else is shit but you’re not? You’re the messiah of hip-hop? The return of The One? Keeping it real in your ridiculous mansion out of town? – Jeezus… no, now I’m not looking at you, Nas… If you think hip-hop is dead, then turn off the telly, unsubscribe from your glossy magazines and get your ass out on the street or into the dark alleys of the internet, if your city doesn’t have any real ones.
End of musings…
Now for some more dopeness, cos I feel like it right now… *
Dr Dre – Lyrical Gangbang
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Pump Pump
Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin to Fuck Wit
BDP – Duck Down
Eric B & Rakim – Casualties of War
Das EFX – Mic Checka
Ed OG & The Bulldogs – Be a father to your child
* Since free anonymous direct download webspace is hard to come by,
I’ve taken what I’ve found on the net.