So if you haven’t heard by now, the VH1 Hip Hop Honors are back. And with that also came the trend of hiring today’s rappers to pay homage to a pioneer whose lyrics they don’t know. There’s fumbling through a word or two. There’s the Lupe Fiasco head scratching moment when he forgot ATCQ lyrics. Then there’s Rich Homie Quan. There are few things sacred in Hip Hop: the lyrics to Notorious BIG’s verse on “Get Money” being one of them.
Before you can really address the man who from here forth will now be affectionately known as #RichHomieKaraoke, one has to really wonder who made the call to choose him as the artist to honor Biggie’s verse. Were Lil Kim and Diddy consulted? How did that conversation go?
Diddy: “So Lil Kim will perform one of Hip Hop’s most iconic songs ‘Get Money’ after being introduced by the woman whose man she was sleeping with. It’ll be perfect.”
VH1: “Yeah yeah cool, but instead of actually having Junior M.A.F.I.A. come out and perform with her, let’s hip it up. Let’s use this show which appeals to an older demographic to reach the kids this show isn’t meant for.”
Diddy: **stops mid-bite into his slice of cheesecake** “You want to replace Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Biggie with Da Band or something?”
VH1: “Got someone even better: A person who couldn’t possibly relate less to this generation of music. Young Thug. Nah he’s probably busy. Who’s that other guy? The feeling some way or another type of guy. Rich Homeboy? Perfect. We’ll throw some #FFFFFF white skinny jeans on him, a Coogi that was ran through the dryer and no one will notice he’s not the Notorious One.”
Let’s assume for a second that #RichHomieKaraoke wasn’t a Biggie fan growing up. That’s fair. I wasn’t necessarily one either as a kid. I’ve always gravitated toward West Coast Hip Hop as a youth. You better believe I know the lyrics to “Get Money.” Biggie has two arguable top 10 Hip Hop albums of all time. There’s no excuse. He literally “got money” to perform this verse. How hard would it have been to hit up Genius and rap along to the song while reading the lyrics until you got it down?
“Play Nintendo with Cease at Alamo.” Why the fuck would Lil Cease and Biggie be playing Nintendo at the car rental spot? Just how long did it take to rent a car in 1995 that car rental spots had video game systems hooked up for patrons to play?
— REVOLT TV (@RevoltTV) July 12, 2016
SOMEONE PLEASE FIND JA! WHERE IS JA RULE TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS?
Rich Homie Karaoke’s fall from disgrace to Lupe Fiasco levels of low continue to shine a spotlight on the disconnect between Hip Hop generations. When anybody who calls themselves an MC can’t even mumble words to even resemble the lyrics of one of the iconic songs of your profession? That’s a serious problem. Hell, do you think anyone actually knows a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony lyric? No. But we all can mumble the right pattern until we get to, “AND I MISS MY UNCLE CHARLES, Y’ALL!”
In 2016, it’s almost worn like a badge of honor to disrespect a generation of Hip Hop you didn’t come up in or can’t relate to. Who is responsible for bringing up the current generation of rap and rap aficionados? At what point does personal responsibility and being a true master of your craft come into play? There’s simply no excuse for what happened on that VH1 stage. Hip Hop is the only genre of music where we discard our legends with the trash.
We often like to ponder what things would be like if 2Pac and Biggie were still alive while today’s generation has all but written off ATCQ, De La Soul, and the likes. I say “all but written off” because I don’t honestly know more than five kids of this generation who can name three songs from A Tribe Called Quest or a single De La Soul song.
And that’s disturbing.
On the other side of that coin, however, you have a genre of music whose pioneers could care less about connecting and building up the new generation. Can you honestly expect a kid growing up in New Orleans, 30 years your junior, even having an opportunity to know who the hell Showbiz & AG are? Knowing what a Large Professor is? How could they? That’s not only a period of rap far removed from their generation but also from their lifestyles. How can you fault them?
Could you imagine Isiah Thomas slapping the ball out of Chris Paul’s hand and saying, “You could never be me little Jody?” Do you think Jim Brown sat on the sidelines of Detroit Lions games and said, “Who is this Barry Sanders punk? What does he know about running the ball?” No. In every other form of entertainment, in every other genre of music you have the legends that are active in the growth and development of their craft.
Why can’t we have that in Hip Hop? I ain’t got the answers, Sway, but maybe you can chime in with solutions in the Community Section.