Hip Hop Legends — Has
Their Time Come And Gone?

In
the ranks of the illustrious hip hop hall of fame are the names of living
legends that basically made the music what it is today; Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Melle Mel Kool Mo Dee, Slick Rick, Rakim, KRS-One,
LL Cool J, Ice T, Run DMC, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, NWA
and on
and on and on. Thanks to their pioneering beats and rhymes the world of rap and
hip hop became what it is today. But have their sounds and style been
supplanted by the Jay-Z’s and the Eminem’s of today? Or was their influence so great that its
effect continues on?

Once Upon A Time …

True
greatness, at least in the world of music, is not about how many records you
sell today but rather how long your music will last past tomorrow when you’re
no longer making records. Additionally, how did that music make an impact and
affect those who followed. Pop in Run
DMC
’s first self-titled record and what you’ll hear is not just a great rap
record but songs and music that changed the face of hip hop and music forever.
That album was made in 1983. Will anything made by 50 Cent, Lil’ Jon or the like stand the test of time 20 years from
now? Time will tell. Conversely has the hip hop world changed so much in style
and sound that those 2-decade old pioneers no longer matter? It depends on who
you ask. Some will tell you that hip hop today, financially and stylistically,
would not exist today if it weren’t for the pioneers, That one style was just
built upon the style that came before and so forth. For this, pioneers should
be respected and revered. Others who are more callous simply think history is
history and legends should be left in the past when they were relevant.

Old School
Perspectives

Afrika Bambaataa, one of the godfathers
of rap and hip hop is cognizant of what the newcomers  like Pharrell
and MS Dynamite are doing as well as some of the popular global sounds like
Bangrha music. But he’s also respectful of many of his pioneering colleagues.

“I love
Pharrell, he sounds just like Curtis Mayfield, when he sings the high notes
he’s bringing back that feeling that we’re missing today. I’ve still gotta’
give it to the first King of Rap, Grandmaster Melle Mel, then one of the
greatest teachers in Hip Hop, KRS-ONE. Gotta’ give it to the lyrics and
intelligence of the great Ice Cube, and 2Pac, and the powerful political lyrics
that was coming from Chuck D and Public Enemy. I like Ms Dynamite, she’s
definitely hot. I wouldn’t mind collaborating with some of the Punjabi Hindi
mixes. I’ve been playing that for years before everybody started jumping on the
Indian tip
.”
(Bambaata In Brum by Nick Midha)

Meanwhile
another well revered legend, Slick Rick,
realizes that there is a “passing of the torch” which makes room for the new
artists but is disappointed with the lack of respect for the groundbreaking old
school stars particlulary when it comes to showmanship. Gone he believes are
the rap shows that didn’t just deliver good music but delivered a well crafted
image and style that made folks like himself and other performers like Run DMC and Big Daddy Kane so popular on the stage. (A few Things to Ponder
About Slick Rick the Ruler by Davey D
)

What Now?

As with many things of value that are older, many people
yearn for the simpler days of hip hop when it wasn’t all about the bling, the
thug posturing and the overt sexual and violent content of most of the popular
records today. Add to that there is an increasing a lack of unity in the
industry among artists, creating feuds, rifts and people looking out more for
themselves and not for each other. Chuck
D
, whose Public Enemy didn’t
just make hit records but tried to deliver powerful messages likens the current
state of the industry to a chaotic Thanksgiving feast where people aren’t
eating together but rather just fending for themselves.

We’ve got to break out
of that
,”
the Public Enemy rapper said. “It’s this scavenger effect of guys just
going for broke.

Have
the legends been put out to pasture? Clearly the answer is still up for debate.
Perhaps the best solution is a continued pioneering spirit moving forward while
respecting the values and simplicity of the older generation thus keeping a
link to the past. Other genres like rock’n’roll, R&B and jazz hold their legends
in the highest of regards, why can’t hip hop?