Before I even get into this I just want to state that these are my thoughts
on hip-hop music and not a debate on what is “real” and not
“real”. As the great B.Siegel once said “everything is already
real.” I’m not a purist, backpacker, G, hipster, thug, blood, crypt or Buddhist.
But I am an emcee and these debates that have been poppin’ up lately on the art form
I’ve been blessed to be a part of is just callin my name. So I wanted to share
So there’s been a lot of talk lately about Nas‘s album title Hip Hop Is Dead.
Many people, including Young Jeezy (for those that don’t know he and Monie Love
had a spat, live on the radio about it, amongst other things) feel its
disrespectful to the new breed of rappers, in particular to the south. It is
viewed as a purist statement, a pining for the good ole days of boom baps,
backpacks and the like. To say hip hop is dead is to take away from all the
current emcees coming up, all the producers and djs giving us beats to move to,
all the people who make a living off or contribute this art form right? Yes and
I say yes, he is wrong for saying that because that’s such a general blanket
statement. I remember Sports Illustrated doing a cover story a few years back
on how the NBA was dead, Jordan was gone and the “showtime” b-ball we
all came to love had been replaced by the most boring shit on earth. A few
years later we had Kobe, Lebron, Melo and all of a sudden it was revived. But
as the saying goes, the game never changes, just the players. Hip Hop itself
has always been alive and well, so is it that the players have changed so much
and these old heads that either quit the game or on their way out is just salty
at the new guard? That could be it. Or it could be that the players before were
really passionate about the sport and really wanted to leave a legacy behind as
opposed to cashing in and being famous. With that being said, Nas wasn’t wrong
for calling his album this. And I’ll tell you why.
Hip Hop is dead man. As far as the idea of what it was suppose to be at least.
See America has this tendency to take things from the black community, rape it
and make it their own and then turn around and say “it was never yours and
it’s racist if you don’t agree.” Nah fuck that. I’m sick of that game man.
This is what it is, and yes, its changed and people of every race and
creed are in here now but this is what the intention was – The idea of hip hop
was for the young people of urban America to have a voice. That voice might be
one of introspect (Nas), gangsta shit (Jeezy, Cube) dancin’ and partyin’ (Kid
n Play, Hammer–don’t laugh they are all relevant) education and revolution
(KRS, Immortal Technique) and so on. But now what’s happening is that there is
only one voice that America wants to hear now. And that’s the voice of the
coon. The caricature of the black man at his worst. The savage, gun totin’
nigger who sells drugs and kills other niggers and brags about it. The voice of
the “streets” they say.
Well let me tell you about the “streets”. It’s filled with thugs
just like its filled with church ladies and good hardworking people. But to
them, that’s corny. That’s not hot. Who wants to hear some nigger tryin’ to
sound smart and say something that might trigger someone to think different. No
no no. We want the coon. The ignorant motherfucker, whether he be southern,
east coast, west coast or whatever. Just as long as he is talkin about ignorant
shit and it’s got a dope beat then that’s what’s up.
But in the same breath
will big up a band (Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley) for being dope ARTISTS. Bands
that make terrible mindless music they play on the radio aren’t hot. They aren’t
making any groundbreaking music. Ok, so why don’t they hold the same standard
up to Hip Hop? Is it that this music is so disposable and dumb that we
shouldn’t expect our emcees to make songs that move our souls and not just our
And who are “they” usually? You know the people who determine
what’s current and “now”? The bloggers and magazine editors and trend
jumping scenesters and djs who usually don’t live in the hood unless it’s
a gentrified hood and even then be scared to death when someone who looks like
one of their favorite rappers is walking down the street late at night. I say
that because these kids don’t seem to understand that music has never ever been
Nah son, that shit is more powerful than any teacher or mentor in
the hood. These kids idolize, mock and devote their lives to the ideology of
rappers. Pac said it best when he claimed that many of us were raised by
rappers. And yeah, that’s fucked up and where are the parents and rappers
shouldn’t be made to role models etc etc. That’s a lame excuse man. The fact is
they DO and if all they have to listen to is kill your own people (yeah, I said
“your own people”, because let’s face it, the first rapper to make a
whole album dedicated to killing white people is going DOWN) then motherfucker
HIPHOP is DEAD.
The idea that we could use this music to uplift urban youth and
speak about the problems of the community. The real community which consists of
my grandparents and little brother and cousins and friends who don’t sell coke
and might still die this year want to hear some intelligence and learn about
black heroes and laugh about the good times and not be made to feel
“corny” because of it, then the whole point of this as an art form is
dead. And maybe that’s what old head was saying by naming his album that.
So please, don’t just say Nas is just some bitter old head with no point.
And don’t make Jeezy out to be the reason the hood is so fucked up
either. And don’t make it into some east vs south shit like y’all (media whores)
made it out to be last time because (once again) black men will get shot and
they’ll be the same people calling us savages. But most importantly and above
all don’t believe that the only voice of the ghetto is one of murder and drugs.
When you dismiss the kid who wants to say something different or is talking
about how fucked up things are as a corny purist who can’t let go of the 90s,
what it says is we don’t want to hear no black person try and change
their surroundings for the better.
I’m not saying go buy a bunch of fucking
Tribe Called Quest records and hold hands, but damn man, stop denying that
people have a point when they say the current state of this art form is one
sided and stereotypical to what my mother told me was the savage. The ignorant
nigga as our mascot? I say no. Because what y’all call the streets just
ain’t niggers with guns. And until the powers that be recognize that, then my
dude, Hip Hop is dead.
– Sharif Lacey aka Reef The Lost Cauze