Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Question of the Day

All the rhetoric about the demise of Hip-Hop had me thinking this week. Ever since the release of Brown Sugar, those who know of my passion for the Hip-Hop culture have asked me about when I first fell in love with Hip-Hop. I remember the moment vividly. I was watching a public access channel one late night and the video for "Electric Relaxation" came on. It was beautiful.

Today, I'd like to know, should you chose to entertain us with your reflection, the moment when you discovered that your love of Hip-Hop was waning. When was the love lost?

20 comments:

Brother Lightness said...

When I read your top 10 list of MC's.

Brother Smartness said...

In tears, Lightness. In tears.

Anonymous said...

Spotless here, from a remote location...

My love began to wane my senior year in high school when Nelly's "Country Grammar" dropped.

Brother Smartness said...

My love began to wane when I visited Texas the summer of '96 and I saw how seriously folks were taking this east coast vs. west coast thang. I was 12 yrs old then, but young cats were really bangin' out there because of their coastal/gang affiliations. And the music was exacerbating the situation. It was their soundtrack.

In September of that year Pac passed and BIG died soon afterwards.

Brother Tallness said...

smartness,

When Africa Bambata and Kool Herc were rocking in the parks in '79, South Bronx was the must run-down, violent, gang infested section of all of new york. At the same time, hip hop was there soundtrack

In '88, when crack was raging out control in NYC (as well as every other major city in America), Rakim, Big daddy Kane and Kool G Rap ruled the airwaves.

I'm not exactly sure if the correlation between music and gang violence holds.

Brother Tallness said...

even though brown sugar was just a conspiracy by the neo soul mafia to sell crocheted hats, nag champa cologne and the electric circus, i'll give a couple of moments.

-when mos def stopped putting effort in his rhymes
-When I realized blackstar would never release another album.
-when canibus' second album flopped
-when eminem was still going 5x platinum w/ his third album
- every time i hear someone rave about how great lupe fiasco is.
-every time i talk with someone who's never heard a scarface solo album

Brother Spotless said...

"even though brown sugar was just a conspiracy by the neo soul mafia to sell crocheted hats, nag champa cologne and the electric circus..."

Tears...

If you haven't heard a Scarface album, you've been deprived. Not to add fuel to the Confederate/Union debate, but a little piece of me is lost everytime I hear someone say (place lame rapper's name here) is better than Rakim; he was the Kareem Abdul Jabbar of rap (before his time). I am bleeding internally just writing this...

Brother Smartness said...

Tallness, for the record, I wasn't alive in '79. And in '88 I was taking baths with my brother and playing "the fart game" (see Eddie Murphy: Delirious).

That said, I'm surprised you would say that there is no correlation (at all) between gang violence and hip-hop. I'll concede that one does not necessarily encourage the other, but I didn't see OG's playing Boyz II Men while playing the cut.

Brother Spotless said...

Now THAT is a funny thought:



OG Bobby Johnson: O-Dog, let's not wait till the water runs dry. We have to kill Cain now before he goes to the po-po.

O-Dog: But Bobby, it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday; that was my homie.

Brother Tallness said...

haha...the OG's need love too.

I'm not inherently against the idea that cultural productions can be detrimental, i'm just think that most are not.

When I think of the bloods, the crips, GD's, or whoever, I assume that they listen to gangster rap music. At this point, i think that the place gangster rap music has in pop culture gives gang culture a sense of justification; it says that it is going exist regardless and glorifies the lifestyle by selling it. At the same time, actual gang violence has gone down in conjunction with the rise and commercialization of gangster rap.

Back to your question: what were cats who were banging pre '88 in LA and chicago listening too? These two cities were respective gang culture capitals but neither had an existing rap scene before NWA? Disco? Funk? Rick James?

solgenique said...

Something about Electric Relaxation... so mellow. A year later and it's still my cell's ring tone. Makes me happy every time I hear it.

While I may not have loved hip-hop as y'all did/do, a girl can't grow up in the heart of Jamaica, Queens and not have it as the soundtrack of her youth.

I stopped caring for it when I stopped exclusively hanging around people from Jamaica during junior high. It stopped being my soundtrack when I saw the Beatles Anthology on ABC.



Don't bother getting up; I'll see myself out.

Brother Smartness said...

At least let me get the door for you Solgenique...

Just kidding...I can totally respect that. I once heard one woman describe her relationship with hip-hop as an abusive relationship. While your reasons are different, I can definitely understand that.

I must confess that I know the names of about 2 Beatles songs.

I guess I'll see myself out as well...

Brother Spotless said...

I don't think that knowing the names of Beetles' songs forces you to leave. They're the Beetles; they created musical mass media. Knowing and listening to the Beetles is tantamount to knowing and listening to musical history.

Now if you listen to the Hanson's, don't let the door knob hit ya where the good Lord split ya...

solgenique said...

Brother Smartness, you may not know the names of the songs but I'll bet anything that you know the general melody of at least 10 songs. Their songs are everywhere. You're not a lost cause. Well, not because of that, anyway.

Brother Spotless, how did you know? Damn! Am I really that predictable? Because of your post, I've decided to break out my Hanson CD. The 'hood and my neighbors thank you. In an Mmmbop I'll be gone, but first...

When I hear:
1. My own brother (the person responsible for keeping me up-to-date on hip-hop music), make a comment such as "if I have kids I wouldn't let them listen to rap music;"
2. People engage in the whole chicken-egg/egg-chicken argument about hip-hop and violence;
3. What passes for "Positive (Conscious) Hip-Hop" today is created by the likes of Kanye West, the Black Eyed Peas: The Fergie Years, and Mos Def; and,
4. Songs like "In Da Club" are today's warped party anthems when, in my book, the gold standard is "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody"...

I think maybe, just maybe, I'm not missing anything and I should stop feeling guilty. I'm working on that guilt.


--
Man! I had forgotten how good those Hanson songs were! Forget my neighbors; Spotless, I thank you.

Brother Spotless said...

I'll say this: many genres of music go through eras of stupidity (less we forget rock & roll and its "Glam Rock" phase). While rap's era of stupidity (for reasons I am not sure of) effects the individuals within the Hip Hop culture moreso than other music effects other individuals, I sense this will be remembered as a bad era of an otherwise good genre of music.

That said, we are clearly living within the "Glam Rap" phase. Maybe a "Grunge Era" is on its way to remind everyone how rediculous this era has become...

Kyle Anderson said...

I don't think you can compare glam rock to the current hip hop scene because 1) glam rock i still very alive and well today (read Scissors Sister, Fischerspooner, Marilyn Manson, etc.), and 2) David Bowie and Iggy Pop are still cultural icons to this day.

Without the brief years in which glam rock rocked with androgyny, glitter and excess, such bands, such as KISS, would not exist in this day. Look at the list of inductees in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and then try to tell me that Glam Rock was a "bad" and easily forgotten" era of Rock 'n Roll.

Furthermore, glam rock still lives with the fairly recent film and theatrical success of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

__________________________________________________

I believe that hip hop's current crisis is not necessarily with the music being made, but with the music that is currently commercially successful. American audiences has lost a grasp of what hip hop should be. The real practioners of hip hop are not commercially known. They will never receive a contract with a major US record label.

I recall being an attendee at Scribble Jam, a hip hop festival held in Cincy every August, and truly believing in hip hop. Maybe it was that acts that had traveled from Cali and New York to participate or maybe because it was that the air was filled with hope and positivity. At the same time, I recall an uneasiness came over me from realizing that all the mcs, djs and graffiti artists who showcased their talents would never be known by the commercial public.

Brother Spotless said...

Is David Bowie considered a "Glam Rock" artist? I don't remember him with big hair...

Still, it seems that in 20 years Nelly will be rememered in rap circles in similar ways as Deaf Leapard is known in Glam Rock circles. Specifically, we will giggle at ourselves for (at some morbid level) enjoying the catchy tune, just as Generation X members do now...

But it is true that the artists who do see this as an art, and who are (at least to some extent) socially aware and representative of the true urban scene aren't seen by many. That may be part of the reason so many people are growing more and more fed up with its current image...

Kyle Anderson said...

First off Def Leopard is NOT glam rock. Do some rock research!

Secondly, I was not equating glam rock at all to the current state of crappy hip hop.

Brother Spotless said...

Well, Wikipedia says this:

"The music of Def Leopard is a mixture of hard rock, glam rock, AOR, and heavy metal elements. The band has occasionally been associated with the pop metal movement of the 1980s, although its sound is more accurately associated with the contemporary NWOBHM genre of the late 1970s. The band's songs generally feature simple guitar hooks and catchy, melodic choruses. The Def Leppard sound is also characterized by its combination of hard rock and polished melodic backing vocals." Not that Wikipedia is the be-all and end-all of musical research, but it seems to form a coherent definition (and Wikipedia is also one of the reasons "You" were named Time Person of the Year).

My comparison to Nelly specifically concerns the simplicity of the music and the catchy, melodic choruses that are abundant in the music of both artists. In other words, the "pop" elements of the music.

Thing is, my RESEARCH suggests that there is no concensus on what constitutes glam rock, and how that compares to hard rock and heavy metal. Still, the hard rock constituency I asked became quite angered when I suggested to them that Def Leopard could represent anything other than Glam Rock (they also shuddered when I suggested that David Bowie was part of the genre...)

Those who consider themselves to be "real rock & roll" fans do consider Glam Rock to be...well...bad, or at least a lesser form of the rock genre in its entirety. This is similar to those who consider themselves to be "true Hip Hop Heads," and their disassociation from artists like Nelly (some may want to cut me for even saying Nelly is an artist, but I digress...).

Brother Spotless said...

Furthermore Kyle, I never accused you of equating Glam Rock to bad Rap music; I am doing that. The nature of your post suggests that you didn't understand that.

I also said that "many genres of music go through eras of stupidity (less we forget rock & roll and its "Glam Rock" phase). While rap's era of stupidity (for reasons I am not sure of) effects the individuals within the Hip Hop culture moreso than other music effects other individuals, I sense this will be remembered as a bad era of an otherwise good genre of music."

All music goes through various versions of basic trash that is mass-marketed for the purposes of over-saturization and, in the end, money making. For Rock & Roll, Glam Rock fit the bill. For Rap, whatever we call today's rap fits the bill. I do believe, like other genres, rap will recover and produce artful music.