Brendan Whitt


Blought #9: 'Damn, Shit Done Changed'

A bout a week back I ran across a meme on Facebook that had Biggie sitting down in a chair with his head leaning up against his arm. Biggies natural sleepy expression was used to convey the message of the meme that said something to the tune of “How it feels listening to Hip-Hop today”. I classify myself as a lover of various forms of Hip-Hop. I can listen Rick Ross, Common, Pharcyde, Lil B (yes, the Based God entertains me), Joey BadA$$, Mac Miller and just about any other major or underground rapper out there. Hell even G Eazy has a song I enjoy.

For some reason some faux black elitist crowd has begun to surface around social media over the past few years. They disregard the most current urban of Hip-Hop like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne and call it trash. What they fail to realize is that Hip-Hop is entertainment.

My comments on the photo were as follows:

“This right here, bullshit. Old heads piss me off hatin on present day rap. If you don't like it don't listen. New music isn't suited for you. Its for the 13 to 21 demo who actually drives the market. A true lover of Hip-Hop love it all from Kool Moe Dee to Weezy F to Drake to even Lil B. If you a old head STFU and keep bumpin Del or L or whoever. Hip-Hop don't grow up but people do. Let the youngins enjoy the Nae Nae. Just cause you reminisce over Yo! MTV Raps and the baggy ass pants doesn't give you the right to hate on the younger generation. Cause the same niggas you hail is the same askin the new cats for a beat or feature cause they style got played. Love the art and culture, not just a time period.”

My older cousin Vern dropped a rather lengthy comment in response to my conversation with a Facebook friend over the matter. I consider Vern the Dr. Dre to my Eminem when it comes to my taste in Hip-Hop. The bond we shared over early Kanye, who is Vern’s age, gave me an understanding of the art, culture and history behind this beautiful black art form. His comments were as follows:

“There is an interlude on the beginning of 'Things Fall Apart" (I believe), where a dude talks about black music, and Hip hop being sold as a disposable product to the masses, and not consumed like a product that has staying power, or art that lasts. I feel a lot of current music fits that description. Hip-Hop seems to do this more so than any other genre. I listen to hella new artists if they can pass my test of quality, lyricism and beats. Many of which Brendan has put me on to.

So I truly do love when a Joey BadA$$, or Underachievers, or Alex Wiley, or Chance, or Mac Miller does his/her thing. I love the way some of these youngins' are doin new shit while giving a nod to old heads like me. I also love me some Drake, and a few other mainstreamers on certain tracks as well depending on my mood. Mainly because I was a teenager during the mid 90s when lyrical and more musically complex hip-hop took off, that's what I tend to and tend to gravitate towards so I still enjoy goin' to Raekwon, Souls, & Del shows.

But back to my first point about the quote on the Roots album. I feel as though hip hop is pushed out in such a high volume today that it is not given a chance to be consumed like 'art' or quality product just like so much other music today. It seems like it's all about "What's hot now" or for the next 3 weeks before whoever drops next. Drake's 'Back2Back' was some of the coldest diss bars I've heard in a while. In a month, people won't speak of it again.

Not to get all 'Phonte-on-A-Rap-Bulletin-board' but back in the 90s you wouldn't bat an eyelash if your favorite crew or rapper took 2-4 years to drop their next joint. Once you would get it you'd bask in that release and listen and memorize, accordingly. Now I know itunes, Spotify and digital distribution has changed the way we listen to music, but when cats are putting out so much music at such a high rate it becomes disposable.

People don't have to cherish it anymore because something new is going to come out soon. To paraphrase Jimmy Iovine, "The game was changed when CDs allowed you to put 80 minutes of music onto one disc. NO ONE has 80 minutes of good music in one span of time..'. When I first started following Hieroglyphics, I listened to and memorized every bar of '93 til Infinity, because that was all I had growin' up in Cleveland Heights. Four years later when I stumbled upon a used copy of Del's 'No Need for Alarm' It was like I was Kim Jong Un finding some Yellow Cake Uranium. It was literally treasure.

Now that we can have whatever we want when we want it, music is simply different. Sadly Hip-Hop seems to be the most affected. I will never trash Hip-Hop over all. And I have never said or felt like it's "dead". It is evolving and must evolve to survive. We can't only say it's only "young music", because then it's relevance will surely die just as people age. If there's whack shit out there I just don't listen. But I know there's a place for it. All of it fits into the ecosystem. Plus without whack rappers, there'd be nothing for the Beasts to feast on.”

Let me wipe my eyes. That was fucking beautiful. *Sniff Sniff*

Somewhere between the monopolization of the music industry and the commercializing of Hip-Hop, the culture grew exponentially as the music began to lag behind. Now every rapper sees himself as an entrepreneur versus an artist. J. Cole gets so much love because he’s extremely passionate about his craft versus getting a shoe deal or big brand endorsement. There’s nothing wrong with running that knot up but like the Beastie Boys said, “Too many rappers and still not enough emcee’s.”