Long In the Tooth
January 17, 2005
"Hip-Hop is not dead, it's really the mind of the MC . . ."
-- k-os, "Emcee Murdah" from Joyful Rebellion
"Whenever I hear someone say 'hip-hop is dead,' it's usually from someone who is bitter and broke."
-- unnamed rapper
"I love hip-hop, but I'm tired of defending it."
-- quote snatched from the hip-hop blogsphere
"Negative or positive, hip-hop music reflects the culture and we ain't going nowhere . . . "
-- Honey Soul
I'm getting old.
And so is hip-hop.
Gregg Tate's Hip-Hop Turns 30 piece (aka "The Eulogy") has erupted a firestorm of reactionary comments across the hip-hop blogsphere. Hashim, Lynne d Johnson, Jason T., hardCore, O-Dub, Jay Smooth, Metal Face and many others all penned some equally strong responses to Gregg's swan song to hip-hop -- both its music and culture.
I'm proud to say that I'm an "old head" who still holds on to the nostalgia of hip-hop's past. Evidence of that is my long-winded novel that I left on Lynne's comments. (Sorry Lynne, your words always sends a spark to my brain cells and to my fingers.)
And I'm very much like what Jason T. wrote in his commentary. He writes:
"Maybe we old heads are like old addicts always chasing that first high knowing it's not out there but unable to give up the dream. We can always find $20 on the hype hoping it's going to be the one. Forever hoping that that next record is going to blow our minds like Public Enemy or Poor Righteous Teachers or Ice Cube or BDP."
That's me all the way and I make no apologies for it. I yearned for the good old days of rap music. And I'm always hoping that there will be a rap artist out there TODAY who will blow my mind. But alas, that high, that fix always seems to elude me.
But on the flip side, I still pretty much enjoy today's rap scene. I still believe that hip-hop is vibrant, revolutionary, and the leader in artistic innovation in popular culture.
So, whenever this subject ("Hip-Hop Is Dead") ever rears it's ugly head again. My answers are simply those four quotes mentioned above.
And finally, I'm going to finish with my long-winded novel that I left on Lynne's post recently. It pretty much sums up my appreciation for hip-hop (with a few minor edits and additional wordage) and the reason why Beats and Rants is here existing in the blogsphere:
I guess I treat [Beats and Rants] like a mini-magazine because of my past work-related experience as an editor for magazines and websites.
I don't treat my blog like a personal journal because:
(1) I don't get personal -- or share my personal experience with anyone even in my private life.
(2) None of my readers care about my personal life -- which is perfectly fine with me.
So, in turn, I write about my first and only true love, which is music. I post about hip-hop because -- as cliché as this sound -- it's the soundtrack of my life. And as shocking as this sound -- hip-hop defines who I am: the way I dress, the way I write, the way I think and some of my belief systems are based on hip-hop. Yes, The Good, The Bad, The Misogyny and The Bullshit that are filtering in hip-hop I embrace them to the fullest.
Hip-hop is not a perfect culture. And I never asked my rappers to be perfect.
Hip-hop has its hubris (Kanye West) and it's heel (Nelly's "Tip Drill" video).
I'll admit that hip-hop has some major problems that need to be dealt with immediately and effectively (Read "Hip-Hop Has A Gender Problem").
So when Gregg Tate -- whom I consider the godfather of hip-hop journalism (along with Bonz Malone and others) -- pens a eulogy for hip-hop, essentially, he's telling me that I should buried the past. The culture that I have embraced no longer exists. While some have contended that Gregg's piece is not a eulogy to hip-hop but more of an observation of hip-hop's decadence, I disagree. The article reads more like an obituary than a keen examination. Although I might add: It's a very well-written and insightful obit piece.
So I'm very thankful when I read brilliant essays on hip-hop by Lynne, hardCore, Jason T., O-Dub, Jay Smooth and the rest of the diarists. Thanks to them, I know that hip-hop is not dead.
And it is these long-winded conversations on the strengths and weaknesses of hip-hop that will remind us of its failings -- that none of us want to admit -- but it also reminds us of its great potential. For us to still continue to talk about hip-hop shows that this music and culture still lives collectively within all of us. And for me, it's my salvation.
Addendum: You can now trade hip-hop (or at least the Halls of Hip-Hop) on the stock market.
Hip-hop is now a stock. How many of us are willing to invest in it?
Hmmmm . . . ?