“A Resurrected Funeral…” (Chapter 2)
Wait, let me back up a sec. I gotta say thanks to everyone who showed love with the first piece. A great man once complained about people laming out on the prophecy of his first joint, only for same said lames throwing appreciation upon his second coming. I know I won’t have that problem. Seriously: I thank all of y’all. Second, it’s no longer DJ Such & Such, but L. Migraine. That’s been my poetry pseudonym since forever so how I forgot about using that as a handle escapes me. No bigs. But now that we’re here, thanks for coming out tonight. There’s no telling where you are in the world, but right now you’re here with me. And I appreciate that 😉 So, where were we? Oh, yeah:
HIP.HOP.IS.DEAD. You’ve heard, I’ve heard, your mammy and her forever disheveled wig have heard it. It’s an unfortunate part of the culture that many can talk up but FEW can break down, and we’re all left wondering if we’re going in the right direction. I’ll spare you the history of hip hop: you know, the story you loathe to hear, again and again, about the birth of graffiti tags, b-boys, emcees, and backspins. But I’ma explore the 4 pillars of hip hop and see how far they’ve gone in the current state of the culture.
You know, there’s still a little bit of graffiti/tagging out in the streets. Y’all will have to excuse me, as I’ve been on a “The Get Down” kick (loved it, by the way), and really appreciated how they incorporated the legends of graffiti (as they related to the early days of hip hop), Crash & Daze. Tagging, like hip hop overall, was a means for expression, a rebellion to society’s norms. Folks hated it, but the taggers persevered to provide the world with some of the illest pieces of art not hanging in my house or in the Louvre.
THE DJ… I sweatergawd: I wish I could work the wheels of steel. From Grandmaster Flash & Kool Herc, to Jam Master Jay, to the incomparable DJ Jazzy Jeff (y’all didn’t really think he was just that dude getting thrown about by Uncle Phil)…hip hop would’ve been absolutely NOTHING without the DJ. He or she (word to Spinderella) was the beat maker, the person responsible for rocking the party, creating the groove and whatnot. Yeah, the emcee was nice, but tell me the last time you pop & locked to a Run-DMC acapella. Exactly. Nah, but I wish I could’ve been in the parks and basements of NYC in the early days, these dudes just setting up shop with their mama’s stereo system AND NOTHING ELSE. Mmm… And now we’re further in the age of digital, processed bullschwa. Don’t get me wrong: Dre, RZA, Timbaland, pre-Yeezy Kanye, Just Blaze, Dilla, Madlib, 9th Wonder, Organized Noize (the cats behind OutKast, Goodie Mob, etc.)? I rock with those dudes like no other.
The thing is that outside of these folks (and a few others)…can YOU really decipher the producer from the majority of what the radio (local and even Sirius) pushes out? I came home flipping between four channels on Sirius: a Lil Uzi Vert song on channel 1, Big Sean’s “No Favors” on channel 2 (a current personal favorite at the moment), a WTF am I hearing on channel 3 (VERY similar to Lil Uzi Vert), and Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” on channel 4. Guess where I was hanging out? I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t with the two channels featuring two dudes biting another dude that’s too commercial and is prone to having fans that believe you’re a hater for criticizing said dude. Damn, that’s too bad. I suppose a beat is a beat is a beat, and while I lament the lack of vinyl scratching, I can dig on the 808s and MPCs and samples. It’s not always good, but when it’s good, you get records like “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” or “Hard Knock Life” (I mean, “Annie”. Seriously???).
THE EMCEE …do I REALLY have to go here for y’all? How did we go from -LL, Kool Moe Dee, RAKIM ALLAH, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick the Ruler, Ice Cube, Chuck D, KRS-ONE -to Biggie, Jay-Z, Nas, Pac, Eminem, ‘Kast, Scarface, Beanie Sigel, Redman, G-Rap -to Drake, Lil & Young whatever, the Three Amigos, Fashion Designer, these dudes who really wouldn’t be anything (well, Drake might be in the middle of things) being preferred over -Kendrick, Cole, K.R.I.T., Logic, Lupe, Jay Electronica …? Man, we went from “Damn, that kid is nice!” to “Yeah…but he’s getting money and bitches, so you’re just a hater!”
BREAKDANCING/B-Boys & B-Girls The 80s- The Wop, Poppin’ & Lockin’, breakdance (including poppin’ & lockin’), the Kid & Play, the Running Man (Hammer Dance) The 90s- continuation of Kid & Play, Hammer Dance, whatever hell Will Smith & Puff Daddy called themselves doing The 2000s- THE Harlem Shake, the Lean Back, the East Side Stomp (shout to Youngbloodz) , commercialization of the Crip Walk (I don’t really recall much of the Blood Walk)…ChickenNoodleSoupCrankThatSouljaBoyTeachMeHowToDougieNaeNaeandWhipNewAgeHarlemShakeHyphy …yeah, the dance floor has always been an interesting place for hip hop, but boy did it get random. So…is hip hop dead? It’s evolved (possibly devolved); it’s had it high points and some seriously low points; it’s always been for the kids but my late 80s-early 90s childhood wrecks what these late 90s-00s kids have to go through. Common sense will tell you every generation had “wackness” (say what you want, but Hammer, Vanilla Ice, etc.? Those dudes were garbage, REGARDLESS of their popularity).
Every generation had terrible lyrics (as a proud Black man that’s all about his people…I really shouldn’t be a fan of NWA…or Jay-Z…or Snoop). So on and so forth. I’m a proud old head, perhaps even a hip hop snob. I’ll wear those accusations proudly because a lot of people that lobby said accusations couldn’t explain why they’re mad even if you gave them the script. This subject has bothered me ever since Nas brought it to our attention way back in ’06. And I’ma continue to grapple with it, as I’m always thinking and pondering. To fully embody and enjoy the culture you’ve got to involve your mind. So, I guess for me, when utilizing the four pillars of hip hop (emceeing/graffiti/breakdance/DJing) within my argument…I’d say hip hop is dead. We won’t speak on the individuals keeping the culture alive ‘cause this idea of accepting the exception to the rule as rule is more played out than grown men in their little sister’s blouses, Jordans, and jeans (stay tuned, ‘cause fashion is gonna be a topic).
There’s PLENTY of emcees that are nice beyond your friends’ simplistic justifications; there’s still a graffiti culture; there’s still plenty of breakdancers; and there’s plenty of folks who can appreciate the skill of scratching the vinyl. We’re still here, and will ALWAYS be here. …the problem is when Corporate America ordered the casket, and too many of the “fans” gave eulogies. We’re dressed in all black, but life doesn’t wasn’t mattering.
“Return of the gangsta, thanks ta’/Them niggas that thank you soft and say y’all be gospel rappin’/But they be steady clappin’ when you talk about/Bitches and switches and hoes and clothes and weed/Let’s talk about time travelin’ , rhyme javelin, somethin’ mind unravelin’/GET DOWN…”