Thursday, January 31, 2008

10 Moments that Should've Made XXL's 100 Biggest Moments in Hip Hop History

Honorable Mention: Rapper Shade Sheist feuds with humble internet columnist (January 2003)…Believe it or not, five years ago, Sheist was slightly less anonymous than he is today. I'd written a review of his debut album for 411mania and, for the next few weeks, engaged in some heated e-mail exchanges with Sheist and his management. In one email, they threatened to kick my ass then sue me for slander. To which, I responded: "Slander is oral defamation, not written". How gangsta was that? Very!

10: Puff Daddy introduces Sean John clothing line (1998)…Say what you want about Mr. Combs, but his upscale urban wear has been an unquestionable success. It's inspired dozens upon dozens of knockoffs and several failed attempts at attire from just about every other rapper in the industry. Hell, I own three or four Sean John shirts and this from someone whose only brush with "urban" is when my name appears alongside Mrs. Bootleg's first name on our bank statements.

9: Flavor of Love debuts on VH1 (January 2006)…20 years after Public Enemy brought societal urgency to the industry, Flavor Flav sends us all back to the coon age. I spent years in my column mocking Public Enemy frontman Chuck D's aging, militant liberal schtick, his still skin-tight jeans and faded Raiders Starter jacket, but, by comparison, he looks a lot better than ol' Bojangles Flav. Seriously, this one hurts my heart.

8: NBA institutes league-wide dress code for its players (October 2005)…Not about Hip Hop, you say? Nicka, please. Facing a frightened white fan base and a media too quick to affix "thug" to any Black athlete in baggy shorts, Commissioner David Stern decreed that his chattel would conform to a slacks n' jacket dress code for road trips, while bench warming an injury or during any other league-sponsored event. Good to know those $2,500 courtside seats are safe again for Bill Cosby and his hilarious race-hating ways.

7: Chappelle's Show premieres on Comedy Central (January 2003)…Aside from the occasional album promotional appearance on Leno or Letterman, rappers really aren't represented on network television. Cable ain't much better, with BET's insipid 106 & Park serving as the sound for the sixteen-and-under set. Dave Chappelle brought a knowledge and respect for the genre to a huge, umm, "crossover" audience through musical performances (loved the Common/Kanye team-up) and skits (Wu-Tang Clan drafted by the Asians!) Hell, he made Lil' Jon interesting…for a few minutes.

6: Eminem wins Oscar (March 2003)…For whatever reason, this didn't get nearly the media mileage as Three-6 Mafia winning it a few years later. The reasons, near as I can guess are (1) Em didn't show up to perform at the show or accept the award (2) IIRC, Eminem was everybody's "he just might win it" dark horse candidate, so it wasn't that big of a surprise and (3) in early '03, Eminem had been upstaged by his own protégé, 50 Cent. Hey, the third verse is the closest Mekhi Phifer will ever get to an Oscar and for us that counts. Speech! Speech!

5: Benzino & Dave Mays forced out at The Source…Throughout the 1990s, The Source was the preeminent rap magazine out there. Then, through a series of events including, but not limited to conflicts of interest between the publishers and the music that was reviewed for the magazine and, most notably, a transparently self-serving feud with Eminem and the sanctity of Hip Hop, The Source found themselves without advertisers and blackballed by the biggest names and labels in the business. Think of them as America and the music industry is "the rest of the world".

4: R. Kelly indicted on 21 counts involving sex with a minor (June 2002)…And, he still hasn't gone to trial! Isn't it the obligation of our justice system to try these high-profile cases before all the jokes are played out? Now, it's too late! I've seen Dave Chappelle pretend to pee on an underage girl. We've peaked! We peaked in '03! I'm pretty sure the victim's bathed since then.

3: Aaliyah dies in plane crash (August 2001)…At least, I assume this is huge, since Missy Elliott won't shut the f*ck up about it. I can't say I was a huge fan, but baby girl sold more than 30 million records worldwide, which makes me wonder how the deaths of Soulja Slim, Mac Dre and Proof made the XXL list. I assume she was decremented for her roles in the execrable Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned. Have you seen either one? Worse than death.

2: The Rise & Fall of Napster…Easily the most egregious omission from the XXL Top 100 list is any mention of music's move to the digital age. The seeds of the current state of the industry were sown almost a decade ago with the advent of P2P file sharing. Hell, my mother was illegally downloading music. Jalen's grandma! By the time Dr. Dre, Metallica and others filed suit against Napster in 2000, the dot-com bubble had burst and the internet's illusion of non-accountability went with it. Napster shut down for good in July 2001.

1: iTunes goes live (January 2001)…Should've been #1 on the XXL list, too. Choose your hyperbole: It forever changed the way we listen to music. It destroyed the CD and record store markets. It became the newest, most popular answer to that "if you were stranded on a desert island…" question. Anyone remember that jab from The Simpsons where Homer asks about Apple computers and the clerk responds, "What computers?" Well, who's laughing now, Matt Groening? OK, so you're rich, too, but you're not Steve Jobs rich, d*ck.


Mathan said...

Don't know how I feel about your list, it kind of feels like you're showing your age.

#10 - Wasn't Sean John inspired by Phat Farm and Wu Wear?

#9 - Maybe if this were the most disappointing moments. Well actually half of XXL's list would work that way too.

#8 - I see where you're coming from, but this isn't close to Kurupt and Foxy Brown breaking up.

#7 - Interesting logic, but this was big moments for Hip Hop in it's totality, not just the good stuff.

#6 - White people win Oscar's all the time. What's the big deal?

#5 - Don't we get enough with Elliot Wilson's taunting in his editorial every month, does it need to be rubbed in further?

#4 - R. Kelly's not Hip Hop.

#3 - I really wanted to give this one to you. I really, really did. Perhaps if you'd referenced how Aaliyah and Dame Dash were a couple and rumored to be on the road to marriage, and how that marriage might have made Dame settle down, which several dominoes later would have kept The Roc together, I would have given you your props.

#2 & #1 - Where to begin? How about those two things require computers which Black folk tend to lag behind on. I see more brothers bumping cd players than MP3 players.

Why did Napster blow up? Because of college kids. And you and I are in the minority of a minority in that regard.

Why is a guy who claims to frequent "barbershops" and calls himself "Bootleg" talking about the digital age? Yeah, white folks by most of the Hip Hop, but Napster & iTunes affected the Business. If you're going to include those two, why not include ever label merger, they had equal impact on Hip Hop.

Bootlegging is why Illmatic didn't go platinum immediately. Bootlegging.

It's like this; white people steal music, Black people buy illegal copies. And that's why Napster and iTunes aren't as relevant in a Hip Hop mag as they are in, say, Spin or Blender.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Ahh, Mathan. I'll never tire of your militant omnipresence. To your list!

#10: Absolutely. And, it's the most successful "urban" brand on still on the market. Plus, unlike the brands that "inspired" Sean John, you can be over 18 and not look ridiculous wearing it.

#9: Still big, though.

#8: You don't watch sports, Math. Blame me for having a little perspective on Hip Hop's influence outside of your newfound love for Weezy.

#7: What?

#6: Touche.

#5: Hey, I'm didn't say I was happy about it. So, I'll say it here: I was happy about it.

#4: Bullt'ish. The guy's got at least "honorary" status for the work he's done in the industry throughout his career and no one beat this topic into the ground more than the Hip Hop arena.

#3: How 'bout this...Alliyah was once married to R. Kelly? (Match, point, Aaron)

#2/#1: Where to begin? Those college kids were buying CDs when the bruthas were buying bootlegs, Math. And, they were buying lots of 'em. Once "Matthew Michael" could start illegally downloading, there went the largest demographic that was still buying rap CDs.

Label mergers were #11 on my list. Sure.

And, Math, it's time you accept that Nas' career-long disappointing album sales is due solely to the fact that he's a great lyricst, but has never, ever had "it". Call it charisma, crossover appeal, marketability, whatever. Dude, let it go.

Math, you knows I love ya...

that mexican guy said...

5:38AM, Cam?!

"Sorry, honey, I can't get Jalen dressed this morning. I have to argue Mathan's subjective criticism of my subjective criticism of XXL's subjective list!"

I liked your update AJC. Agree with you on the iTunes thing, I think you're reaching with Sean John and it's awesome that you're still getting mileage out of your net beef with Shade Sheist!

Mathan said...

Cam you cling to #1 & #2 is beyond me. Read through the list. Actually, scratch that; just look at the cover. "Hip-Hop's 100 Biggest Moments."

Now, explain to me what about Napster and iTunes is "Hip-Hop" or "urban" or "thug" or any other euphemsim for "Black."

Every moment on the list involves a Hip-Hop player in some regard. Napster and iTunes, not so much.

If it were moments that affected Hip-Hop or had some implication for Hip-Hop, sure #1, 2 and 8 would have been relevant. But it wasn't.

That's why Em's Oscar win didn't rank, because it was white people honoring themselves. Em transcends Hip-Hop. Three 6 Mafia was undeniably a win for Hip-Hop.

Advances in tech are swell and all, but I'm sure the rise of Pro Tools had a strong impact on the genre, yet I didn't see it on the list.

And for the record I always set my alarm so that I wake up in time to watch Pardon the Interruption. So burn.

That Bootleg Guy said...

It's early and I'm sure I have a fast food value meal to review or something, but I always love a spirited "Math Debate" (and that would sound a lot cooler if he pronounced his name "MAY-then")

+ I similarly can't fathom how easily you dismiss the digital age and it's undeniably enormous effect on the genre. The death of your beloved mom n' pop-hole in the wall record shops AND the big chain spots? Thanks, iTunes. The off-the-cliff decline in CDs? Thanks, Napster. Hell, XXL themselves offer free music on their site. A hip hop site, Math!!!111!!!one

If my use of brand names irks you, then just call #1 & #2 "different ways to listen, buy, enjoy music".

Can't disagree with you Eminem's place in the industry, but he still won his Oscar first. The hoopla over Three-6 Mafia was, to me, akin to celebrating the disabled child who's allowed to play Little League with the big kids. "Aww, look...they can do it, too."

Tell ya what...get back to me when you can quantify the impact of Pro Tools, you tech-hating neanderthal, you.

And, PTI rocks.

Tom said...

Oh no! God forbid David Stern make his employees look professional on league business!!

the knowledge god said...

random comments following no form...

Wu Wear and Phat Farm were out way before the existence of XXL...who's timeline starts in 1998 - so the Sean John inlcusion is well desreved. Note; Wu Wear the clothing line's fucking terribleness was eclipsed only by the song of the same name.

How bout just throwback jerseys in general as sort of building off NBA dress code?

Foxy and Kurupt - two pieces of shit that have never had anything resembling a good album. Them splitting up let them concentrate on further fucking up their already embarassingly hollow hip hop careers. Let's not talk with reverence about their relationship.

Saying anything "rocks", especially anything involving Tony Kornheiser ain't hip-hop either. He has a fantasy team you know, no not that kind. Hint; Spurrier, Favre and a young Sophia Loren (once a source)are on it.

Sophia Loren = hip hop = best post ever.

Where can I collect my barely above retarded Three Six Mafia trophy? Is it located next to the just below retarded "how label mergers are more thug than itunes".

Mathan said...

I'm not denying the impact of tech advances on Hip-hop; I'm denying the impact on tech advances on Black people. The dawn of the digital age means little to a people who lack computer savvy. I pretend to be tech savvy, and I haven't even had an iPod for a year.

My point is that the editorial mandate XXL's list is for it to have a Hip-hop component in it for be relevant to the list. I'm sure there was someone like you arguing for the digital revolution to make the cut and there was someone else in the room pointing out that the digital age was even less Hip-hop than Game's butterfly.

I'm not discounting the impact of the digital age on Hip-hop, I'm just saying that it doesn't meet the criteria for the list.

Look at Imus which had tons of blowback for Hip-hop yet doesn't make the list. Instead you've got when actual Hip-hop notables appear on Oprah, because Hip-hop was part of that moment and not the Imus one.

By the same token look at Janet/Justin at the Super Bowl. That lead to a crackdown by the FCC across the board, which carried some implication for Hip-hop. Yet that moment isn't there because it's not Hip-hop.

And that's why the Jeezy dress code controversy makes the list and not the NBA dress code.

And I can quantify the rise of, oh let's say "regional" artists. Pro tools was easy use and made DIY sound much better.

If you want to talk about some moments that are missing; Lil Jon, Nelly's "Country Grammer" coming out of nowhere, the death of J-Dilla and, just between you and me, Q-tip losing his record collection to a house fire.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Tom - Hey, I didn't say I was *opposed* to the NBA dress code. I barely watch the sport anymore and certainly agree with the whole "these millionaires can at least look professional" slant. But, let's not pretend that Stern didn't enact it to appease a mostly white media, white ticket-buying base and white-owned sponsorship. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

TKG - I only take issue with one point: Kurupt's dropped a couple of good albums (1999's "Streetz Iz A Mutha" and 2001's "Space Boogie"). No, really! The 2nd one has Fred Durst!

Math - This is why I'm your biggest fan: In the first paragraph, you concede that the digital age has impacted hip hop, in the next paragraph you imply there is no hip hop component to it, then in the 3rd paragraph you restate your point in the first paragraph.

And, FWIW, I had Lil' Jon and J. Dilla in an original draft that was going to include 20 moments that were missing. Cut it to 10 and the rest is lightly-read history.

(Yes, I write "drafts". For a blog.)

Mathan said...

TKG - My point about Wu and Phat is that Aaron's initial claim makes Sean John sound revolutionary ("inspired dozens...") when it was inspired by something else. Hip-hop clothing line is nothing new, so why would Sean John make the list?

Oh and Foxy's unreleased album is pretty dope.

Aaron - First off; what's a draft? Secondly, I'm really curious what didn't make the cut of what should have made XXL's cut. That sounds like a fascinating read.

Consider the petition started.