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.