Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Talk About Music, Dammit!

JS writes in:

Apologies for being totally off topic but Aaron, you have just got to devote some time to tell us what you think of this:

"Soulja boy is fresh ass hell and is actually the true meaning of what hip hop is sposed (sic) to be. He came from the hood, made his own beats, made up a new saying, new sound and a new dance with one song. He had all of America rapping this summer. If that ain't Hip Hop then what is? A bunch of wannabe keep it real rappers that ain't even relevant, recycling samples trying to act like it's 96 again and all they do is hate on new shit? N*ggas always talk about the golden age but for a 13 year old kid, this is the golden age!!! That song was so dope cause everything he said had a hidden meaning… that's Nas level shit… he just put it over some steel drums which is also some Nas shit if you had the 2nd album cassette with the bonus track "Silent Murder" on it. In closing… new n*ggas get ya money$$$$$$$$$$ Keep this sh*t fresh and original…. ain't no f*ckin' rules to this sh*t and that's what real hip hop is to me."- Kanye West to Ice-T (from Kanye's blog)

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, it took me a looooooong time to come around on Kanye West. The guy's a brilliant self-promoter, a talented artist, enormously egocentric and I mostly agree with his position here: the game HAS changed from where it was just 10 years ago, it's NEVER going back, so rappers can either change with the times or find something new to do.

Kanye's rant is, at times, pretty amusing as he sways wildly from back-handed praise ("…for a 13 year old kid, this is the golden age") to misplaced hyperbole ("…that's Nas level sh*t"), but aside from the fact that me, That Nicka and Mathan Erhardt are the only three people left who know who Nas is, at the end of the day the public will decide what they want to hear.

I don't think it's any secret that I'm still reviewing albums for Machine Gun Funk under a ridiculous pseudonym. And, for the most part, they're a steady stream of steaming loads that the record labels send directly to me. I'm not f*cking paying for Hurricane Chris. But, how is this debate any different from the Nas vs. Hip Hop, Nelly vs. KRS-One or any other old-school vs. new school sensibility?

It's not. And, in the end, new school always wins. Nas backtracked off his "Hip Hop is Dead" stance before his album of the same name even came out, while Nelly eviscerated AARP on "#1" and the remix to "Roc the Mic". Not convinced? Here's Exhibit C.

I held on as long as I could. I remember excitedly exchanging e-mails with That Nicka at the end of 2006, in anticipation of several high profile releases that would reaffirm my love for the genre and give me something to bump well into 2007. Then, from Jay-Z to Nas to Snoop Dogg, it was one brick after another. Even worse, no one bought the good albums and rap music careened further down the path of rudimentary material and ringtones.

Really, if it weren't for LeBron James and Ice-T invoking his name recently, would Soulja Boy still be in the news? He did his thing, made some money and America moved on. The next minstrel act will enter stage left – unifying Jason Whitlock and the angry white man, alike – then, exit as quickly as he came.

This is the new world order of rap.

1994 is not walking through that door…

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