Friday, August 19, 2005

1992 rap ownz joo!

Being the sucker for sleep, I implored shannon to lay the smackdown on the snooze button a few extra times this morning, thus I missed my daily installment of Huggy Lowdown on the ride into work.

Instead, I was treated to DJ Rico's morning megamix which consisted largely of tasty funk fueled old school jams from the black michael jackson, Beverly and Maze, and half a dozen other artists you wouldn't necessarily recognize by name, but by their hooks which have peppered all aspects of hip hop production. Rico slipped the much neglected Digital Underground gem, "same song" in the mix and I noticed several interesting things.

Well, two interesting things...

1. The song featured a cameo from Tupac Shakur (he was briefly a backup dancer for DU). I could probably write an entire post on the irony of Tupac getting his start in Hip Hop as a back-up dance for an east coast based rap group. Tupac later went on to become a major
player in the whole east coast/west coast beef which ultimately resulted in his death and the subsequent death of perhaps the greatest mc of all times Christopher Wallace AKA Biggie Smalls AKA the Notorious BIG AKA the black frank white.

2. What really jumped out was the mention of jimmy hats. Aw man, what a throw back! You never hear rappers talk about jimmy hats any more, but back in the early 1990s everyone from Ice Cube "Giving up the Nappy Dugout" to BBD "Do me" was rapping the praises and
importance of the J-to the-I-to the-M-to the-M-to the Y.

There are several points I wish to make here. First, rapping about jimmy hats is funny, hence blogging about rapping about jimmy hats is a jovial way to kick off the weekend.

Furthermore, if one were so inclined to do a content analysis of all chart rated rap music today as compared to 1992 the proportion of jimmy hat dedicated lyrics has dried up (which is equally as bad for jimmy hats as for their related lyrics).

While a rather cheeky observation on the surface, it actually has some rather interesting implications as seen through the social consciousness of rap music. It's just not there anymore, or atleast nowhere near the magnitude as it was in the early 90s and that is a sad thing.

Not that I need a strong social message with my music. If fact, forsome time, I was quite a fan of Akinyele 's "Put it in your mouth" but that's a whole nother story. The decline in social views is a symptom of a more disturbing underlying cause, the commercialization of the music.

1992 rap minus large number of labels minus artist diversity minus actual artists plus MTV = crap like Nelly/songs about rims to thefourth power of bling.

According to a friend of mine from grad school, it is all part of the natural life cycle of music and indicates the progression of the genre as a whole towards acceptance in the artistic community.

According to me, it's crap. Bring back the Lords of the Underground! Give me my Poor Righteous Teachers and Special Eds! Can Wu-Tang survive without ODB? Where is that money Queen Latifah jam UNITY? What is Big Daddy Kane up to these days and does his masterful thesis, "Pimpin ain't easy" still hold true?

All ghosts of a bygone era, but hey I hear A tribe called qwest is getting back together so I will take what I can get at this point. Until then, I will seek comfort in my cassette singles of Das EFX andEPMD (even if I don't have a place to play them).

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