Old Hip Hop head’s criticisms of new music is an act of self preservation

I listen to Biggie and Mobb Deep still.

When old rap heads criticize new rap music, it is an act of self preservation. They are not only trying to preserve the history and integrity of hip hop, but the cultural importance of it’s existence. It is a black art that quickly shaped itself into a rite of passage. Like the negro spiritual, hip hop acted as a conduit to empower black lives.  It’s worked as a stark reminder of the black excellence that persevered and triumphed when white America continued to abuse and appropriate black culture. It was a modern way to recognize the special talent of the black American that was easily accessible yet required a particular and lyrical skill.  This lyrical skill was an evolution of spoken word, poetry and the manipulation of rhetoric. Word play, entendres, storytelling, and brevity set to music was quickly regarded as an art form. Those that could utilize all these tools were recognized as great. Arguably, the most important point is, that in its origin, it was a black owned, black sponsored and unapologetically – Black. 

” I arrived on the day Fred Hampton Died” – Jay Z

Hip hop was birthed from the children of civil rights leaders, artists, policy challengers and radicals that wanted to actively change the position of people of color in the American tapestry. These children, were not only influenced by their parents, they were in a position to benefit from the advancements of civil rights movement, but still seeing how much was unchanged. Blacks have always been victims of systematic racism and oppression but the invention of Hip-Hop, started to redefine what it meant to be black in America.

Make something out of nothing; that is the mantra of Hip Hop. The pioneers of Hip Hop recognized the barriers facing them, and turned them on its head. These young black and brown kids had nothing and took elements of the dominant consciousness and bent it to work for their benefit. Either out of a love of music, the chance to be glamorous or simply just to matter in mainstream America, Hip hop was aspirational. You could dream of having a fancy car, a big house and beautiful woman at your arm, and then you could build that fantasy within the architecture of this new emerging culture.

” Fab Five Freddie told me everybody’s fly
DJ’s spinning I said my, my
Flash is fast, Flash is cool ” – Debbie Harry

The 70s was an era of psychedelic drugs, experimental fashion, and exceptional musical achievement. Disco music did things with instruments and voices that had never been done before. We got the burning years of Queen, Gloria Gaynor‘s “I will survive”, hits like Earth Wind & Fire’s “September” and Chic’s “Good Times”. Different aspects of art and entertainment had started to blend and continued on that course through the 80s, where we saw New York graffiti artists such as Fab Five Freddie and Basquit bridge the gap between urban art and music.

Black communities in the 80s were faced with major conflict. Globalization and Regan’s war on drugs campaign lead the charge of job scarcity and mass incarceration within inner cities. Hip Hop was an effort to combat that. Teenagers would go from dancing to their parent’s soul-funk records to hearing to stories of how those same parents were chased downed by cops with fire hoses and attack dogs. The lyrical content of early hip hop is that of angry, disenfranchised, black youth. Their recorded stories took on everlasting meaning. Their stories highlighted their subjugation to systematic police beatings, their experiences as discarded people, and the ongoing war to keep them powerless. 

It was a time in which traditional American cultures, attitudes, and values where clashing and society was about to give way. Hip hop pushed the conversation on racial strife and inequality forward. Early songs like Grandmaster Flash & Furious 5’s “The Message” showcased the effects systematic racism had on disjointed inner city communities at the dawn of the 1980s. This song alone exposed white listeners to a world that they were completely isolated from with places they did not know existed and people they never cared to think about.

” Let me in now, Let me in now, Bill Gates, Donald Trump let me in now” – Nelly

Hip hop had this colloquial power to sneak into mainstream white society and give blacks a platform to explain their experiences first hand within conventional white spaces. It gave us a chance to exhibit our black power and beauty in a way that was perceived as an extreme threat to the status quo, but appealing nonetheless. This power of agency that Hip Hop provided, this cultural value, is what old Hip Hop heads fight to maintain.

With recent comments from new age artists such as Wacka Flocka Flame or Lil’ Yachty it’s easy to assume that new rap stars don’t respect the foundational craft that rap was founded upon. Where respect in hip hop was previously garnered based on overall lyrical ability, it is now measured by mainstream popularity or the ability to translate one’s energy to a record. The use of hip hop still remains true. It is giving young black and brown children a means to express themselves. “It’s a mood. If you’re happy as shit you can just rap about whatever cause you’re happy as shit.” says Waka Flocka Flame, who has admitted that he always had trouble verbally expressing himself, “The best times for me to rap are when I’m happy and mad. When I’m depressed and shit, I don’t too much like rapping. When I’m happy and mad, I love it.” 

” I know you rather see me die than see me fly” – Puff Daddy

Young Thug, Gucci Maine and Designer are children of the trap area. They are descendants of mass incarceration, the ’94 Crime bill, and broken education systems. Their struggles manifested differently than their predecessors but resulted in similar outcomes. Whether you were rapping in the 80s or are rapping in 2016, your options for advancement were limited by systemic barriers. The colloquial representation of successful black men is displayed almost exclusively in music and sports. This is a common thread from the 80s to today but throughout those 30+ years, Hip Hop was there for them. The new generation of rappers were born into a world where Hip Hop has always existed. It’s presence helped to shape their perceptions of black achievement.

Aside from the newer generation’s ability to identify with hip hop, its accessibility has always been attractive. They could develop and use their artistic talents to access a part of American society that was never made for them and finally take part in the American dream. They could obtain affluence, wealth, and success by means within their reach. Hip hop acted as a social underground tunnel that was made to create a sort of asseveration for black and brown youth. Old school Hip Hop artists demonstrated the modern untapped magic of black power, while new Hip Hop embodies the fruits of their labor and actualizes the ongoing systemic issues that face black communities.

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Hoodlem – Firing Line

I’ve tried it, every time I’ve listed to this song I’ve tried to turn it off and it’s impossible. It’s just that alluring. Hoodlem made something that has the sexual appeal of your 9th grade crush. Between the dark cords and the sultry voice of the lead singer, you are in for a treat. Now allow yourself 3 minutes to listen to this song, you will not regret it.

 

Missy Elliot – WTF Feat Pharrell

That’s it, she’s back. It’s been so long and I couldn’t be more excited. Missy Elliot came out with a new video. The Queen of Pop Rap music has blessed us with visuals from her new song “WTF (Where they from)”. As usual, the video is nuts, complete with innovative directing and unbelievable dancing. Like all of her previous work, this one is for the books, it’s amazing. It’s great to see her back, within the video you see homage to Biggie, LL Cool J, B-boy hip hop and even puppets?, I know it’s nothing really too surprising from her, but it’s so welcome in 2015!. Welcome Back Missy Misdemeanor Elliot, the games needs you.

{One huge thing that stuck out from this movie} The important use of music in Guardians of the Galaxy

So I recently saw Guardians of the Galaxy right? And I loved every minute of it! I could write a review about how fantastic the movie was, talk about how it has the perfect blend of action and comedy, a thrilling plot and instantly likable characters, but you could read that anywhere. It would just be my opinion anyway, but as a friend and a fan of comic books and especially good movies, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Now, with that out of the way, I can explain in my opinion on what I think is the most impressive and important element of the movie, the use of the music. Not the orchestra score that is basically required every big budget movie but the classic rock/blues songs that are randomly featured. These songs continuously reflected the tone of the movie. Ok, briefly without royally spoiling movie, I’ll explain what I mean. In the movie, the main protagonist, Peter Quil (Chris Pratt), is abducted from earth at a young age. The only thing from his home planet that he is able to take with him is an old walkman that housed an “awesome” mixtape his mother created for him. The songs that feature on the mixtape, serve as the in- movie soundtrack. So in other words, whatever Peter Quil is listening to within his headphones or on his makeshift stereo, becomes the theme song to whatever moment he is in.

Whether he is escaping from a band of space pirates, exploring a moon’s dark crater or charming an extraterrestrial hottie, his music serves as the theme of the moment. Not only was this a clever way to display human attributes within the title character (that spends the entire movie among people that aren’t from earth); it explained that he is still tethered to earth in some form. Music was still a major influence to his mood and personality. It also gave the audience a chance to listen and appreciate music from decades ago. The audience got to hear some awesome cuts from Davie Bowie, The Runaways and Elvin Bishop. It was also a smart way for director James Gunn to use a recycled trick in movies. If you were watch a movie from two decades ago, every time there was a some sort of scene that suppose to exhibit emotion with the characters on screen (ideally a love scene), title music was used. For it’s time, it was the standard in all movies, that’s why you have all these awesome theme songs that remind you of classic movies, think Rocky with “eye of the tiger” or Top Gun “Take my breathe away”.

eye-of-the-tiger

As I said before, most of songs featured are older classic songs, so most likely you’ve heard them before. Maybe you might have heard it in a commercial, the supermarket or from an older relative. But overall the use of music was another brilliant part to an already breathtaking movie. And through the graces of the Marvel gods, Peter Quil’s “awesome” mixtape is available for download on Itunes, so you too can be a dancing fool. Check out of the track listing below…

Title Artist(s) Length
1. “Hooked on a Feeling” Blue Swede 2:52
2. “Go All the Way” Raspberries 3:21
3. “Spirit in the Sky” Norman Greenbaum 4:02
4. “Moonage Daydream” David Bowie 4:41
5. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” Elvin Bishop 4:35
6. “I’m Not in Love” 10cc 6:03
7. “I Want You Back” The Jackson 5 2:58
8. “Come and Get Your Love” Redbone 3:26
9. “Cherry Bomb” The Runaways 2:17
10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” Rupert Holmes 4:37
11. “O-o-h Child” Five Stairsteps 3:13
12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 2:29

{Must Listen} Pat Lok Feat Alo- Move Slow

This is a song that i have been listening to for quite some time, just haven’t gotten the opportunity to write about it. This is one of the more complicated Electro- Soul songs out right now. There is no percussion or typical pop formula that makes the song easy to like.  There are many levels to it without it being to disorganized. While it is very layered, it’s so satisfying to listen to.

It’s one of the songs that connects at all the right parts. You know how certain some songs that are too short or some are just too long. This song is just right. The production is as sensual as Alo’s voice, with the sounds blending and echoing into each other it almost sounds as if its one sound being broken into a thousand little parts. It’s very fascinating to listen to, and Pat Lok has a goldmine on his hands. The video for the song  is extremely artsy. It’s odd and somewhat disturbing at first, it quickly blossoms into something gorgeous. Watch it below.

Theophlius London

theophilus-london-gq

 

I have been wanting to do a post about this artist in particular for quite sometime. Usually when I write about music, I say: This artist is one of my favorite or this artist is smooth and makes music that make you move. When it comes to Theophlius London, he is one of a kind in every way possible. While most artists use music to facilitate their personal styles, the Brooklyn native is style and fashion incarnate. He doesn’t dress wild and crazy to get an audience-ahem, Lady Gaga, nor is he Kanye West trying to reinvent style with the use of his music. London is style that has been transformed into a listening form. He reminds the listener/viewer that style is what you make it and that it is important for it to vary with each person. He not only thrives in electronic music, he somehow manages to still be a hip-hop/R&B artist. London is eclectic, all the while being musically balanced and in his music, there isn’t too much of any genre of music to label him as a specific type of artist. He caters to the majority of listeners. Some can argue that he sounds too old school because he has many 80s sampled tracks or too flamboyant, but one thing you can’t argue is that no one in music sounds anything like him. He’s original in a music world where everything on the radio uses the same template of percussion to make a hit. Theophlius London will draw you in with charming ways and his unabated style.

Must Hear:

Jam: 2008

This Charming Mixtape : 2009

I Want You: 2010

Timez Are Weird These Days: 2011

 

 

Moon Boots

Moon Boots is another underground producer that usually sets the internet a blaze with his colorful and smooth electronic tracks. His remixes to songs are what Travis Barker’s are to Hip Hop songs, he doesn’t change them, just enhances them.. Moon Boots tends to produce music that is easy to digest, meaning you can listen to it driving in a car or at club and dance the night away. He finds a way to remix songs and make you love them even more, example – Little Boots, Janet Jackson, CHVRCHES, or Allison Valentine to name a few. One listen to his music and you will find yourself wanting more.