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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#WhatUshouldBListening2 : 1am Night Edition

Hello all! This is officially my third mixtape. It was pretty sporadic, I just kept mixing songs that I thought would work together. There was no playlist of songs, no thoughtful process, I just went with my gut. I guess that’s the makings of a good DJ? I’m not too sure, but I do know that I want to get better and I thank whomever that takes the time out to listen to my music choice. I hope you enjoy it. The track listening is below.

George Maple – Where You End And I Begin (Daktyl Remix)
Banks – Warm Water (Snakehips Remix)
CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share (Moon Boots Remix)
Ellie Goulding – Burn (Leo Kaylan Remix)
Miami Horror – Real Slow
Goldroom – Embrace (Mogul Remix)
Ella Henderson – Ghost (Oliver Nelson Remix)
Jessie Ware – Champagne Kisses (KREAM Remix)
BrownStone – If You Love Me (Waywood Remix)
MoonBoots – Love Strong
Cathedrals – Unbound (Clock Opera Remix)
Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Dream Logic Remix)
Mereki – Blue Lake (WMNSTUDIES Remix)
LeSonic & Lyon – All The Lights Are Low (NTEIBINT remix)
G- Easy Ft Devon Baldwin – Let’s Get Lost (Louis Futon Remix)
Viceroy – Chase Us Around (Jay Lamar & Jesse Oliver Remix)
The Supertraxxe Ft. Alexander Shofler-  I’m Gone
Christian Rich feat Sinead Harnett, Goldlink & Secaina Hudson – Compromise
J*DaVeY – Love? Yeah!
Viceroy With Chela – Dream Of Bombay (Bit Funk Remix)
Yolanda Be Cool + DCUP – We No Speak Americano (Moonchild Remix)
Five Deez – BMW
Portland – You Don’t Know Me (Bit Funk Remix)
Cosmo’s Midnight feat. Nicole Millar  – Phantasm (Sweetland Remix)
Françoise Hardy – Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour (MrcØ Remix)
Bucie – Kiss You (An Oristo Cratic Remix)
Chris Malinchak – Beije Me (Mallorca Sunrise Mix)

#WhatUshouldBlistening2 : Indie Hip Hop Edition pt 1

Hey ya’ll I just completed my next mixing project. And If i do say so myself it’s better than my my first. I have complied a few of my favorite indie / underground hip hop artist that I think you should be listening to. They all incredible libraries of work and most importantly they are some of the few hip hop artists trying to keep the culture of hip hop alive. Most of these artists I have already mentioned on my site, while some not yet. This mixtape gives more of a concept of what hip hop moves me now. There most always be a balance, right now there is pop rap with Future and Drake, but then you have artists like P.so and XV balancing out the content.
I have listed the tracks below, do yourself a favor and look them up, each one of these artist have incredible mixtapes and albums available.

https://soundcloud.com/bigboynerd/whatushouldblistening2-indie-hip-hop-edition-pt-1

Add – 2 – Get Up Get Down
Chester Watson – Labyrinth (Prod. Tyler the Creator)
XV – Be There, Be Square
Panacea – Walk in the Park (Damu Remix)
Rob Cave – Venus on Display (Prod. Von Pea)
Pharoahe Monch – The Jungle
ScienZe – History (Play By Play)
Specifics – Craig’s House
Blu & Exile – She Said It’s OK
Rome Fortune – Leaders (Prod. Four Tet)
P.SO the Earth Tone King – Some Fun (Redux)
K-Os – B-Boy Stance
Oddisee – Own Appeal
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Supplier
Nujabes – Fly By Night (Featuring Five Deez)
Capital Steez (RIP) & Uno Hype – Hype/Beast
Five Deez -Latitude
Homeboy Sandman – Watchu Want From Me?
Fresh Daily – NightFree
Dom Kennedy – My Type of Party (Prod. By Dj Dahl)
Asher Roth – Pull it

#WhatUshouldBlistening2 : Rome Fortune

Hailing in from Atlanta Georgia, Rome Fortune is a that new rapper taking the underground by storm. In a world where all of the music production sounds like Dj Mustard and all the hooks are Drake inspired, Fortune is refreshing, not because he’s new, but because you cannot define his sound. While his personality and swag is present within each track, Rome Fortune makes songs that completely sound different from one another. One song will be trap hop, the next will be boom bap, while next will be EDM. He has worked with indie electro house producers such as Four Tet and Chris McClenney but will go left field and make a song with indie rock singer / producer Toro y Moi. He makes you completely invested to hear what sound he will wield next to demonstrate his impressive rapping ability. Not only is he immensely talented, he has something to say. He believes in practicality as well as common sense. Like Oddisee, he is the working man’s rapper that aspires to be more. Give a listen, if you don’t believe me, you will 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.

So I went to Special Events Comic Con NY 2015 ……

This past weekend, I had the pleasant experience to attend Special Edition of New York City. This comic con is very similar to the annual one October, the major difference being its size and focus. But sometimes, big things come in small packages. I didn’t have to pay ridiculous amounts of money to get a picture, or stand on long lines to get a glimpse of my favorite artist and writers, I walked directly up to them and conversed with them for a limited period of time. It gave me the opportunity to ask what inspires their work, ask them about their creative process and just have a friendly conversation. What I learned? Whether its indie comics or big publishers like DC or Marvel, its the same things as the readers that drives a lot of writers and artists. Either the stories’ theme is courage, moral greys, civil rights, humor or just bombastic fun, they have a story that they believe needs to be told.

The most memorable experience I had was meeting the artist and co-creator of one of my favorite comic books out right now, Bitch Planet. The artist, Valentine De Landro was one the kindest and most pleasant creators I have ever met at a convention, and I have been to a few. When I walked up to his booth, he was drawing a sketch of Iron Man for a young boy. He couldn’t stop smiling as De Landro asked to assist him in finishing the sketch. In an effort to not disrupt the process, the young boy carefully moved his hand up and down as De Landro instructed him on what lines to erase. In the end, De Landro jokingly told the young child he may need to hire him as his assistant eraser. After that exchange, my girlfriend and I met him and got the opportunity to not only to fanboy/girl out, but also to thank him for the important work that he and writer, Kelly Sue Deconnick have been doing. We explained that it is an important statement not only about women’s rights, but about women of color, the ignorance of men and how the book is a enlightenment to it’s readers of how ingrained these problems in society really are.

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I also got on opportunity to say hello to the King of Rock himself, DMC from Run DMC. And like the many other times I met him, it was great. He is so positive and so accompanying; he has a way of making everyone he meets, feel like they have known him for years.

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I volunteered for Midtown Comics and for early hours of the convention days, so didn’t get the opportunity to cover as much ground as I hoped for, but nevertheless, it was an extremely positive experience and it has me more than psyched for New York City Comic Con 2015!

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