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.

 

#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.

{What You Should B Listening 2} Michael Jackson – Thriller (Reflex Halloween Edit)

OK, Halloween is literally tomorrow, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot go a Halloween without hearing Michael Jackson’s classic song, Thriller. But this version I discovered is a bit different, can I say scarier? Yea, that’s it, scarier. The composition of the song has been rearranged and elements of the song are in strategic places to give you just the right amount of groove and goosebumps. I have been listening to this song my whole life, but I must say, this is probably the best remix I’ve ever heard. Let me know what you think? I put the remix and the original down below. Enjoy and Have Haunted Halloween!

# WhatUshouldBListening2 : 12am Night Edition

Hey guys! This is my first mixtape!. Please let me know you think about my song choices! This mixtape is just the first in a series, #WhatUshouldBlistening2 is a collection of Electro House /Soul songs from some of my favorite underground producers that I believe it everyone should check out sometime or another!  The songs are either tracks they have remixed or “refixed” or just original songs.
The Track listing is below.
https://soundcloud.com/bigboynerd/whatushouldblistening2-12pm-edition
Anne-Marie -Stole (Chole Martini Refix)
Flight Facilities – Clarie De Lune(Feat Christine Hoberg) (Them Jeans Edit)
Anthony & Cleopatra – Sirens (Clarens Remix)
Azealia Banks – Chasing Time (Crayon Remix)
Portland – Deezy Daisy (Oxford Remix)
Pat Lok Feat Desire’e Dawson – All In My Head
Lykke Li – No Rest for the Wicked (Belarbi Remix)
Owl Eyes – Find Out
Morgan Page – Fight for You (Imbue Remix)
KAYTRANDA – Come Clean (Hilary Duff Cover)
Brancaccio & Bishop – “You’re So Fine” Ft. Ana (John Monkman Remix)
Portland – You Don’t Know Me (Bit Funk Remix)
Avicii X Daft Punk – Dear Boy (Dave Edwards Remix)
Rejjie Snow Ft. Rae Morris – Blakkst Skn (KATRA Mix)

* For best effects, listen to at night 😉 *

Fighting the Good Fight : How Oddisee Helps me Through my Depression

“Might of begin to tear up, my nose started to flare up, I’m not afraid of improving” – Word to the Wise

Despair, anger, excitement and above all else, fear. These are the emotions that I have been battling with over the last few months. I recently got an apartment with my lovely girlfriend, successfully learned how to not get lost on the subway in NYC (still needs a little work), found new friends and even started to learn how to DJ. No matter how big or small, these are events that have shown progress in my 27 year young life. I am proud, but on the other hand, these changes have added new responsibility. I now have to provide for a new apartment, try my best to learn the ins and outs of the city so I can effectively make a career change and better understand how to create time in my life for relationships. My life seems to be happening faster than I can process, my emotions are all out of whack; there are less people in my life that I receive support from and each day teaches me that nothing is guaranteed. Some call it an early identity crisis (shout out to D.C. Comics), others call it anxiety and depression.

“What’s a Crew, what’s a gang to a brother who been his thing all alone?” – “I Belong to the World”

Hip Hop artist Oddisee views it as growing pains. He reminds me that it’s ok to be afraid and with hard work and determination anything is possible. Born from an African American mother and Sudanese father, he grew up in Prince George County, Maryland, which is one of the wealthiest African American counties in the nation. He was afforded a cultivated and cultured worldview that has likely provided him sage like wisdom. His omniscient worldview is expressed through impactful poetry over a wide array of jazzy and soulful productions that would make Ali Shaheed Muhammad proud. Oddisee crafts nearly every single one of his songs from the ground up. He uses live instrumentation in his production. Every pluck of a chord, melodic hiss leaking through metal and thud of bass is usually recorded live and edited for his albums. His lyrics are consistently thoughtful and impactful. He wrestles with complex morals, the traditional American ideals of progression and his personal contradictions. Often he explains his mixed feelings of being a successful indie artist. He is essentially trying to do the best he can in a world that is hard, he’s not just a dreamer but a non-conformist to what the music industry deems popular. Oddisee has produced for soundtracks, commercials, podcasts and even your favorite indie artists (Joey BadA$$, Chris Faust, Fresh Daily). He’s an everyman, your favorite indie artist’s Mc and producer. In everything he touches, there is a hint of thoughtfulness and care in all his work.

“Motivated by fear, ain’t the best, but it works for me” – “Tomorrow Today”

https://soundcloud.com/oddiseemusic/tomorrow-today

Lately, his music has been helping me. It’s sort of soundtrack through my depression, with all the chaos in my mind lately, Oddisee helps me make sense of it, and shows me that it’s always possible to make an honest living and be proud of what you contribute to the world. He has the ability to rationalize and explore his thoughts in a clear and cohesive manner, for the better or worse. It just so happens, when he does it also helps me sort through my own insecurities and doubt. On his most recent album, The Good Fight, he has a song titled “A List of Withouts”. On it, he quickly raps within a verse that money coming and going predict the pattern I’m trying to define. With just that quick string of lyrics, he makes me face the question of if I am willing to sacrifice my belief system to make more money? Or will I stick to my guns and try to find my passion? I think I have always know that fear governs the decisions I make, either it be professionally or emotionally. As I grow and learn about myself and what I want to achieve, it dawns on me that fear and doubt is all a part of the game. In order for me to make it into the next day with my psyche intact, I need to be able to prepare for worse but expect the best.

“I ain’t start from the bottom, I started from the beginning” – “Tangible Dream’

When Oddisee explain his journey of personal success in such unpretentious detail, it stills my anxiety about what I believe I haven’t accomplished yet. It is a constant reminder that just changing my perspective a bit will go a long way.

“Anything I do is a part of me from the start” – “First Step”

Now while I don’t completely subscribe to Oddisee’s personal religion he mentions at times, I do enthusiastically believe in the spiritual values he professes in his work. As I grow, I have been learning to accept the unexpected, it is important to understand that just because I have a romanticize view of something, doesn’t mean hard work isn’t required. Being at the beginning of a life project is something to be proud of, days go by and I have thousands of ideas, yet I do not act on them. I’m at least glad that there was an instance in my life that I believed in myself enough to engage in anything I love in whatever capacity. I believe that all of these experiences not only enrich my perspective but also my soul. Without the first step there can be no destination, for the end and beginning are undoubtedly connected.