I don't like change. And while I'm an adult and have come to accept that change is enevitable and nothing is forever, good and bad. I can not forsee for the life of me the music industry especially my beloved hip hop getting any better any time soon. Don't get me wrong there are a handful of legends still around.
For this particular article I'm going to focus on the hip hop industry. You have your Jay Z, Eminem legends in the game. Then you have guys like Dr. Dre who are still constantly working behind the scenes ( Eminem's Relapse, and Recovery album as well as songs off 50's album) but don't drop an album but every 10 years. After that what do you have ?
Lil Wayne who is upper class as far as hip hop goes these days, but guys like him and T.I., who I believe to be one of the best pure lyricest today, don't really focus on music. They would rather keep it real or jump to movies or try some other medium. As a hip hop fan this is frustrating because I can remember N.W.A. or Ice Cube coming out with records every 6 months ! Now it seems we have to wait a year and a half sometimes just to get something new.
Believe me, I know that sounds demanding, I'm from San Jose, California, the Bay Area. And although not one talented hip hop artist came out of where I am from, a bunch of them came out of the bay area. Too Short, E-40 and The Click, Mac Mall, Spice One, RBL, The Luniz, even 2Pac repped Marin City and Oakland for a short time before he adopted the whole west coast.
My first album was LL Cool J's 'I'm Bad'. I remember hearing the single 'I Need Love' on the radio and being hypmotized by the way he flowed from word to word, metaphor to metaphor it was amazing to me, I wanted to hear more. So when I bought the album I was even more impressed to hear him going from being a sensitive guy looking for love to a tough, bad ass in I'm Bad. All the while telling everyone who would listen why he's better and will remain that way.
See hip hop has always been about competition. What you could do on the microphone, how you could out do the guy next to you. It was never about how many cars you have or your jewelry. Now, what they're calling hip hop that's all they talk about.
A friend of mine bought Ice Cube's latest release 'I Am The West'. When I asked him what he thought about it and the word he used was refreshing. It was refreshing to hear a rapper actually talk about something and use metaphors and punchlines in a way that got your point across without throwing in everyones face what you have, or what you bought with your advance money.
I can remember buying NWA and Eazy E albums, and then when Ice Cube left NWA in the early 90's you had to make a choice either roll with Ice Cube and the Lynchmob or you were down with NWA. I went with Ice Cube.
I remember when he dropped Amerikka's Most Wanted, then not 9 months later dropped Death Certificate, then 10 months after that came The Predator. They were all with classic songs like Check Yo Self, Ni**a you love to hate, Today was a good day, No Vaseline where he goes at NWA, a classic battle record... that was refreshing ! Today I can't turn on my radio without hearing some noise that doesn't amount to words (ya ya ya ya ya ya!) and someone I can barely understand telling me how much his rolex cost or how many bentleys he bought. It's quite enough already.
See I don't like change so when 2Pac died I knew something was going to happen. There was going to be some shift in hip hop and the way things were communicated to me because nobody on earth could tell a story like that man could. Nobody could get you hyped up to fight or make a difference in your community the way that man could. He had a way about him, a presence, a charisma the way I can only imagine Elvis Presley did.
That's why you didn't mind him doing movies because first of all he was good at them ,and second you knew the soundtrack of that movie was going to be yet another 2pac album. Few people in my life have held my attention as much as Tupac Shakur. If you've ever seen the movie 2pac Ressurection you know what an intelligent, self educated man he was, and how he was raised to question things and search for knowledge.
After he past came another two great story tellers : Eminem and Jay Z. I know what your thinking : Jay Z is always telling me what he's got, better automobiles etc. The difference between Jay Z and a guy like Gucci Mane is that I saw Jay Z earns it all. I watched him come out of the Marcy Projects and put together what would become the best record label in rap for close to 14 years.
Although there styles couldn't be more different, they are both amazing in there own right, genius's really. They've both made classic hip hop albums, and they've both made albums that were ho-hum but they've acknowledged there mistakes and they've gotten better. And at there advanced ages they are head and shoulders above the competetion, still. Granted they are mainstream and pop, but they are what hip hop was built on : story telling realism that only comes from living and experiencing life. What happend to hip hop? Don't you miss walking in to a record store and grabbing a Wu-tang Album, Redman album and a 2Pac album because they all came out on the same day ?
When you listen to a new verse from Jay Z or hear Eminem freestlye somewhere, or you buy an album and there's someone on the album that puts there art above themselves please appreciate and support that artist. If you truly care about music as a whole and the art form that is hip hop, then please show your support for those artist who don't compromise there talent for a paycheck.