Pittsburgh Rapper Mello Mac links up with New York City’s HipHopFriends down in Atlanta to bring you their video “First Class”. Record produced by Nesia Beatz.
Numerous times has it been said or implied at the very least that rappers should be held to a moral standard that transcends that of their consumers. Mainstream figures, not just rappers are under constant scrutiny and surveillance and people say that’s the trade off. You gain fame, lose privacy. That’s what they signed up for. Athletes and artists share many of the same broadcast genetics though one large difference keeps the two separate. Rappers depend on the public to continue their existence. Athletes can always play ball, they’ll just take a pay cut if the crowds dissipate. Though now rappers seem to be more powerful as ever which leads me to my question. Should rappers be mindful and take responsibility for what they say?
As consumers, we purchase music with violent criminal content of illicit nature all the time. Not many of us complain. Though it’s becoming more frequent that the consumer public is calling for more substance. Recently, Waka Flaka made a damn fool of himself on BETs 106 & Pork while making a comment, for lack of a better word on voting and pretty much sent every common sense wielding person within earshot to in an uproar. Recently, Lebron James caused a stir by saying a lot of backlash he caught for leaving Cleveland was racial and that played a part of him choosing Miami. Many asked, why speak out now, if at all? Was it an attempt to gain more attention? Was it to come across as not just a dumb jock and some one concerned with the “issues” that everyday African Americans face? Since hip hop started out in the struggle, why does it seem that less and less music is about the struggle that is ever so apparent today? Is there a specific reason we can have “ignorant rap” dominate the charts while “intelligent rap” is relegated to blogsite downloads?
It’s not just me, many people second the notion that they will only listen to “intelligent rap”, not necessarily conscious hip hop but music that you can tell required a steady hand and mind to create. The Clipse for instance can hardly be called positive rap, but they give insight to their lifestyle and paint a clear picture of the consequences and benefits of it. The lyricism displayed illustrates the dexterity involved to make the music and we respect that. Kanye West has walked the fine line since the beginning of his career but it’s his reality, nothing really wrong with that. Though today, MC’s in the spotlight are with out a doubt shaping the youth. With that being said, is that power paired with even greater responsibility just packaged with ultra fine print printed in invisible ink?
On more than a few occasions, rappers on trial were subject to being prosecuted by their own lyrics. Shyne and T.I are just two of the lot. The prosecution employed the usage of quotes form Shyne‘s music to exhibit a pattern criminal behaviour and intent to allow the court to arrive at a guilty verdict. Many people in and outside of the hip hop community considered this a violation of the 1st Amendment of the constitution which guarantees freedom of speech. With T.I.‘s return to the slammer, you kinda gotta ask, where does one draw the line? Tip said in an interview that he wasn’t aware of a role model who doesn’t smoke weed. Funny, I can name quite a few. But is it a rappers job to be a role model? Does ones proximity to the general public warrant a status reserved for real civil servants? I view MCing much in the same light I due journalism. It’s a journalists job to report the truth, clear and cut, no bullshit. Rarely ever is that practiced. MCs are ghetto reporters, voices for the voiceless. Every great MC told a side for a group with out the means to do so. Now with the over saturation of both, the ethics get swept under the rug while the rest of us are left the menial scraps of a trade and art form that we know as the spoken and in some cases written word.
At the end of the day though, there is that pesky 1st amendment right that pretty much allows some one to say anything with in confines of the law. That’s the beauty and curse of free speech. Logically assess what is being presented here. Should rappers of all people be heralded as beacons of light and morality? If any rapper has more influence on a kid than his parent does, well then that my friend is a different kettle of fish all together. The same parents who go on tirades about the content of hip hop are the same ones who leave their children in front of the television sets and allow the internet to replace them as example setting figures and role models. Why is it that we as MCs should have to censor ourselves because of their inability to parent and govern their own households? That is why albums come with a Parental Advisory warning on the cover after all, isn’t it?
For every Chuck D we have a Soulja Boy. For every Nas we have a Gucci Mane. There is balance in hip hop, like all walks of life that must be sustained. But with the current state of flux about the culture that is promoting a perpetuated stereotype in cycles, should we call of a tipping of the scales in the opposite direction? Does the music have to have a positive message attached to it if any at all? Should every rapper take responsibility for each other? Should the weight be shouldered by all for the comments of few? You decide.
Song Title: Devil in a Red Dress
Artist: Y.M. daKid ft. L.King
Album: New Kid on da Block (coming soon)
Devil in a Red Dress | DOWNLOAD
When hip hop hit its arguable peak, which many point to as being around 1998, I was 14 years old. I’d spent the greater part of my youth bumping everything from Wu-Tang to Snoop to the Boogiemonsters and everything in between. When the subject of classic hip hop is discussed I remember carrying my walkman to the bus stop and listening to all those songs I wasn’t allowed to have, from “Bitches Ain’t Shit” to “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F’ Wit”. As far as influences go, as far as memories go, as far as the culture goes, the “true school” era is, to me, when all that classic shit was around and boiling hot. But I’m in my mid 20s, and there are hip hop fans who are 14 now, so what about those kids’ memories and influences? What are they gonna look back on in 10-15 years and consider “classic” and “old school”, and are we really helping the cause by constantly complaining about a dead culture with a serious lack of talent and fans who don’t know shit?
I understand that we’ll never have another Illmatic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Villematic. Just like I had to watch The Godfather not as a theater-goer taking in the epic film with the rest of the world but as someone who had heard so much and wanted to know what all the hype was about, I’m sure some teenager last year heard Raekwon’s return to the kitchen and had to go seek out the first Cuban Linx album and discover that timeless slice of hip hop excellence.
I once heard or saw Soulja Boy say that to him, 50 Cent is old school, and he’s really got a point. Soulja is what like 19, meaning he was about 11-12 when Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out. When I was 11, Midnight Marauders came out, and I’m sure a lot of yall would consider that somewhat “old school”. I used to be the first person to say “if it ain’t before 1990 then it’s not old school”, but how long can you say that for when an entire generation of kids is coming up in hip hop that doesn’t even remember the 90s?
Now they say the talent pool is drying up, but I look around and I see more talent than there’s ever been. I see scenes popping up all across the country. I see people building every day, creating more demand for their brand new product, their unique take on this culture, their stories from their lives being told through rhyme. I see people influenced by Talib Kweli and Kanye West, 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, Young Jeezy and T.I., all making music that’s just as powerful as those that came before them, and is setting the standard for what will follow. In 20 years you won’t be pointing to Mecca and the Soul Brother as one of the top 25 hip hop albums of all time, not because it isn’t good anymore, but because at that point we’ll have had so many other classics drop and the driving force of the culture, the youth, will have only heard about that album through us old cats reminiscing.
A lot of times we hate on these newer artists because they’re “dumbing down” hip hop, or we claim people got no sense of history, but what we need to understand is that since these kids weren’t there for the early 90s, they only have us to help feed them that information, and we can’t try to force it on them, we gotta give it to them when they’re ready (pause). They might never hear Black Moon, but they’ll DEFINITELY never hear Black Moon if we say “yo if you don’t know Buckshot, then you don’t know hip hop”. Hip hop is a youth culture, let’s not alienate them, some of them really do got a lot of talent.
Song Title: Don’t Hold it Back
Artist: Idasa Tariq
Album: Blue Collar, Paycheck & Kufis (coming soon)
Ground Flow Communications, Inc. 2010
Don’t Hold it Back | DOWNLOAD
Look what Sarah Palin done started
A bunch of candidates with the intellect of starlets
On the surface they seem like they’re harmless
But what if they win and end they up in congress
The result would be carnage I’m just being honest
How high’s your education if you can’t name your college
I guess your resume needed polish
I’m you you not me that’s y’all witch
Look what at what they’lll do to win a office
Pour 100 million dollars down a faucet
Now that’s flossin but you cut cost when
Them undocumented workers you was bossin
And whose crazier than Michelle Bachman
And the loonies in that tea party caucus
Plus her wild eye ranting causes
More shame for Minnesota than all the texting Farve did
Republican Woman stay away from me
Republican woman you are so crazy
Don’t come hanging ya signs on my door
I don’t wanna see ya debate no more
I got more important things to do
That waste my vote casting it on you
Now woman I said stay away
Republican woman listen what I say
Dear God I wonder could you save me
Cause these republican women are so crazy
Like that Governor out west in AZ
Saying we got headless bodies but still come my state please
And she must have never heard of debating
Really, how do you mess up on ya opening statement
plus ya hatin made ya state look racist
The fact that your even governor’s amazing
It’s like they candidates don’t even know the basics
but if you watch em they use the same playlist
every time they see the press they skating
unless it fox news where they can do fund raising
if they positions not popular they change em
hoping Rush, Hannity and Beck can save em
They faker than wrestling it’s something to see
they even drafted the chick from WWE
Featured on Mac’s latest mixtape, K.I.D.S.
Download here: www.mediafire.com/?5t628rgc11d92l0
Shot & Edited by Ian Wolfson
Rex Arrow FIlms 2010