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by Eric on July 6, 2007

As I mentioned in my interview with Trav @ “Wakeyourdaughterup” last week, I spend quite a bit of time listening to music (Hip Hop) throughout the week (not nearly as much on the weekends). This week, while listening to albums in range from BDP’s “Sex & Violence” to present day releases such as Mr.J’s (of the Procussions) “Of Gods & Girls”, much like other weeks I compile little tidbits here and there, punch them into my Treo and then unveil them to you….collectively known as my weekly THOUGHTS post. Well, if you frequent “WTR”, like clockwork you can usually expect those 10 “THOUGHTS” to be featured in a post on Thursday evening of every week. This week, I compiled some…at least in my vision, pretty good “stuff”. Tonite, before I began to post those “THOUGHTS” I checked my e-mail and the first e-mail that I received was from the co-author of “WTR”…Rasul. Needless, to say my THOUGHTS can wait till’ next week! With a subject line that read “Paradise Lost” I didn’t know what to expect from Rasul’s e-mail. Before I expound, let me just relay this to you…I’ve never met Rasul personally…only through daily e-mail contact. If you’ve heard Rasul’s “Opium Vol.I & II” mixtapes or his prior work with (or dare I say, the “highlight) of Square One’s “Walk Of Life”, you’ll see exactly where I’m going with this. Rasul IS without a doubt one of the brightest, knowledgable, talented cats that I’ve ever befriended. Hearing his…hmmm, intricate wordplay and lyricism and reading some of his earlier “posts” with can’t help but wonder “where does Ra come up with this??”. Anyway, I read the e-mail (which you will soon do as well), then I read it again, then again. One of the things that I truly value about or “partnership” if you will, is Rasul’s ability to completely come outta’ left field and hit you with something that you normally wouldn’t expect from “WTR”(read:Me). While our views and listening preferences differ…I can’t help but be more and more impressed with this cat after each passing contact. Did I mention how glad I am to have dude back?? With that being said, give Rasul’s “Paradise Lost” a read….take your finger away from you temple and read it again. Then ask yourself (insert Cunninlyguists’ vocal) “Where Will You Be???” Great read Ra!!!!!…-Eric

Paradise Lost: By Rasul

Contrary to the general belief and the public understanding, there are always three sides to a story! There is your story, my story and than, there is the true story. There is the subjective, the objective, and the always forgotten but evident Truth. There is black, white, and the omnipresent grey that surrounds our world like a dark and unforgiving cloud. The human nature willfully neglects the obvious, it omits memories and disregards the simplest facts; we tend to forget and therefore, we intentionally send our unsung realities to some dark and forsaken corner of our psyche, hoping its shapes and smells won’t come back to haunt us in our sleep. We just love to forget… The word “culture” stems from the word cultura which comes from the old Greek term colere, describing the notion to cultivate and grow the seeds you have planted. Today, culture underlines the general definition of human activity and its social and moral intelligence within different domains like art, science and technology. Culture often defines the quality in a person, a group, or a society that ” arises from a concern” for what is regarded as excellent in arts, writings, manners and scholarly pursuits, ultimately leading to happiness. But than again, it although describes the totality of socially transmitted patterns of behavior in all products, accomplishments and artifacts of human work! Maybe you want to think about that for a few seconds…

Hip Hop went from a creative form of expression to an everyday lifestyle. It went from a therapeutic unloading of aggression and finding ways to escape hardship and poverty, to branded formulas in language, fashion, and cooperate livelihoods, undermining every- and I sincerely mean every- popular musical branch! When a public entity like Oprah Winfrey rolls out her arsenals of morality to attack Hip Hop for its coarse and uncompromising contents, the way it degrades and demotes an entire race, its hollow absurdities adulterating women their grace and honor and family structures in general, giving life to morons like Don Imus to state the apparent fact that racism very much exists, Russel Simmons calls out from his barricades of guilt, claiming that this language reflects the poetry of a generation who grew up under uncivilized and destitute circumstances. His assertion reads: the majority of today’s rappers grew up in ghettos, slums and projects and ” this” is all they know; this is the only way they’ve learnt to communicate, this is their lingo and their voice and our society has to respect and tolerate this art form- true indeed! So, when an incredibly witty and honorable Oprah Winfrey who has made an immeasurable fortune portraying destinies of the less-fortunate (who has publicly sided with Karrine “Superhead” Steffans in her own show- someone who makes a living being a groupie), an incredibly gifted woman who’s “Book Club” is designed to salute literary brilliance and belletristic excellence (what she occasionally fails to achieve by offering mediocre pieces; I suppose that the business aspect of this undertaking is just too lucrative); when she decides to crucify the entire organism of Hip Hop for the aforementioned reasons, she is sadly and obviously mistaking (the publicized face of Hip Hop might deserve her harsh criticism, not the overall culture!). Russel Simmons with his too apparent political ambitions is even more wrong to justify broad and bereaved ignorance with territorial conjunctions. The Truth is- and here’s the third side to this particular sob story- that we live in a cruel and capitalistic world. Money makes the world go ’round and this is the unbreakable cycle of our times: misery comes by design! Our pitiful microcosm is constructed on pillars of deceit and this despairing chicanery does not know any race, color or progenies. The rich will forever attempt to get richer and low and behold, there are not many Samaritans like Oprah or Russel who’ll always give back to their communities. As a result, the underprivileged have to obey to Darwinian laws of survival and just take what’s thrown at them. In this society of ours, education will remain a noble luxury with a far too expensive price-tag, meaning that not everybody is supposed to afford it! That’s why there are ghettos- regional and mental! Take it from a lost soul who has unwillingly traveled the continents, living in these doomed circumferences: The sun rarely shines in the Ghetto, but it does not always rain in the Ghetto either…

Record companies like Def Jam, Tommy Boy or Jive that have blessed us with numerous awe-inspiring treasures are no longer independently run enterprises. There is no such thing as artist development, only assets and revenues. So what is there to expect when a long forgotten powerhouse, already fighting decreasing sales, employs divisions to promote ringtones instead of real music? Copycats start to copy copycats and the sense of creativity and innovative thinking is easily replaced by greed. John Milton wrote his classical epic poems ” Paradise Lost” in 1667, reflecting on the Fall of Man. Every social, economical and artistic exposure in 2007 proves his tremendous foresight. I have been listening to Hip Hop for over 22 years now. That’s longer than most of these protagonists have lived and my expectations have drifted to realms of oblivion.

I never liked underground Hip Hop. Truthfully, I respect 50 Cent as an artist, and I love Young Jeezy and his simplistic approach to battle life and succeed; Lil’ Wayne is an incredible “MC” who will dexterously eat up 95 % of your favorite rappers- over- and underground alike- to spit them out in a heartbeat. I don’t assume that any living spirit could seriously doubt Jay his poise and wit when it comes to lyrical content and T.I, he rightfully carries the cross of this very culture’s future on his bare shoulders. So who will you turn to when our judgment day comes? Pharoahe Monch? Is his declaration of “Desire” the untold omen we’ve all been waiting for? Does Talib really captivate our “Ear Drum”s to free us from the evil ghouls and lead us to the Promised Land? Do The Roots actually matter in these days and times? Will our beloved Common, resurrected by the eccentricities of a madman named Kanye, be our second-coming of Christ to “Find Forever” and can we, sincerely, take him seriously after he proclaimed “Electric Circus” to be his magnum opus?

When Jazz music relived its artistic renaissance in the late sixties and early seventies, every well-respected musician with semi-notoriety began to think! Mainstream labels were starting to offer befitting amounts of money and the general and global inquiries grew. What happened then was an intellection only known and recited in fairytales! People came together… Disregarding every possible hint of fame, rank or prevalent acceptance, Jazz musician decided to “share” and began collaborating on every imaginable level, creating a healthy but necessary competition which resulted in an unthinkable abundance of creativity and therefore, an unthinkable abundance of brilliant records were left behind for yet-to-come generations to adore. David Axelrod called it “natural”, Lou Donaldson felt it is “imperative” and Cannonball Adderely, he uttered this magic question: ” what else are we supposed to do?!” What else are we, as artist and fans alike, supposed to do? I say we have to remember. We all have to remember the mere significance of good music. It is so extremely easy to find endless access to music these days that our expectations and wishes have diminished completely. If the new album of “so and so” fails to live up to our expectancies, we’ll soon find another “so and so” album or even mixtape to look forward to. Right? Right. What every one of us- all the Oprahs and Russels, 50 Cents and T.Is, fans and fanatics- have learnt to forget is the steady downfall of our society in morals, ethics and conducts and consequently, our art. Culture arises from our concerns and sacrifices in specific fields and niches. But if our standards of righteousness and civility abort our daily routines, our culture will do the same. And with that being said, who is realistically to blame when our heroes and iconic figures, lost in their socially transmitted patterns, chase the fastest route to make money, and forget that art will forever be defined and remembered for its quality? I sincerely don’t… What about you? Comments and feedbacks are more than welcomed… -Rasul

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Mystik Journeyman July 6, 2007 at 11:21 am

A well-written piece. Well done.

The only point I’d make is that hip-hop has always been about a sub-culture that will include anyone who REALLY knows what it’s about and it’s very rare for outsiders to fully appreciate it.

Eventually the profitability of our culture will diminish and the mainstream’s spotlight will fade. When that time comes (unfortunately it’s not in sight yet), we’ll all still be here.

I’m pleased to say there haven’t been too many artists I respect that have sold out.

Dee-El July 6, 2007 at 11:32 am

Wow!! I’ve been feeling alot like this. I just haven’t been able to express my feelings so articulately, yet not grand-eloquently. A very appreciated post my friend, a VERY appreciated post

Dee El Sends

SniperInTheMist July 6, 2007 at 3:26 pm

great piece, very thought-provoking.

I think that when you mentioned the jazz era of the 60s and how the artists had healthy competition and worked together to create beautiful music could also be applied to those forever loved releases from the golden years of hip-hop.

Back in 1988 hip-hop was still a largely underground affair, with only the odd big group such as Run-DMC popping up on the big scene. Then, just as you described it in the 60s, the major labels came up and offered a lot of money to take it to the masses. Its funny how many times this sort of thing happens.

If things go full-circle, jazz is a bit more of an underground subculture right now, and just as the first comment suggests, the public will get sick of hip-hop aswell, and it’ll go back to the way it was back then – and we’ll be there waiting for it.

Hip-Hop isn’t dead. It just got arrogant.

ant July 7, 2007 at 1:03 am

hey, you write quite nicely. However, reading this melodrama can compare to only what I imagine it would feel like to read Al Gore’s “Assault on Reason”. It’s easy to proselytize(after the fact) to a population living in modern oblivion. An “assault” on Reason? … Reason didn’t even make it to the 20th Century, never mind the 21st! The “assault” on Hip Hop? Hip Hop didn’t even make it to its 30th Birthday!

I guess part of your misunderstanding is evident in your references to “quality”, which is subjective. The end of a culture can’t be discerned through “quality” (nor “morals”), but only through the abandonment, degradation, or fullfillment of its primary symbols. Referring to 50 Cent as an “artist” of this culture, is one of a number of mistakes. Hell, I like 50 Cent as a rapper(mainly his early mixtape albums), he has a certain talent for rhyme flow and word placement although not an exceptional lyricist. However, he is far from an “artist”, he is a business man. Listen to any interview he has done, it’s all industry jargon and marketing strategy. Is he alone in this? No. You can here those disembodied voices at Hot97 talking the same nonsense with all of their guests. This is the primary symbol of Hip Hop as we NOW know it, not the gangster, nor the pimp, but the Entrepenur/Business Man/Brand. 50 Cent is one of the most influential persons in the history of Hip Hop not because he was a great “artist”, it’s because he NEVER was an “artist”… he was ALWAYS a brand. Hip Hop is a “rags to riches” story. Russel Simmons, Puffy, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan … they represent culture reaching its potential, its purpose. Nobody “killed” Hip Hop, its natural progression is suicide. You’re complaining that you got to see the shooting stars, but “future generations” will never see that… it’ll just be a sky full of static, indistinguishable bodies.

You know this, your common sense tells you so, and so does the common sense of every other Hip Hop fan… it’s exhibited through his appeal to “hunger”. But asking the Wu to return to their primacy is like inviting me to dinner after I just got out of a Chinese buffet. It’s exhibitied in the Mainstream as the recycling of Hip Hop, whether it be the late 90′s remake or the curent complete beat jacking of the timeless Hip Hop tracks of the past. It’s exhibited in the Underground by the roar for Masta Ace’s “Nostalgia”, Nas’ “Can’t Forget About You”, and Kanye’s posse cut “Classic”. A culture’s long fall into the abyss of Romanticism parallels the still growing hair and nails of a dead corpse.


rasul July 7, 2007 at 2:18 am


First of all, thank you for taking your time to comment so profoundly on my humble piece. I do agree with you on most of the issues you’ve touched but there are a few points that flew right pass me… Let me take it from the top: I have never read Al Gore’s “Assault on Reason” (I am usually not interested in the writings of an American vice-president!) so therefore, I can’t quite understand the reference. Maybe some component within the piece gave you an indication to expound on “reason” (and you’re absolutely right about reason finding its way to the 20th century), but the commentary is primarily directed at the westernized (and capitalistic) ideologies occupying our society. This is not necessarily a “bad” thing; we just have to display more awareness dealing with it (like for instance in the ways we raise our kids) and ensure a certain amount of quality in morals. Reason should play a major role in the process, but like you said, people have to discover it first!

Where you and me will surely disagree is the definition of culture! I never wrote anything to the degree of “Hip Hop Is Dead” or “Our culture is decaying”. As long as you and me take our valuable times to sit down and write something about it, it’ll never die. You and me care so it’s very much alive (be it only for the sake of this site or the unconditional love for the music in general). But than again, I will always value any culture by the “quality” it provides and its moral standards, not the way its primary symbols portray their versions of it. Think about it, 90% of these internet cats wouldn’t even consider its primary symbols “real Hip Hop”-whatever that may be (thus creating their own culture with autonomic values and virtues with every right and authority). And being an artist myself (I very much like to think so), I allow myself to call 50 Cent an “Artist” too, although on very different levels of artistic exposure. Once again, our ideas and perceptions, thus our definitions, may defer on this particular issue, but for me to understand where you’re coming from, you’d have to name a few people you consider to be real artist. And once more, you’re very right to underline his air for business and the way he has blackballed his influence on Hip Hop and popular music in general. Yes, he has emerged to become a “brand” and his presence, his face and his oversaturated “character” are point blank annoying. But all of these “malpractices” don’t take away from his artistic aptitude (on what level it might be).

And I couldn’t agree with you more about the romanticism of Hip Hop and all those shallow calls for long lost assessments. I personally hate it when people do that and hopefully, this wasn’t the consensus you’ve taken out of “Paradise Lost”. Still, there has to be a certain “quality” so it won’t be a “sky full of static”…

Thanks to mystic journeyman (I got you), dee-el (the pleasure is all mine), and sniperinthemist (loved the arrogant line)- very much appreciated the response…


ant July 7, 2007 at 5:07 am

Rasul, sorry for the confusion. No, Al Gore’s book has really nothing to do with the topic at hand. My reference to it was sort of my way of asking you what you consider your article to be: hindsight, insight, or foresight? To me, saying an “Assault on Reason” is hindsight posing as foresight. Thus, similarly I’m wondering about “Paradise Lost”.

Is it “Paradise Lost?”, “Paradise Lost.”, “…Paradise Lost”, or as it is published “Paradise Lost…” ?

Naturally, yes, I see the article as you saying that something is gone… or “lost”. Shouldn’t we? The purpose of my comment was to recontextualize your ideas into something more meaningful than notions of “quality”. Saying that the music simply isn’t that good anymore is somewhat of a subjective surface-level observation that we can both agree on. But obviously, I disagree with you regarding the WHY. Part of the reason for our disagreement is our different views of culture, which probably can’t be reconciled, as even the great historians of Western civilization have disagreed on its definition. However, can we agree on this: that cultures have a purpose? Actually, not even that, how about this: that HipHop culture has a purpose? If so, then what is that purpose, or primary symbol? The most common belief, which we would probably agree on, is the spiritual and physical transcendence of the ghetto.

I quote you:

“Hip Hop went from a creative form of expression to an everyday lifestyle. It went from a therapeutic unloading of aggression and finding ways to escape hardship and poverty, to branded formulas in language, fashion, and cooperate livelihoods”

To me, the above sounds like a degenerative pattern, spiraling downwards. It shows a complete disregard for spirituality, with a sole focus on physical transcendence. You even say yourself “That’s why there are ghettos-regional and mental!”. HipHop has fullfilled its physical purpose, but has abandoned its spiritual purpose. This problem lies in the fact that HipHop has no religion, it embraces neither Christianity nor Islam, etc…thus, it reveals itself as not a true culture at all, but a sub-culture of American/Western Culture. So then naturally, HipHop seeks to reach its goals through capitalist means (as seen through its progression to “everyday lifestyle” and “branded formulas”). It has proven that it can reach physical transcendence ONLY through capitalism…and has NO universal means for spiritual transcendence. HipHop will continue to “seem” to be on the verge of something, if only “this” or “that”, when in reality it can go no place else but hover over an abyss. To me, that’s sounds like death. And we could talk about dead family members all we want, but it’s not going to bring them back. I hope this clarifies what I was getting at before.


rasul July 7, 2007 at 8:01 am

Beautiful brother, we’re on the same page now… OK, never mind the Al Gore reference but yes, it’s more likely to be hindsight if anything. But truthfully, and yes we may disagree on certain definitions or form of expressions, I believe we’re heading towards the same direction. Me choosing the title “Paradise Lost” wasn’t really premeditated; it just fitted to the picture I was trying to paint. Milton’s poems generally (you are probably familiar with them yourself) deal with the fall of mankind, subliminally accenting the seven deadly sins as the source of all evil- similar to Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. Now, I’m not trying to get too funky with the seven deadly sins and what not, but it very much displays a spiritual conflict within one’s self and how creedal belief and commitment will very much save your soul. I know, it sounds pretty cheesy but it’s based on Judeo-Christian “Heaven or Hell” theories, mixed with a little Homer and pedestrian trinity-conceptions (but it’s pretty interesting anyway)…
Now addressing the spirituality; I couldn’t agree with you more! Personally, I don’t like to use the term too much. I’ve seen and heard the depth and true meaning of “spirituality” undermined and compromised way too often. The majority of people, specially in western hemispheres, do not practice spirituality or let me rephrase that: they just have a different perception of it, thus a different and maybe less profound way to exercise it (that’s why it’s so freaking “hip” today to do Yoga or discuss Sufism- it’s the new sport). And here’s my point (and maybe I should’ve written it out the first time), innovation and creativity can only arise from spirituality! You have to dig deep to find something within you that’s crying for freedom. This is the true source and fountain of great writings, music and paintings (so me using the term “quality” will always contain “spirituality” at the same time)… It simply defines art. I don’t believe that Africa Bambata and Kool Herc’s initial objective to organize park jams in the Bronx River Projects stemmed from spirituality. They looked for outlets to unify the rivaling gangs, looked to give the lost souls a “purpose” to defy their every day lifestyles and a real reason to willfully survive. It took Hip Hop years to find its calling, years before true artist dug deep to compose their realties and exemplify their positive notions or spirituality (when did it start? Late 80′s? You know where I’m going with this though…). This is why I fell in love with Hip Hop in the first place. It reflected my life and my personal struggle on so many different levels and I could always count on it for guidance. I found my spirituality in Hip Hop and it became my religion.
“Hip Hop went from a creative form of expression (meaning the physical activities in Up-Rocking and the artistic exposures in Graffiti, DJing and Rap) to an everyday lifestyle (meaning that its music and its influence in fashion and other components are more than apparent in our societies). It went from a therapeutic unloading of aggression (meaning that kids found a way to channel their hostility to create something out of nothing) and finding ways to escape hardship and poverty (I think this is pretty obvious, regarding the fact where it originally started) to branded formulas in language, fashion, and cooperate livelihoods (meaning that it’s freaking everywhere!).”
A degenerative pattern? Well, it is to a certain degree but it doesn’t necessarily leave out the artistic integrity. A sole focus on physical transcendence? Not the sole focus my brother, but would you disagree that this is the sad way it’s being regarded by the majority of the kids living under those circumstances (and can you seriously blame them)? Probably not. But I’m slowly getting to the point (and oh by the way, “That’s why there are ghettos” refers to the economical / political problems I was addressing; but I’ve got you anyway): We both agree on the effects a capitalistically woven system may have on its peoples and specially its youth. I hope you understood my indications about the educational system in Northern America, the way it leaves out groups of people by design, as opposed to socially woven systems where real education is free (most of the European countries for example). Thus, we will agree on the chain reaction and mere consequence it has on its youth’s apprehension and the way they take life in general. You say it abandons it spiritual purpose, I say it doesn’t provide a certain “quality” for them to even consider that path. You’re absolutely right, they should, we all should, but with the real purpose being lost in translation, it rarely happens.
Like yourself, I don’t think we should discuss “dead family members” and hell, maybe you and me will never witness a renaissance; but as long as people come together to air out their opinions (just like you and me), there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel…
Thank you once again for your time and sincerity, I truthfully enjoyed it. Matter of fact, hit me up on my email, maybe we’ll find a conclusion.


BRANDONIAN 'the talking head July 7, 2007 at 6:10 pm

lil wayne is garbage and so is jeezy and 50. thabks for ruining hip hop.

Straight Checkin Em July 7, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Rasul and ant; so, after reading all your pontification, i can say one thing: HUH? Clearly both of you are 100 times smarter and bright than myself. Can you break this down into layman’s terms? Weird that you wrote this now, I just finished my rough draft on the downfall of hip-hop for travis’ blog last night. What you fail to address here is why are people accepting of this crap now-a-day’s? It seems to me like you are searching way too hard and trying to come up with an answer that is way to technical. I am guessing that the bottom line point was: Hip-hop has become too commercial and is so accessible now that it is no longer conceived by mearly those who did it out necessity? But now done by those who only see the almighty dollar? Am i correct?

If i could stay musically in 1992 forever i would never leave. Maybe you will read that statement and say “but a person needs to grow and evolve”. And to that i say that if this is what rap/hip-hop has eveloved to, then kill me now. I turn on mtv jams for 5 seconds and that thing is switched wih a hurry. Someone out there is buying this crap. D4L? Shop Boys? T-Pian? are you kidding me. I think you overlook a huge obstacle: the masses as a whole don’t care like a lot of us bloggers do. The amount we care makes us the minority. In my experience, people will follow the masses and SETTLE for less rather than stand up for what they truely like, especially when it comes to something like music. I know no-one outside of blogging that has the passion for hip-hop as you guys.
I apologize if my blabbering is too simplistic for you guys. I am not as educated as you obviously are. I totally respect your opinions and love that someone else it tired and willing to make a stand as well. Please do not take my opions as an attack, just as another point of view. I am a bitter old school hip-hop fan.

ant July 7, 2007 at 10:15 pm

Brian. No, I’m not at all offended by your response. However, by formulating such a superficial approach, you undermine the significance of the culture by suggesting that it is incompatible with the econmoic system under which it was born. Capitalism cannot be the “downfall” of HipHop culture if in fact it is a child of Western/American culture. It simply doesn’t make any sense. In claiming otherwise you relegate HipHop to not being a culture (or sub-culture) at all, and in turn, you place it in the category of trend.

You mention D4L, Shop Boys, T-Pain… but as I said before, quality is subjective. Rasul says he loves Young Jeezy and Lil’ Wayne, you might hate them, yet we are all talking about the same cultural problem… let that be proof that QUALITY is irrelevant. What does quality matter when the sons and daughters of HipHop are still trying to attain the primary goals of the culture? HipHop is in its “downfall” only if you would describe the aging of humans as a “downfall”. You say “If i could stay musically in 1992 forever i would never leave”. And I would respond by saying: If I could stay PHYSICALLY in 1992 forever I would never leave. Both statements are completely unrealistic, and they take no account for natural progression…which does NOT necessarily coincide with either an increase or decrease in anything (say “quality”).

You wonder “why are people accepting of this crap now-a-day’s?” I don’t understand. What exactly do you want from them? Should they demand a return to 1988? You have a revisionist sense of history if you believe that HipHop began chasing the “almighy dollar” within the last 10 years, Cash Rules. Again, HipHop has always sought physical transcendence of the ghetto, and at the same time it has proven that it ONLY knows how to do so through Capitalist means. Like Talib Kweli said “You had a chance for revolution and you let pass you by, that’s why I’m dissing wack MC’s until the day that I die”. Look at the moguls of HipHop who have physically transcended the ghetto and have fullfilled the culture’s promise (though not spiritually of course): Russel Simmons, Puffy, Master P, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre. Have any of these men transformed their birthplaces, whether it be Compton or Queens? NO, they haven’t…they’ve only escaped, a personal transcendence, not the transcendence of a people. Sound capitalistic? What else do you really expect from an American sub-culture? You may not like it, but to propagate anything else would be an inaccurate convenience.

Straight Checkin Em July 7, 2007 at 10:49 pm

i beg to differ. If “the man” has gotten his hand into the mix then capitalism is creating the downfall of hiphop. artists are no longer cultivated they are put out as is with not even paying their dues. This is the product of the record companies. They are dicatating what they put out to the people and the people are responding in all types of music, record sales are dramatically down across the board!! This is no new news to anyone.

I made the statement about staying in 1992 musically because I know it is not possible. And i don’t want to be in 1992 physically as I have grown as a man since then. But the music today, all genres, is suffering from a lack of quality.

No I don;t want people to demand to back to 88. I want people to stand up like we are say we don’t want this crap anymore. We want groups like Group Home, Jeru, Gang Starr, Leaders, Tribe, EPMD etc. There is no way you can say the Jeezy holds a candle to Eazy, D4L to Tribe and T-Pain to Nate Dogg. I don’t listen to today’s music because it is not exciting anymore. It honestly all sounds the same. There really is not much creativity anymore. There is a lot of low growl sounding voices and a lot of low bass with a few claps over it. I don’t know how many times that I have heard so and so using the EXACT same song as a tune from 1994 and they just added a whistle or clap and that is all. Yes all the stuff in the 90′s was sampled from funk and r&b greats before them, i know, i know. Let’s just accept that that is another discussion from later.

You said “Look at the moguls of HipHop who have physically transcended the ghetto and have fullfilled the culture’s promise (though not spiritually of course): Russel Simmons, Puffy, Master P, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre”.
-But look at where they are now, Russ runs a clothing company not in the music game, Puffy is a great business man but is the laughing stock of anyone and anything called the rap commuinty since he exploited every sample he’s used and exploited Biggie after his death, Master P-nuff said, dude had it all and now where is he? Jay-Z has his hands in so many business that he can’t possibly concentrate on music, 50 Cent is a great business man yet his work is suffering due his hands being into everything from his over gorged label to vitamin water, and when is the last time dre but out a viable record? 1999? I guess I can say that all of them exploited the rap buisness for their own riches. I cannot blame them but I am talking about good hip-hop, true hip-hop. and the only name I see there that has done that in the last 10 years is dre. And he is danger of pushing that 10 year mark. Each of them has left a mark but now many of the a positive one. Each has been mired in controversy in regards to the rap game, period point blank. I am talking about the Geto Boys, The Tribe’s, The Ichiban’s, The Sleeping Bags Records, The Krs-1′s of the world.

Bottom line I am not talking about cultural downfall or any of that drivel. I AM indeed talking about QUALITY HIP HOP PERIOD. I can hear it with my own ears. People should demand more out of their music that is what I want peopel to stand up and ask for and demand. Back when Tag Team and Wrex-N-Effect and 69 Boys came out, I listened to that garbage and shook my head and today all these rap songs out there sound just like that crap and I am sick of it.

alvs July 7, 2007 at 11:47 pm

dang Rasul, nicely written, man.

ant July 8, 2007 at 12:01 am

Brian, well then I guess we’re speaking two different languages. What I am sure of is that If you continue in your current mode of thinking you will no doubt continue in your confusion and frustration over what you perceive to be a lack of “quality” in HipHop.

Rasul, you say:

“innovation and creativity can only arise from spirituality! You have to dig deep to find something within you that’s crying for freedom. This is the true source and fountain of great writings, music and paintings (so me using the term “quality” will always contain “spirituality” at the same time)… It simply defines art.”

well said, I completely agree. However, the word “quality” is used most often to describe one’s own preferences. This is where critics get confused between subjective and objective realities. As long as we have come to the relative understanding that Capitalism is not this foreign substance contaminating HipHop (that many would like to believe it is)… I think some good has come of this discussion. It’s just not that simple.


Straight Checkin Em July 8, 2007 at 1:07 am

while i respect you view, i obvioulsy don’t agree with it. i just deleted my respnse to you. I feel that my stance is one where is stand alone. apparently my point is lost on you and is a lost cause.

Dart Adams July 8, 2007 at 5:09 am

Rasul, thanks for writing that so I didn’t have to. Well done, fam. One.

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