Details are still sketchy, but unfortunately, it is true…R.I.P. brother Rasul. This is very saddening to me as Rasul was one of the first people to ever reach out to me during the early stages of WhenTheyReminisce, and actually for quite some time it was just he and I collaborating on the site. Rasul wrote for the site and contributed often, his writings were awe-inspiring, thought-provoking and deeply spiritual. I’d lost contact with Rasul over the last few months, now, I’m deeply regretful to have learned that a bright, thoughtful, talented human being is no longer with us and a beautiful daughter no longer has a father. I’ll miss you Rasul!!!
Below is one of the most talked about post EVER on WhenTheyReminisce, Rasul’s “oft-discussed” “Paradise Lost” from 2007 as well as a video of Rasul during his days with Square One for “State Of The Art”:
“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