Slowly but surely, I have been designing my bedroom in my new apartment. My personal space is usually the last to be finished, mostly because of time. My latest project is artwork. I wanted a mixed media piece or graffiti piece in my space, something bold and screaming with colour, but having purpose and expression of myself. I decided on a collage work. As I cannot show you the piece yet, as it has just been started.. I will show you the inspiration behind it.
Are you really listening to what Joe is saying here? Do you understand the truth and meaning behind his words? Tell me what is your take on the state of hip hop and its fans?
Hip Hop society has been lacking for a few years now. You have heard from a number of rappers/artists that hip hop is dead or dying. As some may say it is dead, I am not positive they mean it’s truly “DEAD”, more like; it needs a bit of love and support, to help grow and develop into the being we always knew it could be.
Fans are partially at fault, on Budden’s point of, “the fans just aren’t as savvy these days” we need to understand and recognize the history behind the music, the founders and the pathway makers of the movement we now know as the “Hip-Hop Culture”. Many of the mainstream followers of hip hop music today know Jay Z as a founder... Tupac and Biggie as founders, Nas as a founder.... what they fail to see, is that there was a path before them that made them the names they are today.
Yes, they all had visionaries before them; Afrika Bambaataa, The Last Poets, DJ Kool Herc, Slick Rick, Grandmaster Flash etc., etc. I could go on for days, but really how many of these names do you know? (If you are in the industry you are not of the “typical fan”, so please do not misunderstand my point) These artists are those who moulded the beginnings of the industry and paved a path for artists to speak their own language, the language of the youth and of the people. Now do not get me wrong, I believe we have artists who fall under this calibre and delivery in their music. However, we have far less of these artists in the mainstream than we do of the “quick fix” group.
As many know the industry sells mainstream music just as a “quick fix” to a hip hop sound and many artists have conformed to this thinking (not all, but some). To continue to sell or to start to sell music, these artists they say to themselves, “I must make what is ‘hot/on trend’ at the moment – what the industry tells me to make” not necessarily is this what is considered quality in hip hop. This music usually lacks depth in lyrics and sometimes lacks in the beats behind them too.
To me, it’s like saying “Here, I have something for you to eat, one apple is pure and organic made from the earth and the other is manufactured in a building. Each taste the same, but one is lacking in vitamins, this one however, can be provided to you at a faster rate than the one made from the earth, so you will always be able to eat.” So your instincts may say, “To survive I must chose the manufactured apple. It will satisfy me well enough, because I do not want to wait for the quality apple to grow and develop.”
What the person who chose the manufactured apple doesn’t understand, is that the vitamins that are missing in the apple they chose, are ones essential to the growth of our being. Without these... we will not be able to survive. Additionally, the apple that grew from the earth, would always grow and provide you with the vitamins you require at the time you require them. For you will never feel stuffed or bloated from them.
This is the same in music. The manufactured sound and lyrics have a place in the industry, but we need to remember not to let it over power the truth in hip hop, the depth it should have and the quality of the package. Good music, music that will last into our children’s age and beyond, is that of which has depth and soul. Yes, hip hop is of the youth, and should translate well to them, but that doesn’t mean we need to lessen the quality to be able to reach them. If we want to have a world where hip hop can reach everyone, and our youth to understand the history behind our music and culture, we need to start focusing on building a better industry “manufacturing system”.
This system should encourage the development and growth of artists who want to tell their own stories, and write their own paths. With guidance...of course, but guidance and support of the artist’s thoughts and ideas; not the industry’s manipulated idea of what they feel the artist’s wishes should be. This, yes I know is a tricky one. But what I’m saying is it’s time we hear more development and a number of different voices and ideas of music, rather than hearing one sound, attached to ten different artists, so diluted that when you hear a song you cannot even recognize who it is. This only leads to the trends and not a lasting impression, so much so people get sick of the music so quick, artists become an ever so common “one-hit wonder”.
We have so many artists who are out there and understand the history of the culture, the meaning of being in the game, and how to develop themselves into the essence of the music for us to enjoy for many years to come. Yet so many of these people are left in the underground, and for years are overlooked, misunderstood and are not celebrated.
So tell me, why aren’t we celebrating quality in hip hop? Why are we not helping it revive itself? Support and develop itself into its true form? Is this the industry’s fault for selling a quick fix/diluting the music? Or is society to blame for lacking patience and understanding that trends do not last forever, and something which is of substance, is worth waiting for? With this train of thought, can we have a future where our children’s, children, will know who paved the way? Who broke down the barriers? And simply have music that will translate for years to come?
Only time will tell, if we can help get hip hop back on the right track, but we must understand the past to be able to move forward with the future. Hopefully, this is only a hiccup in time, not the lasting moment.