Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Generation Next

There's a lot of debate about the current state of hip hop music. It seems to be boiling down to "the young" vs. "the old". Although hip hop itself can't necessarily be defined as nostalgic, in a sense, those that have been participants since it's inception, fans & artists alike, are upwards of 35-40 years old. So in a culture still relatively young, there can exist "old" heads, per se.

Hip hop has always been synonymous with youth. After all, the last trend set by old people was moving to Miami. The dress code, the attitude, the language of hip hop is all derived by whippersnappers with something to prove. Through various outlets, if one wanted to get closer to the youth, hip hop was usually an avenue.

When I was a kid, rap music had many forms. Of course there was always the requisite "street music", which is self explanatory. More fanfare & propaganda than knowledge & enlightenment. But, there also existed an equal dosage of educational music. One could easily learn about the roots of African American culture (X-Clan, PRT, KRS-one, etc.), the evils of American society (Ice Cube, Paris, Public Enemy, etc.) or just digest a general cacophony of intellectual thoughts (Rakim Allah, BDK, King Sun, etc.). It was the perfect balancing act in a world so full of negative exposure.

My generation wanted to wear Ankh's & crosses made of faux-leather & wood, as opposed to platinum Jesus pieces. There was actually a time where even cooler than being a D-Boy (or bag) or a Boss Nigga, was being a strong Black man. Standing for something, thus not falling for anything. The Black community was a sacred place to be recognized & protected, not sanctioned & raped by crime & addiction. Tragedy Khadafi, who once went by the moniker Intelligent Hoodlum, released a song in the early '90's called "Black & Proud". The title says it all. Those were the types of songs pumping at house parties. Youngsters wanted to be rappers because they felt they had something to say & "now" was the time to say it.

That's not the case any longer. There isn't a whole helluva lot that [insert rapper] can teach the youth outside of drug manufacturing/distribution & violent behavior. What kid in their right mind wouldn't want to be a rapper, since it's made out to be a glamorous, amorous lifestyle rife with guilt-free greed? I understand that art can be a hustle, but without equal acknowledgment of both parts, it subsequently becomes one or the other. & regardless of purist arguments, hip hop is becoming a robotic merchant of mental death.
Without stimulation, any muscle will surely atrophy & die. Without music to challenge our thoughts & ideals, how long will it be before we're not even required to think? Maybe Kanye & Lil Wayne have the right idea. Fresh & unique trumps mundane & boring any day of the week.

We can't go back in time, but the future is ours for the molding.