Wednesday, December 2, 2009

past, present, future...

I remember when rappers were rappers. Nothing more than that. No smoke & mirrors, no ulterior motives, no snake charming [||], no chickanery. They were rappers, plain & simple, through & through. Jump in my Delorean for a moment...


In the mid-late 80's, most rappers looked like drug dealers or break dancers. Or some strange hybrid of the two, ready to toss loose crack rocks into the crowd mid-windmill, at the drop of a crumpled $10 bill. Point is, you could see a rapper, or one who emulated the rapper "culture" from a mile away. The last wave of truck jewelry was inspired by these days, thanks to Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane & Rakim, to name a few. These guys were easily distinguishable from the forefathers, with the neo-funk, punk-rock space cowboy, post-Disco get ups. & even then, there was something about a Black dude in a technicolor mohawk that still registered as Hip Hop. No confusion.


The 90's brought forth a simpler uniform. Much more carefree; baggy clothes, unkept or braided hair, or a strange marriage of the two (see: ODB), mountain climber or construction boots, preferably manilla yellow, & that was that. & let us night forget the horrible spell of XXXL white t-shirt/nightgowns, that dangled so low beyond the belt line that I've even seen a nigga's knee get caught as he ran. More often than not, rappers of that decade looked like they smelled. Of either too much weed or not enough hygiene. But, it went over good, because there wasn't an incessant need for flash & glamour. They 80's cats took care of that. Now, cats had something to prove, verbally, & what says that more than looking like you didn't give a fuck about much else? HIp Hop was beginning the maturation process, & the music took the forefront. The only people who didn't look like rappers at the time were our parents. Unless your mom was only 13 years older than you, which was sometimes the case.


The 90's saw 80's flash, with a rich nigga twist. Everything had to shine, not just jewelry. & sunglasses were requisite to the get up; the brighter & glossier, the better. Cats went from t-shirts & hoopties on their album covers, to linens & luxury coupes in their videos. Puff Devil Combs played a large part in this transformation, & even had the grimey-as-fuck Lox looking like walking packs of Now & Laters for a brief period. That was before he had sex with their bank accounts. Plenty of heads across the bored blame the "Shiny Suit" era with the downfall of rugged rap music. All of a sudden, everyone was a millionaire, supposedly, so we all dressed accordingly.But even then, you could still separate the rap cats from the normal folk.


Starting in or damn close to the new millennium, something happened. The rapper stopped being "the rapper" & became "the entertainer". The shackles of stereotype had been broken sequentially over the last couple or so decades, & Hip Hop, now the formidable genre of music, was allowed to express freely. Gone were the baggy pants & gaudy jewelry. Individualism sprouted from state to state, & even country to country. It's now hard to tell the difference between a rap cat, an R&B cat, the gangster rapper, the neo-soul poet, etc. The situation then becomes an oxymoron, where as everyone tries so hard to be different, they all look the same. The tattoos, the hairstyles, the bright colors, the lack of shiny jewels, & as it happened with (cream) Puff, this heightened sense of individuality may be taking it's toll on the collective soul that drives rap.


Good or bad, Hip Hop is moving beyond mere "rap music", & our respective attitudes & styles of expression are indicative of that. I'll be getting more in-depth about this as the month progresses.


Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, especially with the decline of the last POPular gangsta rapper left (see: Curtis Jackson). I think dudes don't want to be hard anymore [||]. They just want to be, whatever that may entail. But, no matter how you slice it, it's all Hip Hop, with the same differences, like ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Regardless of what the label says, it's still ice cream, no? NaS said "hip hop is dead", and we all know that that's not true, but big ups to Nasir for getting niggas back on their p's & q's again, really though.

6 comments:

Rob said...

That whole 3rd paragraph was effin hilariious homes. But for real im kinda glad to see dudes finally not afriad to try something different. it may not always be for me. sometimes, well like 90% of the time, i'll clown. But still, its good to see people tryin to express themselves over fitting in.

Tony Grands said...

"it may not always be for me. sometimes, well like 90% of the time, i'll clown. But still, its good to see people tryin to express themselves over fitting in."

^^Agreed. That's legit spit right there. Dudes that really don't know the diff between "rap music" & "Hip Hop culture" are about to get schooled in a real way. Mark my, umm, our words.

Kiana said...

I'm glad a lot of these new artists don't want to be gangsters anymore. I always thought most of that was acting anyway. In real life the thugged out lifestyle can only land you in two places.

Rob said...

Def a diif between "rap music" and "hip hop culture"

Maybe a post for another day Grands?

Tony Grands said...

^^When I sent that comment, I thought the exact same thing...

Great minds think alike, juice.

I'm on it...

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