There’s something in the Kool-Aid. Or the red cup… the Ciroc or whatever rappers are sippin’ nowadays. Whatever it is, something just doesn’t feel right. Actually, it does, but it wasn’t supposed to happen for another few years, if ever again.
There’s balance in hip-hop.
The goons, the backpackers, the young & flashy, the trappers, the hipsters, the purists, the gangstas and the newborns are all being equally fed. Very well I might add. We’re going into the fourth month of the new decade and, to much surprise, there’s some good music coming out the rap asylum.
Over the past few months the goons have had Gunpowder Guru from Yayo, Sean P freestyles and Maino joints to cause trouble too. The young and flashy got “Beemers, Benz and Bentleys” to drive to, Joe Crack to “Slow Down” to and Fabo spitting like he’s gunning for most points this season. In fact, there seems to be unity in the Empire State. Seems things loosened up a bit after that jam on the island last year and now you have a delegate from the Unit doing some friendly sparing with a delegate from Dip-Set.
Fat Joe even shouted out Hov on his record. Meanwhile, Slaughter House’s resident butcher made himself at home on the record and no one complained. (“I let the pow pow clap”). Oh, and the record he jumped on is the hottest record in the game…and it’s independent (as in no major).
Could it be? The Empire State getting their shit together?
Down in the Southern division, the trappers got heat from Tip, Gucci, Plies and Jeezy, while Wacka-Flaca and the pre-school approach seems to provide the dope boys music to slang to. Luda’s unleashing platinum singles with his eyes closed, Soulja Boy is actually awaited and you’re lyin’ if you don’t have at least one joint off Wayne’s No Ceilings on your iwhatever. Even rap’s favorite C.O. is batting a high % despite the obvious.
Somewhere in space, the Emo-rap elite are coming correct. Experiments from Lupe, The Knux and Kudi are taking “weird” into cool-like territories in 2010; where it may start off at skeptic and end in genius. Say what you will, but these outsiders will break conventional wisdom and continue push hip-hop towards the more creative levels it needs to be. For a small glimpse of endless possibilities, peep this Gorillaz joint.
The backpackers have what may be the sleepers of the year from Freeway & Jake One’s Stimulus Package as well as Reflection Eternal. I’d be lying if I said I was a fan of RE since day one. Like, holy-shit-stop-the-presses-type-of-fan. But dope is dope, period. I can’t recall anything wack or “forced” being released off that project. Like, have you really soaked in “In this World”? and “Just Begun”? The latter is like the backpackers “Banned From
the coffee house TV”. With passing of the late great Guru, these two are now the best producer/rapper tandem in rap. Preserve it.
The newborns have the fortune of rookies like J-Elec and J-Cole pushing pen to pad for some of the best spittage in recent years. And while Drake’s hip-pop approach to this ain’t slowing him down anytime soon, B.O.B is flourishing into the top tier music act everyone hoped he’d to be.
The purists have Raekwon the Chef to thank for taking reigns of the “W” and making it a symbol to be respected in these changing times. His Cuban Linx II set off a wave of 90’s mainstays hitting the gym again. Hip-Hop fans aren’t as devoted as rock fans towards their heritage acts and that “W” is akin to The Rolling Stones logo in music: a recognizable symbol of timeless shit. Actually, some of your favorite MC’s are pushing 40′s door down, which undermines the notion that rappers don’t get better with time. Cube’s trying to push buttons, Hov still the man to beat and Bun B is unleashing hell on No Mixtape. And speaking of Snoop…
The Western Division is stacking up for a solid resurgence with Jay Rock, Nippsie, Fashawn having stock in the new, while the OG’s like Snoop, Cube and Cypress coming correct with some of their best music in years. The Game (jury still out) is working with Dre again and Detox just may see the light of day this
millennium year, if Jimmy has anything to say about it. Add the sub-division of Gang Green, Pac Div, Evidence and Blu to equation and you’ve got 95 all over again in the West.
The scale is even, at least for now.
See, there has to be balance in order for things to function effectively. All sides of the spectrum, machine or brain have to work cohesively in order for things to move forward. The last 10 years found hip-hop going through enough styles, trends and phases (grillz, anyone?) to warrant a much needed colonic cleansing to get to this point.
Only concern for most is sales. Fear not panicked execs-with-little-understanding-of-how-to-connect-the-music-with-the-audience! Releases from Marshall, Drizzy, ‘Ye, Game, Jeezy, Luda, Tip, Big Boi and Dr.Dre may insure that rap’s presence on the charts will eclipse the NBA free agency as the most talked about fodder at barber shops this summer.
How long it stays this way is anyone’s guess. This hasn’t happened in over 15 years, so enjoy it while you can.
PS: Before I got into the business, the words of Keith “Guru” Elam were the passages I would regularly recite from the Hip-Hop Bible. Few, if any, preached the street lifestyle in a way that translated to every genre I just mentioned in this post. The man and his partner, DJ Premier, have stock in my adolescent years. As well as my time on this earth as a journalist, a record executive and as an overall hip-hop head. When I played hooky with the hood rats, The Guru was in the system. When I dropped out of high school, The Guru was with me in the walkman, filling out work applications. When my Carhatt got taxed, I fought hard for the walkman, because The Guru was in it. When that chick played me for that other dude, The Guru was there speaking ex to the next. When I wrote my way up the journalist ranks, Guru was the voice of determination for me. He preached ‘elevate, but stay grounded.’ Respect was the overall theme of The Guru’s M.O. He had it, got it and will go in passing with it. It’s with great respect that I wipe a tear and say ‘thank you’ to The Guru.
Class of ’92
“Whether you kids be holdin’ on the block all day, or you be puffin la out in the back hallway /or whether you be in school or in the law library / Where ever you are baby paw, realize that your essence is divine son and let it shine son as we refine son / Ayo this shit’ll blow your mind son, we’re royalty.” – The Guru
PSPS: “Tell that nigga
Solar I said ‘suck my dick’” – © Ghostface