Invariably, you can find someone on the internet professing to their fanship of some obscure, undiscovered (or just-discovered) artist to latch onto, then talk about them as if they're the best thing ever invented, if only because they have heard of them and you have not... They will prattle on about how "fake" and "watered down" that "commercialized" music has become.
Bonus points scored if you can get them to cop to once liking a current (or recently previously popular) artist, but it always comes with the qualifier "I liked him better when he was still underground," even if that artist never even pretended to be "underground," whatever that may mean in the grand scheme of things.
There is always the underground/mainstream argument -- which is fucking stupid -- when music of any genre is concerned. Being that I spend my time around hip hop more than anything, I see it most there, often divided down the line of race at that. White people seem to be able to admit to liking hip hop a little more easily as long as it is "underground," it seems.
Then comes their favorite card of denigration to play when the topic of is "that ain't even hip hop, that's just rap."
One would think that an individual would come up with a better reason not to like Gucci Mane or whomever else they're talking about (usually Lil Wayne, but we've already talked about him in the last week or so) when they need to play this one... Use of a fundamentally vague inaccuracy, usually played in an attempt to make themselves or their taste look better then the individual they're talking to at a given time.
On surface, Hip Hop is 4 elements; MCing (rapping), DJing, breakdancing and graffiti... Additions to the lexicon since the 1970's beginning have been slang and fashion. Both make sense as additions to a scene based on audibles and visuals.
Speaking in generals, it is rather unfair and unrealistic to think that any one individual to embody or even employ all 4 (or 6) elements of hip hop, so it stands to reason that either NO ONE is actually hip hop or anyone who shows to any element of it is... For the sake of common sense, I will opine toward the latter.
As much as I may dislike the music you make. As little as it may offer to the continuance an already compromised "culture," as ignorant as you may KNOW your shit is... I cannot discredit you for being "not hip hop." Fuck, you're rapping, and that is an element.
Sure, I could say that you don't give a fuck about hip hop on the whole, but little good does that do when anyone is free to give it a try.
Speaking in terms of the so-called "best ever" (lol, another blog for another time), how many of them actually remained "hip hop," or even ever were when you look at these things? Who in the hell starts at McDonald's and hopes to stay on the fries forever? No one, and I mean literally no one enters popular music professionally and maintains the outlook of doing it as a hobby forever. I mean that to say that sure the kid doing it in his parents basement while still holding down a job and never showing his work to anyone is one thing, but it is wholly different for a dude to shop a demo, kiss A&R ass and -- if we're talking about a female artist especially -- do something a little strange for some change (yeah, I said it).
That said, anyone who USED to be unknown and is now on top is not there by accident, and in such sold you no dreams of them being any more organic than the next. That being said, they were only ever "underground" enough to be able to get themselves on. Once the voice is heard, all delusions of "underground" are out the window because it is time to make some motherfuckin' MONEYS!
Don't believe me?
EVERY rapper in this so-called "best ever" discussion, either on their debut albums or guest features leading into it, released a song (as a single, no less) that dealt with...
In so much, it should remain as no secret that these things BECAME the high road to the evolution of hip hop, for better or worse.
Better, in that it makes room for people to be doing SOMETHING they might be adept at, whether or not our own personal tastes allow us to feel as such.
Worse, in that we begin to see an 'everyman'-type character in this and it begins that things become dumbed down mightily.
Unfortunately, to an audience inundated with worsening music, it is all still hip hop as long as any of the elements are present.
Just don't tell KRS-One, he might have an aneurysm.
[Phlip note - in fact, go ahead and tell him]
While it seems cool and self-validating to be able to sit and look down your nose at the hip hop you see commercially available, the fact remains that it is no different than any OTHER group of self-righteous motherfuckers sitting back and shitting on things they don't like with no real plan of correction outside of complaining.
Furthermore, who makes the rules here?
Who is to decide what is and is not "hip hop"? These questions stand especially valid when one stops to think that more often than not, the assignment of the "that's rap, not hip hop" badge is thrown around with reckless subjectivity hiding under some supreme notion of entitlement. And no, that is not a good thing.
How in the HELL can we take something that is as variable as this just so happens to, usually drawn with blind regional loyalty, and expect a whole of a community to stand aside of themselves and look at these things objectively? Sadly, we can't... Well, I can and do, but we on the whole cannot.
Hell, if even to just live and let live/die.
Look, my sister has an odd phobia for midgets, as does her best friend for clowns. Strangely, I have never seen a midget or a clown in Regina and Victoria's houses, respectively. Conversely, at no point has either spoken down on the rights of midgets and clowns' doing midget and clown stuff.
[Phlip note - that was a metaphor, right?]
To quote my man Mike (LevPhonic, check out his shit), "I like what you're doing... Just do it over there."
Far less energy is wasted ignoring something that is not going to damned go away anyway then to grant it continued credence and attention that comes with hating on it. Remember that next time you fire up the keyboard to complain about Lil Wayne and his auto tune...
At the end of it all, you are no more of a hip hop fan or connoisseur because you knew all the words on a Charles Hamilton mix CD he might have released to MySpace a couple years ago than is the dude who has fashioned his whole persona around dressing, talking and
After all, We're All in the Same Gang.