Friday, October 23, 2009

Celebrating What Hip Hop Was...Def Jam at 25

I was excited to watch how VH1 would put on their annual Hip Hop Honors event this year with Def Jam Records as the honoree. As I grew from youth raised on Anita Baker to adolescent spending my weekly lunch money on bootleg tapes (yep, Germantown Ave) and later Rap CDs, I became fully immersed in the culture of hip hop and continue to claim it now as a 30+ father. The Def Jam tributes and later the BET Hip Hop awards pushed me to think about how my relationship with Hip Hop has been complicated over the years and is now very much a situation where I sit on the thin line between LOVING & HATING the music and culture which sustained and educated me as an adolescent, entertained me as a young adult, and still often soothes me as an emerging grown a$$ man. So I'm going to do my best Radio Raheem and lay out some of the things that I currently LOVE and HATE as I survey the Hip Hop landscape.

LOVE: Jay-Z still doin' it -- Instrumentation at Hip Hop shows -- Hip Hop is Global -- New Boyz representin' a new style on the West Coast -- Goodie Mob reunion performances

HATE: Hyper-Consumerism (is Gucci Mane's iced out EGG BEATER the new Flavor Flav clock?) -- the death of labels that set the trend as opposed to being dictated to by radio and record labels -- Songs like "By The Time I Get to Arizona" and "Burn Hollywood Burn" are now the exception and not the norm

LOVE: MCs who still have cipha skillz -- DJing is NOT a lost art (I see you DJ Premier) -- Fatima Robinson gets some shine from BET -- MCs who try to give back to their community (good job on the profiles BET) -- Drake owning his publishing rights

HATE: Where are the hits from Rap-A-Lot Records, No Limit, and So So Def? -- How come Talib Kweli and Dead Prez can't get the same number of spins as Soulja Boy? -- What happened to the night time Hip Hop show on local radio (grew up on Radioactive in Philly)? -- Not seeing lady emcees getting a shot -- MCs who have no clue how to do a live show.

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