Peace, love, and light fam! I hope this post finds you well. I just ran across an old article of mine that I wrote a few years ago for Levitate Magazine and I wanted to share it. Feel free to like, comment, share, and subscribe to my blog! I really appreciate all of my readers.
Nostalgia and Disappointment—My Lifelong Love of Hip Hop
What is hip hop? To me it is the essence of the beats, rhymes, and rhythms (thanks Tribe) of the people. It is the verbal expression of story set to music. It is life—it represents my life. However, the hip hop of the 80’s and of my youth is not the hip hop of today. Somewhere along the way, the realness has dissipated and become an economical machine with no message. The rawness and flavor of “Fight the Power” has been replaced with the syrupy sweet, pop influenced rhyme, like a watered down drink for an alcoholic. The double edged sword of linguistics been replaced with almost nursery rhyme simplicity with no depth, shallow in its essence-great hook but no catch. And to those who desire to stay true to the roots, they are fighting to get airplay, to gain widespread fans, to remain real. They are fighting against the machine, going underground and straining every muscle to preserve the art of hip hop.
I was born in 1981 during the time of the hip hop explosion. I remember vividly dragging my mother’s large stereo system onto the porch and playing music LOUDLY! LL Cool J, MC Lyte, Run DMC, Funky Four + One, Eric B and Rakim, EPMD, The Real Roxanne, Salt-n-Pepa—these artists and many more became the soundtrack of my life as a young girl. I heard stories that mirrored my own life in the ghetto. It provided me an outlet from my situation and a way to say what I wanted to artistically. Someone knew how it felt to “pluck roaches out the cereal box” in the words of Ghostface Killah. I remember the block parties of the summers and also being the smallest one there. But, nothing stopped me from doing the Roger Rabbit, the Wop, the Running Man, and the first move I ever learned-the Snake! Hip hop was socially conscious, it was fun, it was young, it was the essence of black America. Then, we entered into the illustrious 90’s where so-called “Gangsta Rap” took over. Snoop Doggy Dogg(as he was called back then) had us “laid back” , Wu-Tang Clan guided us through the 36 chambers, as Tupac gave us California Love. We rocked Patra braids, wore Major Damage and Cross Colours, and listened to headphones. We began to mature but in our maturity, we began to lose our way. East vs. West—what a disaster! We lost legends (RIP Big L, Notorious, Tupac, Eazy- E and others). The more we began to be more accepted, the more difficult it became to maintain the purity. As a result, commercialization began to ravish the airways and the good feelings and the beats that once caught our attention began to disintegrate. Women were beginning to truly be looked upon as sexual objects used for the enjoyment of the men in their lives, social consciousness was given a deaf ear, and I began to lose hope that hip hop could survive. Sadly, the dollar signs took precedence over the message. I believe it was during this period of time that I began to really seek music independently and build my own collection. Radio wasn’t playing what I wanted to hear. It had let me down. Where were the stories? Where was the substance? The stories of our youth were being drowned out by over sexualized, degrading, but catchy tunes of the 2000’s. I found aggravation and confusion on the radio. The stories I heard were unfamiliar, the beats were remnants of a glorious past; the music that had grown up with me as a brother, now as distant as a long lost cousin. But, never fear—there are still some artists who have maintained through the change. Nas, Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def, among others have not underwent many changes in their overall flow, even though they have evolved. Hip hop still remains near and dear to my heart but, I still feel a sense of nostalgia, remembering the speakerboxx (Outkast) like a first schoolyard crush and the first rhyme I ever heard “to the bang Bang the Boogie to the Boogie, oh you all know the rest all to the disco beat of “Good Times”. Oh, how I long for the days of recording the melodies onto cassette tapes and labeling them, for all the block parties and dance contests in the hood, the freestyle sessions I happened upon when my uncle David and the crew would get it in, watching Yo!MTV raps and Rap City before the basement, and most of all, the good feeling I would get when I would hear the beat drop and know that on the other side of the beat was a cold ass lyric.
Photo credit: http://www.imgmob.net