Monday, August 3, 2009

The State of Hip Hop

Almost on a daily basis for what seems like an eternity we've heard the phrase "Hip Hop is Dead" in many ways and forms. While listening to some of today's new releases, I almost jumped on that bandwagon myself. I have a newsflash though. Hip hop is not now, nor will it ever be dead. I just think that it's stuck on stupid, in a loop that no one is willing to put an end to.

I've never been against anyone making money and creating a better life for themselves but, even I have to admit that some of the music from these little one hit wonder pop up out of nowhere groups is just plain dumb and promotes ignorance and illiteracy. I'm from the old school and, we had our moments with dance rap. I mean, we had the humpty dance, the butterfly, the tootsie roll, and others that were not only a dance sequence in themselves, but also had songs to go along with them. The only difference though between that and today is that almost every song that comes out now is that. Back then, there was a variety, so, if you didn't want to hear the upbeat dance related stuff, you have a plethora of other artists still dropping music constantly that fit whatever you need was at any particular time. Right now, all you have to choose between is something with a dance or trap music. There is no balance in hip hop.

Hip hop began with up tempo tracks, pop-lockers, and break dancers but, even with that in mind, the lyrics were still about their pains, and struggles, it's was still conscious music, it had a message. Let's compare some lyrics....Planet Rock vs. The Stanky Leg.

Just start to chase your dreams
Up out your seats, make
your body sway
Socialize, get down, let your soul lead the way
Shake it now, go ladies, it's a livin' dream
Love Life Live
Come play the
game , our world is free
Do what you want but scream

We know a place where the nights are hot
It is a house of funk
Females and males
Both headed all for the

The D.J. plays your favorite blasts
Takes you back to the past, music's magic (poof)
Bump bump bump get bump with some flash, people

The above is from Planet Rock, and yes they are talking about partying and dancing but look at the message, telling people to socialize and to chase their dreams, so there definitely was a message in the midst of everything else, at least in my opinion. Next song.

When I hit da dance floor,
You know I'm doin' da stanky leg!
Sauce on my ring and then ya rub it across ya head!
You a ace boon coon chick, you can do it too
Snap ya fingers in the air and shake yo micros too!
Now you can lean wit it, and you can drop wit it!
You can switch the other leg and you can stop wit it!
Now get it, get it(x4)
Now hit da booty doo, hit da booty do(x2)
Now you can get wit it, gon get wit it(x2)

Now, let's be honest, do I even have to comment?

Club songs are a necessary part of the hip hop culture, hence the popularity of Luke and the 2 Live Crew, the 69 Boyz, SoSoDef Bass All Stars, etc from back in the day but to me, when every single song that comes on the radio is a club/dance track, then there's definitely a problem in the world of hip hop.

The bottom line is, hip hop is far from dead, but it's in definite need of balance.

-Don Savant