Rakim

Caution. Kids at Play: Have We Outgrown Hip-Hop?


“Back in the day when I was young/ I’m not kid anymore…” – “Back in the Day”, Ahmad

When Hip-Hop legend, “Knowledge B. Born,” headed to the stage to finally receive his Hip-Hop Lifetime Achievement Award, he clutched in his right hand a speech written in graffiti that he had wanted to deliver for years. He planned to put the entire audience of rap superstars on blast for destroying the culture he helped create. But when he looked into the faces of a room full of rich kids half his age, who were either half asleep or busy textin’, he just crumbled up his notes, said, “Y’all keep doin’ your thing,” and left the stage. Leaving the crowd whispering amongst themselves, “Who was that old dude?…”

Recently, when Rakim went on stage to receive his BET “I Am Hip-Hop Award,” I hoped that he was gonna diss the entire front row of rappers with a fraction of his talent. I thought maybe the “Microphone Fiend” was gonna kick a freestyle battle rhyme and dare any one of the no talent bums to come up and snatch the mic from his mighty hand. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. Another missed opportunity in the annals of Hip-Hop history. At that point, I had to face the sad reality that many of my generation have avoided.

Maybe, we have outgrown Hip-Hop.

Perhaps the saddest lament over the State of Hip-Hop was Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, that talked about the sad relationship between Hip-Hop purists and the gangsta rap that dominated the charts at the time. However, that was almost 18 years ago, and many of us who divorced ourselves from Hip-Hop have kissed and made up several times since then.

But like the classic breakup line says, “The problem isn’t you. The problem is me.” Maybe we are just too old to be listening to the kiddie porn that is passing for Hip-Hop nowadays. At some point, the thrill of sneakin’ into your Pop’s secret drawer and peepin’ his Playboy mags wears off, and you want a real relationship with a real woman.

Now, I admit there are days when I want to lock myself away from the world and play video games, while smackin’ on a big box of Fruit Loops, but unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. Neither do most folks over 25. Life is moving fast, and deals that will affect my life are being made every second – with or without my input. So, I either have to roll with them or get rolled over.

But Hip-Hop is like Neverland, where you never have to grow old, and if you are not careful, you can get stuck there and be a 60-year-old man poppin’ Viagra while watching “106 and Park.” And this “don’t-wanna-grow-up Toys R Us Kid” mentality is reflected in the rap of today. Instead of those black and white Parental Advisory stickers, in 2012, most Hip-Hop CDs should come with big, yellow “Caution. Kids at Play “ signs.

Today the rap industry is run by spoiled little brats with a million bucks but 50 cent brains. Somebody has, indeed, spared the rod and spoiled the child.

But the question that has always plagued Hip-Hop is, who do you blame ?

When confronted, many Hip-Hop apologists fall back on that classic line, “Don’t blame rap. Blame the parents.“ But does this also apply to the Fathers of Hip-Hop? Maybe they have acted more like deadbeat dads than the head of the Hip-Hop household? This is the only society on the planet where the children are leading the elders.

Last year, columnist Bomani Jones addressed this issue in an article, “A Look at Chuck D’s Open Letter,” where he wrote, “It’s disingenuous for much of the older crowd now to try and ride to hip hop’s rescue after we definitely had a part in getting to where we are.” But the sad part is that many Old School cats are defending rap music with the same excuses that were used 20 years ago. They are defending the lyrics of Chief Keef the same way they did Snoop Dogg in ‘92. But Snoop never grew up to convert his misogynistic lyrics into words that would uplift the community. He only produced a legion of Snoop puppies. So Chief Keef will only produce a tribe of ratchet rappers if left unchecked.

This is not entirely the fault of the rappers, either. Society has played a major role in the ghetto man-child mentality.

My generation was bombarded with the idea that “Black men in the America would not live to see 24.” So when we reached the ripe old age of 25, we had no game plan. Even much of the now revered “message music” of the ’80s was just repeating the nihilistic predictions for Black men. Few songs actually challenged the socio-economic factors that made such a dire prophecy believable. Even the ones that did offer such an analysis are now considered “Old School.”

Rapper Mista Spot on his song, “Classic“, questioned why you never hear the term “Old School Rock “ or “Old School Country,” but their songs are forever immortalized as ageless music, which can be enjoyed by their grandchildren. The same should be said about some Hip-Hop.

But maybe Rock and Country fans respect their music more than we respect Hip-Hop. What record company would dare lump Mick Jagger and Justin Bieber in the same category, and throw them on a track together? Rolling Stones fans would start bombin’ radio stations.

It must be remembered that it was the wrath of rock fans that led to the demise of Disco.

In 1979, 90,000 outraged Rockers almost destroyed Comiskey Park in Chicago at the infamous Disco Demolition Night, where some DJs decided to blow up a stack of Disco records to protest the genre. Even today, you can still catch people rockin’ the “Disco Sucks” T-shirts. Since “Ratchet Rap” is the Disco music of Hip-Hop, what if thousands of real Hip-Hop fans started rockin’ “Ratchet Rap Sucks” T-shirts and destroying CDs?

At the least, it would make a rapper think twice before releasing another immature, wack CD.

Will the Hip-Hop mental midgets hit an intellectual growth spurt before the culture is totally destroyed?

I don’t know. But one thing is certain.

Like the classic Quincy Jones song says, in the end,“Everything Must Change.”

Even Hip-Hop.

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For more information on the No Warning Shots Fired lecture series, contact info@nowarningshotsfired.com, visit NoWarningShotsFired.com. or follow on Twitter (@truthminista).

  • This is one of the best write ups on hip hop that I’ve read ever! More artists/hip hop fans need to read this.

    • Bumpy Johnson

      word i had to go up and see who wrote this joint. i was like “no way illseed wrote thise”

      the best point mentioned that really got me thinking is….Its true Rock and Country artists do respect their genre more than we do

      • illseed

        don’t throw rocks at the throne, boy.

      • bisolabliss

        u sucka…, what throne… lamo

    • LSA365

      i second that im 25 almost 26 the older i get the less i care who’s hot who’s not always love the culture but the music as u get older just isnt as important as was when your younger teens early 20’s

  • gfdgd

    It’s all about the influences. Rappers from 70-90’s were all influenced by disco, soul, music with meaning and hip hop was their way to overcome oppression. Rappers these days are all influenced by the Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z and gangsta rap lifestyle of money is all that matters. It will get even worse when the next generation is influenced by wack artists like Lil Wayne and Odd Future. Hip hop needs a saviour, someone to remind people that it doesn’t have to be like this.

    • Emilione

      I agree a 1000%. These rappers today don’t look at artists from the more revolutionary times of the 60/70/ and even 80s. To me its also about where society is moving 2012. Its not “moving as a people” that is important nowadays. Now its every one for themselves and its ego before collective. Like you say, hip hop need somebody Iconic that will be a game-changer. Somebody that cant be denied by big labels and people who listen to ignorant rap.

    • Bumpy Johnson

      biggie smalls didnt say money is all that matters..he was actually on some my crew is everything to me then money. he even said more money more problems….it was all about your click , the game and then about the money and never bout the hoes..nowdays its about the money and hoes and everything comes next.

    • thuglifefukdapolice

      bbiggie n jay z didnt start nothing gangsta it was ice t nwa geto boys too short nicca learn ur history chump biggie was a party rapper so is jay z now pac was son some real ish

      • Tim Davis

        savior?…no rap needs a wider scope of diversity being reflected …artists such as Brother Ali, Immortal Technique, Killer Mike, Big KRIT, Tech Nine and a wide host of other MCs need to be getting some airplay!!! They giving messages. No one man will save rap…Biggie and Tupac, while great artists in their time are figures that we need to put in perspective because their status and legendary music seems to sometimes overshadow the great variety of rap music that has paved new avenues and channels. Holding on to this notion of a “savior” figure in rap is disrespectful to those who inspired and influenced not just rap as a music, but hip-hop as a culture. Rap music is at its strongest in a collective, not as individuals!!!

  • Ken Ring

    People always looking for a hip hop saviour. Your right The younger generation is running rap right now and the older generation needs to stop bitching. I used to love Rakim and and now I love Chance The Rapper. I don’t think Rakim could come back and make a relevant cd nowadays but that doesn’t negate that he was one of the founders of the best genres of music on the planet. I’m tired of people saying young rappers r ruining the game, and point to Chief Keef. Odd Future, Kids These Days, Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, ShowYouSuck, even Curren$y. All under 30 (I think) all doin original, genre pushing music. I don’t think you’ve outgrown hip hop. I just think your stuck in some kind of nostalgic hip hop wonderland where everyone rhymed in A B A B form over breakbeats about how “fresh, and dope” they were. Old heads stop bitchin, young heads keep killin the game! Nuff said.

    • Bumpy Johnson

      you fukkin crazy dawg……u see you think you know what skill is because you never head real skill….gtfoh…n im not an old head neither..89′ was the year.

      • Ken Ring

        I don’t know real skill? I grew up on Ice Cube, Tribe, Biggie, Nas, Yeezy, Jigga..you know.. all them ( according to you) no skill havin ass rappers. I mean no disrespect when I say the old heads need to step back and run the game from the inside and let the younger, talented, relevant artists bring our culture to the next level. Like they did.

    • CaliTransplant

      To put Mac Miller or OF in the same sentence as Chief Keef is just…smh..That dude is trash to the imf degree..

  • Dave Williams

    Good article i feel that society, the swagg rappers not showing respect or acknowledging the older generation of Hip Hop. alot not some are defending it not to be considered a hater. but what this generation doesnt realize is constructive critiszm.your not hating when your giving critiszm, its like that in sports, music etc when it come to these young people. and i agree it is about influences, but alot take the negative context and run with it. example 1. ah the 70,s pimp. west coast rappers thrived off of this back in the Day. 2Pac (thug Life) if you listen to Pac he was trying to set street laws and codes but brothers thought the wrong way and now its part of the problem in Hip Hop. sad very sad how we destroyed our own culture

  • EXCELLENT ARTICLE! SO ON POINT!

    • Casor_Greener

      They don’t say “Old School rock” but they do say “Classic Rock” same thing

      • maya

        It’s not the same thing. Classic Rock is considered as the best, the pinnacle of rock music. Classic rock is revered. Most Old-School Hip Hop is not even respected, let alone revered, by the younger generation. All they know and acknowledge is Tupac and Biggie. All they know about old-school is tidbits they read on the internet.

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  • Carlos

    good read, gotta say one of the best of this site. BTW, that 50 cent brain line in the article can be taken by some as a indirect dis to 50.

  • Johnny Sanchez

    Salute!

  • need2morehands2give4thumbsdown

    we in the era where nobody has a stance cause they dont want to offend anyone or group that they could possibly get some money from. so called gangsta rappers sayin its cool to be gay and they proud of queers comin out. quasi-thugs singin bout bein gangster in womens jeans. dudes in no area of gang activity claimin they gang bangin. nobody gettin beat up or violated for rappin about ish they aint about. it will get worse when homo gang n them release they new single and all your favorite rappers endorse them.

    • maya

      Nigroe please. Gays have been a part of making Hip Hop music since the beginning. Gays have been fans of Hip Hop music from the beginning and are a large part of the Hip Hop audience today. First you complain about gays being real about it, then you complain about fake gangstas. You sound confused. It’s not good for anybody to front and live a lie. People should just be who they are. If that makes you uncomfortable – that is your problem to figure out and deal with. Fa reals.

      • need2morehands2give4thumbsdown

        omg DIKE kill yo self. you sayin i sound confused and you dont even know a d-ck go inside a hole. sittin over there rubbin ya hole together w another broad tryna get friction talkin bout i sound confused. turn down the frank ocean and take yo strap-on off and let Jesus talk to you…

      • maya

        Frustrated cornball. lol

      • need2morehands2give4thumbsdown

        misguided dirty dike b-tch. i told u to kill yo self not type.

      • CaliTransplant

        I rest my case.. you reply like a young boy also…again, stop it..

    • CaliTransplant

      you sound like a young boy…stop it..

  • Tarkpor

    I totally agreed with the reflective piece. As genre/cultre, hip hop never thought of itself as an art in itself. Masta ace said it best, “disposable art.” Furthermore, hip hop has been on survival mode since it genesis from Black radio, labels, clubs…as a result, the hip hop generation never had an opportunity to layout a vision or start “thinkin’ about a master plan’-YZ.
    The fact is hip hop is a prostitute pimp by many and love by few. The fact of the situation is that we have never been reflective about our culture and diss is the biggest error. No honor! no respect for our elder state men/women. nelly diss KRS; Nikki diss KIM…young rapper calling Jay-Z.
    the sad part is money is the new overseer and negroes are selling their souls and culture for it. Importantly we are buying that BS!

  • Abrasive Angel

    I actually do have a shirt that says “Ratchet Rap Sucks.” Google us, Fohat Apparel.

  • Purger Black

    yo, to finish a text wit “evrythin must change. Even hiphop?? dis aint HH’s right name fo ya columne!? anywy…. n ol skul’z a just a term fo a first period ov ROCKin! PB iz a fan ov rap muzik! #velikaguzvaukineskomkvartu

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  • I’ve been saying this for while… Rock and country fans support their artists until they retire! Hip Hop is the only genre where you see younger fans saying dumb sh** just because the artist is older. SMFH!

  • andrewdavis1415

    I like some of these articles but it seems like allhiphop writers never write anything good about the current state of hip-hop. I feel as if u give no credit to guys like J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Slaughterhouse, Jon Connor Nas, Common, Wale, Talib Kweli & others who are still trying to make conscious, intellectual records. Ofcourse, no rapper is gonna be perfect & always preach a good message through their music but u gotta rememeber, this is a business as well. These labels, A&R’s & Execs dont give a damn about the state of hip-hop. They just wanna make lots of money so they arent gonna support or promote any artist who raps about something else. Not too mention the tough state of the economy which has affected record sales tremendously & the lack of knowledge in this generation. Even if major label gave huge support to an artist that was more conscious, 2days hip-hop fans would not go out & buy that album. It would struggle to sell any records & that artist would immediately get dropped from the label. Right now, there’s a demand for trap & ratchet music. Established artists do have the luxury of experimenting & releasing more conscious music as radio singles but they’d rather follow their current formula for success.

  • Dadon850

    One of the biggest problems is these young rappers don’t have a full understanding of music. All they know is gangsta rap, and that’s a problem. Rappers over 30 have influences from James Brown all the way to Sam Cook. Young rappers are growing up on Tupac and Biggie cause that’s what they parents play. And not the Dear Mama PAC either. It affects the lyrics they write. They feel they need to rap about drugs and the street and nothing else. They don’t have the ability to go in a studio and craft a social song with complicated lyrics. The bad thing is its only going to get worse.

  • pockets_hot_from_pepperoni

    I think part of the problem is the short amount of time rap/hiphop has been around as opposed to other genres. that and the internet just really accelerated everything it seems nothing holds much longevity in this genre anymore

  • Truth minista always with the dope message. On point with the intelligent real raw perspective on hiphop. Big up Truth. Nowarningshots website is dope. If everyone hasn’t been there check it out. Sidney see this is hiphop editorial 101. Take notes.

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  • Pierre Elliott

    HIP HOP IS MUSIC. IT HAS NO AGE BARRIER, THE AGE BARRIER WAS BROUGHT ON BY THE INDUSTRY…CAUSE HALF OF THOSE RAP DUDES THAT FIRST CAME OUT
    WERE 40 YEAR OLD DUDES ALONG WITH 20 SOMETHINGS…

    BLACK MUSIC, HIP HOP/ RAP/ WE ALLOWED IT TO BE TAKEN OVER BY THE WHITE POWER ESTABLISHMENT….

    IN THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT LIKE THIS, AND IT NEEDS TO GO BACK TO HOW IT WAS WITHOUT CORPORATE INTERVENTION….

    I WILL BE THAT SAVIOR.

    I WILL ENERGIZE IT, AND MAKE A NEW CHILD THAT IS BLACK SOUL MUSIC.
    ONE THAT ISNT BASED ON: MONEY,FAKE IMAGES AND WACK MUSIC THAT LEAVES YOU EMPTY….

    THE REALITY IS, MUSIC BEING PUT OUT NOW ISNT FUN… ITS DEVOID OF SOUL PERSONALITY AND EMOTION.

    NEW BEATS. REAL; RHYMES. REAL SINGERS, AND SOMETHING WE ALL CAN BELIVE IN…. THE ERA IS ALMOST HERE…

    THEY WANT YOU TO BE STUPID SO THEY CAN RUN THE GAME ON YOU SHEEP.

    THE TIME FOR DRINKS AND CLUBS IS OVER…..

  • Sounds like Truth Minista is growing old. I mean was political rap in the focus anytime before and after Public Enemy? All old school rap is about partying and girls like the current music. The nineties were all about smoking blunts and drinking beer until Puff axed that shit and put more weight on money. With Jay-Z, 50cent Gangsta rap came back and everybody was starting to take streed cred too serious. I mean not even NWA had street cred. Now we have Kanye, Wayne and Drake, who are not about street cred and we call them soft. I mean how many ppl see that Wayne just ridicules everything. and plays the rockstar show. Hip-Hop is full of contradictions, so are the fans. If its too hard we want it softer. If its to soft we want it harder. Fact is, Hip-Hop is the culture of the youth and once the music is too loud you’re getting old.

    • bisolabliss

      Real spit…Word!

  • Blackstallion777

    I can’t speak for country because I’ve never listened to it and none of my friends do, but there is a genre called Classic Rock.

  • messias3

    how old do you have to be to stop listening to the blues, jazz, country, opera, rock n roll … mayne … stop the bullshiiit’in … MY Black Grandpa loved counrty … but hated white folks … he played the french horn … How can the youth provide substance when they only have a little experience holding the full weight of adult hood? Hip-hop was made by adults for the kids I believe … I will Love and do this music till the day I die … for I am a fan … a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal … for HIP – HOP

  • messias3

    I AM HIP-HOP!

  • Slaughtr

    Fck all that you have to be young for hip hop to matter.Hip hop is a fckn culture so let’s get that shyyt understood.When the hell you heard rock changing, when have you heard classical music changin,pop changing,punk rock changin fckn never. To me the young generation now doesn’t have a lick of respect for the ownerz that have made the game they bull shyht instead making songs that have no direction. Yea sure things change but to say we have grown out of it fckn non sense once you fall in love with this culture there is no coming back and everbody who says they love this rap shit think about that…for real.I say this shyt all the time the corporate boys and lame ass industry punks made this shyt sound the way it does to further destroy it because it has lasted so long. If artist keep their integrity then we would not be having this fcked up convo.Radio, label ecs,fake ass a&r’s all play a role because they dictate so called new music trends well as of the last 15 years the industry has failed.

  • My brother I’m always impressed with you commentary. You always talking that real, grown folk stuff. Keep up the great work.Voices such as your are very much needed in our community

  • Great read! I just can’t get into the new kids these days like Wiz, Gambino, or even the new G.O.O.D music (:x)

  • Justin Rigdon

    I am really feeling this article. I still find myself most attracted to and older era of Hip-Hop. Even the new music that I like is from artist that have been in the game since I was young kid. I feel that the author is on point about the “Fathers of Rap” being somewhat responsible, I do see a slightly different perspective. I don’t see them as completely “deadbeat dads” but more of just “unconcerned dads” many of them are still very present in the lives of their baby (hip hop), but have decided to just do them and let these new artist do themselves. All these young artist seem to have polluted hip hop with more garbage than can now be managed, and for anyone (even the fathers) to step in and try to “fix it” or bring it back to its pure essence would be an exercise in futility.

  • The fact of the matter is that hip-hop was created by kids devoid of fathers. Our music never had a father. Our dads, were our alcoholic uncles. They were called Rick James and James Brown. Rap music reached a mature age, and it didn´t go to college. The bastard child that is ratchet rap will OD at some point. Don´t worry. He wasn´t meant to make it and something might or might not take his place. This is why the kids lead the elders. Rappers make their own rules, always have. There is simply no other way.

    It´s interesting that the parallel is drawn to country music, cos it is also in a state of identity crisis, and has been for a while, as far as I can tell (not that I really follow the genre). They´ve begotten horrible acts that sell shitloads, but are far far away from what Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Ray Charles churned out, seemingly without much effort, in their prime. We have the same problem.

    Maybe rap music was the music of a generation. One single generation. And we were the lucky ones. We had EPMD, Rakim, NWA, Beastie Boys, Ice Cube, Dre and Snoop Dogg all to our selves. We had Mos Def, Black Star, Wu-Tang, Jaÿ-Z (remember the “Ÿ”??) and Nas. You said it yourself, through Quincy; everything must change. Maybe it did years ago, and we´re just holding on to the memories. Except every once in a while, something really fun and exciting comes along and I start believing again… Let´s at least wait for Kendrick Lamar´s album before we chalk up the body.. 🙂

    • maya

      Pro!

  • jondoe

    Instead of protesting “ratchet rap” why don’t you hip hop purists go out & support people like lupe & jay electronica. 500k young fans can go out & buy drake album 1st week but you back packers can’t even help common sell over 100k? It’s the fans fault, how you can complain on the internet all day about lil wayne but wayne has fans who support him, why don’t you support the artists who make “real hip hop”? You people who complain are the the source of your own problems.

  • Six7

    Guess, I’ll be bumpin’ this classic Slum Village – Fantastic forever!

  • Hip Hop is going to be around for a long long time…there is some game changers comin up. Great article

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