Dear French Montana,
Let me start this off by saying: you are the homie. You have opened a part of your home to me, I saw the monkey and the dope Louie V carpet and all that. I am actually proud of you. Seriously. You came from selling DVD’s to one of the biggest stars in the rap game. That is to be commended on many levels. You may have sexed two of the Kardashian sisters (iKid). Diddy is your man. You got a lifetime supply of Ciroc. Hell, you even give back to the Bronx community that raised you for greatness (a cool million to kids!).
The opening of your new Max B-assisted mixtape Wave Gods you asked, “Why isn’t street rap selling like Kendrick?” and then you expounded on Power 105.
“Because they position him, like they did at the Grammys, as the new music. It’s not that it’s not the right thing to do, but you see like the whole thing was like Kendrick night. That album don’t sound like nothing that’s out – the whole hip-hop game don’t sound like that… They put him on that platform so they can shift music towards that direction.”
I got multiple texts from some heavies in the music industry who shall remain unnamed. They don’t want to say anything, but they vehemently take exception to this notion, French. Let me explain briefly in this list.
So called-street rap has been poppin’ for the last few decades.
Like it or not, Kendrick is street rap. He’s from Compton, CA.
There were no issues with his last album. Why is there with this one?
“That direction” goes to a place of empowerment, pride, creativity, boldness, depth and substance that most “street rap” fails to go.
There is nothing wrong with “street rap,” but when that’s all there is, we need more balance.
Lets have fun, but, be clear, Self-Hate rap is what people have the big issue with. If you are equating “street rap” to the rap that continues to f**k with the minds of kids and infantile adults then…you will keep having issues. Its not “they.” Its “we.”
I’m sure you are in the streets. They have these uprisings. So called Street People aka Black people aka regular people. Police are shooting and brutalizing people at an alarming rate. Hip-Hop is reflecting this reality now when before it was minimized.
Who is “They,” because most people consider “they” as the people that have supposedly, presumably and assumptively (not a real word but it sounds good) directed Hip-Hop music to a place largely regarded as ignorant, formulaic and apathetic.
Historically, street rap reflects what is going on in these days. This is more reasonably why K-Dot is so hot.
The Grammys only put “hot” acts on that stage.
“Street rap” shouldn’t get upset at Kendrick. He wins, we win.
Build with “conscious rappers.” Public Enemy and Ice Cube did. Jay Z and dead prez. Kendrick and Dr. Dre. Nas and everybody.
I didn’t want to write this, but I just couldn’t hold it in, bro. Because Kendrick is what’s good doesn’t mean that the rest of the Rap Nation can’t prosper. “Street rappers” had no complaints about the couple decades they were on the frontlines of rap. By the way, I hate the term street rappers. On the other side, I and others have been clamoring for somebody like Kendrick for years. So, this “they” doesn’t exist in this capacity. The people have spoken. They have appointed Kendrick KING.
Last year, love it or hate it, he created one of the illest albums in Hip-Hop history. No, it was not for everybody. No, it was not a sequel to good kid, m.A.A.d city. No, it was not an easily digestible project. It wasn’t simple. However, it was much more, I would submit to the court of Hip-Hop. He did something far more revolutionary. He challenged “they” and hopefully created a paradigm shift that gives rise to more voices in Hip-Hop. Not less.
“They” have been suppressing revolutionary voices since the dawning of this country. And guess what happens? The people rise up and speak for themselves. That’s the Hip-Hop way since the beginning. “They” don’t want us to have this voice, which is why it was co-opted. The old way is gone. The systems and barriers to bumrush are eroding to dust. They cannot stop a Kendrick Lamar so they embrace him. They have no choice. We are awake and we will #staywoke.
I say this all in the name of peace, growth and Hip-Hop’s undying rebel spirit. Peace, Brother French Montana.
Sean Barnes (Elevation Nation)
Chance The Rapper