Its spring the short skirts are out, the Yankees are a handful of games
back (the Pirates are nearly mathematically out of it), and most
Hip-Hop junkies are speaking about what releases are to come in the
remaining two and a half quarters of 2007.
I look forward to Pharoahe Monches Desire; I hope Jean Grae keeps her promise of three releases in as many quarters; I can use a few more leaked Kanye West tracks too. Still, my iPod, my CD rack, and my most current milkcrate is still stuck in the past 2006 to be right and exact.
One of my biggest qualms with the near death of Hip-Hop has been its
reliance on looking into the horizon rather than celebrating its
footprints in the dark. This is not a new phenomenon either. I can
recall Ja Rules campaign for Pain is Love was half dedicated to speaking about The Last Temptation.
Master P pioneered this with his No Limit catalog inserts too. While
neither example likely speaks to the fundamentalist Hip-Hopper, let us
not forget that both artists arguably half-stepped honorable albums
(well Ghetto D) for that tired adage, strike while the irons hot.
In December, I looked back on the year past with a bitter taste in my
mouth. So much about the way we listen to albums changed. The computer
and copious hard drives encourage hoarding, clicking through tracks,
and most certainly the download replaced the UPC scan. Moreover, most
of the radio stations
I follow showed their true new colors in all but ignoring Hip-Hop
without pretty packaging. MTV continued to show me more of whats in
Ghostfaces house than whats actually on his album. And the same label
that made stars out of The Geto Boys and Do or Die, seemed to
exclusively test Traes album on the long-thought perception that you
can go gold without leaving Texas. I was disgusted, and blaming it, as
I admittedly still do, on every rapper whose name begins with a
Young, a Lil, or is young enough to get a paper crown with their
meal at Burger King.
2006 was not all bad not in the least. I am convinced that The Roots
released the best album of their careers. A part-time Philadelphia
resident myself, I can honestly say that the gestalt of music provided
on Game Theory
is very reflective of every inch of this city. Equally, Black Thought
had more to say than ever before, and when he needed a breath, Malik B.
was right there beside him again as well as a pointed Peedi Peedi.
Rawkus Records, a label that had seemingly been reduced to a staff of
owners, returned with Kidz N The Hall, a duo that (I think) can compete
in a round-robin tournament with Black Star and
Company Flow. However, less than six years after the arrival of the
aforementioned groups, it was difficult to find the sickle logo in
stores, let alone on airwaves. School Was My Hustle is everything The College Dropout couldnt tell you. Its leaving an Ivy League school only to go for broke with the taste of champagne dreams leading the way.
This isnt just about that bastardized label of conscious Hip-Hop
either. Frankly, I would much prefer if DJs would spin What You Know
right now than the ad-lib driven, Big S**t Poppin. The Chronic was burned right until the can of Dogg Food opened, and a true King is he who can get his album played for two years, not one. Potential is being wasted for the misperception of relevance.
There was comeback and reinvention. Although Mac Dre followers mayve
caught feelings, E-40 became the face and mouthpiece of Hyphy. My Ghetto Report Card
is brilliant. For the first time since the early 90s, a Bay artist was
getting exposure in several core markets. But instead of carrying a
wonderful album into the next year, the same listeners are demanding
that Mistah F.A.B., The Pack, and others push the envelope further.
Why is nobody talking about Nas or Jay-Z right now? Its taken me six months to realize that Kingdom Come,
beats aside, is the sound of Hip-Hops balls dropping. 9th Wonder, Soul
Supreme, Dangermouse where the f**k you at? Somebody remix this, put
the oven on reheat, and get these kids to digest Jiggas whole-wheat
wisdom. Hip Hop is Dead was the antihero to Jiggas
straightforward approach. Now united (and it felt alright), why cant
we hold these albums up together and get a good look at two distinct
voices saying the same thing wake up!
But you didnt, I didnt, we didnt.
We slept. When Ghost dropped, we wanted T.I., when Game dropped, we
wanted Jay, and when Jay dropped, we politicked about Nas. Now its a
year late and a few million shorter, and instead of giving Young Buck
his props, its 50/T.I. fever again. Were more hung up on if well
ever get Detox than recognizing Timbalands evolution as a
visionary. Lil Waynes cornball one-liners on Were Taking Over
sadly prevail over Redmans wordplay throughout Red Gone Wild.
Dont even get me started on the independent scene. Devin the Dude gets
more press than a fresh boob job, and your favorite rappers favorite
rapper still cant get on the radio.
Rock the Bells has the potential to be our Woodstock, and it sold out on both coasts. Everybody is riled up to see Wu-Tang Clan
and Murs, as they ought to be. But why is this same passion not felt in
radio, in video, or in most mainstream press? Rappers the great ones
have become proverbial 1950s housewives preferred seen and not
heard. Rappers are in danja.
Jake Paine is the Features Editor of AllHipHop.com and can be reached at Paine@AllHipHop.com.
views expressed inside this editorial arent necessarily the views of AllHipHop.com
or its employees.