2008’s Biggest Stories #9: The Return Of The Old-School Rapper

In

a way, 2008 could be called the year of the Hip-Hop comeback. Several

well respected “Old School” acts made a return to the limelight this

year, many announcing plans for new projects.

The

first to announce such a comeback was Heavy D, who tested the waters in

January with his performance as a rapper in over a decade. Upon

announcing the show, for which he tapped Big Daddy Kane and Doug E.

Fresh for support, Heavy D announce plans to release a follow up to his

1999 album Heavy. But Vibes  would

be a little different, he promised. The project, which was released via

iTunes on September 30, finds Heavy D tapping into his Jamaican

heritage to create a Roots/R&B blend that many found surprising.

Shortly after Hev’s announcement, Crucial Conflict released their first album in nine years, dropping Planet Crucon on January 29. Rakim was next, partnering with Koch records to release Live, Lost & Found,

a collection of 17 tracks from the legend’s 20-plus year career, as

well as four previously unreleased tracks. And just in time for their

induction into the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors class of 2008, Naughty By Nature

revealed they were putting the finishing touches on their first project

as a trio since their breakup in 2000.

Bigger

than reunion projects and new releases was a general acceptance of

seasoned acts in the mainstream. M.O.P., Nice & Smooth, Bun B, and

Big Daddy Kane were among the acts to take part in Scion’s Metro Live

series, bringing their classic hits to a new generation with the

support of a live band.

Smirnoff Vodka tapped KRS-One, Q-Tip and Common to recreate some of their

greatest songs as part of a new marketing strategy. T.I. signed

Eightball & MJG to his young Grand Hustle roster, and even Ruthless

Records saw a reemergence thanks to a partnership with Sony Records.”I

don’t believe that Hip-Hop is only for kids, because you have people in

their 30s and 40s, some in their 50s, that grew up off of Hip-Hop

music,” says Kane, who celebrated his 20-year anniversary in November

with a live performance in New York, and is contemplating a new live

album. “They want to hear the music that they grew up on. And they’re

willing to come out and support those shows. Therefore, it creates a

market. You have a lot of artists who are active and doing shows, and

they’re creating a [larger] fan base. I think that what’s real stands

out. These are people who didn’t get record deals because they wanted

to get rich. You got into it as an artform. You wanted to be

recognized. It was something that you had a love and passion for. And I

still have that love and passion for it, especially when I see it

reflected in the fans.”

As Craig G and Marley Marl’s 2008 collaboration Operation: Take Back Hip-Hop offers, here’s hoping that a look back at the old will inspire the new.

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