Labels dont care about Hip-Hop culture no more, they care about success and dollars, so everyones following a formula rather than being original. First everybody started wearing suits and making those R&B friendly songs. Now people are going too far to the left with it. Its played out. The producers started using the sped up vocals on their production and MCs even started singing. If thats the case, we may as well be R&B singers with it. What happened to the knocking bass and the 808s? And really, what happened to the DJ with scratches and stuff like that? Mike Tyson used to come out to Public Enemy. The s**t thats out right now dont get you hyped like how that Boom Bap s**t did back in the day. People play Rap for their kids now. There was a time when songs used to come on in the club, and you would just want to fight. It was adrenaline filled. People are scared to make those kinds of records.
That Boom Bap was an era of greatness. It was like watching an NBA All-Star Game. Gilbert Arenus made the team this year. Lets just say you take it back to when Jordan and Bird and Barkley, certain people couldnt be an All-Star during those eras. Jay-Z is able to shine during this age because he has flow. Rap is all about who has the dopest flow right now. Rakim and Kane are from the era when it was about what you were saying. You f**kin with a Hip-Hop historian. Thats where the term wack MC comes from. You cant say wack MC today, because its all about flow. If you look at flow, Vanilla Ice had a dope f**kin flow. The record that Pharell produced with Fabolous rappin on it, he used Vanilla Ices flow. I know this for a fact because Pharell told me himself. Mase had a dope ass flow. But The Message by Melle-Mel isnt the record it is because of the flow, it is the record it is because of what he was saying. Nas is one of the last rappers from the say-something era. If I was A&R a Kane or a G Rap, Id say, dont follow the formulas of these rappers today, because youre downsizing yourself. These guys are more accomplished financially. But as far as great artists, theyve yet to catch up to you guys.
When KRS-One did Return of the Boom Bap, I think he was just trying to bring it back and step it up. At that time, a lot of rappers on the East Coast was going into the Jazz sound. There was a lot of experimentation going on. That smooth G-Funk was dominating too. Also around that time was Black Moon. That is Boom-Bap too! If you look at it nowadays, all the artists that were trying to represent Hip-Hop as an art form arent getting the love they deserve.
Of course its the MCs responsibility to keep it Boom-Bap too. A lot of MCs dont have balls. Everybody wants to accommodate the radio. Everybodys running out to get a Kanye West beat or a Lil Jon beat because theyre the hot producer right now rather than using a new producers whose beats are crazy or working producers like DJ Premier and Large Professor whose sound is why we fell in love with Hip-Hop in the first place and now we treat them like theyre less of a priority. On every album, I show love to a new producer. So far I introduced Sha Money XL, J Love, and Emile to the industry and now theyre big producers in the Hip-Hop. I didnt chose them because they had a name, but because their s**t was hot.
Right now, were extracting all the juice out of Rap. Its getting to the point where its so wack, so boring, so predictable that people tend to forget what made Rap what it was. The sped R&B vocals tracks producers are using is played out. When I did that on The Testament, it was the early 90s. Now Im trying to get away from all that because its overused. Im trying to make music thats timeless, classic Hip-Hop. Thats one of the reasons why people are still able to listen to my album The Testament which we just put out in February. It was recorded nearly a decade but it doesnt sound like the typical record you hear today. They all have the same formula. I dont ride with what everyone else is doing.
Rap has been very abusive to its pioneers. I told Large Professor, hes dope Im definitely going to put him on the album. Hell look at me like, word word? So many people tell him that, but dont do it. Take MC Shan. When we did the QBs Finest album, I told him, Dont try to do what we do. Do what you did. Because what you did, made us want to do what we doing. The way you rapped is timeless. Its not played out. Thats one of the reasons why I like Soul music because its classic. Marvin Gayes album, Whats Going On, is a classic that you can listen to even a hundred years from now and it still has relevance and meaning.
In a way, when they first introduced the term old school, it was cute. It was a fun term. It was a piece of slang that some of the older people used to use. It was actually a term of endearment. But now, its almost a term of ridicule. Youll hear a younger dude say, Oh, he old school. If a throwback jersey comes out, they dont call it an old jersey. Its vintage, or its retro. When the old Jordans come out, they dont look down on those.
When I made The Testament and The True Meaning, it was a debatable topic as to which is better. To have that argument in itself is a compliment to both albums especially because The Testament wasnt released when it should have come out. If it had been, it would have been crazy. Im just happy its finally out. Now the challenge is to try and outdo them both on my next solo album, and fill what might have been missing from them and from Rap music at the same time. Whats missing from Hip-Hop is that Boom-Bap sound.
In 1992, I made a record called Sex, Drugs, Bitches, and Money. Its just like Biggies Dreams of F**kin an R&B B*tch. I didnt have an album up, but back in the day that music would circulate. It was a hit record in Queensbridge projects. Grandmaster Vic would make mixtapes in Jamaica, Queens. I was making songs like that. I had a song called Set It Off with a group called PHD on Tuff City Records. This album is called Without Warning, and its out there from 1991.
I know somebodys gonna try and bite me, but on my next album, Urban Legend, I have a track with PMD, Grand Puba, KRS-One, and Big Daddy Kane. Its my greatest accomplishment. Its not even a Boom-Bap record, its a feel-good record and my way of paying tribute to the MCs who came before me. I didnt ask them to give me 16 bars on any kind of topic, I just told them to be themselves. I also told them how much I appreciate them as artists. Urban Legend is my solo third album coming soon and it's gonna be a challenge to myself. I dont even include The Testament; thats more of a collectors album, or Legal Hustle which was a collaborative album. A third album is a defining moment. The one that can make you or break you. A lot of artists only get two or three albums. This one will prove if Im going to stay or leave. So Im going hard with it and I gotta bring back that loud Boom Bap s**t. Enjoyable, but loud. I want to f**k up peoples speakers. I want people to complain. I also want n***as to respect what Im saying.
Reprinted with permission from Elemental Magazine issues #68.