WJP #006 – Hip-Hop is Breathing Again…

Lately a funny thing happened on the way to the iTunes Store…

I’ve found hip-hop.

You might ask, “Was it missing?”  Well, yes it was, in a way.  Nas might have exaggerated when he said “Hip-Hop Is Dead”, but babygirl was on life support.  Although it was following history.  Musical genres, as with any art form,  have to go thru highs and lows and re-invent themselves to stay relevant.  Rap music is no different. 

A little fact:  Hip-Hop, by definition, is NOT rap music.  It is a culture.  When the corporations realized there was money to be made off rap music, they slowly and methodically destroyed the culture and now Hip-Hop and Rap music are synonimous.  Just so when I flip between rap music and Hip-Hop you realize that, in the context of this specific post, they are one and the same.

Within a musical genres, there are sub-genres.  With hip-hop, there is political, dance, bass, east coast, west coast, dirty south, underground, gangsta, etc.  Usually one genre will be prevelant for a certain time and then another will take over.  Many times when a genre has reached a lull, then it has two choices:  die or re-invent.  And when it re-invents, it usually is because of the underground level.

Most new sub-genres, artists, movements begin at the bottom, hence the name “underground”.  For rap music, this is defined as the “backpacker” listeners.  These are the people who live for the music most of all – they study it, examine it, literally pick it apart.  Most artists who languish in the underground are highly skilled but lack the proper business plan to trade in their artistic vision in lieu of fortune and fame.  If they do, they are called a sell-out.  If they don’t, they are called non-relevant, or sometimes just plain stupid.  The age old arguement: art or money.  Now some artists can walk that tightrope with ease.  Nas, Busta, Wu- Tang Clan, Lil’ Wayne, Common, Kanye, even Hova to a certain extent.  There are others:  Black Thought from The Roots, Eminem, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Lauren Hill, etc.  There are some who teeter on the edge like Cassidy, Joe Budden, UGK, Luda, and some others.  Then there are those who are decidedly on one side.  50, T.I., Dr. Dre, Snoop, Consequence, Piles, Young Joc, Diddy, etc.  Which is not to say they’re not good at what they do or that they don’t make money but they embrace that side of thangs.

 Lately, the dance side has returned.  That genre has taken over for now.  Or so it seems.  You see, it’s easy to make a dance track.  Just have a hyped chorus, make it repetitive, and have a video that resembles a controlled riot.  The video is mega important.  And all the while, it seemed like the corporations had finally won and completely taken over hip-hop except for a few artists.

But then, came a savior and you’ll never guess who that savior is…

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you hip-hop’s savior:

Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent.

Yes, I said it.

You see, 50 understands marketing.  Really understands it.  He knows how to get the brand name out there.  And because of that, when he heard that Kanye West was releasing his brilliant (I can’t stress that enough) CD, “Graduation”,  on the same day that he was releasing his third CD, “Curtis”, he took it upon himself to start up a lil’ shit storm that grew in intensity and bought true hip-hop along for the ride.

First, T.I. releases his new CD and gets serious numbers.  Then, Common releases his now classic, “Finding Forever”, which happens to be executive produced by Kanye.  That sound you hear is the beginning of the buzz.  Don’t worry, it’s gonna get louder.  Both 50 and Kanye push their CD’s back, but for very different reasons.  Meanwhile 50’s releases aren’t helping any:  his singles are bricks and the mini-youtube war he starts with Cam’ron is over before it gets started (BTW – 50 bodied him, just ask the Dipset Capo hisself, Jim Jones…heh heh.  I find that shit hilarious.)

Next, UGK’s awesome double CD, “Underground Kingz”, busts out due to the strength of their single with Outkast.  But no major buzz after that.  And it deserves it because it quite possibly is one of the best pure hip-hop CD’s you’ll ever hear.  Now, 50 is panicking somewhat while Kanye’s first two singles are some of the best work he’s ever done.  Then the announcements.  First from Curtis and then Kanye.  Curtis hears this and immediately the hype machine kicks in.  You see, 50 knows a marketing gold mine when he sees on.  Plus, Kanye is no beef starter in the rap world.  He has no problem with going after MTV or Lil’ Georgie Bush, but he ain’t fuckin’ wit 50 like that.  50 takes some subliminal shots but keeps it friendly knowing all along the competition alone will help his sales.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the psychological war 50 was playing with his fans…

Kanye came with his best CD ever and played along with 50.

 And other artists came to play with some pretty good shit…

Swizz Beatz said hell, I’ll play.  Comes with a surprise CD banging with hits.  While Swizzy might not be the most lyrical assassin, he’s a beat grandmaster.  It seems the producers understand the biz so Timberland, who got JT on his grind, gets on both Kanye’s and 50’s CDs.  Now a fallout effect has happened:

Hip-Hop came back with on a mission.

Talib Kweli drops the awesome “Eardrum”, Soulja Boy drops the dance hit craze, “Crank That” and 50 brings the heat with the street banger of the summer, “I Get Money”.  Kanye counters with the infectious, “The Good Life”.  Whew, all this goodness and more is coming…

The fourth quarter boasts da little homey, Godson hisself, Nas bringing heat along with the return of the most dangerous group in hip-hop, The Wu-Tang Clan.  I can’t wait.  Once the avalanche begins, you can’t stop it.  The producers started with the heat, followed by the underground and then bringing the forefront, the savior…

50 Cent.

Who would’ve figured that?  Well, I’ll be damned….


~ by sladewilson on September 14, 2007.

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