Posts Tagged ‘Lauryn Hill’

Before we begin, check out Lauryn Hill’s “Black Rage.” 

I love hip-hop. It’s an amazing art form, and it’s so diverse. In light of some of the recent happenings in the world (the situation in Ferguson, MO, the Ezell Ford shooting in LA, the incident in Ohio, the Tulsa police shooting, Robin Williams’ suicide, etc), some have brought up the question of “what can hip-hop do to educate people or cause change?” In the 1980s and 1990s, artists jumped to the mic in droves to speak on messed-up situations with the government and the police (not really mental illness, though; that’s another monster entirely which I spoke on on Boi-1da.net). These days, however, it seems that artists won’t speak on an issue unless there’s something to gain from it (publicity, saving face, etc). Is that indicative of artists being “owned” by their labels, therefore hindering them from speaking on issues?* Or is it just that today’s generation of artists aren’t educated on how messed up these issues are?

I think it’s unfair to say that every artist doesn’t give a you-know-what, regardless of their subject matter. I actually got into a bit of a “Twitter argument” with Lecrae over his semi-condemning of “violent” mainstream hip-hop, due to the idea that even if some music is violent in nature, it doesn’t exactly mean that all hip-hop that isn’t love, peace, and harmony is counterproductive. However, there is a tinge of apathy from the world as a whole–since some tend to devote focus to hot button issues, then move onto the next quicker than you can say “keyboard revolutionary.” Of course, human rights are something that need/deserve to be spoken on at all times. Thankfully, the message is getting across that people can’t just #TweetJustice and expect something to change overnight.

But, you combine this “where’s the next cause?” mentality with a generation that is more likely to turn Trayvon Martin into a meme, you’re asking for idiocy from the masses. Rappers aren’t excused from this. But, as “leaders” of black culture, hip-hop artists have to aid those whom they claim to represent–which is why I always applaud artists who give to charities, or do nonprofit work (or speak on these “real-life issues”). I’m also applauding the artists who have used their voices to speak on and/or out about these tragedies. As always, though, these are just my opinions on the matter. Feel free to tweet me on the matter.

*I will not go into how major label artists aren’t “allowed” to speak out (that’s another post entirely). I just wish that everyone could…put their money where their mouth is (plug, but not a shameless one).

@SpeedontheBeat

Greetings and salutations everyone. For this edition of “#TWIHH,” I decided to switch things up.

As I perused through my email recently, I noticed I’d received a notice about a new Master P song. My first instinct was to laugh maniacally at the thought “hmm, I really wonder why Master P continues to put out music years after his popularity fell to the wayside?” I mean, it’s not like he’s flat broke completely hurting for the money (legal troubles aside). Ultimately, I put my thoughts aside and began to listen to the track, “We Poppin’,” which featured Eastwood (formerly of Black Wall Street Records) and everyone’s favorite Auto-Tuning rap-sanga not named Teddy Pinnedher***down (that’s still a nickname I shake my head over), Future.

To be honest, I found myself bobbing along with it with the screwface a couple times. As you’ve probably seen, it takes a lot for me to be like, “Yoooo! This ish cray.” on the first listen. For it to come from a Master P song made me curious about what he’s been doing since Romeo left USC and started appearing in ICDC College commercials his last full-on mainstream release (aside from the following video).

While the original Ice Cream Man hasn’t been as workaholic musically as he was, he’s actually put out some decent stuff over the past couple years. Sure, some of his verses are on some “so bad, it’s good” stuff (like “Brick to A Million,” featuring Fat Trel and Alley Boy). But, when he gets on a roll, he still puts out halfway listenable music. This is more than I can say about some of our…younger artists. Now, I’m not saying he’s putting out classics. But, his reemergence still begs the question: Is age really nothing but a number in hip-hop these days?

If it is, throwing down, in the musical sense, really may be nothing but a thang (RIP Aaliyah). If we look at some of the biggest acts recently, a lot of them are elder statesmen. MCHGYeezus, and other albums by some of these elders haven’t really been the greatest collections, but they’ve still been able to drum up numbers and fans. Some of this is based off the familiarity factor alone. If we have an option between Artist A (who’s dropped three CDs) and Artist B (a newcomer with a few mixtapes to his name), we often go with Artist A. But, familiarity alone can’t keep an artist relevant. It can sure as hell help, but familiarity alone isn’t enough.

master-p

The second part of the puzzle is the (idea of the) element of surprise. Part of the fun of a new CD from a vet is wondering what will be pulled out of the proverbial (and cliched) hat next. Will they retread bygone eras and familiar topics for a new generation (Master P, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, etc.)? Will they recreate themselves as a party rapper who finds himself featured on songs with Bieber (Juicy J, 2 Chainz) or a Mafioso-like BAWSE (Rick Ross)? Will they come out of jail overly hungry, but still deliver a song that’s not exactly the greatest work they’ve done (Lauryn Hill, DMX, Mystikal)? Will they make complete fools of themselves in trying to connect with the younger generation (Will Smith with “Switch,” LL Cool J with “Baby”)? Will they put over a new(er) talent (Jay Z in his “Mr. Carter” and “Light Up” verses–even though he kind of buried both Wayne and Drake on their own song)?

The possibilities, even the sucky ones, are almost endless. And that’s what makes seeing a Master P return to music interesting (even if he never really left). It’s also what makes hip-hop interesting, for as many times as people say it’s a young man’s game, the veterans still make noise.

While perusing the internet yesterday I managed to stumble upon this gem of a story. It’s about teachers using hip-hop as a tool to teach their students the fundamentals of science. I must say that I couldn’t have seen this video at a better time on a better day. After being told I shouldn’t write or share posts about “rap” music because of its negative connotation during a conversation I had with a very significant family member earlier in the day, I managed to find a video that displays hip-hop in a positive light. Given all of the negative rap lyrics that spew from the mouths of many current purveyors of the genre, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air to see it being used as an instrument for good. And while I can understand the reasoning behind certain people’s apprehensiveness toward hip-hop, I still appreciate the genre for its creativity and its ability to make a lasting impact on people.

People tend to forget that since its inception in the 80’s, hip-hop has always been a tool of expression, storytelling, and nostalgia. But where rap got its bad rap isn’t from the street corner ciphers, the boogie down Bronx block parties, or the poetic tales of black youth. It got its negative image from the vulgarity in the language, the excessive misogyny, and the hyper-sexualized and at times ultra violent images in its audio and visual representations. But, the problem so many viewers and listeners fail to understand is that Hip-Hop portrays realities. And whether those realities are caricatures (fictional) or biographical (real), every rapper is an artist in his or her own right. From vividly painting the experience of being a young black male in Compton on “…a good day” of a 1993 summer, to personifying a favorite art in an evolutionary tale of a maturing muse undergoing various trials and tribulations throughout H.E.R. life, Hip-Hop has always had the ability to take us places we’ve never been and teach us things we never imagined.

Hip-Hop is so powerful and can be used for such great things that it is a shame so many members of the older generation avoid its messages. But, a lucky few youths in New York City, are actually learning through the art of rhyme. I wish I would have had the opportunity these kids have when I was in grade school. When I was growing up, most of the music played in my household was rhythm and blues, 80’s pop, or jazz. My most fond memory, or what I call my intro to Hip-Hop, occurred during a 1990’s summer visit to North Carolina. At a family cookout, an older friend of the family put a tape in the tape deck and the first sound I heard was, “Wooooh ooh ooh” being harmonized by a young female who I would later discover was rapper/songstress Lauryn Hill, followed by a bass drop and a verse from an artist whose name I would later discover was prolific hip-hop artist Nas. The song was titled, “If I Ruled The World“. With Nas’ rhymes of hypothetical world domination and the actions he would take preceding it, I loved what I was hearing, I wanted more, and I have been hooked on the boom bap and the intricate cadences of hip-hop ever since.

So, what I have to say to those giving rap a bad rap is: WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW and see how hip-hop can positively influence lives.

DroppingScience