While listening to 50 Cent’s crappy Curtis CD or to Kanye West’s worthless Graduation CD, one of hip hop’s greatest poet’s (Nasir Jones also known as Nas) words resonate louder and louder in my head.
A bunch of mainstream emcees, who once maybe put some effort into their work are displaying a shameful image of rap music, summarizing it to weak lyrics, big cars, big chains and nude girls. Of course, their action wouldn’t take place without the complicity of corporate media whose financial motivation is more than obvious.
A lot of underground artists probably start their career with a great dose of sincerity, some good lyrical efforts. Once, they get signed to a mainstream label, they promise to be better than best and to pursue their efforts in reflecting who they actually are. The reality has proven to be very different…once the artist signed his contract, he gets trapped into a huge corporate machine that will force him to please the mainstream public.
So who is to blame? The artist himself, the label, the media, the music industry? Maybe all of them.
Look. Immortal Technique said it in Watch Out. He perfectly knows that a mainstream label would never sign him with his political views:
“100 percent independent I’m the fuckin’ boss
The only unsigned nigga wit a quotable in the source
The hood is not stupid, we know the mathematics
I make double what I would going gold on Atlantic
‘Cause EMI, Sony, BMG, Interscope,
Would never sign a rapper with the white house in his scope
They push pop music like a religion, anorexic celebrity driven
Financial fantasy fiction…”
Immortal Technique’s assertions raise a very important question, which is to consider whether artists should stay independent in order to preserve their freedom of speech and integrity.
Do we really have to watch Black Eyed Peas’ mediocre The Way U Make Me Feel or shall we all switch channel?
I’d choose the second solution as far as I am concerned. Do we have to watch and listen to all that commercial crap TV calls hip hop? Certainly not…because this does not correspond to real hip hop.
Real hip hop begins with street knowledge and the recognition of rap music’s African and Jamaican roots.
How can people listen to suburban rappers when they do have valuable people such as Dirty Red, BG Knocc Out, Dresta Da Gangsta? How can people listen to commercial 50 Cent, Kanye West, Young Jeezy, Jay Z, when they do have DMX, Nas and other valuable emcees?
Because MTV’s dictatorship has decided-for its own commercial interest- that the public didn’t deserve to watch and listen to good hip hop…
It is all up to you listeners, but it is never too late to make the good choice. Open your ears and eyes…rediscover the legends who have made hip hop…dig deep into their lyrics…rediscover street poetry and black history, as Ice T deeply wishes it.
If you don’t dissociate rap music from the culture it originates from, you will discover it as a whole movement.
Then you will be able to see that rap music is merely the continuation of black folks’ history and expression that can be found in gospel, blues, soul, jazz and funk. It will allow you make a real difference between commercial crap and good music.
Copyright 2007 by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved