03 August 2010

i know it's been a while

sorry y'all

life has been kicking me in the behind quite a bit for the last few months, but things have significantly calmed down, and i might be able to enjoy a smooth ride for a little while.

today i wanted to write about something that my beloved brought to my attention--rap has significantly gone downhill. aside from the fact that rappers are just calling themselves what they are these days (li'l wayne, rick ross, i'm lookin' at you guys) and that they've gotten away from the gangsta rap image of the 90s (which is good for rappers since they get to, you know, live now), they've also stepped away from another part of what made rap awesome - social commentary.

now, i haven't done any research on this because i'm way too lazy right now, but i'm not entirely sure that the living conditions of African Americans has improved dramatically since the 90s when gangta rap was at its high point (no pun intended; i'm feeling humorous tonight, folks). granted, we finally elected a President of a skin tone that isn't white, but considering the economy and all that comes with it, such as increased theft, violence, and drug use, i can't really say that ANYONE is in a better situation than they were then. we got through bush 1, to clinton who gave us a freaking awesome economy, to bush 2 who completely annihilated it and sent us spiraling into debt. so no, things aren't better now than they were then. but where has all the great social commentary rappers used to grant us gone? where are the tupacs and biggie smalls of our generation? i mean, ice cube is making kids' movies, method man and redman are playing small venues like the Madison. cypress hill is making a comeback (love 'rise up,' must admit). but no one on the mainstream rap scene is talking about what's really going on in the world. at least not like tupac did... we need a new tupac...

no, these days, it's all about the superficial. in the 90s, rock went grunge with angsty kurt cobain and pearl jam and soundgarden and alice in chains. rap had NWA and tupac and biggie and wu-tang clan. even mainstream music wasn't...horrible... there was a mild amount of street cred around, even for us crackers. music made you FEEL something. but now there's so much sugar going around that any substantial messages are rotting out of our heads. we live in a world permeated by miley cyrus, justin bieber, the jonases, katy perry, and all these other carbon copies of what's popular. back in the day (i need to stop talking like this; i was like 5 in the 90s), there was a lot more distinction. a lot more. and then we got boybands, and the world just went downhill from there. we haven't recovered.

i've always believed that the arts are directly connected to what's going on in the world, especially music. creativity grants an outlet for frustration and anger, and what's more frustrating than what's going on now? but no one's saying anything about it. not musically, at least. not anymore. not since the green day deal, or the dixie chicks-toby keith fiasco... are people afraid? did bush's crazy censorship bleed into our music? our art? our lifeline? in 100 years, people are gonna look back at this period in music and they'll be awestruck by the simplicity and superficiality that has gripped us. when music like "party in the USA" or "baby, baby, baby" dominated the airwaves when the musicians *cough* were underage. when snoop dog is doing raps in the middle of "california girls" because katy perry sings one small line about gin and juice. jay-z is married to a pop star and doing laptop commercials. eminem is writing songs for his daughter (which i love, mind you, but i feel it must be mentioned). but i guess they're at least still doing music...

i'm by NO means trying to romanticize 90s rap, but you have to admit that there's real emotion. oftentimes raw emotion. there's still so much injustice and inequality running rampant in our world and in our own backyards. where is the outrage now?

what are your thoughts?


Elaine AM Smith said...

Passionate post - the raw is where it always is, underground. By the time it hits the i-tunes it is tainted by money and the need to keep it rolling in.

Mayowa said...

Elaine has it right. The mainstream and good music are usually on opposite sides of the divide. Check out some Nas, he's still doing great things.

lexcade said...

Ah Nas... i'll definitely have to start checking into the indy scene, too. it's just so sad how most musicians are already bought and paid for before they even put out their first album. ugh. i guess that's the world we live in these days.