Hip-Hop; We Have A Problem

by Jamal Sharif

This is a sad day. I have never been compelled to write a harsh word against the magnificent institution of hip-hop; but this unfortunately marks the beginning of a new era.

First, allow me to atone. To all of my purist hip-hop heads, whom I accused of being nothing short of player haters and Zionist pigs for speaking ill of our music; to those who declared that the core of today's rap music ideology consists of pure, unadulterated, commercialized crap; capitalized upon by half-baked, over-blown, wack- ass wanna-be MC's -- I owe all of you a big, fat apology. I was wrong. You were right.

Forgive me. Forgive me for being such an addict, that I didn't have sense enough to realize that somebody had been tampering with the product supply. Forgive me for being so hard up for a funky remix or dope beat, that I would willingly get high off such unimaginative, highly addictive, "crack rap." Thank you, whoever sent the non- rapping, non-dancing Puffy Daddy and his latest "PE 2000" video shucking and jiving across my TV screen; because at that moment, I realized that I'd had hit rock bottom. It was definitely time for rehab.

No more uninspiring, demeaning, insulting rap trash for me, thank you very much. I'm over it, past it; through, finished, finito, done. And I swear upon my Run DMC collection, if that puff boy samples one more of my favorite 80's hits, I will saw his head off with my original, vinyl 33" inch version of "Planet Rock." Word up. I am now denouncing the rap scene (note: didn't say hip-hop), because of its resistance to incorporate any recognizable form of creativity and/or innovation into its music.

I regret to inform you that today's rap culture has worked triple overtime in prostituting itself; thus becoming a one-dimensional, Moet-guzzlin', felony committin', steady frontin', high-signin', profilin', flossin', perpetratin', playa-hatin', b*tch/ho/trick mackin', nine-millimeter sprayin', all-about-the-benjamin chasin', can-I-get-a-wha-what proclaimin', G'd-up, thugged-out, pimped-out, wacked-out free for all. Think I'm lyin'? Name one commercial rap artist who doesn't wax supreme about how many guns he's sprayed (Nas usta blast tech-9's on the block), how much money he makes(Jay-Z is a "six figure n*gga), how much mass criminal chaos he's committed (DMX rapes daughters and kills fathers), how he wants a sista to "back that ass up,"(Juvenille) "pop that coochie," (Luke), or "get on her knees and start jugglin'" (Snoop). Or, to be fair - name a female rapper who isn't bragging about her ill na na (p*ssy power), how she "likes it rough, and won't stop till she's had enough" (Trina), or how her dignity can be trampled in exchange for a trip to Dolce and Gabbana. (Foxy, Lil' Kim).

The lyrics are redundant, inane, and mindless. Yeah, yeah, you cocked a glock on the block and won't stop 'till you got all da riches and the b*tches. Yeah, you've been to the penn, smoke blunts to the end, and big ball and roll wit yo dawgs. Holla, holla, jigga what, jigga who; jigga who gives a shit. Been there, heard that. It's tired. Gimme something new. Meanwhile, I have a few questions: What ever happened to rockin' the mike, ya'll? Moving the crowd? What happened to madd lyrical skills and verbal battles? Whatever happened to conscious, uplifting, socially aware, empowering, unifying hip-hop music? The kind that prompted deep thought, self-evaluation, and a connection with the masses? What happened to lyrics so tight and flow so smooth, you had to constantly stop, rewind, and ponder a rhyme's depth in complete awe? What happened to the time where an artist could cleverly and creatively deliver a witty or profound rap without cursing, without rambling off the words 'n*gga, n*gga, n*gga' eighty thousand times, and with subject matter other than robbing, f*cking, or murdering?

These present day "rappers" need to get a grip. I don't care about how many heists they've committed. Couldn't give a damn about what kind of car they drive, or how much gold they have around their neck or stuffed inside their mouth. And as a woman, I'm not trying to hear alla that hoochie, tramp, slut, ho, chickenhead nonsense; especially after I've peeled off $17.99 for a CD. I'm not trying to get backstage, I 'aint no groupie, and I 'aint jockin' nobody. For me, it always has been, and always will be, about the music.

But hip-hop isn't just music; it's a mentality. A lifestyle. An art form, a culture, a state of being. It is influential, expressive, dynamic, and empowering. In its truest form, it is positive, refreshing, intellectual, thought-provoking, and enlightening. There is no other genre of music that defines me: who I am, what I identify with, how I speak, think, act, dream, and struggle. I am proud to be down with the hip-hop nation, and with those who represent, respect, and revere the principles on which it was founded.

But this rap stuff takes hip-hop down to its lowest common denominator, and I'll have no part of it. And on judgement day, I hope these so called rappers are condemned to a fiery, hip-hop hell. The same for anyone who ever tries to compare the two. Let me put it the only way some of ya'll can understand:

Rap is to hip-hop, what screwing is to making love. Screwing takes no talent, no brains, no imagination, and no skill. It has no meaning. Anybody can do it, and most everybody does. Just like rapping.

Making love requires time, energy, skillz, creativity, passion, desire, and enthusiasm. It is all encompassing; and requires the fusion of heart, body, mind, and spirit. Just like hip-hop.

Screwing is what prostitutes do to make a quick buck, to "get those dollars, to get paid, to make those ends." Just like a rapper. Making love is something carried out for the sake of its own beauty. It nourishes the soul. It generates positive energy. Just like hip-hop. Starting to catch my drift?

I would never suggest there aren't any compelling commercial rap artists (vs. underground or unsigned artists), because there are. I dig DMX's energy, Nas' insightfulness, and Snoop's laid-back Long Beach style. I just can't stomach the lack of variety and substance in their raps. Although I will always have my habit; I want no more of the substandard stuff. Quality only. The real d-zeal.

Which means my radio listening time will become very limited. And I'll just have to start seeking and supporting the underground artists, like I did before I got hooked on crack rap. And when I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms, I'll silently recite the words to "Microphone Fiend" until I'm feeling better.

And for the self-induced twelve-step program to reclaim my hip-hop soul: I must re-consume massive amounts of Brand Nubian, Black Star, The Pharcyde, Goodie MOB, Souls of Mischief, Run DMC, Eric B. and Rakim, EMPD, BDP, NWA, Defari, and Gang Starr on a continual basis.

As well as Self Scientific, Stetsasonic, Salt-n-Pepa, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, LL Cool J, Digital Underground, Poor Righteous Teachers, Whodini, Das EFX, The Roots, Public Enemy, and A Tribe Called Quest.

Alright, so it's a twenty-four step program. But I bet on Puffy's life; I'll be clean and sober in no time.

Hip-Hop; We Have A Problem by Jamal Sharif

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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