"Cause back in my day..." why I'm tired of arguing about ageism and Hip-Hop

Nothing grinds my millennial gears more than the discussion of the "current" state of Hip-Hop. To me, the topic has become so taboo that we might as well throw it on the list with religion, politics, the chicken or egg argument and several other things you "shouldn't" discuss at the dinner table.

Generational music debates are inevitable and any chance a person gets to gloat in their generational golden era of music glory, they will. Phrases like "What do you know about this?", "I miss when music was like..." or "Back in my day the music we listened to..." are the most conventional conversation traps. For an art form that is universally timeless, there sure are a lot of people that try to shove an emotional object into a physical time capsule. It's like trying to capture a cloud, it won't work.

It's common for music to start, fuel or arise from movements. We've seen it done several times in the past, however as there is nothing new under the sun. Some songs will speak to struggles virtually three to four (or maybe even more) generations a part. One of my favorite genres of music is Hip-Hop and unfortunately it is a genre that's always under fire for failing to stay true to its roots. Yet, I find this true for almost any and every genre. Components and lyrics may change with faces but it doesn't diminish it in its purest form and in the consumer market.

If "Hip-Hop started out in the heart", then why are we looking for our love in all the wrong places?

We're so quick to jump on what's trending on the charts and call it "trash" but very rarely do we acknowledge underground and (some) mainstream artist who are writing, recording and producing music from the depths of their heart. There are a lot of artist and creatives in the music industry that I must tip my hat to. If it's not from the artist themselves then the song writing camps or music video directors are certainly doing the darn thing when it comes to making you think. My favorite example is in a video that makes me giddy for so many reasons. Surprisingly it involves Future, whom a lot of people may down play but what a lot of people lack to acknowledge is that most of these hip hop artist are business people. They may not wear suits but they sign contracts, sit in meetings, develop their brand and are partnering masters and co-creators at selling an image that keeps their pockets momentarily fluffed. Anyhow, the Future video that I'm referring to is for (the summer hit) Move That Dope.



Say what you want but a music video that starts off with a rapper jigging in a Ronald Reagan mask exclaiming "real dope dealers for real" is sure to earn a few minutes of my time. I remember watching in awe and amusement as Future, Pusha T, Pharrell and Tyler the Creator vibe on the screen with big cell phones in a Jeep Wrangler like a scene right out of New Jack City. If you've seen New Jack City you know that the movie addresses the crack epidemic of the 1980's in which crack cocaine was infiltrated in and destroyed the inhabitants of low income communities.

That's a pretty witty music video muse for a song that's all about moving dope. Just for entertainment? I think not. There is surely a political statement to be found somewhere in there. I must admit the women's college graduate in me was not very happy with the ending however as an overall music video experience I was greatly impressed. I'm sure there are several other politically and socially conscious songs and videos that we can discuss but we'll save that for another article (or possible slide show.)

My main point is to take a stand for Hip-Hop artist in 2014 and say that they are making a difference. Maybe not a difference as one huge conglomerate for social change (yet) but in their clever ways of creating timeless art in a digital revolution. We have yet to see. So cease the arguments! Stop the finger pointing and nagging. 20 years from now a generation may look at some hits we have and be amazed at how it can still speak to the problems of their day. I know for a fact in 20 years I won't be giving the new music grievance speech.

P.S. I have the same stance on R&B! Stop complaining about lyrics like "push your panties to the side" when you know that you'll be the first person up during a Color Me Bad tribute with arms stretched, body swaying, shouting the lyrics to "I wanna sex you up." Ok, that is all.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen (or thought I've seen) Future's "Move That Dope" video at least 15 times and never paid attention to what I was watching because I was too busy dancing and learning the lyrics. Trinidad James' recent departure from Def Jam caused me to think about artists like Future, Cash Out and most notably Wiz Khalifa. Like James, these rappers were expected to be this generation's one hit wonders in my opinion, but managed to keep the heat coming even if it did take a little trial and error. I will be the first to admit that when I heard "Tony Montana" for the first 100 times I thought "back in my day" (lol). The fact that Future wrote "Racks" and was able to surpass the guy who actually raps it and make a name for himself shows that it takes more than a hot song that is trendy, that sparks 'back in my days' discussions to sustain a long lasting career these days.

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