Thursday, July 30, 2009
WHO'S KILLIN' IT?: THE OLD HEADS
As you can probably tell, the ongoing deterioration of hip-hop is a constant theme on this blog. It is the common opinion among old schoolers that the new class of emcees are the ones who are ruining the the art form. Whereas that believe might hold a little truth, many of these pioneers and legends must share the blame. I think much like in sports, it is hard for a veteran to watch some young buck come up and do it better than he or she did. It has to hurt a little to at one time be on top of the hip-hop world and the next day be considered irrelevant.
I apologize beforehand for the constant hip-hop and sports comparisons, but under this topic I feel they are a necessary tool to help my readers understand. Lets take baseball's Greg Maddux for example. He just finally retired last year after 22 mostly successful years in the big leagues...all as a STARTING pitcher, very little if any time spent in the bullpen. In his youth, he was untouchable. He had speed on the ball that nobody could touch. As he grew older that velocity left his pitch, and his fastball wasn't as untouchable. So what did he do? Did he blame the management for not giving him the proper tools he needed to succeed? No. Did he blame the younger pitchers in the league for ruining the game? No. Did he continue to throw the fastball even though it wasn't working for him? No. He just got smarter. He adjusted his game to be successful among the new breed in the league, and was probably more dangerous in his later years than when he burst on the scene.
That is exactly what the old school rappers who still intend on making music need to do...GET SMARTER. You are not going to appeal to teenagers and young adults like you did when you were their ages. Youngsters like music made by artists that they can relate with. Don't try and hop on a Bangladesh, Ron Browz, Timbaland, or Neptunes beat because they are what's hot right now. The beat doesn't equal success, there has to be some substance behind what you are doing. Those youngsters that adored you before are now in or reaching their 30's, and they still love you, make the music for them. Didn't it always sound silly when New Edition tried to comeback making music that sounded like B2K or Pretty Ricky? Look at Madonna trying to collaborate with every young musician that is hot today, but when people go to her shows all they want to hear is "Material Girl" or "Holiday."
Jay-Z got lost with trying to keep up with Kanye for a little bit ("Kingdom Come"...ehhh), but he soon realized just to stick to his roots and make music for his fans, not Wayne's, T.I.'s, Kanye's, or Soulja Boy's. I came up listing to hip-hop where lyrics carried the beat, and now it seems to be the complete opposite. Listeners that came up in my era appreciate gritty lyrics, so give it to us, we still want to hear it.
Thats why I love it when I hear that Ghostface is going to drop a R&B album, because he always had a soulful, R&B-esque sound to his music so I think he can pull that off. To all my other favorite old school artists, instead of being bitter and making up excuses do like D.L. Hughley and Too $hort and "come back home" and "get in where you fit in."