Friday, May 15, 2009

Still Standing or Standing Still?



XXL revealed their June 2009 cover today and I'm not surprised. Not saying that in a shaking my head type way really. Its more so because I got the scoop on this days after it happened. When I heard about it, I thought it was a good, appropriate idea. There's no denying that Gucci, OJ, Shawty Lo and Soulja Boy are the hottest things coming out of the Atlanta rap scene right now.

But when ever I see Southern rappers put on the cover of a magazine or in a magazine, especially those from Atlanta I always feel a certain way. I either feel proud or disgraced. In this case, I'm not really too sure about how I feel.

When folks like Outkast, Goodie Mob and the like started getting national recognition for their exceptional music, I felt proud. I felt that I was being properly represented, even though at the time, I had never met anyone in the DF. Years later I can say I've met every member, drank and smoked with a few and even gave a couple of them a ride to the store...and I still feel proud. Because none of them have really changed. Yeah some have grown and/or reverted musically at times, but they are still true to who they are and I relate with damn near everything they say, wear and do.

Fast Forward 11 years later. I don't really feel the same way. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those types that just be going around hating on the new crop of Atlanta talent that the media has picked as "the future." If I don't like something I just don't listen to it. Yeah, I might joke about it amongst friends, but just going off and wasting energy hating on it, nah.

So when I see this new cover of XXL, I'm kinda proud to a degree. All four of these dudes have worked hard at what it is they do to enjoy the spoils and recognition. And hell, they from my city. Plus, I'd like to think that they kidna look like me and the folks I know....to a degree. Lord knows I wouldn't want one of these pink hat, tight jean wearing dudes on the cover repping for the A.

But at the same time, I don't feel like they represent me and folks like me the same way that folks like the Goodie Mob did. Maybe its because that time in Atlanta rap has passed. Before anyone tries to get on that "well, they represent the youth, not you." Let me tell you 3 out of 4 of the dudes on the cover are closer to my age than they are to "the youth."

Which brings me to a larger thought. Now, from what I know, I don't think anyone in Goodie Mob, if not the entire DF graduated from college. A lot of them didn't even finish school period. Hell, these were street niggas, they just ain't only rap about the street all the time because it was understood. So I guess you can't call them "educated" by America's standards. But you could tell that they were spiritual cats who sought knowledge outside of the typical class room by reading up on things themselves.

Now, once again, I don't think OJ, Gucci, SB or Lo are what you would call scholars either. So, I guess their all even at that point. But, its obvious that their "education" came from the streets where "get money" was the only lesson being taught.

Both groups are sharing what they know at the end of the day, so you can't fault them for that. I just seems like the knowledge then compared to now was a lot healthier.

Folks always say that Hip Hop is just a reflection of whats going on right now. That's true to a degree. And, if you come to Atlanta right now, ALL you're going to hear on certain radio stations and certain clubs are going to be the dudes featured on the cover. My thing is, why? I mean, DF got played in the club too and it was very diverse and intelligent music. The stuff nowadays...not really.

Like I said, I'm not hating on anyone. I'm just hoping ya'll are feeling where I'm coming from and noticing how much has changed in 11 years. Hense the title of this post...I ask, are we Still Standing...or Standing Still?

24 comments:

bfred said...

it was refreshing reading this thoughtful post in the sea of obnoxiously dismissive "fuck these clowns" reactions. thanks!

Paul Cantor said...

That was very insightful, and to quote the illustrious bfred, "Refreshing."

noz said...

"the new crop of Atlanta talent that the media has picked as "the future."

Well that's the thing, the media isn't picking these artists, they are begrudgingly caving to what the people want. Gucci/Soulja/Juice/Lo might not be the future, but they are definitely the present.

Admittedly, I lack the immediate perspective that you do, but this shit has spread naturally even up here to DC, where Gucci and OJ have turned multiple underground records into major hits over the last 18 months. I watched Gucci rock a room of ~1000 last weekend and most of the crowd knew all the words. No major promotion, just off word of mouth. That's beautiful and a testament to hip hop being way alive in the face of corporate vultures. Whether or not I love the music, I love the phenomenon. And I love that it's forcing a magazine like XXL to actually document the culture instead of trying to whimsically fan its winds in whatever direction they've crystal balled.

Spree said...

Dope piece Maurice...I too am torn on whether we r indeed Still Standing or Standing Still...I dig the cats on the cover and in some ways they do represent for me, being a southern artist. But i dont think they represent my train of thought, and i think THAT'S what's missing. With DF you had different minds and ideals but all coming together for a similar cause. With the new crop of Atl artist, it just seems like it's all one train thought. But i'm still proud to see southern hiphop artist on a national magazine...it really wasn't to long ago that we were getting boo'd at the Source Awards..

Баян said...

i'mma tell from an outsider point of view
i'd be more proud to see Goodie Mob on the cover than those yung cats
u can argue however u want but i don't see them as hip hop, what they represent is what hip hop in large part deteriorated to as an artform
of course the intent may not at all have been to actually represent hip hop artists, but just some rapping southern entertainers

True2LifeMusic said...

nice article man... i think you and I may have alot of similarities in how we look at this thing called Hip Hop. DF was a dope team.. im bout to bump my goodie mobb playlist now, lol.

Anonymous said...

Hence. No offence.

D.Davis said...

Not that Gucci is my favorite...however in his defense on his education i did read that he recieved a academic scholarship...cant recall to where it was. It was in his so far gone article in XXL or vibe ... i was shocked ...

David said...

I think theres a distinction to be made here abt whether gucci for ex is actually 'stupid rap music' (i think his raps are very smart & creative, just done w/ style that feels raw & street & all rough edges which some ppl read as 'stupid') vs. his music being morally or ethically 'problematic' meaning maybe u feel as if goodie mob & dungeon fam had a stronger sense of personal responsibility & less allegiance to new wealth as a statement.

bcuz i think in terms of creativity, gucci's building a discography up there w/ the greats ... but if u want to talk about his responsibilities & his breadth as far as grappling w/ issues & identity ... thats a separate issue (& i dont think as easily resolved as some ppl might)

riyadh said...

Why are you so concerned about being a "hater"? Are you twelve? XXL has a right to their opinion and so do you.

TC said...

I remember I was proud when Lil' Jon, David Banner and Bonecrusha shared a Source cover with Outkast in '03.

Gucci & dem are nowhere near the caliber of any of the aforementioned artists in any shape or form, but their buzz has earned them a cover article.

M said...

Another great article Maurice.. It is tough as a native Atlantan to see the Gucci's, OJ's, SB, etc be the hottest thing coming out of Atlanta right now. I am torn because these new cats are making hits with melodies and making money, but they are not adding any social commentary. When I was a teenager I had the Master P's and Juvie's to listen to, but I also had the DF to balance things out a bit. They played both types of artists on the radio. Now, you will not hear anything like the DF on the radio. Goodie, Kast, EJ, etc made music with a message, but made "fun" tracks as well. I dont see the anything of that sort from these new jacks, but also they dont have to.. this is a BUSINESS, and their type of music sells and sells well. It is not diverse or intelligent music, but hey this is 09 and people need to be happy and sing happy rap songs and make money. BTW, I like all the artists on the new cover, I guess Atlanta radio has "groomed" me. In the words of Mr. Render, "God bless Pat, Ray, and Ric"

Rodney C said...

Dude, I felt the same way when I saw this cover. Even posted about it with that same sense of double-mindedness but I couldn't quite put it into words. You pinpointed it. In a lotta ways it's the same thing that's been goin on in rap. South, East, West. It's hard not to talk about it without sounding like a conspiracy theorist. But the radio/industry bias is so obvious you'd be a fool not to notice. And that doesn't mean SB, Gucci and them don't deserve the success. Like KP said years ago, he signed T.I. cause he wanted to usher in that other side of Atlanta -- but I'm sure he didn't intend for it to cancel out the soul of the South.

Lowskiwoski said...

"Aww damn...We done got old!" It really doesn't matter who is on the cover of those mags nowadays. We know its gonna be geared to the same age group as it was when Goodie was hot(the group that's buying it). Plus it goes in cycles. We are in the gutter right now but it will come back around to the other side.*Pause* Wait a minute...You know what...I just noticed that there is always some kind of buzz about who is on the cover of what magazine. At the same time, pretty much everyone in the industry will be covered at one time or another. Damn journalists! Maurice you got me again.

ANU said...

Totally agree with David here.

ANU said...

I don't take extra-artistic considerations into account when I value an artform.

Баян said...

yeah, Rodvey C nailed it, the soul is gone, the husk is what's left
and Premo said it best then "U fuckin' robots" LOL

Rodney C said...

I like how Wise Intelligent puts it: http://tariqelite.com/index/wise-intelligent-speaks-on-the-intentional-dumbing-down-of-hip-hop

Old-school or no-school, can't ignore history. The shidt has a way of repeating.

killahills said...

you just won another blog fan mg...

FireBrand said...

Great piece. It brings up questions that I'm not sure there are any simple answers too.

grip said...

Gucci gets a lot of attention, but what people for get is he earned the old fashion way. Dude did not get where he is by radio play!!! The labels that he has been on have been garbage to this point. He has very little marketing dollars behind him. Like it or not the streets have truly chosen him as that dude. Remember I coined this. He is the Kool G Rap Of the south. Outkast is the best group ever, stat wise. But last time I checked, there success had a lot to do with Radio, video, and the Laface machine..... I hear a lot of people talking but most are saying nothing!!! The masses of the people choose in these types of situations. I have never purchased one of his CD's but the streets are really diggin dude.

Smitty said...

I feel the same as you do, bruh. I think it lies more in the quality of music. I don't knock Gucci/OJ/Soulja/Lo, but I keep hearing the same things from them record after record. I don't feel like they want to challenge themselves the same way the DF, and artists from that era. The content is always the same where as the DF had music that almost any human being could relate to. I pride myself on supporting any Black Man pursuing their dreams, but I have to be honest with myself and say I don't share the same pride as I did when the DF made it to mainstream exposure. Maybe, someone needs to challenge the artists today to be more innovative with their music today.

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