Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Music is the New Movie

Is it me or is rap music more eventful than it is meaningful nowadays?

I swear everyday I'm hearing about some new event, or an event disguised as a song. Tip got arrested (again), Kanye is going off on twitter (again). Another dumb ass rapper banged Kat Stacks. Rick Ross has a song with Nicki Minaj, Drake, Puff Daddy and Swizz Beatz did the beat. Drake has a new song with Puff Daddy, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross with Jay-Z on the remix and Kanye doing the beat.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no longer what you would consider a spring chicken. I've been walking to the globe long to "have seeeen some shit now" as Dave Chappelle once quipped. That said, there are plenty of events that got us talking and/or shaped the future of Hip Hop and rap. Ice Cube leaving NWA. KRS-ONE bumrushing PM Dawn off the stage. 'Pac and Biggie. Dr. Dre leaving Death Row.

In addition to that there were plenty of songs that we pretty big deals when they came out, like "The Symphony," "Scenario (remix)," "Who Shot Ya (remix)" or anything DMX breathed on in 1997-98.

But I don't know man, it could be my age bias talking, but it just seemed "different." Matter of fact, I pretty much know it was different. "Events" were once things that mattered, but didn't trump the music itself. When Cube left NWA and Dre left Death Row, in the interviews that followed, the first thing they let you know was they had new music coming out that was gonna change the world (Cube did this immediately, it took Dre a little longer).

Plus, when an event happened, it was really a big deal because most of the time, we'd hear it straight from the horse's (sober, calm, articulate) mouth and it was presented a certain way via magazine or MTV News.

Nowadays an "event" is two of these cats crossing paths at the strip club, sneaker store or VIP section in the club. Sometimes they don't even have to say anything to each other and that will be the event itself. "Gucci didn't speak to Jeezy at the club!" Then when an event like this happens, we get to see the people involved bitch about it on twitter, youtube, WSHH or wherever else that type of behavior is welcome. Or of course hear it from some gossiping bitches.

As far as the "event" songs, I'm not saying nothing new when I say that technology has allowed for cats who never even met, let alone be in the studio at the same time, to make music. In some cases, its great. In others, its just...so the f*ck what? You proved you can record a verse for a guy in Miami while your on tour in L.A. Congratulations, you can work a computer in 2010.

I remember interviewing Busta Rhymes a couple of years ago and we got on the topic of rappers hopping on every damn remix or feature that comes their way. Busta was blunt in his answer saying he has a family to support and that he feels that he is still relevant and talented enough to keep rapping. Bun B gave me a similar answer one of the times I talked with him also. Which I feel them on. Granted, not every Busta feature is my favorite but unlike so many of his peers do from time to time, you can tell Busta came on the song to actually rap and not just do it just to say "yeah, I'm rapping, on this song, too."

But the part that stuck out to me the most in our conversation was when he admitted that hopping on a DJ Khaled song didn't feel the same as recording a song like "Scenario." Mainly because, when he and the rest of The Leaders of the New School hopped on the song with A Tribe Called Quest, they were all in the studio AT THE SAME TIME. Not just the studio room itself, BUT THE BOOTH. He said, that's why the verses and adlibs were so animated. They did the entire song in full takes, top to bottom, in the booth together...stank weed breath and all.

To further illustrate this point. Really, outside of maybe "I'm So Hood" from a few years ago, "Swagga Like Us" from not to long ago and lets say, "Hello, Good Morning" now...do you feel compelled to listen to any of these super event songs on your own time? Sure, we all listen to it at least once (twice if we actually like it) on whatever blogsite we found it on. But did any of you listen to "Monster" today? Would you go apeshit in the club if the DJ played it tonight? If you answered yes...congrats! You are better than me because I buy none of this stuff.

I know its not far-fetched to think this...but I swear all of these super rappers of today have the same managers and interests so they all just make music with each other and drink Ciroc while doing it.

These folks have succeeded in making Hip Hop a big ass movie packed with events...but not moments. You go to the movies on a Friday night and probably forget about the flim by Sunday unless somebody asks if you saw it. Same thing with alot of the music now. You'll hear it once on Tuesday afternoon and won't think about again unless you follow said artist on twitter.

But yeah...I don't rap or make beats. So I'll never understand "what's going on." All I can do observe and share my thoughts with whoever is listening. What do ya'll think?


hiphopobama said...

1st let me begin with a hearty "LOL!". Now that thats outta the way, Id like to say well-written and spot-on (the ol school HBO intro was a nice touch too, made me feel 8 again). These niggas with their "movies" and such...shit is sad but I agree with Bussa Bus and Bun (s/o to alliteration) niggas got kids and bills so as DL Hughley/Jesus said..."Keep the party goin"

Abe Beame said...

Well written but hate this argument. Of course it feels different, these "events" are old hat featuring a bunch of kids you may like or respect but don't have the history or context with. You can't compare hearing scenario in middle school with hearing a Khaled posse cut in your twenties. Ask the kid in Middle School who worships Drake and gets his mind snapped by his Rakim like Eminem getting on a blockbuster together. Don't ask Busta what it was like getting on his first Khaled joint, ask Tip or Ross. The players change but the Game doesn't.

Rome Brown said...

I just hit 20 y/o, so I was still in diapers when "Scenario" dropped, but if you take a look at hip-hop being more about the "events" than the music it's just a side effect (for lack of a better word) of the growth that hip-hop has had over the past 15-20 years. It's not hard to tell that it's not about them music anymore, not too many kids want to be rappers because of the love of the music. They want the money and the fame. When it comes to the event songs, rarely do they garner my attention. Most of the time it's an old verse and like you alluded to, the rappers involved most likely weren't in the studio together.

JMack said...

I think it just comes with age... of the music.

I think alot of the music on the radio is rapping pop music. Theres no fire. I think this era we're witnessing is hip-hop's equivalent to hair bands. Nicki Minaj is Lita Ford to Nas' Led Zeppelin.

I think we just need to be patient and sit back and watch the transition. Im 32 years old and I love hip-hop music more than anyone I know, and nothing is more frustrating than to see some of these puppets turn our music into a WWF match, fake wrestling, scripts, managers and all.

But coming from my perspective, Im a huge proponent of the underground movement and I follow everything in the underground, and I think that magic is coming back.

You see it in artists like Big K.R.I.T. and J.Cole. We dont hear alot about them, their "grind" or their "swag" or how they are working so hard. We dont see them hardly ever. Rarely do we see interviews, and the only time we catch flix of them is when someone goes to one of their shows.

These guys are truly putting in work, keeping their nose to the stone and busting ass. I think that is the generation that's going to bring the magic back.

Don't get too depressed about it Maurice. I agree with you 10,000% about these artists caring more about these "events" than focusing on their music. But i think thats going out along with alot of these shitty, half-assed, reflective glory basking publicists and managers.

The really real shit is coming back... can you feel it? (pause)

Loch said...

You said a mouth full.Nowadays it's about everything you do off the mic and outside the studio.Fake beefs,twitter fights,internet rumors etc.Talent has always taken a back seat but,now it's not even needed.ppl are creatures of boredom and it takes a lot to keep the masses attention.Now ppl realize they can put out the worse rumor then counter it and make a buzz.it's wack and it's killing hiphop