I know full well that I’m not the only one disgusted by what I hear passing as ‘music’ on the radio. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s that I have an inheirant love of what’s now called TRUE hip-hop. You know, the stuff that was JUST good enough in the 90’s to be commercial before they realized that people would come up with HOT BEATZ and didn’t even need to worry about skill or talent any longer, and still sell a half-million. Listening to the radio today, for example, I caught myself saying “I remember when Li’l Wayne was good”. But he makes more money now than he did when he took time to actually WRITE stuff.
Still, a person with vision can see that it’s a small symptom of a bigger problem. The target audience of what passes for hip-hop nowadays no longer knows the difference between culture and lifestyle. For a people who have had their cultural identity historically stripped away, and were struggling to find themselves, hip-hop in the late 80’s to mid 90’s became our voice. It expressed our identities… it respected where we came from, expounded on where we were, and exclaimed hope for the future. Italian-americans, asian-americans, variant immigrant communities… they all had an internal refuge to return to within the greater melting pot that is the USA, and hip-hop became that central hub that the urban youth, the hustlers, and the people in the struggle. Someone HAD to find a way to commercialize what was becoming OUR community