Video courtesty of OhWord (probably the best hip hop blog on the Internets):
Damn, I wish Eminem would come out with just one great album before he permanently goes into retirement.
Anyways, this post is inspired by a post of the same title from OhWord, and reading the post just reminded me why it was that I started listening to hip hop in the first place:
homophobic, misogynistic, ridiculously violent.. however, my argument was always (and still is) from the perspective of someone who has a sincere appreciation for the art of the spoken word and the way in which the spoken word is constructed over music.
That, friends, is the real reason why I will never give up hip hop, no matter how terrible its current state is. There is something intensely euphoric when I listen to a well-constructed rap, a perfect marriage of beats and lyrics. I remember the first time I heard Illmatic, and especially “Life’s A Bitch,” that shit just about blew my mind because of the Nas’ sheer verbal dexterity and lyrical prowess.
So I know that a lot of the hip hop I listen to is violent, sometimes misogynistic, and often materialistic, but there is something about the pure technique itself that has a hold on me and will never let go. The evidence is in the video I posted at the beginning: at its purest, hip hop is about a bunch of guys making up words to a musical beat and see who can say the most creative thing in the best possible way. That kind of purity transcends race and class, so I feel absolutely no guilt in listening to hip hop even if I am a nerdy Asian guy with a “bourgeoisie” job.
True, hip hop in its current state is pretty terrible, but it’s not quite dead like Nas so gloomily proclaims. The problem with contemporary mainstream hip hop isn’t with its socio-political content (or lack thereof); rather, the problem with it is that it is creatively stagnant. I could give a fuck less of so-called “positive” or “conscious” hip hop if it sucked on a technical level. Look, I like Black on Both Sides not because of its positive social message, but because Mos Def rapped the shit out of that album.
At the end of the day, what ultimately counts in hip hop is still the technique, pure and simple. If you can’t rap, if your beat sucks, if you can’t decent ride the beat, you will suck, no matter how positive or how uplifting your message is.