Archive for July, 2008

The state of Hip Hop from the perspective of a non-hip hop head

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on July 30, 2008 by klysha

I am not a hip hop head. I like hip hop, and I have love for hip hop culture. But my appreciation can be equated to a platonic relationship, not the deep torrid love affair that real hip hop heads have for the music. I grew up in the hip hop generation so I feel like even though I’m not a true head, hip hop is as much a part of me as the kool aid with two cups of sugar from my childhood that probably still flows through my body today. I have little or no real memory of the time before hip hop and young black culture went hand in hand.

It’s because of this kinship that I have with hip hop that I am touched by the ongoing debate over whether hip hop is dead. For almost my entire life hip hop has been a defining part of life as a young black person in America so the idea of the genre and by extension the culture dying out leaves me wondering how young blacks will define themselves in the absence of hip hop.

I had a chance to go to a hip hop CPR session on Sunday also known as the Rock the Bells Concert. The

At the Rock the Bells Concert

At the Rock the Bells Concert

concert featured a roster of hip hop icons that went back like 20 years. I went because De La Soul was performing and I have loved De La Soul since I saw them live in Tallahassee at the Moon while I was in undergrad. I liked them before that, but that live show took our relationship to the next level. I went to that show at the Moon with my roommate who really could be described as a hip hop head. As a matter of fact I have to credit the majority of my early knowledge of “East Coast” hip hop to her. I am from Alabama where that brand of hip hop wasn’t big. I only knew of the groups through the airplay they got on shows like rap city and Yo MTV raps. I knew about southern bass music (which from my non hip hop purist perspective is a part of the hip hop culture). But I digress..so yeah I was at the Rock the Bells show and I had a good time. They played enough of my old favorites to keep my non hip hop headed self entertained. But I can have fun in just about any environment where you can dance so that may not be saying much. At any rate what I took from the show is that hip hop as we know it isn’t dead….on life support maybe but the art form is still very much alive. The only problem is the people who still appreciate hip hop in this form are an aging breed. One of the artists made a comment on stage where he welcomed everyone from 3 to 30 and my homegirl and I looked at each other like why did he cut it off at 30???? How old does he think most of these folk here are? Heck how old was he?

I notice that everyone complaining about the death of hip hop is in their late twenties and older which says something about the argument. Maybe people in this age range think it’s dead or dying because we are just too old to relate to whatever the heck it is that this next generation is doing. Maybe hip hop is just in an transitional state and what we hear coming through the airwaves today are just the wails from the growing pains as hip hop tries to get to it’s next evolution.

The arguments about Soulja Boy killing hip hop and the like are ridiculous to me. Maybe the people complaining are just too old to relate to Soulja Boy*. Sorta like our parents couldn’t relate to us back in the day. Think about how silly the stuff we used to do probably looked to them.

It's not his fault

It's not his fault

Speaking of stuff that has been accused of killing hip hop. I mentioned that I’m from the south so my definition of hip hop is a little broader than a purists might be. (I’m sure purists would castrate me for saying this….but fortunately for me I don’t have the proper equipment for them to remove). I think the south might have been at least partly responsible for keeping hip hop alive as long as it has been. No one on the east coast wants to give credit to the south, but where would hip hop be without artists like Outcast, Ludacris, heck even Lil Jon who kept it crunk when the east coast wasn’t putting anything out there really. And I’m gone hate myself in the morning for this but Lil Wayne is currently holding his own. (Note I haven’t liked Lil Wayne since the Hot Boys…back when he got no respect…but I felt like the music was more pure then….shoot me). My friends who were at the concert with me were all from the south and we had a discussion about how the show would have been if they included southern rappers or better yet if it was an all southern rap show. (Surprisingly…or maybe not so surprisingly the white guy sitting in front of us was extremely knowledgeable about southern rap and had a lot to contribute to this discussion) The only problem is the audience such a show would attract would probably prevent me from being able to go for fear the show would get shut down mid way through due to people getting a little too crunk. Anyway I’m not sure where I was going with all of this. I suppose this was really just an excuse for me to give some much deserved props to the Dirty South (who were so ungraciously excluded from the Rock the Bells roster) disguised as an analysis of the state of hip hop.

Anyway here are some more pictures from the show.

De La Soul

De La Soul

Method Man & Redman

Method Man & Redman

Redman

Redman

Nas

Nas

* For the record I think Soulja Boys little dance was pretty clever, but I don’t think he’s a real hip hop artist

Stupid teenagers

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2008 by klysha

I blame the internet, reality television, global warming and hormones in the chicken for some of the stupid things people do these days. I just watched a video of a 16 year old kid jumping on a pillow to make a baby fly. There is no excuse for a 16 year old with no signs of mental retardation thinking this is a good idea. And the person who video taped it and posted it on You Tube gets second prize in the toothpaste is smarter than me competition because they were the person who was left responsible for the baby. That is unless they wanted to be cleared of all future babysitting duties for the rest of their life….in that case I guess they were actually pretty clever. Have you seen the video?

Stupid Teenage Fashion

And while I’m on the subject of teenagers what is up with the new fashions that the young boys are wearing? At least they’re wearing them in the DC area. I would describe the look as hip hop meets preppy meets skater who doesn’t actually skate meets rock star meets flaming homosexual meets bozo the clown. The guys wearing this look usually incorporate some combination of too tight jeans with an oversized belt wrapped around their upper thighs holding them up because they’re usually sagging them off their butt to show off boxer shorts that match an extra smedium often extra loud colored polo shirt, t shirt or hoodie, extra bright skittles colored sneakers and some stupid looking bright colored oversized shades. This look is very confusing to me.

I think Lil Wayne is at least partly responsible for this madness.

I think Lil Wayne is at least partly responsible for this madness.

I can’t tell whether some of the kids are gay or just expressing themselves. I know being a kid is about expressing your individuality and I recognize that my generation can take credit for some pretty stupid fashion trends. (Let’s not forget Cross Colors, backwards jeans, and unhooked overalls?) So maybe I need to just go sit my old self down somewhere and just be thankful that I am past the age of adopting the stupidest of trends. But goodness did we ever look this stupid back in the day? Yeah we probably did.

Guns and patriots Part I

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on July 2, 2008 by klysha

I wonder what our forefathers really had in mind when they drafted the constitution and included the clause stating that we have the right to bare arms. Somehow I don’t think the idea was for people to take the law into their own hands and administer outlaw justice at will. I am an avid opponent to gun ownership rights because I think human life should be valued, and any tool that allows people to make a split second decision about ending the life of another human being is a tool of the Devil. (my feelings on the existence of “the Devil” in a literal sense are irrelevant to this post.) I am really vexed today by that 911 call from the guy in Texas who decided to take the law into his own hands. Apparently a couple of illegal immigrants were robbing his neighbors house and the guy was a witness. Based on the 911 tape his life was not being threatened he just didn’t want the guys to get away. The 911 operator tried to talk him out of shooting the guys stating that no property is worth a human life. But the guy proceeded to shoot both of the robbers in the back as they were trying to escape while the 911 operator listened on the phone. The guy committed two counts of murder of unarmed men and he is walking around a free man today. He is even hailed as a hero by many. Since when did robbery become an offense that warranted the death penalty in America? Protecting yourself if you feel legitimately threatened is one thing. But shooting to kill when your life is not in danger is murder. It’s examples like this that solidify my belief that guns should not be easier to get than drivers licenses. Heck it’s already easier to get a gun than it is to get an error off your credit report. How much sense does that make??? Of course tougher gun laws probably wouldn’t have spared these men’s lives.  Call me un-American, but I just don’t think every law abiding citizen needs to be packing heat.

Some might argue that if every American can have a gun it will discourage criminals from committing crimes. But often criminals have minimal value for human life in the first place, including their own. Such criminals would probably not be deterred by the possibility that a potential victim might also have a weapon. But this is just my non-gun owning opinion.

This is all neither here nor there. In most places people do have the right to purchase a gun. And if the NRAKid with a gun has its way any tardface will be able to walk into a Wal-mart or gun show and buy a piece without having to do so much as flash their ID. If the idea is that all law abiding citizens should be able to buy a gun why is there a problem with requiring people to have background checks before making a purchase? I just don’t understand what the problem with this is. No law abiding citizen should have a problem with this requirement.

Call me a hopeless peacemonger, but I guess I have an unreasonable amount of faith in people’s ability to learn to live together without being so afraid of each other.

Every time I hear that 911 tape played again on CNN I get sick to my stomach. Absolutely no value for human life was shown in that situation.

Oh yeah I was going to talk about patriotism today since that’s the other hot topic of late…but I’m sleepy now. So I’ll just make this statement. Patriotism has nothing to do with flag pins, or singing the national anthem. True patriotic Americans feel free to speak out against their country because it’s our right. Anyone who tries to deny someone that right is not a patriot and probably doesn’t deserve to live in America.