A Moment of Silence Please Pt 2: The Reception

Lately, I’ve been trying to determine if I could be labeled a ” hater” because of my recent ramblings on the state of the music industry. I’m a Gemini so my thoughts often vascilate between the parallel sides of an issue, that being said, sometimes I do feel like a hater. There’s nothing wrong with an artist wanting to get paid for thier contributions to the world and there’s always been peak periods of different musical era’s that feature an abundance of similar material.

I was just watching The 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs special on VH1 and it got me the thinking on all this. More specifically the fact that they even have a special detailing the “greatest” songs in Hip Hop further suggests that an era has come and gone. Perhaps that’s the sense of death I’ve been feeling. The  hip hop icons of my formative years are now middle aged men, who seem as dissapointed and unimpressed with the current trends in popular musical stylings as I am. Everybody from Nas to Jamie Foxx to Bobby Valentino are saying the same thing, what we got going on right now isn’t “real” music. So that leads one to the question…What exactly is “real” music?

Real is defined as being; genuine, not counterfeit or  artificial or imitation, authentic, unfeigned or sincere. If these artists today are making music that comes from thier hearts, that comes from the essence of who they are is that not real? Apparently even if the music being made today is born out of genuine expression the public is not having it. According to a poll on, 63.5 percent of the 334 who voted say it is. 

Meditating on this subject, I find myself being drawn to the conclusion that it all comes down to the matter of energy. The bulk of hip hop’s energy has  shifted from realistically portryaing the collective urban experience in all it’s variations and complexities to a air-headed exploitation of the corrupted American dream. Where our people can’t think of anything better to do with 100 stacks but to scatter it on the floor of a strip club. Where songs have become more like rhythmic endorsements dropping names of high end designer labels, cars and liquor like adjectives, metaphors and similes. We like clothes, and shoes, and parties, and nice things, who doesn’t right? These things are all good, yet they are just small aspects of the full human experience. It is the increasing shift toward formulized materialism and consumerism that has slowly been killing hip hop. I find it ironic that urban populations are often the poorest, speaking in terms of per capita income, yet they are comprised  of the most coveted consumers in big buisness, spending more money on average than consumers considered “non-urban”.

from Swag Surfin by F.L.Y

swaggin in the club you gon see me throwin money up

came here wit a bad chick and all her friends as fine as her

drinks we gon pour them up

exotic  what we rollin up

Patron, Goose and Hennessy

they got it, ima drink it up

I’m always wearin Polo nigga

I’m Ralph Lauren’s mascot……

and this was 96………


A moment of silence please………

Yes, I asked you to please take a moment of silence for my dear friend. In my feeble mind I believed that while my friend was ill, as good as dead some would say, they would undoubtedly pull through. That they would regain thier failing health and make a vibrant and triumphant return to the land of the living. But alas, not even the sheer will to fight, or tenacity or the prayers of loved ones could keep her alive. My good friend the music industry  has lost her vibrant lifeforce and now sits rotting in the afterworld that is mediocrity and ineptitude.  

I am over the mainstream. Not in some hip hop is dead, the kids aren’t alright, Miley Cyrus makes me upchuck type of way but in a damn this shit really don’t move me anymore type of way. It has become apparent the  game is so starved for something fresh, something new, something organically soul shatteringly  dope that they smother the goodness out of anything that shows any sign of promise no matter how miniscule, ahem Drake.  They covet and overexpose pre-greatness before it has a chance to rightfully blossom.  Those roses that do happen to grow in the concrete are plucked in all thier nubile glory and promptly glazed in plastic, preserving the beauty they have now all the while killing the beauty that was still yet to come. It seemed like back in the day an artist had to grind, prove themselves before they got the shine and adoration that these new artists get within a months time, and then keep that stuff that got them there coming and they brought it with a hunger and passion and soul that was remarkable, nothing short of divine. The average career span back in the day was like a decade or so, at least a good 5, 6, 7 year run.Hell artists like Teena Marie are still gettin in in and making quality music to this day, but these new cats? Washed up by thier sophmore album, third if they’re lucky.

I stopped listening to my radio a long time ago and just the other day while watching videos it hit me, music is not ruled by creative genius anymore. It’s ruled by what’s hot at the moment, what dude or homegirl already did but tweaked a little bit to the left or right. I know there’s been whispers and shouts about , this dumbing down of music, this death of true artistry, for a hot minute, but it’s only now just really really hit me, like a sucker punch to the left eye. Perhaps it’s the half-bladie craze sweeping the ladies of the industry or the fact that songs are now sampling songs that came out less than a year ago that you can still hear on the radio right after you hear the song that sampled it, ahem Kid Cudi, but the industry today is reminiscent of that one clique in high school. That one clique that got all the shine. Come hell or highwater you knew who the class president was going to be, who started the trends, who changed the trends, who set the rules that everybody who wanted to be down followed. Carbon copy individuality. Safe and socially acceptable exploration of the creative self. You wanna hit record? Add a lil auto-tune, make up a dance to go with it. You want to bring sexy back? Cut off your hair and wear ripped up clothes. Even non-urban music seems to have hit a  slump, though nowadays r&b and hip hop are the main musical consumption of the masses. To be honest MTV lost me a loooong time ago during the Mandy Moore, N’Sync, O Town foolishness. I remember the golden age though when  MTV was the spot for ear candy of all genres.

Lil Wayne is aight with me but about his much publicized and debated boasts of being the best rapper alive?  For real? Really? Out of every MC in the game, the game of MUSIC in the larger sense, you’re making the best music. You’re the most lyrically astute, for real?  Maybe he just has the highest popularity quotient, at the moment and, because of said popularity now every one that happens to run with dude is touted as being the next big thing, ahem Nicki Minaj. I remember a time when Lil Jon was everywhere, making joints with everybody, bringing out artists left and right and then……. 

Beyonce, the hottest chick in the game. Really? Really like this game isn’t big enough for us to have at least a couple of  vocally gifted, jiggling songbirds to choose from. Like there is only one throne in the vast kingdom of musicland and she is the only certifiable female around to sit on it’s golden cushion? Oh and the girl groups, what happened yo!!!!!!! I was watching old Xscape vids on youtube the other day and I would piss my pants if some chicks hit us with some harmonies like this right here 

or this

 In a nutshell what I’m getting at here is today popularity is confused with achieving artistic omnipotence.  MUSIC is and should be represented as larger than a handful of artists who happen to dominate the air and radio waves and thier cheap perpetually one step below clones. Overkill is the name of the game and variety is a sorely missed asset folks. Armand Van Helden said it best when he answered the question what is your most missed memory. When art not money ruled.