Awards are dead. Too few nominations. Maybe next year people might give a shit.
Anyways, here's the full text of the essay I tried to post on my distractions remix. Written fully by me:
Hip hop is dying. And yes, I know Nas has said that before, and his album of the same name created a bit of a stir, but nothing has changed, and those with an interest in the pop culture machine quickly sidetracked any real conversation about the subject to make it sound like Nas was hating on the south. I can not know Nas' true intentions with that album, whether he truly cares or it was a publicity stunt. But what I can do is interpret what I think hip hop is dying means.
There is a plague amongst artists. Dudes are coming into hip hop thinking of it as a quick way to make money rather than a combination of art forms. These dudes know nothing of the culture, nor anything about hip hop other than sometimes the producing/rapping side of things. These guys seem to think that getting signed to a record label, hitting the mainstream and making millions of dollars is the definition of success for an artist. They do everything possible to sound like all the guys you hear on the radio, neglecting to think about two things:
1)Nobody cares about you if you sound exactly like somebody else, because that guy is already on the radio. Why would anybody want to play you if they can play the real person instead. And 2) The labels have already manufactured an image for these superstars. I have a large amount of respect for the labels and the singers/rappers they work with, but these guys are not artists. They follow more of a science-business mix. They hone in on what sort of style they can sell, then they kick the machine into full gear and watch as people are bombarded with words and images telling them that a certain artist is hot. Then, the labels follow the formula to repeat. This isn't hip hop, this isn't art. You can photocopy the Mona Lisa all day long and it doesn't change the fact that art isn't your talent.
Yet, despite this, I still hear people telling me that you are not an artist if you haven't gotten signed. Then, when I challenge them on their views, they back it up by saying that they are correct because CEO's and radio personalities would agree with them. Wake up. Of course a CEO is going to tell you that you can only be legitimate if you work with them. Of course these guys will tell you anything to make you buy into their system. Even then though, your average wannabe rich rapper will still trust the system, and trust the CEO's and labels, who make money off exploiting people, while still buying into the don't trust the police bullshit. Police are there to try to keep the peace, yes there are bad apples, but for the most part, they are there to help you, while the CEO's are their to screw you. Yet, you still believe the CEO's? Again I must say it: wake up.
But again, I said hip hop is dieing, not just rap. Graffiti is dieing. The B-Boy is almost forgotten. The true art of turntablism has been pushed back underground, and even there it is harder to find in many places then it once was. Yet, none of this is discussed. All you hear is this bullshit about Nas saying the south is killing hip hop and the south saying Nas is jealous of their money. First off, that's a horrible attitude. Instead of denying being the decay of an art form like any true MC would, you get Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne on the radio talking about how Nas just wants their money. Second, no, the south did not kill hip hop. What has been hurting the rapping part of the art is how suddenly everybody wants to sound like the stereotypical south rather than sound unique, or sound like themselves.
This brings me to my next thought. The loss of originality. As much as I don't personally like soulja boy or T-Pain, at the very least they at least tried something new. Soulja boy may be garbage, but he gets my respect because he is a far different type of garbage than every other mainstream artist you hear. T-Pain pioneered the use of the auto-tune effect in rap and R&B, which garners my respect. Then, you get the copycats again. Seems like all of the sudden everybody and their dog have decided that auto-tune makes them the shit. It doesn't. You are not original, you are not a visionary, you do not sound cool, learn how to sing or shut the fuck up. Once you hop on a bandwagon and start playing follow the leader like a lot of people have with auto-tune, you cease to be an artist, and become a copycat. I've seen dudes sell out to the mainstream despite not having sold anything or getting any real benefit from it, and it sickens me that they would not only sell out, but shortchange themselves while losing any creativity they previously had. Even worse, these people then listen to the actual art and have the nerve to criticize originality for it's non-conformance to the mainstream.
Then there is the decline in the quality of beef. While it would be nice to pretend that everybody should be able to get along, some people just won't see eye-to-eye, and so beef will occur. At the same time, you should expect these 2 people to still realize that this is a problem between musicians (for the lack of a better word) and should be settled in the music. Seems like every time I turn around dudes are challenging each other to actual fights, slapping people's Cousins, and just generally doing stupid shit rather than sitting down and working on actual track. Then there is the flip side, dudes who release so many battle tracks that they cease to have an effect. Here I'm thinking of guys like 50 cent, who at this point I wouldn't be surprised if I found out he was beefing with my old kindergarten teacher. People aren't taking there time to make there attacks great. Instead they lay back on the same tired cliche's and go with the quantity over quality idea. To these people I say: Wake up, and step up.
I already know I'm going to be challenged on what I'm saying. I will hear "you're just a white guy from the suburbs, what do you know about hip hop". Apparently, more than you. Hip hop is an art, and art is universal. It can be appreciated and understood by people of any culture, so long as they allow themselves to see the art. I can see it, I know many others who can, but a lot of people look at it solely as a business, and that's where the problem lays.
Let me break it down:
there is a plague killing hip hop.
If you look at hip hop as a way to make money, you are part of the plague
If you think rap is the same as hip hop AND consider yourself a rapper MC, you are part of the plague.
If you dismiss sampling as thievery, you are part of the plague
If you think grafitti is the same as tagging, you are part of the plague.
If you think that your little shoulder dance and bump and grind are part of B-Boying, fuck you, you are part of the plague.
If you think being ignorant and dumb is cool, you are part of the plague.
I'll let you guys post more If's here.