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Go Back   Wu-Tang Corp. - Official Site of the Wu-Tang Clan > Blogs > LORD ZERO

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25 Things That Killed Hip Hop Pt 1

Posted 04-24-2008 at 03:53 AM by LORD ZERO
In the midst of everyone's declarations that "Hip Hop is Dead" we somehow forgot the slow death that is spreading across all aspects of "urban" music, as the legacy of Soul and its close cousins has devolved into a writhing mass of commercialism, homogenization, thuggification and overall laziness. Now, in no particular order, we present to you the "25 Things That Killed (and are Still Killing) Urban Music" because you love lists and SoulBounce isn't afraid to say what you're thinking. Keep in mind that there will be some overlap, as certain items gave way to others that deserve their own spanking.

1. The End of the "Event" Album: There was a time when albums encompassed an era that included a look, a feel, and a style that informed an artist's videos and live performances for as long as they (or the label) could squeeze revenue from a project by releasing singles. The "event" album can chiefly be credited to Jacksons Michael and Janet, who have entire timelines built around the idea of a "Thriller Era" or a "Rhythm Nation Era". Nowadays, instead of treating albums as what they are (a collection of songs with one unifying theme) artists are more likely to seek out the most ubiquitous Hip Hop beatmakers of the moment and record over a hundred songs from which to "pick" singles. Also, when you have artists that are too scared to release music with a healthy 3-5 year gap in between, the lines to between albums begin to blur, and the eras become indistinguishable, rendering them null.


2. Big Name Hip Hop Producers: With respect due to the beatmakers that introduce a track with the name of their production imprint, ad-lib all over it, and insert themselves as guest rappers 50% of the time, they overshadow the actual vocalist of a song. We certainly don't begrudge any of them the right to employment, but when an artist has to do an inventory of who produced her project to qualifiy it instead of telling us what the album is about, we have to take exception. Reality check: If you're trying to goad me into a purchasing your album because you have a Pharrell beat on it and I'm a Pharrell fan, then that's the only song I'm buying. Your album has to have legs of its own.

3. Deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. & 2Pac: You can probably draw a direct line from the deaths of Biggie and 'Pac to the current state of Hip Hop. The two of them cultivated a style that even a decade later is re- and misappropriated to the nth. Perhaps if they were still alive, they'd have pushed the genre forward. Or maybe they'd be wack and irrelevant. Hey, at least they died while they were still good.


4. "Neo-Soul": We understand the emergence of the "neo-soul" genre as a response to the growing commercialization of modern R&B. But even the artists lumped into this category began to the see that the term was as much a marketing ploy as the very things they eschewed. The language used to describe these artists ranged from "organic" to "avant garde" and any press materials would claim that he/she looks up to Stevie, Marvin and Donnie. And don't stand too close to the stage lest you get burned by the candles and frankencense! Before long, the audience would be fooled and we would either grow to love or loathe this music, defending the art of its purveyors and loudly wondering why they couldn't move as many units as their mainstream counterparts. Simply put, "neo-soul" has become a term used by people to describe music they respect but would never buy.


5. Reality TV: Aside from the manufactured Pop idols that are struggling to stay signed within their prize contracts, we have to question the motives of Sean Combs, Robin Antin and Missy Elliott, who have all aped the reality television format to generate acts for their own stable of artists. To be sure, reality TV has replaced proper Artist Development as a means for these entrepreneurs to cash in, stroke their egos and embarrass people who, 9 times out of 10, deserve it. Speaking of which, what's O'so Krispie doing?


6. Lazy A&R Departments: Did you know that A&R people are also responsible for Artist Development? Probably not, since these days a newly-signed artist is more likely to be stripped of their identity and given one that falls in step with what's popular or, even worse, none at all. Take Cheri Dennis for example. While her album has a respectable amount of solid R&B tracks, we still don't know who Cheri Dennis is, what sets her apart from everyone else or even what she sounds like. But, she has earned the distinction of being signed to her label for nearly a decade with no album to speak of. Did the A&R department utilize that time by playing Spades? Probably.

7. Scarface and The Untouchables: Okay, rapper, we get it, Scarface and The Untouchables are the greatest movies ever made; your life in celluloid, even. But, if you look close enough, you'll come to learn that you are neither Pacino or De Niro and should stop emulating them by using audio clips from the films in your interludes and the script in your lyrics. Too many of you are still doing this after all these years. Also, tell members of your crew to stop calling themselves "Ness" and "Nitti". Just, please, cut it out. Thank you.


8. Thugs: Not only do we have "Studio Thugs" that use de Palma films to inform their image (see above) but there's the "Corporate Thug" (robs an artist of his publishing and signs him to a hellified contract he could never fulfill) and the questionable "R&B Thug", which happened somewhere between R. Kelly and Jodeci and continues to this day. Along the way, labels got the bright idea that the way to a woman's heart was by selling drugs and beating up people. Sexy! This trend has also given rise to something else we'll never understand: "R&B Beef", in which two singers talk trash about each other to the media. Unfortunately, this doesn't result in a "sing-off" but pretty much makes everyone involved look kind of retarded.


9. Crime: Between violating probation, not paying child support, being pulled over and caught with an ounce of weed or cocaine, assaulting nail technicians, shooting people, tossing concertgoers off the stage, committing perjury, tax evasion, and urinating on minors, we have to wonder if being a good artist means being a bad citizen.


10. Ringtones: "Real Music Ringtones" were created as a way to distinguish your ringing cellular from someone else's while also bringing you closer to your favorite artist. Unfortunately, the labels realized this was the only way to generate revenue and started making music for the sole purpose of selling ringtones. Now, we have stripped-down keyboard beats and grunts and "yaahhs" instead of lyrics. Is that my cellphone ringing or yours? We'll never know, because we both downloaded Soulja Boy.


11. Lack of Music Programs in Schools: Programs like Garage Band have not only made producers lazy, but undercut the importance of immersing young would-be musicians in music history as well as basic composition. Unless a popular musician was trained in the church, they probably lucked into a contract without knowing how to write, play an instrument, or worse, sing a note.

12. BET (and by extension its corporate owner) is on a mission to not only destroy urban music, but poison the perception of Black people in the process. If we were to use this network as a guide (and people unfortunately do), we would believe that "drug dealer > rapper > pimp" is a logical career path, alcoholic beverages can be used as bodysplash, women of exotic or indeterminate race are the standard of beauty, darker-skinned women are only valuable if they have a big ass and a tiny waist, a person's worth can only be determined by what they drive and what they wear, you ain't sh*t if you're over 30, and a week's worth of debauchery and decadence can be undone with a Sunday marathon of religious programming. It's funny because it's true.


13. The Radio: Used to be, you would turn on the radio and hear a variety of artists with a variety of sounds. But due to the "Clear Channeling" of Urban Radio, you'll hear a T-Pain song followed by 15 minutes of commercials, followed by a song featuring T-Pain, some shucking and jiving by unbearable radio personalities for five minutes, then something that resembles a T-Pain song, but isn't because just about everyone sounds like T-Pain now. And it's probably a commercial.
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I GOT A CHAMBER's Avatar
I would just like to say this to u my wu frend "evon a straw can look crooked in a glass of water" tacke this as u will, it has many meanings but the oveious. all i no is this the wu the wu they got somthing wen i was 15 years old i heard there first shit befor any mother fucker had messed withem,

But still they ceep ther raw dirty grimy wot ever u wanna call it sound, so keep it real ma brother dont get beat down

peace.
Posted 07-27-2009 at 01:20 PM by I GOT A CHAMBER I GOT A CHAMBER is offline
 

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