SOURCE - http://www.highergroundonline.com/op-ed/let_it_go.htm
Oh, Teddy P! Why oh why has she forsaken me?! With all of my heart and soul, “I Used To Love H.E.R.” However, I do not think that I can stand the heartbreak any longer. It is becoming too painful to bear.
I watched the film “The Basketball Diaries” for the first time a few days ago. Based on the true-life story of poet/diarist/performer Jim Carroll, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays and immensely talented and gifted individual with unlimited potential, who falls victim to drug addiction leading him to everything from violent crime and robbery to prostitution in order to support his habit. It is a truly disturbing, yet poignant look at the dark side of addiction and how easily potential can be wasted if not channeled in a positive direction.
There is a particular scene that pretty much sums up the way I have been feeling lately, and I believe the sentiment is shared by many others. In the scene, Carroll is basically rock-bottom status with his addiction. He returns to the door of his mother’s apartment, a place where he had been banished from, to beg a woman (played by Lorraine Bracco), whom he had put through hell for money to feed his habit. He bangs on the door, begs and pleads in his whiny little boy voice, only to curse and disrespect his mother in the next breath. He begs for her to open the door and to allow him come inside. Wisely, she keeps the chain on the door. When she finally tells him she can not help him anymore and closes the door completely, Carroll lays into a curse-ridden diatribe that would break even the strongest person’s heart. She realizes what she has to do, calls the police on her own son, and breaks down crying with a $10 bill in her hand, which she was on the verge of giving him despite everything that had gone on.
Unfortunately, this is what hip-hop music has become to me…a drug-addicted, crime-ridden, misogynistic and disrespectful loved-one. It is something that was once so near and dear to my heart, but is now a shell of its former self, to the point that I no longer recognize it. She is now at “Gator” status. You remember Sam Jack’s endearing crackhead portrayal in “Jungle Fever”, right? Well just like Ruby Dee in the film, I’ve grown tired and am no longer entertained by the “shukin’ and jivin’”, and I am ready to pull the trigger and end the whole damn thing.
It is truly a shame what has become of her. The lifestyle she’s led for the past decade plus has brought about a steady decline and deterioration of her character, image, creativity and coherence. She has become too violent and sexually explicit to be around children…even the “clean” versions of her. Her promotion drug use and sale has left everyone in her wake in a narcotic-induced “haze”, to the point where heinous crimes seem commonplace, sometimes humorous, clever, and even in some cases, necessary. She has made heroes and role models out of people who were once the dregs of society.
So my question is, WHEN IS ENOUGH…ENOUGH????
Seriously, when I turn on my television or on the rare occasion that I attempt to listen to the radio, it is damn near appalling what my eyes and ears are greeted with. Think about some of the music in heavy rotation all day every day throughout the country:
Shawna “Getting Some (Head)” – a song about…well…
Busta Rhymes “Touch It” – touch what?
Cam’ron “Suck It or Not” – well, IS you?
Bubba Sparxx “Ms. New Booty” – “booty, booty, booty, booty, rockin everywhere!” said the 5 year old boy…
Juvenile “Rodeo” – “this not the right spot to let ya daughters visit”
Rick Ross “Hustlin”, Lil Wayne “Hustler Musik/Mind on My Money” – calling it “hustling” doesn’t change the action
Three 6 Mafia “Poppin My Collar” – and of course “workin these hoes”
I mean, “I can go on for days and days with rhyme displays that engrave deep as X-rays”…
See, THAT last line that has been engrained in my subconcious to be recounted at the precisely apporopriate moment...that line right there is what I miss most about Hip-Hop music. That butterfly in my stomach feeling she used to give me when I’d first hear an incredible line or verse or song. That hit me in my chest/blow to the head that came about when something fresh and new was first debuted. Every once in a while, it seems like she might get herself together for real. Kanye sells a few million. Common gets some heavy rotation. Little Brother gets signed to a major after years of toil doing the indie thing. But that small glimmer of hope is quickly dashed as one struggles to find “Lovin It” on MTV Jams (if you don’t have digital cable…oh well) and the video for The Musicianz (irony at it’s finest) song “Shake Something for the Camera Phone” debuts on 106 & Park and begins it’s 3 month reign in the countdown. She’s back on that stuff, again.
I for one am tired of it and I have lost faith in her ever recovering. I think it is time that we as a collective swallow the hard, honest truth.
Calling up DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Paul C, The Bomb Squad, Showbiz, Diamond D, Buckwild, Large Professor, etc., isn’t going solve anything for any of our “legends.” That sound is no longer relevant to the masses and it never will be. Boom Bap in a commercially viable sense is dead.
Rakim is not going to come back and save Hip-Hop, no matter who makes his tracks. Neither is KRS-One. Ever. The most we can hope for is that they do take heed to #1 so that we fans can have our perverse fascinations satisfied. Chances are after all these years though, whatever would come of those projects would be a letdown.
There is no comparison between Rakim, KRS, Kool G. Rap, Kane, MC Lyte, Slick Rick and early LL with the stars of today like Jay-Z, Nas, 50, Snoop, T.I., Lil Wayne, Cam'ron and even the late greats Biggie and Pac. Those pioneers were our icons. There is no way to accurately convey what happened in the past that would allow someone of this generation to completely understand and give proper respect and admiration to those individuals and the music that they created at the time it was created.
The Early 90’s “golden age” era hip hop is never coming back. Though folks like De La Soul, The Roots, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Common, Slum Village and MF DOOM are making a valiant effort to keep it alive, in addition to cats like Tanya Morgan, Little Brother, Strange Fruit Project, Binkis and Lupe Fiasco picking up the torch, it is not returning to the forefront as the “mainstream” sound that dominates the airwaves and media outlets.
This is no longer “our” music. Not only are we getting older and losing touch with what young people find entertaining…not only has Hip-Hop gone the way of Jazz, Blues and Rock & Roll before it, being adulterated and exploited by corporate entities…and not only has our “underground” counter-culture become mainstream pop culture, but this has all occurred during a complete upheaval of the business of music as we know it due to technology. There are no more crates, vinyl and pause tapes recorded from the radio. We now have mp3s, file sharing and blogs that put just about any song heard anywhere in the world at one’s fingertips within seconds. And that has a lot to do with the type of music we have now…it is immediate and DISPOSABLE.
I know it will be hard to let go. Hell, it was hard for me to write about. But it’s real, and there is really nothing I can do for her at this point. I am washing my hands of her. I can no longer contribute to her demise. I am Jim Carroll’s mother closing the door on her drug addicted son. But on those rare occasions where she cleans up her act, I’ve got $10 in my hand ready to support her.