D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Friday, January 07, 2005

What A Way To Start Out The Year

Read columnist Stanley Crouch’s bio that appears to the left of his latest piece – an impressive background and certainly one he should be proud of. So explain to me why in the world is he applauding this bumbling attempt at Hip Hop witch hunting? Thankfully he’s not leading the charge as he’s about as informed on Hip Hop culture as I am about his background in Jazz. I wouldn’t dare take him on in that arena as I know I could not match him there. But to call Hip Hop “the cultural pollution" is a step in the wrong direction for such an accomplished– yet extremely out of touch – man and shows that he need not be critical on a thing he is not a part of. I would’ve used the word brilliant but he’s showing how dense he truly is with this piece. We’re in a crisis because of a popular music’s misogyny is at some high rate, Mr. Crouch? Please.
There are far too many positive things to focus on in the culture. When is the last time you think the future author of the biography of Charlie Parker had any exposure to Hip Hop music or culture save from the negative images we all are inundated with? Doesn’t he know that with Hip Hop’s ugly side that there is a great deal of artists who don’t exalt the woman-hating mentality? Of course he doesn’t. He’s far too content to cheer on Essence magazine’s editor, Diane Waters, and her staff who really feel like they’re doing something with this.

This isn’t to say that Essence is wrong in leading this charge; I just hope that they don’t demonize an entire culture while doing so – as Mr. Crouch seems to do from his very gruff and disdainful standpoint. Yes, a lot of popular Hip Hop music today isn’t in favor of women. I can admit to how often I’m appalled myself at the amount of images and lyrics that do nothing for the advancement of the culture. But I’m involved enough to know that it does NOT mark the entire beauty and worth of the culture. If anything, I hope Essence’s mission makes a lot of these labels and entertainers find more creative ways to express themselves and not do it at the expense of women’s pride. In fact, I actually think this could end up being a positive thing if all sides keep cool heads and realize it only betters us all. I hope they go out and find Ed O.G., Masta Ace, De La Soul and other like minded so-called “old-schoolers" who put out material this year that deviated from the current popular formula. Of course, none of these acts are popular commercially so they don’t enjoy Essence’s media attention. That’s the potential problem with this movement from Essence. They can do some good – and give some needed exposure to positive music – if they allow themselves the patience to research it. How many songs do you hear of a man actually praising his wife as Masta Ace does on his latest disc, “Long Hot Summer?" Ed O.G. is most famous for his fatherhood anthem, “Be a Father to Your Child," released in the early 90s and frequently mentions his close relationship to his daughter. De La Soul, all 30-plus family men, never misses a chance to speak on their roles as dads. There are good stories and artists out there and I hope all bases are covered.

In this piece from the Associated Press’s Sean Couch, legendary MC Nasir Jones is interviewed – unveiling some of his personal politics – which could stand to use some polish – and background. I’ll give Nas credit for doing this latest CD, Streets Disciple. He may have made many missteps on the LP and probably could’ve omitted some of the sex talk and facts at times but he’s stuck his neck on the table for Hip Hop music. You can hear that while some of the beats on the LP lag, he rarely does. This was just a step in the overall maturity of the contradictory yet increasingly humble MC. I urge you to forgive his past gaffes and recognize that he’s making moves many rappers on a large label wouldn’t.


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