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

Thursday, March 17, 2005

All Around The World

The story of London rapper M.I.A. sounds far too intense to be true. However, the daughter of a Sri Lankan rebel happens to fuse every detail of her influences, surroundings and background into an eclectic mix of self-styled sounds and lyrics. This is precisely what I speak about often in this blog column: Hip Hop is indeed a culture that’s often dissected to be less than what it is but which influences cannot be ignored. The global impact of Hip Hop culture isn’t a shock any longer and yet, it continues to remain innovative and interesting even in the midst of a quality drop in today’s money obsessed climate.

M.I.A.’s debut LP, Arular, even happens to inject a little world politics amongst the slang-heavy and driving disc. It is definitely one of the more creative releases to come out in some time.
To further explore the global theme, check out this article from the Canadian Press about social Hip Hop’s influence around the world. Isn’t it odd how other countries use the music to drive messages to their peer group instead of talking about how flossy they are? When there’s a song on the radio the likes of the Yin Yang Twins low-brow single, “Wait”, you have to question the future of the music on American radio and television. It seems that now the daring innovators are people concerned with matters that separate messages to the beat from being an excuse to brag, command women to gyrate and glorify a lifestyle that is not even one they’re living necessarily.

I’m sure I’m coming off like a crotchety old-school cat that hates the current scene and has turned his back to the culture. Part of that is certainly true – I do not enjoy what the true shining joy of my youth has devolved to. But am I giving up on it? I would never do that. The simple fact is this: I’ve put too much time into supporting this music and culture to just willingly give up on it. I do not have a narrow view of its future as many intellectuals and critics seem to have and believe ardently. Still, I have to give myself a little chin check as well when it comes to the subject of many of my written works. In short terms, the music is going straight to hell on the mainstream side. It’s to the point now that a record truly deserving of commercial success only can insure that goal by the sheer power of its record company’s influence in marketing the product. Again, it’s not a game of quality any longer – it is simply a game of numbers.

I never heard of Brian Proffitt (many thanks to Up & Coming magazine) who is a co-founder of Hip Hop Against Racist War (HHARW). Very impressive thing they’re trying to do here and I wish their concert rally later today much success. Perhaps the trend of promoting quality music and ideas will be the next big thing. We can only hope, right?

Many thanks to the Houston Chronicle for the link to the M.I.A. story


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