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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

If It's Broke, Who's Gonna Fix It?

Hip Hop artists of today are doing little to help themselves as I tirelessly defend them and the culture; it seems like weekly there is a new single or incident that ruins all hope for a broader acceptance. But what I’m sure I’ve yet to do on these pages was to apologize for what’s occurred thus far. I happened across this interesting, if brief, piece from EUR that is shockingly understanding of the tone in today’s music. It’s rare to witness such an open acceptance of what we’re faced with in Hip Hop now – an almost gentle understanding is present in this piece. Yet, I cannot say I’m fond of what’s that articulating. Mr. Robinson’s piece speaks of “war in the drums for the black man” – and I get what he’s expressing but war and aggression isn’t what the music nor culture need. What it’s missing is an overall standard of high quality; today’s music is all hype, pizzazz and minimal substance.

Jeff Chang's excellent book, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”, is something I’m sure you’ve seen me mention several times in the space of this blog column. The reason being is it is that pivotal a work to possess as we continue to try and define the worth and importance of our ever evolving culture. Chang takes it to a deeper level than just speaking on the culture and music’s development; he smartly details Hip Hop’s cultural impact and influence – something we can witness in other countries by the day. I wonder if people really understand how much Hip Hop permeates and influences other genres of music and culture yet suffers so much from the negativity (and media focus) only to yet again be treated alien.

There is a such a lull in politically or socially charged Hip Hop as it is the time where the big labels are looking to get that first “hot” spring/summer record to dominate the airwaves and charts. On the indie scene, many acts you would figure to lead that charge are either stagnant or compelled to make music they’re usually not associated with doing (case in point: the new Perceptionists record featuring Mr. Lif and Akrobatik). Was Lif supposed to make an I Phantom part two? Of course the fans want that as it was definitely Lif’s crowning moment but concept records are so 2003 now – sarcastically speaking. I will say what a lot of others won’t: I wanted Lif to return to that concept and I can’t tell where they’re going with the new angle (and I’m not sure if I’m liking it less because of what it wasn’t more so than for what it is).

In the end, however, the onus is on us the fans and practitioners to advance those concepts and ideals into the music again. If we want music quality to improve, we have to counter the output of crap with better music. If we simply bitch and moan our way through life talking about what once was, it’s nobody’s fault but our own if it does not improve.


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