ARTICLE: Oops! They did it again!

Oops! They did it again! (By Matin Salaam Bari)

Don’t get it twisted! The following commentary has absolutely nothing to do with a certain soon-to-be-married, mother fuckin’ hip-hugger lovin’ pop diva. (He he he, that rhymes!) Seriously, what I really meant by the title refers to the mortal sin being committed against my culture by the powers that be. That is why Chuck told us to fight those motherfuckers. As you may be able to tell, I’m pretty heated over this issue, but I must try and maintain. So I’ll try to keep it light. Just remember that my feeble attempts at humor only serve as a mask for the pain I feel each and every day, in regard to what’s taking place around me. Even still, I won’t make a dissertation out of this and most definitely won’t spend too much time on this here pulpit.

The statement
These days, Hip-hop is fucked up. The fabric of the culture has just about gone to shit as far as its reputation, focus, quality of invention and responsibility to itself and those who blindly follow it. And while accountability never played a large role in the evolution of hip-hop-mostly due to it’s utmost commitment to freedom of expression-we all have hard-learned lessons on reaping all of the bullshit that we sow. For instance, if you pretend to be something you’re not, if you purposely bite someone’s style of work or work directly, or if you talk negatively about someone or his or her work, you’ll most likely be the target of some sort of retaliation. And even though I hate to use such a harsh word such as retaliation because of its easily misinterpreted relationship to the word violence, doing any of the aforementioned things in terms of Hip-Hop expression would definitely leave the perpetrator as someone who “like(ly) to get dealt wit’,” as Smokey from the cult-classic film “Friday” would say.

These days, these new jacks don’t even care. The funny part, to me, is that Hip-hop only has Hip-hop to blame. The foundation of the culture of Hip-hop has always been based on the energy of the inner-city youth. So it’s fucked up to see the youth of the late 70’s and early 80’s, who created this shit, grow up and mature and have to turn around and follow their descendants, the youth of the 90’s and 00’s. And since kids now-a-days aren’t being raised the same as kids before, the trends associated with Hip-hop couldn’t possibly be the same. If you’re raised under Reaganomics and the Trickle-Down Theory and the onset of the second Urban War on Drugs (I often refer to as UWD II), spawned by the initial outbreak of freebase cocaine (the first UWD was fought against heroin in places like Harlem and South Chicago during the Jazz dominated eras of early 20th Century America). I don’t have the column space to display specific situations for you. Besides, this shit is common sense. People raised on Top Ramen and Kool-Aid, during a period of total decadence and destruction–as the 80’s were, will have different wants, needs, intensity of hunger, and different level of commitment and respect to the art than people raised on Low fat foods, Sprite Remix and a prosperous era widely know as the Technological Revolution. The older God’s were truly hungry in representing Hip-hop. Back in the day, statements had to be made. A powerful American voice had been muffled since the riots of 1968, basically. Now, the whole culture survives on a greed-based platform. Where the voice can only be heard if it generates X amount of dollars. So, yeah, that’s fucked up!

Hip-hop in America has gone the way of jazz in the early 20th Century.
It has been raped, exploited, imitated, emulated, manipulated and led astray. They had heroin (and weed). We have crack : and weed… and heroin : and E, but that’s not the point. The two eras are eerily similar. And this theory has been explained before, but people easily forget and lose perspective. If you ask the average “hip-hopper” in my age group (ages 25-35) what hip-hop is all about, I’m sure he’ll probably start by saying some bullshit about b-boys, even posing in a bullshit “b-boy” stance. She might recall how, for a three-month stretch in 1986, her older brothers had every municipal building in Spanish Harlem tagged. Someone will most definitely remind you how he or she used to break dance on cardboard boxes, impromptu demonstration included. They’d get hype over the first time they heard The Sugar Hill Gang or Kurtis Blow on the radio for the first time. This is good. The commonality of these replies lies in the fact that neither a gun shot, a drug sold, nor a nut busted had anything to do with the memory and thus the history of the culture. If you turn right around and ask the “born after 1980” crew of throwback wearing, doo-rag and bandana wrapping pirates of the current era, and I’m sure you’ll hear tragic story pon monstrosity pon horror in regard to Hip-Hop. You’ll hear how real it is in the city. You’ll hear how these people feel they had to hustle in order to make it out of a hood, they ironically still live in. Shit, my fam never had too much money, but I never had to hustle. I guess maybe that’s the Caribbean in me. Shit, we WILL work! You might hear stories about some hoes that did this and that for this and that. You’ll most definitely hear how so-and-so got shot and what that meant. When all you asked was this young person’s thoughts on what hip-hop represents to them. So you ask, “Matin, what does this mean?” Well, to me, it means that new-age hip-hoppers have absolutely no idea where they came from. It’s sort of like former slaves (rappers) converting to Christianity (thug-life) after the missionaries (A & R execs) came through with shiny trinkets (bling) and whatnot and promised them a new, easy life. Hip-hop and money actually have no relationship. So when an “artist” sells over a million units, we must remember that this is strictly a result of proper market research, product placement, advertisement, etc. It sucks. It’s the same philosophy they used to drive Thelonious Monk to France. So, yeah, they did it again. Fuck ’em! Let’s not fight it! Let’s pack our bags and head out to Europe and Asia and West Africa where Hip-hops is raw right now. Hip-hop wasn’t supposed to be this stagnant. Any stagnation is, in fact, ANTI-hip-hop! I’m tired of hearing the same old shit. I’ve experienced the scene over in London and Amsterdam. They have a ton of flavor right now-far more than nearly everything we have poppin’ here in the States. Let’s bounce party people! In fact let’s take that Black Star Line cause, I swear, they did that shit again!

Matin Jones
QA Project Coordinator
STARS SM/I Project
1120 Vermont Avenue, NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
202.261.9359 office
202.413.5113 mobile
202.261.9241 fax

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