The movie The Wackness starring Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley was so nostalgic. It might be a classic Sundance bleeding heart movie, but you could easily forgive the theme when you listen to the music featured on the film. It was the music of 1994 – such a great year for music, championing in that time are greats like A tribe called Quest and even The Smashing Pumpkins who really shook the scene with the release of Siamese Dream, which was in my opinion the best album they released.
But let’s talk about the state of Hip-hop now. The truth is, I’m a snob when it comes to mainstream Top 40 Rap, Hip-hop and RnB, if you could call it that. It all began when these Hip-hop artists wanted to sound more like SoSoDef. Suddenly, Hip-hop wasn’t soul music anymore, or talked about the harsh realities of racism and ghetto violence. It wasn’t the music that we used to call in the 90′s as Urban. The tripe you hear from Hip-hop these days are about grinding, girls on the side, car upgrades and partying. Not that these wouldn’t count for realities, but where’s the depth?
I knew that the death of Tupac changed the face of hip-hop. Kanye West is trying to revive part of the glory that belonged to that great era of Urban, but he doesn’t have the exquisite rhyme of old school artists nor enough humility to really overcome the insipidness of the mainstream that riddles his exposure. We can’t identify deep issues from the likes of new hip-hop artists like Eminem or Nelly or T-Pain.
The groups who managed to resist the trend of materialism that is evident in most Hip-hop music have disappeared in the background of the multimedia spectacularism, simply because they choose not to. If you’re attentive enough, you realise that music pundits harp about them, appealing to everyone’s music sensibility. But strangely, there’s just not enough promotion: most of the MTV generation just doesn’t buy in to that kind of music anymore. The mainstream music entices its lot with people’s vanity and hype not their intelligence.
The Roots are one of those artists who have stood their ground. In 2002, they released an album entitled Phrenology. Phrenology is the pseudo science of assessing the figure of someone’s head to determine their intelligence – an idea which used to justify racism.
[audio:The Roots - The Seed.mp3]