Here we are again at a turning point in our culture (Hip-Hop, if it still exists somewhere besides in the mind of people born before 1983). We as a whole are at the fork in the road that we've been at before. Lets go through the history for a minute. In the late seventies in the Bronx, NY, a group of young urban people (social term for niggas and spics) in a park starting rapping over "scratched" records. Other young urban people began posting their art on trains and walls around the city. Others tried dancing to these new tunes that were being played in the parks. At that time the status quo said that this culture was just a fad, but they were proved wrong. The music became a great part of urban culture and thus with anything created it must evolve. The first traces of this music was for strictly partying, but then came a song called "The Message". With the introduction of "The Message" came the first fork in the road. The question was do we use this music to bring social awareness or do we continue partying. The culture as a whole decided to compromise and some took the road of righteousness and some continued to party, all was well. As the culture continued to grow, new participants entered the fray. With artist doing "the bomb ditty domb da dand da dang", someone needed to build up the lyricism, in enters Run-DMC. Other rappers began to "step their game up". With the evolution of more skilled emcees came Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J and others that flexed their rhyming muscles. As everyone watch these lyrical titans in Olympus (NYC), a new breed of rhyme Gods were finding a foot-hole in rap music out west. Rappers like Ice T, NWA, Too Short, and others brought a new gangsta rap form into the collective. So yet another fork we came upon, again the Hip-Hop society embraced both. At this point we have socially minded rap of all kinds from Public Enemy's revolutionary rap, to Boogie Down Productions' knowledge, as well as N.W.A.'s dark social views. Rap was wonderful and all was still good. For a while rap was gaining wider appeal and shows were formed for people to access the music videos of these rap stars, Yo MTV Rap, Rap City, Video Music Box. In the late eighties a new rap movement began in Queens, NY. With A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul, the Native Tongues movement began. While during the social rap movement, many embraced their African roots and began wearing African medallions, during the Native Tongue movement, bohemian sensibilities (dressing like a homeless person) became the norm. During this time another form of rap was being discovered. Based on the Five Percenter teachings, came the Brand Nubians, Poor Righteous Teachers and others. Then like a shot in the dark in the early nineties, the producer from NWA came back with a new sound and a new voice, this voice was that of Snoop Doggy Dogg. And again we were at that fork in the road. This new West Coast rap wasn't the same as that of yesteryear, it had an infectious nature to it, it was saw that it could possibly destroy New York rap. But all that talk of New York falling off cease when a tape surfaced out of Queensbridge Houses. This wonderful tape was called "Illmatic" by Nasty ... I'm sorry, Nas. After that release New York seemed poise for a return to the past. Artist such as Buckshot, Wu-Tang Clan, Smif & Wessun and others prospered. During this time Craig Mack released "Flavor In Ya Ear(Remix)" featuring Notorious B.I.G.. B.I.G. took over NY rap in the coming years and became known as the "King of New York". All was right in the rap world. A well known rapper named Tupac starred in a movie called "Juice", his star was raising exponentially, and then a shooting occurred in Manhattan. A war of words ignited, the media divide rap music (we all know the story). Hip-Hop was at that fork once again, but out of respect for the fallen soldiers, we compromised again. Rappers like Jay-Z, Snoop, and Nas flourished, new rappers entered the game and there was the emergence of the south. Outkast, Goodie Mob and the Geto Boyz became popular groups in society. But all of a sudden as things were looking right, Notorious B.I.G.'s producer Puffy decided to "take hits from the eighties". He ignited the Jiggy Era in Hip-Hop, this era saw reinventions (Jigga Jay-Z, Nas Escobar) as well as new arrivals. Entered into the battle royal was Ma$e, the Lox (yeah they weren't D Block gangsta's then). The Jiggy Era was the opening that Cash Money Records was looking for, and with them "Bling, Bling" became a household term. Hip-Hop was not right at all, we were again at that fork. Some wanted to take the righteous road and most wanted the money that came with the Jiggyness, the majority won, and thus the downfall began. Since 1996 we have been bombarded by commercial Jiggy rap music and then rap music with substance has been deemed "Underground Rap" as if it is substandard. It has been ten years, and over these ten years we have seen the Midwest join the melee, Jiggyness reach the point of over-indulgence, and commercialism of a culture make the culture implode. So now the "true" Hip-Hop followers have become agitated by the destruction of their culture, and again we've reached that fork in the road. Now we've turned off the radio like Dead Prez said and watch "Old Skool" videos on YouTube.com. We sit at home waiting to hear that little glimmer of hope, wishing that someone would return rap to the state it was before Diddy destroyed it. We look at new rappers to fill the void, hoping a Kanye, a Lupe, a Saigon could bring Hip-Hop back. Or we wait for those legends of yore, a Nas, a Jay-Z, an Eminem, or a Ghostface to bring the love back. But I figured it all out, like Whitney once said, (not crack is whack) the children are the future. Lets smack the Dip Set CD's out of their hands and replace them with Big Daddy Kane. We must start from the ground up again and restore rap to the great urban event it was. In the words of Jay-Z, rap is at a standstill and we need an event album to restore the greatness. For my last word, to repeat Talib Kweli, "Listen".
Peace, I mean WAR!