Like most days, today I was "retiring Duce Staley like the 2006 Philadelphia Eagles" (taking a shit). And whenever I have a "running back", a Duece McAllister, if you will, I like to listen to music to soothe the savage beast. The selection for today's playoff game happened to be Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill". As I was listening to "Superstar", that invention that my high school's namesake (Edison) took credit for went off in my head. Lauryn's words echoed within my cerebral cortex, "Now tell me your philosophy / on exactly what an artist should be. / Should they be someone with prosperity / and no concept of reality? / Now, who you know without any flaws, / that lives above the spiritual laws / and does anything they feel just because / there's always someone there who'll applaud?". For a song written in 1998 (targeted at Puff Daddy, or whatever his name was that day), it still rings so true today. I don't listen to the radio much these days, and since Rap City has been taken off the air, I've been using the Interwebs to listen to new music. And even though everyday I hear a new track, or five, I'm still not impressed.
I can remember back when I was in high school, my cucalidae (family name for Cuckoo birds, in the Digzionary defined as [koo-koo-lee-dey] -noun Friend, from slang word cuckoo, meaning crazy, synonym for "Loc") and I would hit Jamaica Ave. to cop the new drop almost every Tuesday. We'd rip the package open, pop the cassette or CD into our Walkmans, and vibe out. I can still envision us on the Q113 or the A train with our headphones on nodding hard as hell to whatever dropped that Tuesday. We would pick up the Source (before Benzino ruined it) or XXL and check the release dates, and we'd be in the store that day. If it was a special edition that we couldn't get on Jamaica Ave., we'd even ride all the way to Manhattan, just to get it out of Tower Records (RIP) or the Virgin Megastore (RIP). A release was like an event, the posters plastered on lamppost down Guy R. Brewer Blvd., the promotional vans driving down Jamaica Ave., monumental! Tearing open that sweet poly wrapping on that new cassette or CD felt like unwrapping that first present on Christmas. Now, it's like unwrapping all your presents and getting nothing but socks (thank you Grandma!).
I remember thinking how fly the Wally Champ was with the robes.
Anybody that grew up in the same generation of Hip-Hop as me, they can remember Tuesday, August 1, 1995. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I just graduated junior high school, it was a wonderful New York summer, and I had to hit the record shop. This wondrous event, I believe, is the reason for the record dryness in New York City that August. The release of that record made it a hot summer (unlike the one that Cam'ron promised back in 2007, that clown). We can all remember the picture of Raekwon blowing smoke out of his mouth, with the Wally Champ behind him with fingers pointing out like pistols ready to kill other emcees. Close your eyes, can you remember running a key or your fingernail along a crevice in the cassette case to crack the shrink wrap. Then you popped open the case, and to your amazement, there was this purple tape sitting inside. You inserted it into your Walkman and zoned out, losing yourself inside the tales that Rae and Ghost told. I know that I, myself, was fixed in a state of awe, as soon as I heard Ghostface say "Yo, son, check the fly shit,son!". Forever I will remember the day that "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...", aka "the purple tape", dropped. Can anyone name an event like that in this Billboard chasing Hip-Hop world.
There has been albums that dropped to crazy anticipation, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'", "The Black Album", "The Eminem Show", etc.. But even though these releases had great first week sales, they didn't have the same impact as the releases that my friends and I ran to the store for. Can you remember the last time you listened to an entire rap album, without skipping one song? Can you remember when you actually listened to a rap album? Probably not, you probably just download the hot songs to put on your iPod. Unlike the rest of the Hip-Hop community, I'm not going to blame the Interwebs for the decline in people buying albums. No, not at all, I blame the artist (if you can call them that), they seem to have no clue on how to make an actual album. Think back to the albums of the Golden Age, they had an intro, skits, songs with themes, an outro, and great song configuration. Albums today are just a bunch of songs thrown on a CD, no theme, no configuration, just a bunch of songs thrown together. Where's the intro, the skits, the theme, the configuration? Listening to an album today is like boonk ([boonk] -noun 1.Disagreeable marijuana 2.Marijuana laced with another substance), you hit it, smack your friend that gave it to you, an never touch it again. Albums from the good days were more like potent trauma ([trou-muh] -noun Potent marijuana that produces temporary psychological injury or pain.), you'd buy it, smoke it, forget where you left it, and cop it again (I brought almost every album from the Golden Age at least twice). But, more importantly, I blame the listeners for allowing this crap to happen. When the listeners aren't demanding more from the artist, they can expect the whole "moppet having sex effect" (one shot and done). We, as listeners, need to put these rappers into the pressure cooker and try to make them into emcees.
I've gotta cop me a robe!
Remember the world is Diggie. Even the "Doodlebug" told you this was a Diggie-ble Planet. I'm cool like that!