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I know you've been thinking it. And if you haven't, you probably haven't been paying attention. The art we once called hip hop has been dead for some time now. But because its rotting carcass has been draped in platinum and propped against a Gucci print car, many of us have missed its demise.

I think the time has come to bid a farewell to the last black arts movement.

It's had a good run but it no longer serves the community that spawned it. Innovation has been replaced with mediocrity and originality replaced with recycled nostalgia for the ghost of hip hop past, leaving nothing to look forward to. Honestly when was the last time you heard something (mainstream) that made you want to run around in circles and write down every word. When was the last time you didn't feel guilty nodding your head to a song that had a 'hot beat' after realizing the lyrical content made you cringe.

When I heard Jam Master Jay had been murdered, it was the icing on the cake.

A friend and I spoke for hours after he'd turned on the radio looking for solace and instead heard a member of the label Murder, Inc. about to give testimony about the slain DJ's legacy. My friend found the irony too great to even hear what the rapper had to say.

After we got off the phone, I dug through my crates and played the single "Self Destruction." The needle fell on the lyrics:
"They call us animals
I don't agree with them
Let's prove em wrong
But right is what were proving em"

The only thing that kept me from crying was my anger trying to imagine today's top hip hop artists getting together to do a song that urged disarmament in African American communities, or promoted literacy, or involved anything bigger than themselves for that matter. I couldn't picture it.

All I could picture were the myriad of hip hop conferences where the moguls and figureheads go through the motions and say the things that people want to hear but at the end of the day nothing changes. No new innovative artists are hired to balance out a roster of the pornographic genocide MC's .

In their place, we're presented with yet more examples of arrested development - the portrayal of grown men and women acting and dressing like 15 year olds. Balding insecure men in their mid 30's making entire songs about their sexual prowess and what shiny toys they have and you don't.

The only hate I see is self-hate. The only love I see is self-love. All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: "Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?"

To quote Puffy in Vogue magazine Nov, 2002: "Diamonds are a great investment... They're not only a girl's best friend, they are my best friend. I like the way diamonds make me feel. I can't really explain it, its like: that's a rock, something sent to me from nature, from God, it makes me feel good... It's almost like my security cape."

If rappers read, they might know about the decades of near-slavery endured by South African diamond miners. Or the rebels in Sierra Leone whose bloody diamond-fueled anti-voting rampages leave thousands of innocent men, women and children with amputated limbs.

Often, hip hop's blatant excess is rationalized with, "We came from nothing." That statement rings hollow given even a little bit of context. African Americans have been "coming from nothing" for 400 years. That didn't stop previous generations of artists, activists, and ancestors from working toward a better situation for the whole, not just themselves. It's grotesque to see such selfish materialism celebrated by a generation who are literally the children of apartheid. The time has come to re-define the street and what it means to come from the street. Yes, criminals & violence come from the streets, but so do men and women who live their lives with kindness, and within the realm of the law. The problem with making 'street' or 'realness' synonymous with criminality
is that poor black children are demonized. You never see the image of middle class white children killing each other promoted as entertainment.

I respect the ability of an artist to explore the darker side or extremities of their personality but when that's all there is, there is no balance. In previous years, NWA existed simultaneously with Native Tongues, Cypress Hill and Digable Planets, Gangstar and 2 live crew.

There's room for thugz, playaz, gangstas, and what have you. My issue (aside from the fact that rappers spell everything phonetically) is that they have no heart. Rappers reflect what has become a new image of success where money is its own validation and caring is soft unless you're dropping a single about your dead homie.

Question: Why haven't these so-called "ballers" gotten together and bought a farm, a prison, a super market chain, or chartered a school? But they all have clothing lines. Smells like a sucker to me. The lack of social responsibility from people who claim to 'rep the streets' is stunning.

Yet we still have had the hearts and minds of most of the world. We negate this power if we don't step up to the plate. Our perspective needs to change; our whole idea of power needs to globalize. Gangsta shouldn't be shooting someone you grew up with in the face; "Gangsta" is calling the United States to task for not attending the World Summit on Racism in South Africa. "Balling" shouldn't be renting a mansion; it should be owning your own distribution company or starting a union. Bill Cosby's bid to buy NBC was more threatening than any screwface jewelry clad MC in a video could ever be.

As a DJ, it's hard: I pick up the instrumental version of records that people nod their head to... and mix it with the a cappella version of artists with something to say. It is expensive and frustrating. But I feel like the alternative is the musical equivalent to selling crack: spinning hits because it's easy, ignoring the fact that it's got us dancing to genocide. There are plenty of alternatives today but you'd never know it through the mass media. Hip hop has become Steven Seagal in a do-rag. Meanwhile, media radar rarely registers artists like Cannibal Ox, Madlib and the whole Stones Throw crew, Bless, Saul Williams, Bus Driver, Del, Gorillaz, anything from Def Jux, Freestyle Fellowship, Anti Pop Consortium, Kool Keith, Prince Paul, shit Public Enemy... the list goes on for ever. I get some solace from knowing and supporting these artists, and from the fact that around the world from Germany to Cuba to Brazil to South Africa, hip hop's accessibility and capacity for genius is still vital, thriving, and relevant.

And yes even amongst the bleak landscape in this country, wonderful things do happen. Like Camp Cool J and various artists donating money to research AIDS and even lend their faces to voting campaigns. Russell Simmons, among other socially conscious endeavors, led a rally to stop NYC's mayor from cutting the school budget and donates part of the proceeds from his sneaker sales to the reparations movement. The lack of coverage of efforts like this is as much to blame as any wack MC with a platinum record.

I'm not dissing the innovators of the art form, or those of us who got it where it is today. I will always play and support what I feel is good work. I guess this rant came more out of what Chuck D said at the end of Self Destruction: "We've got to keep ourselves in check," and no one has
checked hip hop for some time.

I've entertained the idea that I might just be getting old. But if it's a function of my age that I remember hip hop as the peoples champ, so be it. I was raised on a vital art form that has now become a computer-generated character doing the cabbage patch in a commercial, or a comedian 'raising the roof.' That's not influence to me, that's mockery. Hip hop my friend, it's been a great 30 years filled with great memories, and it's been fun to watch you grow. We've got dozens of broke innovators and plenty of mediocre millionaires out of the deal, but I really need my space now and we've got to go our separate ways. I will always love you, but it's time for me to move on.

Yo, what happened to peace? Peace.

Wanna see this article in your favorite hip hop, teeny, style or music magazine. Make one or more copies go to your local drug store supermarket and stick them there. If that act is to guerilla for your tastes just email it to friend.

Have fun stay blessed and smile today

by Anonymous

Some one emailed this to me. This pretty much sums up the way I feel, especially the part about bopping your head to a beat only to cringe when once the lyrics sink in. I've found myself in this situation many times. I also feel it's a shame that I can't listen to a hip hop radio station when my kids are around. I hope something happens to clean up hip hop and bring it back to the way it use to be, lyrically at least.
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Well said,

Some Hip Hop, political material, periodicals that are published that are truly misleading and/or products, etc., that are promoted that are substandard yet sold at high prices, should be removed from view, taken off the shelf, etc.

To curtail this type of activity, the tool or tools of "Boycotting", and/or civil lawsuit for damages should curtail such activity that is very destructive, to send a very powerful message to any business, or group of businesses, to stop such foolishness. Should any action be taken to reduce a businesses earnings, or rightfully tarnish the reputation of any business which will result in a loss of customers, a business will make reforms,.... that is if the business owner or owners expect to stay in business.

Unfortunately, Black people are not as organized, or show very little inclination to use legal tools such as "Boycott", etc., to stop such activity.

As long as the prospect of making huge profits exists for the circulation of music, literature, goods, and/or services that are substandard, it will be business as usual.

It seems "B.S. Talks, and Any Business That Sells or Promotes the Worst Walks" away with huge profits in communities across Black America.


Michael Lofton

[This message was edited by Lofton on January 10, 2003 at 06:27 AM.]
When I heard Jam Master Jay had been murdered, it was the icing on the cake.

Only thing I disagree with is the label "Hip-Hop", That is the industry name for what Blacks called "Rap" or an MC's ability to control a crowd!, his or her "Rap".

Yes Rap died with the DJ!, when we were tricked into using digital beat machines instead of the DJ and Ill-fated "Human Beat Box". Rap was the music and voice of a people coming out of of the depression of a bankrupt New York state in 1976.

No gangsta's, Playahs or killer thugs, Just devastating mic controllers, party Rockin - Show shockin B-Boys who whore knit polyester pants polished shoes and grown up clothing.

A far cry from todays saggy pants, jersey cloaked bandana swothed braggards. Braggards of record company advances and 15% income per album, braggards of "Niggah Killin' and "Bitch pimpin", Braggards of white rapper supporting, endorsing and legitamizing.

Braggards of once again collecting checks and not signing them, having children(rap) and giving it away to, or not protecting it from the bigger white "Man".

Damn! not our last stand but our last gift to those Folks.

We are the inovators the movers and shapers, but we're asleep to our control and potential power. We need more people who are conscious to began to rouse the sleeping masses, just shake them awake!

Peace Love Light
Khem Saqa
That article hit home with me too, obvious_1. I try to minimize the amount of "hip-hop" my kids hear on the radio, too. Which is a d**n shame! I grew up with and love rap, but some of the junk they play on the radio, especially in the South is just tacky. So on the weekends I tune into the Old School Rap station on my satellite and my kids and I do the Roger Rabbit until we can't anymore! Big Grin

You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
Malcolm X, 1965
I am sorry to bring back this subject, but I guess you will excuse me as I am new to this board, I will be adding belated arguments to topics that I feel I can contribute.

While I appreciate your comments on the demise of the quality of Hip-Hop in America. You will agree that most artists be it singers/rappers or writers such as yourself write/sing/rap about the situations happening in their communities. In other words what these Hip-Hop artists rap about i.e the no. of cars they have, they cannot be blamed for presenting the situation on the ground as it is in thier rap songs. The rap lyrics of today gives a mirror image of the African American community. They dont only mirror the situations but they reflect on the background of the artists.

I was amused by the fact that on the Cribs show on MTV you have not seen any rapper showing a library or books that their are reading. They will not show off libraries, they never grew up on books, why should be books be big for them now. Or when they were growing up they were never encouraged to read. They cant start now. The lyrics in their songs is a correct reflection of thier backgrounds. What their parents aspired for or rather what their parents instilled in them.

What are you potraying as imporatant to your kids today, is it the multi-sytem DVD player or the latest PS2 game? Are you encuraging them to read and invest in books and knowledge? Coz if you are not then what ever you are pecieving to be big in your life, whether its little things such as the value you place on your automobile, it will be reflected in your kids behaviour when they grow up even if they dont become rappers.


If you think eduation is expensive try ignorance
Some of Hip-Hop is cool and entertaining. The so called Gansta Rap has to go. This so called music is responsible for the deaths of many of our black youth, black on black crime, and blatent disrespect for African American females. We are the only people that support music (lyrics) that disrespect our women. Why do we do that? Why do we allow it to continue? We see what it has done to our people! I am happy to say that I truly feel that this music is on its way out!

The Universe it perfect. It never makes a mistake.
I remember when Notorious B.I.G. performed at a reggae concert in Jamaica and he came out on stage talking that "what's up my niggas and bitches" nonsense and the rastas in the audience took great offense and threw stones and bottles at him until he came off stage. Although I don't condone such extreme messures something most be done to let them know we don't appreciate the garbage they subject our children to. I know some of you will say that I am the parent and I am responsible for raising my children. It would be a lot easier to do if I didn't have garbage to compete with and then people out there telling them that this is the music they should listen to because they are black.
Another point, it's all starting to sound the same. And what are The Neptunes doing working with Justin and Britney? If whites can do black music then black music is definitely losing its quality.

What do you all think of Mos Def? He's definitly someone I respect. Ja Rule needs to stop "livin it up" and maybe start making some music.

And when was the last time we heard a song that didn't mention "phat crib", "fyne-ass whip" or "bangin bitch" hahaha.

All music is suffering though. Arabic music is westernising also, they want to take it to the clubs and turn it into techno.
Let me boil this thing down to its comon denominator, money. Quality producers like Russell Simmons arent producing this garbage. Money is the overarching problem. Its just a simple as saying that where there is a demand, an entrepreneur will make a supply. I agree with Arabian that all music is suffering. Pop music is a great example. I like jazz so I dont pride myself on keeping up with the latest fads.

You are all right. What ever happened to that good old soul music that reflected our being. We have had great artists like Coltrane, "Dizzy", "Ella", Marvin Gaye and the list goes on and on.
Alright Tank, another jazz lover in the house Cool. You are right of course what did happen to that good old soul music that not only reflected our being, but also defined a whole generation. I think that the music industry today is just about the money, you look at some of the trash put out as music and it makes your head ache.
I'm not a fan of Hip Hop , rap or whatever it's called today. Give me "old school" anyday with people that could/can sing and play their own instruments over this machine generated crap.

The so called bearers of the torch make me sick whenever I see them....Ashanti, Ja Rule, 3LW, and the rest of the duds I don't have time to list Mad

I heard there is a movement and society to save soul and R&B, and as soon as I get settled in I definetly plan to join.
Before I left Korea there was a website dedicated to the preservation of soul and R&B but since I'm still visiting relatives and traveling I can't find a thing. The basis was that if we rely on today's music for memories we're in trouble. (Can you see the class of '03 twenty year reunion and the theme song is " move b***h, get out da way")?
I'm hoping that once I get settled in and my household goods catch up with me I will have some info hidden somewhere that I will gladly forward to you.
Originally posted by 761tank:

Let me boil this thing down to its comon denominator, money. Quality producers like Russell Simmons arent producing this garbage.

Russell Simmons ain't the savior of hip hop. Why do you believe he isn't into producing garbage? Name some stuff he's produced that is of better quality than the rest of the stuff out there. Also we need to make a distinction between hip-hop and gangsta rap.

First off, I never said that Russell Simmons was a saviour of anything. He is a great record executive who is positively representing his race. Quality Acts? You have got to be kidding me. He produced Run DMC, the greatest rap group in history. You are right in saying that there is a distinct difference between gangsta rap and hip-hop.

I personally have no problem with hip-hop because it is an expression of culture. Gangsta rap is a bunch of garbage produced by the majority for money making purposes only. You can argue that the hip-hop revolution could be considered as part of a noveau black renaissance. Folks were critical of Baldwin, Hughes, Hurston and the many other artists that were born as a result of the Harlem Renaissance.

Let us not belittle the accomplishments of a great African American producer like Russell Simmons. Let us focus our energy on eradicting negativity.
I ran across this article on and thought it relevant to this conversation! Smile

Mimicking US Rap Won't Enrich Young Musicians

The Daily News (Harare)
February 15, 2003
Posted to the web February 17, 2003

As promised in last week's column, for nearly four weeks now which roughly has been the time lapse since the matter was first broached for public debate I have been wanting to shed light, or merely offer an opinion on why young musicians, new on the scene, having nothing to show, in terms of material possessions, for their apparent "success".

The young musicians being referred to are those who, in the two years that Jonathan Moyo's 75 percent local content decree has been in force, have, to use a rather hackneyed and, therefore tired expression, literally taken Zimbabwe's music airwaves by storm. And they are legion, most of whom cannot lay any claim to composing talent at all since for the most part, they simply rehash other people's works and, for some strange reason, get themselves recorded.

But there have been quite a few among the new breed of musicians who ought to have been taken more seriously because they are really good. Plaxedes Wenyika, whose scintillating love ballad, Wadarirei, was hugely popular on 3FM's Hit Pick charts, is one good example.

Then there were also David Chifunyise of Tauya Naye sensation who won a prize at the 2001 Themba Mkanda-sponsored Tsama (Tatenda Siyabonga Annual Music Awards) which, sadly, did not take place last year, and my own favourites among the emergent musicians, guess, whose hit Amai was not only a moving tribute to all good mothers, but a great composition as well.

It is for the emergent musicians of this calibre that I would feel really sorry if indeed they have not sold more than 20 000 copies as has been said. But I would not, as has again been suggested, expect them to have raked in any significant amounts of money in only two years to enable them to acquire motor vehicles, for example, because, quite apart from car prices being prohibitively high, it is still far too early in their careers for them to have started to make big money.

For the rest of the young noise-makers who pass for musicians, it's a monumental exercise in both self-aggrandisement and self-deception to think that the frequent airplay their songs get is a true reflection of their popularity which should automatically translate into lots of cash for them. That is simply an illusion.

We need to get one thing clear here. There are two ways in which truly popular musicians earn their big bucks. The first and quickest way is through live shows. The greater the popularity of the musicians the bigger the crowds at their shows and the more the cash that flows into their bank accounts.

The second way through which they earn their big money is through record sales. It must be stated plainly here that even those musicians whose records sell fairly well, it not often a reliable source of income and certainly never to be counted upon as one which guarantees a regular income. If the truth be told, the majority of the young musicians who are moaning that their supposed popular songs do not bring grist to the mill, neither stage live shows nor sell any significant number of copies of what they think are popular songs. They have been deceived into believing they are popular by a combination of two factors.

The first, which I have already alluded to above, was Moyo's ruling that 75 percent of all the music played on ZBC's airwaves must be locally produced. It is an incredibly huge chunk of time for stations that broadcast 24 hours a day seven days a week to fill with local music and so they had to accommodate all manner of music as long as it was local. The second factor is to do with the age of most of the radio disc jockeys now employed at 3FM following retrenchment of those who had been there since independence. They are almost all so young that they have the same tastes in music as the young musicians. And their taste is based entirely on the foreign beat, the black America sound to be precise, which is exactly what the emergent young musicians mimic almost slavishly with the only difference being that the local lads sing in Shona to fulfil Moyo's "local" requirement.

The radio DJs' common taste with the the young musicians explains the disproportionately big share of airplay their recordings get on 3FM. It is not because the majority of the music-loving public in the country like that music, but because the DJs themselves like it. So they will be playing it not as a reflection of popularity, but to entertain themselves and their age-mates.

On the other hand, established artistes who really know what the music-loving public in this country want have continued to produce the African beat-based music and so continue to smile all the way to the bank because they have a tangible seal of approval from the public in the form of good sales of the records.

It's simply a question of giving people what they want. No amount of airplay will ever make people like a song which is boring. And unless people like a song, they will never buy it. On the other hand, a good record will always be bought like hot cakes even if it gets no airplay at all. Thomas Mapfumo's Mamvemve and Chimurenga Rebel are living testimony of this simple truth.

Thus, if money is what the emergent young musicians want, they had better change their beat and start putting out onto the market songs with authentic African melodies and not try to fool people into thinking they are producing African music when they are regurgitating American rap with the only local component being the Shona lyrics.

These youngsters have a clear choice. They can continue to sing the the way they are doing now which is mostly talking to the accompaniment of musical instruments to please themselves and risk starving in the process.

Alternatively, they can start producing real music and be in with a chance of smiling all the way to the bank at least the talented ones among them as the likes of Alick Macheso are doing.

If they insist on being Americans, I would advice them to go and try their luck out there because here they will never sell enough of their noise to make a living on proceeds from those sales.
I never thought I'd outgrow "music", but now I have. The only artists I liked were Tupac (whose music I couldn't play in front of the kids) and Will Smith (if he can be considered as such). I now find myself going back to 70's through 80's music. I just bought Aaron Neville's "Believe". He sings "Amazing Grace" in the most beautiful way imaginable. I like words I can understand and that mean something. I love Marvin Gay, Smokey Robinson and the Temptations. I'm not into these young men profiling and saying vile language to the beat of the drum to make themselves millionaires to the detriment of our children and women, who can't spell "jack" or pronounce it. I'm now "Old School" and loving it!!
White people tend to absord everything blacks do. With hip-hop, they now think all black women are hoes or something. And black men are a menace to society. 50 cent has the biggest album now. Oh god i must say. When ever one black does something bad, they smile because there is another example of how they wish we to be. Even though they pity for the women,whites loved the Oj simpson trial.

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