Saturday, September 08, 2007

Why I Love Hip-Hop - The World is Yours

I am starting a series that combines my love for hip-hop with my jones for's called Why I Love Hip-Hop.

Hip-hop is catching a lot of crap lately. Hip-hop is the music of my life. The essentials of hip-hop, the writing (graffiti art), the rhyming (rapping), the djing and the b-boying (breakdancing) are the cultural expressions of working-class black and latino youth...but, it has spread world wide. Some of this spread has been perpetuated by those who wish to profiteer off of hip-hop. But there are some that still believe in the power of words and a beat and believe in the core of what made hip-hop special: stories told with honesty and dexterity. The flair doesn't come from jewelry, cars, and scantily clad women...those are machinations of those that see hip-hop as a cash cow. The music is about the rhyme, the beat and the interplay between both. I will highlight some examples that I feel that merit mentioning. There are so many more...this is just one fan's opinion.

Whose world is this? It's mine, it's mine, it's mine...

This song was damn near my anthem summer of 1994. I had just graduated 2 weeks earlier and I was participating in my normal Friday night ritual. Yo! MTV Raps! from 12am to 2am. I did it before I took the ACT and the SAT and I did it after I got back from prom. This is the second single from one of the most highly regarded hip-hop albums ever, Nas's debut Illmatic.

As soon as that Ahmad Jamal trio sample (from the song "I Love Music" hits), it takes me back to the optimism I had back in 1994. This was before 9/11, this was before the petty east coast/west coast stuff, this was before Bush's robbery of the White House, before Monica Lewinsky, before Katrina, back when Pac and Biggie were tight with each other...those were the days.

This is how hip-hop should should have this kind of soul, this kind of personality. This is why I love this music.

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