Part three of a five part series by J-Zone on the death of hip-hop
TOO COOL TO HAVE FUN/NO BALANCE IN RAP by J-Zone
When rap stopped being fun, I knew we were in big trouble. Not too many people are doin music for fun anymore. Ask yourself, “would I still mess with music as a hobby if there wasn’t any money in it?” Too many people would say no. We all wanna get paid. Shit, I got bills too, I love money! But too many people just seem like they’d rather be doing other shit. You read in interviews, “I don’t care about no rap, I’d rather be hustling. I just do this cause I can.” Hey, whatever floats your boat, I can relate, there’s been artists like that since the beginning of time, but they were never the majority until now. Having fun is nowhere near as important as your life before you got signed. And there’s plenty of battle MC’s, political MC’s, soulful MC’s and killer thugs but it seems there’s not many funny artists no more. Like on some Biz Mark, Humpty Hump, The Afros shit. Not afraid to go to the extreme and have fun.
God forbid you use your imagination or rap about something not involving hip-hop, the hood, you bein the shit, the end of the world or what color your car interior is. I live in Southside Queens, less than a mile from 50 Cent’s old house. Nobody really knows I make music over here. Some kid from over here saw me in The Source a while back and said “Yo I ain’t know you was in it like that, yo why you ain’t tryin to pump your shit out here and let people know? You should rep the hood. 50 did it.” Its been done a million times before, why should I? I’m not on the block hustlin, I’m out there walking to Walgreens for my Grandmother, on my way to the park for a game of 21 or to watch a game at the local high school.
I’m a grown ass man with a college degree and I got love for my neighborhood, but I choose to rap about my beat up car, not dancing in clubs, women with bad hygiene and too many kids or ball playin rappers with limited ball skills, cause I ain’t a street cat and I’d rather show the lighter side of life. And that was never a problem back in the day. OK those ain’t completely new topics, but its like rappin about those things these days gets you marked as novelty rap. Biz rhymed about a lot of this same shit back in the day, but it was still accepted as legit hiphop. 2007? He could never do a song like “The Dragon”. Little Shawn & Father MC rapped about the ladies with some R&B beats. De La Soul were labeled as hippies. But all those dudes would beat yo fuckin ass if you got out of line! They were soft by no means, they just wanted to do the music they enjoyed, cause rap is supposed to be a way to have fun and get away from the everyday stress, while not limiting yourself. The thing that made rap so dope in the “golden era” was the balance of styles.
You had clown princes like Biz, Humpty Hump, Kwame and ODB later on. You had political brothers like X-Clan, PE, Lakim Shabazz, Poor Righteous Teachers, Kam, etc. You had the explicit shit on Rap-A-Lot and the whole 2 Live movement in Miami. Hip-house like Twin Hype, new jack shit like Wrecks-N-Effect, the whole Native Tongues thing, the hard South Central LA shit, the Oakland funk…and they all co-existed, were all dope and they all had fun regardless of their style. King Sun made “On The Club Tip” and then did “Universal Flag”. Lakim Shabazz, Twin Hype and Wrecks-N-Effect had raw battle rap, Geto Boys and Ganksta Nip were hilarious, PE had the yin and yang of Chuck and Flav and ODB was a ferocious battle MC. Even the more serious political rap…everybody seemed to be enjoying making music. Gangsta rappers had a fuckin sense of humor back then. Mob Style might have been the hardest group I’ve ever heard and they lived it. But them dudes also showed other sides and sounded like they enjoyed music, because it was an escape from everyday bullshit. Tim Dog, was hilarious and hard at the same time. Even if it was a joke to some, the shit was good listening. Suga Free is an ice cold pimp for real, but he has a sense of humor and approaches his music doin what he feels.
Who says rappin about a girl with no teeth or going to the store with coupons ain’t “real”? Everything is “real”, people forget that. Everybody is so concerned with being feared and taken seriously, they can’t come off those insecurities and do some guilty pleasure shit. Even the producers. If you can’t show your other sides and bug out in your music, where can you do it? Stop being scared and break some fuckin rules. Put some 300 pound girls in your video for once! Laugh at yourself dog, you ain’t no killer 24/7. You ain’t battling MC’s and being a lyrical lyricist mixtape murder 24/7. Havin fun is almost hip-hop faux pas these days. All styles of rap gotta be in the forefront and rap is dead without balance…period.