I gotta thank Okayplayer.com for the inspiration as usual. Seeing all unexpected responses the recent Large Pro versus Kanye West post made me realize two things; one – just how much Large Pro is revered (which is dope) but also the apparent disconnect between older heads and newer heads just based on the replies.
If you grew with hip-hop during the ‘Golden Era’ like myself it’s definitely a different time. I would say its harder to find many new artists to get excited about, but there is not shortage of talent out there. The underground is still thriving with a new generation of emcees like; Blu, Jay Electronica, Joell Ortiz, Oddisee, Black Milk, etc. It would be unfair to try and compare every new emcee to some of the greats, but for some reason some older heads do this. I can’t bring myself to do it for the simple of fact that that’s a standard based on personal preference. Art is subjective. With that said, everyone should be entitled to form their own opinion without a bias like their album has to be as good or better than “Illmatic”. N*ggas fall in love with the music like its a hole (c) Baatin…It’s important to remain open-minded to all of it, even if it isn’t for you. There’s enough hip-hop I don’t like but in the same breath if everyone sounded like Mos Def, that wouldn’t be fun either. Balance is key.
Personally, if you grew up listening to groups like; A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Eric B. Rakim, Gangstarr, Beastie Boys in their prime its natural to feel spoiled on some level. Everyone deserves a fair shake though. The Native Tongues movement paved the way for artists like; Outkast, The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, and those artists kept that lane going for Lupe, Kanye & Phonte. So we can always trace the link between the old and the new as long as people do the knowledge. Let’s flip it to the other side of the coin. The biggest disconnect that I can see between the older and the younger heads is the respect for hip-hop history. A younger listener can’t expect an older listener to fully appreciate Kanye West without recognizing a guy like Pete Rock influenced Kanye to want to produce soul beats. The newer heads need to have a better understanding of whats come before them on some level; whether they like those artists or not, respect the fact that they did influence the generation of emcees you may look up to now. As long both perspectives can be appreciated the dialogue can always be fruitful.
This blog is living proof that last statement. Me and my homie Reyn who I run this blog with represent the young and the older. The reason we make it work is because we’re constantly learning from each other in terms of old music/new music. So our conversations are far less about comparison to classics, but more about have you heard this and what do you think. That’s how we bridge the gap. There’s room for critique like anything else, but we don’t take the music so seriously that we can’t discuss it. That’s why I think most hip-hop conversations never go anywhere because both parties can’t discuss it objectively without saying something like; ‘hip-hop is dead’, ‘nothing will ever be better than (your favourite album)’, etc. Everyone needs to just stop looking at it from a black or white position; If I don’t like it, I don’t like it, that don’t mean that I’m hating (c) Common.
Judge or critique everything by its own merit, because at the end of the day everyone will take something different from it