Saturday, February 09, 2008


Gear for the new legion of backpackers
Who needs it? Really, who needs it? It's a tired-ass scene. No one has any context anymore. A&R's have no sense of history and labels are only interested in numbers. Good or bad--it doesn't matter. Name artist with classic catalogs are marginalized for a one-week pop explosion meanwhile, there no support for records like Reasonable Doubt, Illmatic and Ready to Die at retail. They only want to represent and support the new style and could care less about anything older than five years (which is when all the good ish was droppin). Maybe you've heard me complain about last year where the industry decided to, basically, abandon artist development and rather hang their hat on a stupid, juvenile dance move that, believe or not, is up for a Grammy! Am I losing my freaking mind?! Homecoming dance song of the year is up for (what is supposed to be-) the ultimate award for artistic achievement in music? Is this the de-evolution of the artform? Is it, in fact, dead?

Here we are, on the eve of the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, and I can't help but think to myself that, yes, hip hop will die in the same way that the industry that birthed it, fed it, trained it, popularized it will: without honor, dignity and artistry. It will die tired and desperate artform. As the roots of the tree die so does the fruit on the branches. I'm ready for it to happen, are you?

I'm ready because I've found comfort in the digital realm. I've (re)discovered a love for older, more primative forms of the music, y'know, when it was good. When that bomb drops and the artform is obliterated, I'll be camped out with my abbreviated collection of vinyl, Da Pocket Prophet, my stack of Def Jux 12"s, Main Source's Breaking Atoms, Low End Theory, Public Enemy's first three records, Cymande, Sly and Family Stone reissues and New Birth. Call me if you need reinforcements.

I really find it entertaining now, in retrospect, how I was that kid at the shows--the backpacker--warning of the demise of hip hop. Groups of backpackers would stand in circles and talk about Jeru the Damaja's first two records and complain about Ludacris biting Redman. Kids fighting for cred amongst the group would talk about Style Wars. I'm gonna blaze a new trail for backpackers. I'm gonna call the new legion of heads and backpackery knapsack devolutionists.
We're gonna eventually have to break this thing down and then put it back together again. "Devolution" is the notion that, eventually, species will revert to a more primative origin and then evolve again. While, personally and religiously, I don't believe evolution-devolution-evolution makes much sense for humans or other species in the kingdom. But for art and music, it makes perfect sense. In fact, in this case, not only do I think it makes sense, I'd like to happen as soon as possible.
We'll denounce those kids at shows that dance like stoned hippies saying ish like, "Relax, man. It's hip hop!" We'll beatdown kids like that with copies of Eazy Duz It. We'll "bum rush the show" with stacks of X-Clan, Smif-n-Wessun, Pharcyde, EPMD, Camp Lo, Beanuts and Brand Nubian. We'll play "War at 33 1/3" in our lobby softly like elevator music. At retail, we'll refuse to stock any of the "priorities" like Buble, Groban, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones until distribution drops prices on any hip hop album over five years old (like those old Geto Boys records that are still 18.98--shame!) in the name of "artistic preservation"--something they know nothing about. We'll lobby automakers to replace the Eddie Bauer packages with Cross Colour packages that will be complete with red, black and green leather trim with a huge "X" embroidered on the seats. We'll demand that MTV air every episode of "Yo!" every weekend for an entire year. All contracts for debut artists who have held the top spot at Soundscan at any time during the past three years will be terminated immediately and their records will be deleted or cut out and sold for pennies to CVS. Every album on the j3 Top Twenty Best HIp Hop Records Ever will be reissued on 180-gram vinyl and sold for no more than $13.00 at all places where music is sold. All used copies of Will Smith's Big Willie Style will be replaced by new copies of He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper at the same price. Adidas will be politely requested to reissue the old shelltoes--not the new super-sport versions. There is no dancing at hip hop shows unless you first prove you can toprock. All sanctioned walls for graffiti will be turned back over to their owners and then they will be tagged illegally and heads are just gonna have to live with it. "Soul" sections in all music retail locations will be emptied and then stocked with the entire Stax catalog, all of Funkadelic's studio albums and their choice of three Marvin Gaye records. "New Jack Swing" as a term and subgenre will be erased from all packaging, publications and broadcasts and replaced, instead, with the term "pop R&B." Music appreciation classes will begin Robert Johnson and end with Black Moon's Enta Da Stage.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. If you need me, I'll be in my bunker waiting for the revolution. Angry Tim will keep me posted if I miss anything like the new Del record coming in March.

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