Written by James “Nobodee Jones” Horton
It’s a funny thing, me being an atypical cat, Midwest rural born and southern deep fried upbringing. I been into hip-hop music since the era of the fat boys back in the gap. Over time I have seen the good bad and ugly. There are artist that I try to keep tabs on and I have seen them grow and in fact they’ve helped me grow or at least gave me things to consider. So consider this? Is hip-hop dead?
Not that old of a horse to beat since so many have an issue with calling trap hip-hop. (That’s another story). Yet hip-hop music, rap, wasn’t ever dead per se. The craft didn’t die and ‘naw the industry couldn’t and wouldn’t kill it, too profitable. (Sidebar) The industry just gained more control but that’s been in effect since the mid to early 90s. Industry built on catering to the dreams of folks who got less and want more in the culture and playing advocate for that “I want that too, going to get that” mentality. The truth of it all was that many mainstream artists don’t own a quarter of what they say they have or what the industry reflects they have. Didn’t the Tribe tell y’all about rule #5080?
Anyway, to stay on topic; the heart of hip-hop flowed back home in the underground, it just flowed back to the hunger and desire that birthed it and away from the industrial issues with “successful” mainstream artist.
What I mean is so many cats get the game misconstrued. The ebb and flow of hip-hop has never been one of confinement or alignment. In the core of the art is that need; need, hunger, drive, experience, or that fire. That’s not even mentioning skill, know what I ‘m talking about. A cat gotta have skill in the game if he expects to play. Yet the game gets a little throw’d when you speak to that need and skill because that need and skill changes with each individual.
That’s why the sound can change but the heart never does. Nothing makes a cat go after his scratch like necessity. When the only dream you have is tied to a mic then by any means necessary (that’s where the hustle can come in). However that passion is reflected in not just the sound but the thought process.
You cannot tell me that in a year’s time a cat went from po’ to paid and still has the same mentality. It goes the same with artist; folks act like they aren’t people and subjected to the same laws as all us. Success has its way of changing perspectives and in hip-hop that can be detrimental to an artist work. Then you add in the influence and pressures of the industry and when that next work drop it’s weaker and so forth with each generation of work.
“I will never be able to top what my name is.” Eminem stated that and love ‘em or hate ‘em but the truth will set you free. So many mainstream folk lose there potency but through their name alone they can ride a good beat and still sell. This is a good business plan in the mainstream industry because money is made. Why you think there are so many DJ and Producers now a days?
The point is the essence of hip hop is not found in the well fed. The essence, lies’ as that ish always has with the hungry, in the underground. So I can only reason that’s why it was said to be dead. Or maybe its mainstream hip-hop is dying. I mean I expect maybe 2 or 3 dope albums from a good mainstream cat. That’s why if the cats do have some skill in the art their albums represent strength because them cats still hungry. In fact many need more scratch ‘cause the industry just reintroduced them to debt; which means it reintroduced them to control.
However the Underground are unsigned, unfiltered, and are always hungry; each body of work is a testament to the heart. Shid, that’s why weak cats (mainstream or underground), weak in character, skill, hunger, delivery don’t last long. Hell in the underground, it’s a bit different. Mainstream artist, through name can often ride a smooth tune but underground artist will get murked by the same tune. The hunger is there, the mind frame for most of the cats in the underground in still in that perspective of “gotta get it” and many, many of these cats are holdin’.
It was just recently that I began to really dive in to the underground/unsigned genres. What I see is impressive but what I worry about is the industry getting a foot hold in the culture, the culture that represents the root of the culture. Chance the Rapper wants the Grammy’s to open the floor for mixtapes, for the underground. That may lead to the death of a culture.
James “Nobodee Jones” Horton, co-owner, online broadcaster, personality for RAWR Radio based in Ardmore, Ok. Born in Ardmore, OK raised in Atlanta, GA. Pays homage to hip hop culture through RAWR Radio weekend Show cast via Mixlr.com online. RAWR Radio itself grew from a personal need that mainstream hip-hop is failing to produce. Although still in the early stages the shows continue to see growth. We feature Unsigned Underground artist. Real radio, just like you like your Hip-Hop! From the heart but not for the overly sensitive. Check out the RAWR website and stay connected with Nobodee Jones and RAWR Radio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Soundcloud, Google+. RAWR!