It’s like it was yesterday when I first began to learn what beats, especially eclectic
musical monotones, were to sound like in the ear. I became overwhelmed at times from how all the different variations of instruments mixed: weirdly combined notes, the prophetic melancholy of chords, string and key melodies, percussions using various drum sounds, etc. all starting to make esoteric sense.
I grew up learning how to sing by my grandmother when I lived in the north seven days after being born in the south. My grandfather, technically my mother’s step father, never had a daughter so he was thrilled to come and get me; however, my grandmother was another story in the sense that she was past the age of child rearing.
However, she loved her husband as well as myself. That was why she was teaching me these fruitful tools to have a vibrant life through music and education. The list of artists I grew up listening to is extensive, including Smoky Robinson, B B King, Stevie Wonder, The Staple Singers,The Supremes, Nat & Natalie Cole, Curtis Blow, Run DMC, Jam Master J, Pete Rock & C L Smooth, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Dana Dane, Special Ed, Big Daddy Kane, L L Cool J,Michael Jackson, Jackson 5, Rev. James Cleveland & Mississippi Mass Choir, Sugar Hill Gang,Cypress Hill, Black Thought, Wu Tang, EPMD, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Elvis, The Monkeys, The Beatles, Sting, Guns & Roses, Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Temptations, O’Jays, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Groove Theory, Floetry, The Marleys, Buju Banton, Alborosie, Capleton, Morgan Heritage, Mad Lio and Patra.
I just have an insatiable love for musical styles that possess elements which flow with the soul. It’s disheartening to find no value in music artistry today. It’s not about getting a quick contract to make a fast buck. Instead, it is important to look back toward the days of music industry past, when quality was placed into the art and the musician took great pride in what they had created. I hear a whole bunch of one-line, repetitive chants in popular songs but what about quality, the root of creativity on which good music is based? This is especially relevant when you’re talented enough to make memorable hits such as X Clan and Poor Righteous Teachers.
You can’t forget Biggie, Tupac, and Pun, where the first two artists were cut short by lyrical violence and the latter was taken by violence of disease in the body. In all these cases, negative backlash has posed a significant threat to the uplifting and uprising of true hip hop in a cultural setting. True hip hop and its lyrical ambassadors are under attack.
What ever happened to the hip hop masters such as Guru, Goodie Mob, Kilo, Nas, Tribe
Called Quest, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Ra Digga, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Heavy D, etc.? That’s true vibe and Funk Flava where the beat samples came from blues, R&B, and old school gospel tracks is missing. Don’t forget the underground players like Digital Underground, Pastor Troy, Ludacris, T.I., David Banner, Bubba Sparks, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, OutKast, etc.
Where the hell are all the good organic mouth beat makers at? There are the ones who kick fresh mouth beats like Biz Markie and Doug E Fresh. My husband, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, is also a king of mouth beats. I want those days back when quality music was blasted on the boom boxes and listened to extensively around the hoods and projects. I miss those times where I would watch male and female dance groups practice hip hop dance routines for hours. My nieces and nephews loved to perform in hip hop dance contests at hood parties and skating rinks to the best weekly tracks.Where are all the conscious lyricists at? Even though I didn’t really tap into this type of music in a deep sense, I always loved the beats that came with the subconscious message.
Public Enemy started a barrage of lyrical protests with tracks such as Can’t Trust It. Flava Flav’s 911 Is A Joke also generated controversy. Songs like Self Destruction, which featured a collaboration of artists such as Daddy O and KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions, drew major awareness of civil unrest in the Reagan era. Lyrical Professors like Talib Kweli, Mos Def and B Angie B, to name a few, began to give a breath of life to sleeping minds awakening in the 80’s and 90’s in regards to social and political issues.
Now that has changed because we have too many posers out there with their hands open for checks they really didn’t earn. This must change for the heartbeat of hip hop to return to its stable soul, before it was picked apart by misrepresentation. I appreciate the aforementioned musical geniuses for refreshing the genre and musical culture as a whole. Artists such as Nas, Pete Rock, Lauryn Hill, Badu, and Talib are still doing world tours to exemplify the reminder that hip hop is not dead and real lyrical artists do exist.
They have also teamed up with hip hop artists from other cultures, which is very much needed in the sense that we are a society have become distanced from hip hop’s true
purpose: love, peace and soul.
There is a motto from Soul Train that is and should be the mantra for hip hop “soulistas.” Neither beats nor beat makers, the stitch and fiber to the whole hip hop cloth, are scarce. They are just becoming more rare. We just aren’t dealing with public foolishness. Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud created a need for many individuals in the music industry to focus solely on ROI. Enough is enough. Let’s get back to the realness, not the foolishness, by putting hip hop back on its rightful platform: in the hearts of the genuinely creative lyrical masters. Let’s get back to being creative, not just popular.