Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remember When Rappers Were Smart?


So I was at the anti-gun violence event the other day with T.I., Killer Mike, Shirley Franklin, Richard Pennington (the police chief) and hosted by Andrew Young. They were on the panel talking and anyone who's ever heard Mike or Tip speak know they're both funny, engaging, intelligent and able to articulate their points well.

This older dude standing next to me like whispers to his friend, "man these guys are really smart..." all surprised. And really, why shouldn't he have been surprised that two rappers were intelligent? Listen to the radio and figure it out. Which got me to thinking...

Remember back when rappers were smart?

Back in the day it was just normal for a rapper to be intelligent. It was damn near like, if you weren't smart, you couldn't rap, cuz you'd have nothing relevant to talk about. And by and large, super deliberate mediocrity didn't fly back then. I guess because the genre was just taking flight and attempting to be validated-- so you know, no room for BS.

KRS-1, Chuck D, Latifah, Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, LL... all of these people are intelligent. Even the rappers that the media wanted to present as being "thugs" and "gangsters" were smart-- Eazy E, Ice Cube... Like even if you weren't on no political, smart-guy thing, you still weren't looked at as being just stupid. Even the Fat Boys weren't looked at as dumb-- they were just silly--- characters to be taken lightly.

I think rappers started getting dumb around '97, '98-- you know, the dreaded two years that all hip-hop heads believe were the beginning of the downfall of this matrix we now call rap. Even in the 90s, artists like Eightball & MJG, DJ Quik, Common, Tribe, E-40, etc. were obviously intelligent in their own ways. Then... rap music started slipping from a musical standpoint and with it went the lyrics. Next went the thoughtfulness and finally, the intelligence.

I think we're starting to move back to the days of smarter rappers. Everything moves in cycles as we all know. I just can't wait until the day these happy-to-be-dumb rappers get the boot completly.

2 comments:

southpeezy said...

i never really dug the "hip hop is a mirror of society" argument...but in the case of how hip hop is now, its probably applicable. we all know that people (not just the kids) are getting dumber and dumber. so dumb rappers are a microcosm of the dumbness thats going on society period.

urbannewsnetwork said...

Maybe Im getting old, but I remember smart rappers. KRS said: " like all my people eat chicken and watermelon talk broken english and drug sellin, but I dont walk this way and portray, or reinforce stereotypes of today...DAMN! What the F#@k happened??!!