Axl Rose and Bushwick Bill; separated at birth? Only the headscarf shopkeep knows the truth.Adults back then were scared. Scared that listening to rap music would turn their kids into uneducated, violent thugs. Sure, some of us turned out that way, but in those instances I'm wondering a bit about inevitability. See, most of the kids who stole car stereos and dealt dimebags of weed while listening to
"Step in my path, your ass is void
Cause I'm an aerodynamic, satanic, schizophrenic android"
were bored, felt misunderstood (even in the suburbs), and wanted to belong to a group of like-minded outcasts so they could feel important, feel a part of something. For the ones who went too far in emulating their favorite gangstas, I'd have to draw the parallel between that and some kid who shaved his head, slapped on a pair of Doc Martens and suspenders, and beat up black kids while listening to 'white pride' bullshit music. Some kids are shitty individuals for whatever reason, and if they're going to be troublemakers, the only element in question is what they'll use to justify it.
I listened to my share of ho-slappin', cap-peelin', cocaine-slangin' rhymes, and I have never:
- slapped a ho
- shot anybody
- or dealt drugs
- don't know any hos
- don't own a gun
- and don't like retail
While not much has changed in the rap game in twenty years, there are some signs of truth breaking through, little by little. I'm pleased to say that there are some cracks showing in the pimp facade of rap*6 (thanks to Blender*7):
Who'd have guessed that Professor Griff would be the second-most damaging person in this picture to PE's legacy?
50 Cent is a big, hungry tiger who should not be taunted
Un-hip-hop is the new hip-hop
When's the last time a rapper publicly acknowledged the slim chance he stood in a fight (especially regarding another rapper), or copped to liking a smart, skinny white girl*8?
I think I've heard a Lil Wayne (right) song, but I'm not sure. If I did, it didn't grab me. But, regardless of what I think about his music, and even if he shoots a prostitute in the face with a bullet made out of cocaine tomorrow, I'm glad in this instance that somebody said something unexpected, out of the ordinary and hip-hop.
?uestlove from The Roots (left) having a realistic exchange in a magazine is not surprising to me, but he, and they, damn sure need more recognition.
I'm not saying there's no place for Petey Pablo's crunk party raps, because there is (I'm looking at your stripper pole, Team Awesome). I'm just saying I'd like my rap to have grown up with me, and started being honest about who we both are and what we want from each other*9.
* I mean kids who were tone deaf.
*3 anything/everything/murdering people
*4 A lifetime of reading about Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, and Wally West has readied me for attempting alliteration anytime (see?).
*5 Gaining recognition for killing a chinchilla is only the good kind of recognition if said chinchilla is breaking into your home with the intent to hurt your family.
*6 So-called 'Nerdcore Hip-Hop'/'Geeksta Rap' doesn't count. Music mags can talk all they want about a geek revolution in hip-hop, but from where I was sitting in 1989, it was all geek music. Cool for liking rap? Tell that to my friends and I as we sat in the basement, listening to Dopeman, playing the Marvel Superheroes roleplaying game, and avoiding intramural athletics.
*7 Yeah, I read Blender. It's a looong bus ride. Wait, you know what? I don't need to apologize to you! You got a problem with me readin' Blender? In the words of Dr. Dre:
"I'm hot like lava
You got a problem?
I got a problem solver
and his name is revolver"*10
*8 Who was dead wrong about the Democratic primary, by the way. Just ask Tracy Morgan.
*9 Don't expect me to wait forever, Rap. AltCountry is a really good listener.
*10 Note: I do not, in fact, have a problem solver. If you have a problem, I'll be happy to try and work something out.