So what passes as a classic these days? Is it that instant gratification you get on that first play through. Or does it depend on how often you listen to an album over time? The latter used to be the standard, but now it seems that fans toss that word around like it’s nothing. Have there been any albums you can call “classic” within the last ten years? I don’t know but I will give you my theory on it…
I think classic is a very delicate word when it comes to hip-hop music. There is a lot to live up to when you tell your man that “such and such” album is a classic. That means this album is on a level with past classics like: Raising Hell, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Criminal Minded, Enter the 36 Chambers, The Low End Theory, The Chronic…. And so on and so forth. That in itself seems unfair. Your “new classic” shouldn’t be held to the standard of another man’s work, but that my friend…is the way of our world unfortunately.
There is a couple of key components that link these timeless gems. The level of craftsmanship dedicated to the sound and lyrics is what pulls you into the experience. You can listen to the album and instantly hear that the artist and producers genuinely cared about this project. They either had a ton of fun making the album, or were extremely focused on making an impact. I know it all sounds so serious but when you are trying to make your mark on the hip-hop map…you want to make the biggest mark.
Where I hear a classic someone else may just hear a decent album. I’ve been deeply involved with music all of my life, so I may hear things that others don’t. It doesn’t make me special. I just have a different ear than the next man or woman. If an artist can make an impression on someone who listen for craftsmanship versus a person who looks for “trendy” hip-hop; that is when I feel you have something unique.
When I first heard Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt, I didn’t like it that much. I wasn’t a fan of the production. I for damn sure didn’t consider it a hip-hop classic. It wasn’t until the following year that I found myself playing the album EVERYDAY. Religiously. Then it hit me…this shit is dope! I never really got into the lyrics because I was so focused on the production. Then I realized that the production compliments the subject matter and overall theme perfectly.
The only thing that I did different from the original play through was open my mind. I shut out any hype, and all outside praises for the album. I allowed the album to prove itself worthy of my collection. And that it did. It may have taken a while but it won me over. Now, I can do the same thing with a bullshit album, but there is no way that repetition will get me to call it a classic.
Some classics help to define an era. In some cases, it can change the way others make their music. I knew Get Rich or Die Trying was a classic when I heard it. The momentum for 50 Cent going into that album was insane! And they delivered! It met the standards of his underground success, the radio hits were bananas, and for the 1st time in a long time we felt like the whole “We miss Biggie and Pac” era was gone. There was finally “new blood” taking the game in a familiar yet fresh direction.
When you go back and listen to that album, I remember the enthusiasm that surrounded it. It’s like looking at pics from a fun night out on the town or watching a wedding video years later. It just brings back good memories. Haters will hate but some shit is just undeniable. Timing is every thing and 50/interscope struck while things were hot.
At the end of the day, the criteria for a classic can be unpredictable. Instant and unanimous praise doesn’t always mean classic. For example, the general sentiment today is that the rap game is wack. So any good album is seen as certified classic. I’ve been guilty of that. Truthfully, time will reveal what albums made an impact over the years. Debates will ensue, track for track will be thrown out there, and some people will discover them all for the first time. You will too…
Sign me up. Not only has he directed some of my favorite videos (one being Ice Cube’s Today Was Good Day), but he’s also overseen some of my favorite flicks (i.e. Friday, Set it Off, Law Abiding Citizen). Now word comes that he may be attached to the N.W.A. biopic. I am a HUGE fan of The Notorious B.I.G. and I thought his biopic Notorious was just ok. I have really high hopes for this one. Plus,the fact that he beat out John Singleton is encouraging….don’t ask me why. Here is the lowdown:
“F. Gary Gray is in talks to direct Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A biopic set up at New Line. Gray beat out contenders John Singleton, George Tillman and Elgin James for the gig. Gray was one of the three directors in contention to direct the Captain America sequel, and this move likely takes him out of the running for that job. (George Nolfi and the Russo Brothers are the front-runners still left standing.)” -The Hollywood Reporter
It’s painfully obvious that today’s hip-hop world has gone 100% Hollywood. There was a time where all you knew about your favorite artist was embedded in their rhymes. Not only does your favorite artist come with a chain, a crew, and a mugshot…. but now they come with a love interest. It was always known that some rappers were married. You could even catch some of them out on the town in your favorite hip-hop mag.
We’ve had front row seats for some failed unions, and even Reality Shows that are all about it. As a fan of the music, does this hurt or help how we look at these artist? Does it effect their music in a positive way. It’s hard to say.
Some artist find love and then rap all about it. As a fan, I can’t front, I hate it when it is excessive. One song is cool but 3 or more is pushing it buddy. We listen to our favorite rappers to absorb their thoughts, and if it happens to be about their marriage…so be it.
The issue is that most fans like to believe that every word that comes out of rappers mouths are truth. So when you holla pimp all the time, and we watch you get pimped….well you see my point. It never looks good. There is probably only one or two artist that I believe will do everything they say in their record. (side-bar) For example when I saw that M.O.P. and Heather B. video back in the day… any rapper(s) who choose to roll with a dude that is blatantly missing teeth? And they allow him in their video? They will definitely whoop yo ass.
Don’t get it twisted. Having a public relationship isn’t a bad thing. Some are just better at it than others (i.e. Ice Cube, L.L. Cool J.). I’m not a big reality show fan, but I will check in for a chick fight every now again. I loved watching Run’s House, I stare at T.I. and Tiny (Remind me why T.I.), and I mute the tv when Love and Hip-Hop is on.
Jay-Z and Beyonce have now taken things to a much higher “Hollywood” level. They have brought the whole “new baby exclusive” to the genre whether you like it or not. Anytime you see Twitter overrun by pictures of one baby, well you know that it has officially become a new hip-hop world. They are officially the new “Will and Jada”. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
Other rappers have kids, but I think people are just excited about the couple of the moment. It’s cool. I tend to think about how this will effect Jay-Z’s music. I could care less about photos or baby names. The only reason why I am blogging about it is because I’m a hip-hop fan. This topic is borderline tabloid.
Will Jay return to form, re-energized by his offspring? Will Jim Jones try to make the hardest sh*t ever because he looks like a dude who can’t keep his broad in order? Will Fabolous win the playa of the year award for his brainwashing skills? I hope it all turns out good, because when things go south…they don’t get any lower than Karrine Steffans…and that can be pretty low…I’m mean REALLY LOW.
Here is a parting gift for the, unaware, Love & Hip-Hop fans. You may need headphones ;-)
I’ve been waiting to see this film for a while now. A lot of interesting views being touched on in this trailer. A lot of younger artist will look at this and think one thing… “HATING”. Open up your vocabulary, ears & mind…and understand what this information means to your existence as a hip-hop artist or fan. Check the trailer…
2011 is done. It was a fantastic year for hip-hop! For all the “hip-hop is wack” talk, I’d say LOOK CLOSER. This year provided a lot of inspired material from artist. I have 5 albums/mixtapes that stood above the rest. It would have been easier for me to do a top 10 but top 5 is more interesting in my opinion. Plus, I like putting the pressure on myself. Lol! I can say without a doubt, THESE WERE THE BEST FOR THE YEAR 2011…
Here is MY top five hip-hop albums/mixtape(s) of 2011:
Kendrick Lamar “Section .80“
“Talk about slept on. I heard the snippets and was completely uninterested. Then I decided to give it a full listen after hearing so many people talk about it. Needless to say, I came away extremely impressed (snippets are never a good idea). I wasn’t only impressed by Kendrick’s various flows but the consistency at which this mix-tape album moved. This is the type of young mc that old heads say doesn’t exist (fix ya glasses old head). This is a “throwback” album. Well placed skits, hard tracks, flows, and a conscious tone/concept. Just take a listen to the track “Keisha’s Song” and you’ll realize he’s just not here to spit. Kendrick Lamar is a force to be reckoned with in 2012. Believe it. I do.”
Elzhi & Will Sessions “Elmatic“
“How do you do that? How do you remake one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history? It has to be a recipe for failure. Right? NOT AT ALL. (Not to be compared) Elzhi & Will Sessions’s Elmatic is a classic in itself. I know. How is that even possible? This tribute was sooo on point. First, Elzhi does an excellent job of paying tribute without trying to imitate Nas. He actually builds upon the classic lyrics by providing his own perspective (i.e. Detroit State of Mind). It works well. I tried to hate but COULD NOT FRONT. On the beat front, the band Will Sessions does a superb job of keeping the essence of the original tracks and injecting the original sample in most cases. It is a masterful job that doesn’t draw comparions (or shouldn’t) to the original classic…Illmatic. This was in my top 5 from day one. If you don’t feel this…well…hip-hop is not for you. WORD.”
Big K.R.I.T. “Return to 4eva“
“I knew absolutely nothing about this dude going in. I caught wind of his name a couple of times but thought he was just some dude the internet hyped up. I saw how much people were anticipating his mix-tape so I figured I’d give it a listen. I love when I get “pleasantly surprised” in hip-hop. While some fans tend to invest all of their energy in the anticipation of their favorite artist, we miss out on the dudes coming up. Big K.R.I.T. is yet another example of a young artist who cares about his lyrics. This mixtape is NICE! Think young Outkast/UGK. Not only does he do a decent job lyrically, the production is perfect. This doesn’t feel or sound like your average mixtape, and that alone leaves me excited for his debut album in 2012.”
Phonte “Charity Starts At Home“
“I didn’t even know this was coming out. Serious. I was so busy looking at lesser albums, when my favorite mc from one of my favorite groups (Little Brother)” was about to drop an album. Talk about total package. While others were a little disappointed with Drake’s album (not I), I was still listening to one of Drake’s inspirations. Not only is Phonte a waaay better rapper, he is a waaaaaaaay better singer. Really. This album contains the perfect balance between the two (though heavier on the hip-hop side). Reuniting with 9th Wonder on a couple of tracks feels like Little Brother all over again (sorry Big Pooh). Phonte’s clever lyrics combined with dope beats, and his familiar comedic monologues make this album an easy choice for my top 5 of 2012.”
Common “The Dreamer, The Believer“
“As far as I’m concerned, if it dropped before the New Year’s Ball… it’s a candidate for 2011. I couldn’t have done this list without hearing this album. Three hot singles, and re-teaming with NO I.D. could only mean good things. THIS ALBUM IS F@CKIN’ HOT! Not only does he make up for that dud of a last album, he proves that he is still relevant on ALL fronts. Is it a classic? I don’t know. Only time will tell, but right now I’ve listened to it several times. I can’t move on to anything else right now. This album is so satisfying. This is a case where the supply exceeds the demand. Like all the other players on the list, you can tell that there was a goal in mind. Kanye and Common have a dope chemistry together but it has nothing on Common and No I.D. With features from the likes of Nas, John Legend, and even Maya Angelou… Common closed out 2011
just right. “
What does this mean exactly? Hard times? They caught me on my off day? IDK. I’m guilty of hitting the supermarket early mornings looking like a fiend with old tims and a bum ass hat. Who doesn’t shop at Walmart?
Is there a rule against having wealth and not spending it in Walmart? Sorry to say but, all of those excuses melt away as I stare at this photo. Were I in his position would I have been in Walmart looking like a cab driver? HELL NO!
I don’t know what Beanie’s financial status is, and you can’t draw conclusions from a photo. I’ll tell you this… THIS IS NOT A GOOD LOOK…
P.S. “A hot new mixtape will change all of it…I hope.”
Ever wondered what the f@ck your favorite rapper was talking about? Are you one of those hip-hop fans that loves a rap artist for their voice and cadence but get lost in the lyrics? Well, somebody has made a site for YOU.
Rap Genius is a Wikipedia for rap lyrics. The site is run by, well, US the fans. There are verses and songs with lyrics broken down into “simple” terms. Now ya moms will understand why you say Lil Wayne is the best….or maybe why people say he is trash.
Check this breakdown of Lil Wayne’s hit single “A Milli“
I think a site like this is good idea, but I can’t help but feel like it’s a cheat. Part of the allure of hip-hop music is figuring out the lyrics on your own. I’ve gone as far as to research things myself. I guess this site will make it easier for the casual hip-hop fan. Here is one of Jay-Z’s greatest lines for which I think needs no explanation: “…Like short sleeves, I bare arms.” - Brooklyn’s Finest
Anyhow, here is a quick breakdown of what the site is all about:
You can listen to songs, read their lyrics, and click the lines that interest you for pop-up explanations – we have thousands of canonical rap songs explained (2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z – even the beginning of the Torah..)
Well, it’s about time he’s said something worth listening to. 50 Cent is frustrated with our government, and the way that we as a society turn a blind eye to the problems of the world. One can only hope that his efforts will influence more to recognize and act (i.e. entertainers, athletes, politicians, and us). One thing’s for sure, his music will need to change in order to avoid the inevitable “rapper contradiction”. Here is 50 Cent’s PSA:
“The world is so f***** up
People don’t seem to care anymore
People seem to have distanced themselves from other people’s problems, they have been programmed not to care!
Politicians are corrupt…So many companies are corrupt and taking excessive profits in certain sectors…….and we keep allowing this s*** to happen
There are 1 billion plus people living in extreme poverty. You know what that is? You don’t know if your getting your next meal, no shelter, no medical. You have no chance of hustling your way out of it!
We have been programmed to not give a s*** about these people!
Well I have woken up and Im not turning a blind eye anymore!
Im not playing the game anymore. Our Company CEO’s and politicians want us to keep our heads down and not ask questions. Not demand the truth
they don’t want us to care, they have trained us to turn a blind eye!
Because they control us and profit from us this way!
to push back at them questions and threatens their lifestyles.
Children are dying everyday from hunger. Its f***** up, its wrong and I am angry
Im not going to shut up or give up – f*** the system, its wrong.
wake up we are being used!
Innocent children are dying each day…. we need to shout out to companies, politicians that we aren’t playing their games anymore
We are waking up to their lies and deceitful dealings
Im angry, Im going to make a difference and no one is going to stop me
Join me if your tired of being used and manipulated
Make this world fair for everyone” – 50 Cent “Street King“
Listen here: One2FlowOn “HIP-HOP CRITIC“