As many of you know I remain passionate about hip-hop (the right kind of hip-hop that is). I use this bracketed vague description partly because what I hear of this 'new' brand of hip-hop continues to defy labels, whilst addressing culture, meaning, morality and destiny without deviating from the Truth. In doing the latter it does not just seek a synonym to add to the overused (cosmetic utensil) terms"keeping it real", "telling it like it is", "the realness" -
but actually dares to drag the make up caked face of mainstream hip-hop in front of a mirror.
Is this make up applied to complement her beauty? Hardly. Foundation freshly powdered from the keg of secularization, tear strewn with the mascara of post modernity - darkened tears meandering to her notepad of rhymes, daring to blur lines still further. It is a mask she does not seem to know she wears. Were she to realise, the meaninglessness the mask imposes, it may still, I fear, leave her indifferent.
Not content with just admonishing with, "take a look at yourself" , and far from the self-centredness that marks today’s mainstream and romanticised conscious efforts (i.e. "take a look at me... mySELF and i")- this new brand of hip-hop is rather saying, "examine what is not necessarily seen, but is nonetheless true."
When we compare this with the anti-mainstream positive mantra of, "take a look beneath the bling and materialism - behold positivity", we begin to identify the limitations of 'domesticated' hip hop. For all its seeming positivity, be it anti-bling, anti-gun, anti-police, anti-drugs, anti-racism or just plain old anti-mainstream, we find that this new brand of hip hop, is like a first-aider without training; able to identify the symptoms of a dying and hurting planet, but clueless about the patient’s history and an accurate diagnosis, let alone the prescription of an antidote.
By antidote, I do not mean a pill that an individual or a society 'pops' and is at once cured. No, only that which in living concerns itself with cures.
C.S Lewis in the 40's and 50's communicated the thrust of this 'new music' in his own relevant and engaging way. A new generation of emcees it seems, have mastered their artform and albeit unceremoniously, arrived. It's an arrival without the huge marketing budget, hype and coverage that is often mistaken for significance - and at that I will let you decide for yourself. For a sample and some background on what I've been talking about datruth.net (website no longer running).
The site features a hip hop artist called 'd.a t.r.u.t.h', in my view a very talented writer. Technically his grasp of timing is clear - but still more compelling is a grasp of times that he understands and clearly communicates.
© [verb]swish, March 2006 (all rights reserved)