When Nas came out with Hip Hop is Dead last year it sparked a lot of debate. Some people were angry that he could say such a thing. I understood where he was coming from and agreed with him. It seemed like there was no music of any substance being produced anymore. The songs that were hitting on the charts were all empty, soulless songs that did not appeal to me in the least. That’s not to say that quality rap did not exist, it is just to say that the culture was not being properly represented in the mainstream. Hip-hop did seem like it was dead.
I think this song lyric describes it all,
“If my partners don’t look good, Malik won’t look good
if Malik don’t look good, the Quest won’t look good
if the Quest don’t look good, the Queens won’t look good
but since out sounds are universal, New York won’t look good”
– A Tribe Called Quest Oh My God from the album Midnight Marauders.
For a while hip-hop did not look good. Too many rappers were focusing on materialism. Videos seemed to be all about drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Hip-hop forgot about all of the progress it had made. It forgot about the important contributions of the pioneers that made this art for great. This mind state and artists that didn’t really have a heart for this culture hurt it terrible. They made us all look bad.
I think that Nas helped bring hip-hop back to its roots by focusing on this and by naming his album Hip Hop is Dead. He seems to have kick-started a revival here that we are finally starting to see the effects of.
Hip-hop is not dead. It has been alive and well since its inception in 1969. I would argue that the culture didn’t official come together and solidify until 1972 but that’s up for debate. Nonetheless, it is clear that hip-hop is not going anywhere. It has a rich cultural history that cannot be ignored. It’s time that we built a hip-hop hall of fame so that everyone can be familiar with this great culture.
I hope that you enjoyed this series as much as I did putting it together. Thanks for all your comments and support!