April 23, 2009

Looking Fly

One of the important features of a rapper is his appearance. He or she needs to appeal to their audience. And directly or indirectly influence their audience's fashion sense. No matter what he or she has to say, the communication would not be complete if the outfit was offbeat. Tattoos have also been added to the list of must-haves for rappers, even for the females. So in this blog, I present the evolution of fashion in rap from the early 90s till today.

Enjoy!

Blast from the past

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prhF6LE89z4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAwJYSLwpzY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbud7ZEeAYQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_TcszezOVE

Today -- we can see that a lot of the women in these videos have less clothing on (except for Lil Kim who has always upheld that image). Also, most of these songs feature choreographed dances (or "dances from the hood") that are very ridiculous (thats an understatment) but we all want to get loose, at least once in a while.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c1ZemWAuaU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl9_GHc4hWA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZSnJIJDTNU

And anything on BET tonight would suffice....

April 6, 2009

This Isn't Fair

Everybody wants to be a rapper. Although a lot of KRS-One's 9 elements are featured in rap music, MCing has been a true task for many. Lil Jon failed so I wouldn't even go there. If the true test of a rapper is to make words rhyme, then we give the rap game an A+. But then we see that grade turpedo when performance is compared one against the other. It is important to point out that there ARE different types of rappers. A trained ear can distinguished them by the types of beats and the quality of the words that come out of these rappers. In general, when they are not set apart by their regions or outfits, rappers are either mainstream or underground. It is very common to see a transition from one end to the other. A lot of the mainstream rappers were once underground but became mainstream when a recording company found them. Others go from mainstream to underground when their companies either fire them , they get shunned because they don't actually have talent to survive, (Young Buck), or they just quit (The Game).

It is obvious that a lot (if not all) of these mainstream rappers are trash. It is very unfortunate that the real ones don't get the limelight but it keeps them true to themselves because they don't have to succumb to what big corporations want from them.

By now, we all know the rap recipe - experiences in the ghetto/hood, girls, gear (clothes), alcohol, and money. Some rappers follow this routine. Others don't. I am very new to Black Ice but he's on fire. Mos Def and Talib Kweli are forces, period. Therefore, Lil Wayne should have probably done a thorough research before coming to the conclusion that he is the "best rapper alive." I am very sure he reconsidered that statement after his freestyle performance on Westwood radio, its on Youtube.

I have always wondered why Lil Wayne considered himself "the best rapper alive" when Mos Def, Nas, Jay-Z, Black Ice, and Talib Kweli still hold the torch. After dropping his successful album, "Carter III" Lil Wayne decided to proclaim himself "the best rapper alive, since the best rapper retired." After listening to his song, "A Millie" I blame the alcohol. Alcohol + microphone will never equal skill. The song "A Millie" is believed to be a freestyle effort from Lil Wayne. However, true freestyle should not be only in a rapper's comfort zone (his studio). Since freestyling is a test of skill, a rapper should be prepared to defend his skills wherever and whenever he is called upon to do so - an elevator, in a radio station, TV, in the shower, wherever. One of a rapper's pride is to be able to kill freestyling. Freestyling is an impromptu or improvise lyrics. And that is one of the reasons people respect Jay-Z because he reportedly doesn't write his lyrics during recording. Looking at the list, Mos Def, Black Ice, and Talib Kweli stand out as the infamous ones. But Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Nas are well-known.

Therefore, this blog presents the freestyles of the aforementioned artists. You be the judge. I know someone needs to drop the mic. Enjoy.

Continue reading "This Isn't Fair" »

March 23, 2009

The Transformation from Ladies OF hip-hop to ladies In Hip-Hop

Through their songs, women like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte have made their roles in hip-hop clear by the content of their songs. They have established authority as skilled lyricists. Their words and styles have commanded respect from their peers and fans. However, there has been a shift that makes me wonder if subsequent talents in the likes of Lil Kim, Da Brat, Trina, and Shawna can be considered as carriers of the torch or baton passed on by Queen Latifah and MC Lyte.

A look at songs from MC Lyte and Lil Kim, both released in 1996, raise the question of what role this women in hip-hop really feel they need to be playing. Do they want to be players or inspirations? There is no doubt that they cannot be both

Continue reading "The Transformation from Ladies OF hip-hop to ladies In Hip-Hop" »

March 2, 2009

Ladies of Rap

After KRS One's contribution of the 9 elements of Hip-hop/Rap, I think it’s only right to begin the polar comparisons between the past and contemporary. I want to begin with two women - Queen Latifah and Eve. Through this polarity, I will explore the ways in which the 9 elements have changed and the unchanged components.
Queen Latifah's infamous U.N.I.T.Y released in 1993 off of her album “Black Reign” is speaking about the sexism and domestic violence African American women experience within their community.
Eve's "Love is Blind" released in 1999 on her "Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders' First Lady" album discusses domestic violence against African American women.
Like KRS One suggested, a rapper needs to have a commanding appearance and I think the ladies dressed to impress according to their time periods. Other than the fashion, which saw a tremendous shift within a 6-year period, both artists still utilize a lot of the 9 Elements KRS One pointed out. A rapper is respected by his or her MC’ing and both ladies proved their skills in each song. Eve’s album went double platinum. Beat boxing, break dancing, and graffiti are the missing elements in these songs and they are unnecessary knowing the messages the songs carry. Other than that, the street fashion street language, and street knowledge still carry through these songs. Although KRS One did not consider music videos as elements of hip-hop, it is very reasonable to say that music videos are a big part of hip-hop today. The music videos reflect a lot of change, not only technologically but also in the fashion, choice of location, etc.
******
Sorry lyrics are long. Enjoy the videos.
******
“U.N.I.T.Y” - Queen Latifah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prhF6LE89z4

**************************************************************

Continue reading "Ladies of Rap" »

February 16, 2009

KRS One

We begin our journey with KRS One. He was a major contributing force in hip-hop's beginnings. And he is still very much respected and reverenced in hiphop/rap. The song “9 Elements? is what he feels the mission statement of hiphop should entail. He is self explanatory. There isn't a metaphor or idiom. He is putting it as plainly as possible and he can be easily understood.

These 9 elements are:

1. Breaking or breakdancing
2. MC'ing or rap
3. Grafitti art or burning bombin'
4. DJ'ing
5. Beatboxing
6. Street fashion
7. Street language, our verbal communication
8. Street knowledge
9. Street entrepreneur realism

Granted some of these factors are no longer "elements" of rap, probally because they evolved into something else or whithered away. Graffiti art is still eminent (especially on highways and trains) but maybe because I live in Minnesota, I wouldn't have an idea about the appreciation of graffiti. Graffiti has not only moved from the walls of private properties into some museums but also unto shirts. I see some contemporary fashion designs advertising their products with grafitti. Marc Ecko's fashion line uses grafitti on some of his works. This might be evidence that people still think grafitti art is pretty cool. Beatboxing is not as prevalent in hiphop as it used to be. I think it evolved into something, I will find that out soon. Breakdancing is still very much part of modern hiphop and it also evolved into a majority of dance styles. For example, Soulja Boy's Crank That and Bird Walk. There are lots more dances that have surfaced in hiphop and they will be explored. Basically, this song was speaking into the future and it really builds a wall around something that would otherwise be vague or without form.

I was excited when I found this song. It helped solidify where I was trying to go with things. I will explore what about each of these elements have changed, what they changed into and if they are going to even change.
Hiphop/Rap is 30+ years and growing, theres a lot to look forward to.

9 elements by KRS One

Well my ladies and gentlemen
This is a rap session and my name is "KRS-One!"
And when I talk about "Hip-Hop Music!? I know
[Kris]
One: Breaking or breakdancing
Rally b-boying, freestyle or streetdancin'
Two: MC'ing or rap
Divine speech what I'm doing right now no act
Three: Grafitti art or burning bombin'
Taggin', writin', now you're learning! uh!
Four : DJ'ing, we ain't playing!
{*scratch* You know what I'm saying!
Five : Beatboxing
Give me a {*beatboxin* Yes and we rockin'!
Six: Street fashion, lookin' fly
Catchin' the eye while them cats walk on by
Seven: Street language, our verbal communication
Our codes throughout the nation
Eight: Street knowledge, common sense
The wisdom of the elders from way back whence
Nine : Street entrepreneur realism
No job, just get up call 'em and get 'em
Here's how I'm tellin' it, all 9 Elements
We stand in love, no we're never failing it
Intelligent? No doubt
Hip-Hop? We're not selling it out, we're just lettin' it out
If you're checkin' us out this hour, we teatchin' hip-hop
Holy integrated people have it, I'm the present power!
[Chorus]
Rap is something you do!
3x Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
Rap is something you do!
Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
[Kris]
Skaters, BMX-bike riders rock


Don't you ever stop! You are hip-hop 
You doing the same things we did on our block in the suburbs
You know you be packing that black block
Selling that crackrock and ecstacy
Gettin' pissydrunk, fallin' out next to me
But like I told those in the ghettoes
Here's the facts! True hip-hop is so much more than that
Some much more than rap, so much more than beats
Hip-hop is all about victory over the streets
What you see on TV is a lie
That's not something you wanna live or pattern your life by
But, huh that's too much preachin' ain't it?
You don't want the education?, you wanna be dead on the pavement
Well, so be it, some of ya'll ain't gonna see it
Others wanna enslave your mind! Kris wanna free it!
[Chorus]
Rap is something you do!
5x Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
"Oh yea" *scratched* --- From "P is dead"
"I have spent my whole life livin'", "talk to the fullest", "no doubt"
[Kris]
You know that's why these rappers can't hang
Cause the essence of hip-hop is not a material thang
They so careless, hip-hop is in a? we give
Rap we do, hip-hop we live
How many times I gotta say it? How the radio ain't gonna play it
And you hip-hoppers sit back and okay it
Think about it! (think about it)
The present course of action, we have got to reroute it!
[Chorus: repeat 3X]
Hip-Hop is something you live!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmdfrNB0ae4

February 2, 2009

The Beginning

A lot of people around the world are very familiar with hip-hop/rap. Even citizens of the most underdeveloped parts of the world have heard about hip-hop/rap and they consider themselves fans of hip-hop/rap. Hip-hop/rap has travelled a long journey from its early days to contemporary society.

Hip-hop has experienced lots of changes along the way ranging from serious to benign. Compared to its early days, Hip-hop/Rap can now boast of a vast amount of audience that stretch for miles outside the United States, where it was born. The genre has also gained more respect over the years than in its beginnings especially among common folk. Not that everyone now admires the genre, I am saying its becoming more acceptable. Also, there is a growing number of participants in the music - underground, mainstream, or for fun (freestyle). Hip-hop has always been a fashion statement and now it is its own industry that commands millions of dollars annually, thus creating jobs/careers for many through the production of the music, video directors, talent hunt, etc. In addition, hip-hop has experienced collaborations with other genres, especially rock and country. Hip-hop has introduced a new form of language to the world. Considering these changes and much more, Hip-hop can be thought of as a planet within the universe of music. Specifically, hip-hop has conceived a whole new culture of arts, language, and much more.

As exciting as these changes sound, I find one aspect of hip-hop really interesting. And I think it is a reoccurring issue within this “planet.? Image! Image! Image! Image! The way hip-hop views itself today compared to the earlier days can be judged by the types of songs that were created back in the days and the types of songs that we are hearing today. These songs directly and/or indirectly represent hip-hop’s mission statement. Mission statement referring to the core of hip-hop, the reason it was created. Why did the creators of hip-hop/rap feel the need to create this genre? Did they view it as a means of income? Vehicle of expression? Just for fun? A sense of community or belongingness? A form of fighting back societal injustice? Whatever the reason (s), the question is what has happened to the mission statement that introduced the genre about 30 years ago? Has it changed? Has it being tweaked to fit purposes? Is it effortlessly evolving into something else? Has it been ignored and replaced? What exactly is it? This is not an exhaustive list, as there are more debatable questions. And there isn’t one answer to all these questions. And it is not this blog’s mission to explore that realm.

As a matter of fact, this blog will be more fun! This blog will first focus on the early, early days of Hip-hop examining the first hip-hop songs to be produced. Then focus will shift towards contemporary hip-hop/rap and the types of songs being produced today. Basically, this blog will journey through hip-hop’s timeline from the beginning to now using one or two songs from every five years and discuss it. These songs will give us an idea of what hip-hop’s goal(s) were and how those goals have changed (if at all).

Music videos will also be discussed because they carry images that have opened doors of criticism to hip-hop. Sexual, gender, and ethnical representations are made by these music videos.