Here to stay like Stairway

[Note: Reading through this, it does sound extra backpacker-ish. My bad. It's all true though. Mark my word.]

Back in like 1980, when some rock stations begain playing songs like “Stairway to Heaven” and “More than a Feeling” on a constant loop, I doubt very many dudes realized they would be listening to the exact same songs everyday for the the rest of their lives. Fairly recently (like when I was in college) the cut off point for what’s considered classic rock was extended out to about 1986, to include crap like the solo work of Don Henley from the Eagles, and a lot of shit by the Police. But otherwise this has pretty much been the case.

I wonder if hip-hop fans today aren’t finding themselves in a similar situation. For most of our lives, hip-hop has gone through a bunch of different fazes – political rap, jazz rap, gangsta rap, rap rock, and what have you – but I wonder if that’s not all more or less done with. I’m pretty sure that when I’m 40 years old or whatever, I’ll turn on the radio and hear some sort of variation of what I’ve taken to calling lowest common denominator rap. It might be crunk, or trap hop, or hyphy, or reggaeton, but whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be some style of regional hip-hop performed entirely on synthesizer.

I mean, the tempo could very, but otherwise we pretty much know what to expect. The lyrics, such as they are, will deal with either dealing drugs or taking drugs – possibly both. But of course the main aesthetic priority will have to do with something, anything other than deft lyricism – not so much because there’s any real virtue in chanting shit over and over, but because rapping itself is quickly becoming a lost art on the order of, I don’t know, Native American basket weaving or some shit. Sampling will still be an option, technically, but no one will bother because it costs too much money.

In other words, the shit won’t sound especially different than the shit they play on the radio today.

But I doubt this will be the exact same shit they play on the radio today. Because hip-hop is a primarily black art form, there never has been as much of an emphasis on any kind of cultural preservation of its music. What’s new today is considered old school as soon as a few years from now. By the time something’s any more than 10 years old, it’s more or less entirely disposed of in a commercial sense. Now that the music itself has become that much more disposable, I can’t imagine that this won’t continue to be the case.

The great thing about classic rock is that those same 100 songs or whatever that you hear over and over again really are the greatest songs of their type, evar. In that sense, it appeals to basically anyone who would be listening to the radio – the lowest common denominator, if you will. The problem with this shit that’s beginning to become the standard in hip-hop is that so much of it just isn’t any good. If classic rock stations were to start playing shit like Air Supply[1] over and over again, people would probably call the station and complain, and rightfully so.

If hip-hop fans tried any shit like that, they’d probably be branded haters.

[1] I enjoy some Air Supply (seriously); I’m just using them as an example.

  • DocZeus

    Co-fucking sign. This is the exact reason a classic rap station would never work.

  • rec

    Keep speaking that gospel.

  • Che

    haha, bol, I pity you, look at this garbage, retreating from any controvertial conversation as a result of the backlash from your recent posts? you little bitch.

  • GIVEITUPCHE

    Why don’t you suck his dick already and get it overwith? You here every fuckin day with this nonsense . Move the fuck on.

  • Gerald

    Hey Che, why don’t you shut the fuck up and pick some strawberries for me? I don’t like to use the word hater, just because it’s what the uneducated tend to say(**cough, cough, rap fans, *cough cough*), but that’s what you are. I mean, did you even read the fucking post!? Sure Bol hates on the South major time, but do two wrongs make a right?

  • 50 Cent

    Hey guys, go buy my new cd when it comes out “blow jobs and smoking crack”

  • http://www.funkdigital.com/blog funkdigital

    I was in a nursing home a few year back. A band was playing what they deemed oldies. A little background-it was a mostly white/jewish nursing home and my grandmother was a resident. As we chilled in the shade the band went through a shitload of crooners-from Frankie Valli, Tony Bennett and Ole’ Blue Eyes. My granny clapped her hands to the music as if she had these songs in her personal collection. There was some Chuck Berry in there and of course Elvis. In the lobby there this display of familiar items from the old folks long lives like tubes of toothpaste, food products, magazines of the time etc.

    It occurred to me that none of the classic hip-hop shit will even matter at some point. All the shit that gets stored up in your dome will fade away anyway. As far as Classic hip-hop goes, whatever white folks deem classic hip-hop WILL BE classic hip-hop if there ever is such a channel. All the booty shaking shit will be in there and Snoop will be the ole’ Blue Eyes of our times. His tracks are accessible and easy to sing along to. I guarantee it.

    Think about it. Imagine your old 60 someting ass sitting in your study reading and you hear “Rolling down the street, smoking Indo…”

  • http://www.myspace.com/geoffdilkes G Off

    I bet a classic rap station could work right now… there is so much music to tap into, and since things do become dated very quickly, you would always have new “old school” music to add to the playlist. Hard Knock Life by Jay-Z is 8 years old, but do you ever hear it on your local hip hop station? Probably not. Would people enjoy hearing it? Most likely. You could dedicate certain time slots to different era’s and play classic album tracks that were never singles.

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >Would people enjoy hearing it? Most likely.

    That I’m not so sure of – especially the kids.

  • http://www.myspace.com/geoffdilkes G Off

    True, but since most fans that listened to rap when Biggie was alive think that “hip-hop is dead” and all the new variations suck (which is mostly true), don’t you think it would be catering to an underserved demographic? Let the kids have 106 and Park and the Top 8 at 8 rap radio stations, and let adults have their favorites from the past.

    I think it would strengthen the culture because it would allow the greats of the past an opportunity to have their classic music heard, and it would promote better music in the present because more young people would be exposed to music that they have only read about and not experienced on their own.

    *steps down off of soapbox*

  • Doc Flav

    Rolling Stone & Spin Magazine Are That A Way!

  • k. from around the way

    I’m 29 years old and I feel fortunate that I was exposed to hip-hop music from the late 80′s-early 90′s, when it was still a subculture…I would definately listen to a radio station that played music from that era.

    It would be an even interesting idea to have a time slot that played rap songs with samples as well as the original song that it was sampled from…(i.e. Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?”/David Porter”The Masquerade is over”…Brand Nubian’s “Sunshine”/Roy Ayers’s “Everybody loves the Sunshine”…you get the point.
    -that my 2 cents-
    rip-Proof
    rip-J.Dilla

  • Doc Flav

    Originally My Post Included

  • the truth

    KDAY is already doing it. move to L.A.

  • http://poplicks.com O.W.

    Byron,

    Actually, KDAY FM in L.A. is already playing around with a “classic hip-hop” format (though they still play new shit too). I’m not sure on how their ratings are but it’s an interesting experiment into how receptive audiences will be.

    I think you make some interesting points here but I’m not sure if a “classic rap station”, say, 10 years in the future would be as bleak as you predict. For one thing, that whole synthesizer era really doesn’t crop up in a major way until the late ’90s. A classic rap station programming, let’s say in 2010, is going to be trying to reach people like me in our late 30s through our 40s. They’d probably get a lot further with some Run DMC, LL Cool J, Native Tongues and Chronic-era Dre and Snoop than all Swizz Beatz and Mannie Fresh.

    We’ll see soon enough though.

  • sirius

    I’m in my 30′s and last night, at a new york lounge they played some version of Biggie’s ‘Give Me One More Chance’ with horns and saxaphones in it. Trust me, in ten years they’ll be jazzy instrumentals of our greatest hits and we’ll own CD 101.9 fm.

  • http://www.unkut.com Robbie

    It seems like the general standard of “popular” music used to be better in the 60s and 70s, plus there is so much music being released these days that not many people can agree upon what’s classic. While one herb might brand “The Minstrel Show” as the greatest thing since sliced bread, another crab might consider that Twista is “hot”, and if you used the charts as a guage we’d be hearing Chingy and the Yin Yang Twins in 20 years from now…so it would never work.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/geoffdilkes G Off

    That’s a pretty negative outlook on the concept Robbie… you don’t think that people could create a format that was smarter than playing bullshit club songs? Obviously eveyone doesn’t agree on what is “classic” (plenty of people hate “Hotel California” and “Stairway to Heaven”, but love other music that is played on those stations).

  • Doc Flav

    Next Time You Edit My Posts Please At Least Make Sure Whats Left Makes Sense. Lol

  • Eugene

    Even a classic hip hop station would have to play bullshit, and at some point would end up just playing what’s “pop.” It would probably start off great, and then we’d hear A Tribe Called Quest once a month, and the Ying Yang Twinz “Whistle While You Twerk” like six times a day. Unless they go the small town classic rock station route that play AC/DC all day, and a Hendrix song every now and again cause those are the stations that I try to listen to. That to me means Wu Tang all day every day.

    btw
    I hate the Eagles, worst music ever made.

  • Hurricane Game

    Bol Says;
    when I’m 40 years old.
    Thats not too far away is it. You’ll be the real 40 Year old virgin