The relentless booty shake of hollow bling

“It’s like Public Enemy and N.W.A were warring for the heart of the hip-hop nation, and a gentrified version of N.W.A won out. The blingy version.” — Audioslave’s Tom Morello

I don’t know about the rest of you d-bags, but that sounds to me like the history of hip-hop in a nutshell. Nullus.

Recently a fellow named Gil Kaufman, at that noted bastion of protest art MTV, did a story about how today’s music doesn’t seem as political as the music that was coming out in the ’60s and ’70s. Back during the Vietnam war you had guys like Jimi Hendrix putting out “All Along the Watchtower” and Credence doing “Fortunate Son.” These days all you’ve got is albums by Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, and they don’t count because they’re old.

Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave (which is an anagram of Adios Value), is quoted in the article and makes it a point to single out hip-hop, stating, “You listen to [Public Enemy's] ‘Fight the Power’ and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and you can hear America changing. Now it’s just the relentless booty shake of hollow bling. There’s not yet a soundtrack like in the ’60s, when the music of the time was the music of revolution.”

And I’d to have to agree. Turn on the radio these days and what are you more likely to hear, a song about the war in Iraq or “Ms. New Booty?” Of course that didn’t stop a couple of my fellow bloggers from taking issue with Morello’s comments. My baby’s mother Tara Henley went through and put together a list of songs that mention George Bush, got damnit!, while my go-to guy for pointless minutiae Noz did some kind of thing where he pretends to not like Rage Against the Machine.

Riiight.

That said, I can understand wanting to come to the defense of hip-hop. To their credit, I’m sure many of today’s rappers would make some erudite political statement except that they’re functional illiterates. You think Juvenile was really that concerned with offending people after he lost it all in Hurricane Katrina? Nope, it’s just that he’s an idiot. Hence, “Everybody need a check from FEMA, so he can go score himself some coca-ina.”

  • MosBang

    first?

  • http://xxlmag.com exo

    “I’m sure many of today’s rappers would make some erudite political statement except that they’re functional illiterates.”

    That about sums it up.

    And I’m pretty sure that “Watchtower” was originally a Dylan tune. (I know some pointless minutiae myself, dammint.)

  • Neil McCauley

    we need new rappers with new ideas. hip-hop is not dead, but it’s on life support. what ever happened to Zach De La Rocha’s rap album?

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    ^Yeah, but Hendrix’s version is the one that’s considered the Vietnam anthem.

    These days even Dylan himself plays the Hendrix version.

    His original is roughly the equivalent of the album version of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”

  • Scorpio

    How much does your website and the magazine that operates it have to do with that? I saw Mos Def at USC and he did his song about Iraq. But oh yeah, you all are more concerned with who started the “lean wit it, rock wit it” dance. You are by no means in a position to have issues with hip-hop society when you have a voice to exact change and not just bitch. dead prez, Mos Def, Talib, Common and Kanye all speak on political issues, but do they get features or interviews to discuss that. Oh no, we have you telling us about the next bullshit beef between two sensitive ass ho like rappers or groups. Are YOU really in a position to condemn US? I didn’t think so. Also, during the 70s they had gangsta music and silly shit like “Disco Duck” (a #1 song, by the way). Don’t pay attention to what you want, forget what you don’t and then discuss it like you are informed.

  • DocZeus

    I agree exactly with Morello. Anybody who still says that hip hop is political has their head in their ass. If you can only name ten songs that criticize the Bush adminstration in era that has now surpassed the fucking Gilded Age as the most corrupt era in American History(by far!!!) is not acceptable.

  • Danja29

    But in fairness, it ain’t like PE was takin’ anyone’s valuable radio time either back then. Surely, more relevant and revolutionary artists like Hammer and Wreckx N Effect[1] were gettin’ more spins than “Fight The Power” was.

    1- [sarcasm, of course]

  • Mrs Damian Marley

    I’m new to this site and I see a lot of hate directed towards you I am a 28 year old female from the south and I respect you more with each entry

  • Mrs Damian Marley

    But even though I respect your opinion I would disagree, different type of music is being made but only the shake, bling and beef is getting air and BET play, oh yeah and magazine coverage

  • I Fux

    shit Coca-ina just saying that word in ryhme adds some legitamcy to your lyricism these days, well i went to see Mobb Deep live last night and it was somewhat disapointing not because they are wack but because like in ’95 when i was like 14 or so they would never leave my discman and now they just bring back the nostalgia of those times along with wu-tang and biggie or tupac whenever i listen to there albums from that time, nullus. So at the concert they did most of blood money in between songs from older albums and it would break the show up because i didnt see anyone who knew these new songs from Blood Money, the set would go something like Eye for an Eye,Hell on Earth and then some random song from Blood Money
    whatever its over for mid nineties hip-hop artist as far as having any relevance, maybe NaS can come out with something decent but i am not holding my breath cuz in doing so i would kill David Blaine’s effort, I guess good times is all I am left with when I see my Ipod’s favorites playlist and I see: NAS the world is yours, Raekwon verbal intercourse,Wutang protect ya neck, ODB Brooklyn Zoo, OUtkast player’s ball, Mobb Deep survival of the fittest, Ghostface wildflower, Biggie’s who shot ya, tupac keep ya head up, keith murray the most beatiful thing…. well i can go on and on

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?cat=29 noz

    where did i say that i didn’t like rage against the machine?

  • rec

    I think were headed for “beating a dead horse” territory with this. We know it sucks, the kids don’t care. So, where do we go from hear?

  • suckitmarshall

    Obie Trice’s “Snitch” was a political statement, whether or not you agree with it, condemning cooperation with police and MTV shut that down…I wonder if they woulda pulled it from the playlist if it was Em’s lead single….

  • Belize

    Listen to:
    - Lil wayne Georgia…Bush
    - Ice Cube: Child Support
    - DJ Green Lantern feat. dead prez, Saigon, Immortal Technique & Just Blaze: Impeach The President
    -Wyclef Jean: If I was President

    And theres a lot more but instead of blamin rappers. blame the radio for not promoting good/real music…fuk what u expect them to do, they gotta make money…

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >How much does your website and the magazine that operates it have to do with that?

    Ethered.

    No but really, I have my own site where I cover all kinds of shit.

    You might have a point about XXL, except that I’m sure the asinine nature of their content is on purpose, to reach a certain demographic.

    >where did i say that i didn’t like rage against the machine?

    You didn’t say exactly that verbatim, but I got that impression. My bad.

  • The ON1E

    Bol needs to step his blogger game up

  • youngdelta

    big ups to scorpio and danja29! they actually brought some intellectual light to this dark column!

  • http://rjyan.com goodwillsidis

    Bol, it’s time to put out your own magazine. Seriously– you obviously could do it if you tried. & I’m not being sarcastic at all here.

    Start budget, don’t give a fuck what it looks like at first- hell, staple that shit at Kinkos if it’s the easiest way to get it done. I have NO doubt that after an issue or two you would have your pick of companies trying to get all viral and pay $$$ for ads in your piece.

    You KNOW the culture needs a periodical with an editor who isn’t afraid of what’s outside the box. You’ve got lots of fans already– take it to the next level, seriously.

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    Bol, it’s time to put out your own magazine.

    http://www.byroncrawford.com/

  • P-Matik

    >“You listen to [Public Enemy’s] ‘Fight the Power’ and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and you can hear America changing.”

    Man, as much as they tried, America didn’t change one bit from PE’s music. Most those white kids that were making up their audiences back then probably all voted for Bush in the last election.

    And here’s something to think about…
    Russell Simmons didn’t even want to sign PE. It was Rick Rubin that did it.

    That’s one reason why Chuck calls him “Hustle” Simmons now.

  • mathew

    i think Wayne’s Georgia Bush was brilliant…

  • JES SAI’N

    IT’S NOT THE ARTIST, IT’S NOT THE RADIO STATIONS, AND IT’S NOT THE “MACHINE” THAT EVERYONE SO OFTEN CRITICIZES… IF YOU WANT TO KEEP IT FUNKY, ITS THE AUDIENCE THAT CHOOSES THE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT’S POPULAR… THE MUSIC ONLY DEFINES-OR-PROVIDES INSIGHT TO THE MINDSET OF THE POPULATION THAT LISTENS… WHEN THE PEOPLE ARE READY, THAT’S WHEN A DIFFERENCE WILL OCCUR… A **REAL** CHANGE WILL NEVER BE PUSHED BY A FAD DRIVEN “HIT” SONG OR FOLLOW A TREND OF “POLITICAL” FASHION… MOVEMENTS(?) ARE BROUGHT OUT USUALLY BY GREAT ILLS… ie “FIGHT THE POWER”(1989) WAS POST THE REAGAN ERA AND DURING DUB-YA’S FATHER STAND IN PRESIDENCY(GEORGE BUSH-jes sai’n). CREDENCE AND HENDRIX WERE DOING THEIR SONGS DURING-WELL YOU KNOW… SO IN THESE DRAMATIC TIMES YOU JUST MAY BEGIN TO HEAR MORE POLITICAL SONGS… BUT WITH FEW BUDDAH STASHERS THAN HENDRIX HAD AND MORE WOMEN DANCERS THAN PUBLIC ENEMY…

  • Tray

    Being a rich white Republican/fan of hip-hop, I can’t really complain about the depoliticized state of the music today… of course, that doesn’t mean I’m crazy about ms. new booty either. Generally speaking though, protest music was only commercially viable during the vietnam era, back in the days when kida actually got drafted and died fighting in a more or less pointless war. Today there are no issues that kids (who are the ones who buy music) care about nearly as much- sure, people die in Iraq, but not that many and they’re all volunteers from low-income families- so protest music just won’t sell.

  • http://www.unkut.com Robbie

    Most of the so-called “revolutionary” rappers out now like dead prez and Emo Technique don’t seem to say anything much beyond a few tired catch phrases and name-dropping Che. Plus they have horrible beats. Boots Riley is about the only dude who can be on-point, funny and subversive at the same time.

  • http://xxlmag.com exo

    1. “These days even Dylan himself plays the Hendrix version.”

    Yes. I’m familiar with this minutiae, as well(a).

    2. “How much does your website and the magazine that operates it have to do with that?”

    and. . .

    “You might have a point about XXL, except that I’m sure the asinine nature of their content is on purpose, to reach a certain demographic.”

    Yeah. You can’t win for losing around this batch.

    3. A belated LOL @ “Adios Value.”

    ——-

    (a) This would be where I draw a parallel to We Got It For Cheap Vol. 2, but I’ve already brought it up once this week, and that’s my limit.

  • http://www.trendsettazinc.com DJ Main Event

    how about everyone start supporting different videos? shit, power of the people. if yo dont like it then im sure theres other shit to do. read a book, if people do that anymore.

    http://www.myspace.com/djmainevent

  • DJ MAIN EVENT

    even tho i don’t read myself…

  • WTF MAN

    Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor has been pushed back from its June 27 release date

  • Gerald

    >Bol needs to step his blogger game up

    Lol, I find it hilarious that every post, one disgruntled reader who doesn’t like what Bol is saying comes on here and tells him to “step his game up.”

    Regarding the actual content of this post, I concur. Rap has slipped since the 80′s and 90′s no doubt. Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer used to catch hell from rap fans for being corny and pop. But, by the standards of today’s rap, both should be winning grammys.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if hip-hop was some Jew conspiracy to keep black kids illiterate, poor, killing each other (through this “stop snitching bullshit”), robbing each other, degrade black women. If not, then it’s just another example of how we’re fucking it up for ourselves. Whether or not you want to believe it, it’s the truth.

  • I Am A Hater

    Bol, keep doing what you’re doing.

  • PMulls

    # mathew Says:
    May 25th, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    i think Wayne’s Georgia Bush was brilliant…

    Anyone who refers to anything by Lil Wayne as “brilliant” needs their head checked.

  • http://www.fotolog.com/wastoids Motelsicks

    re: eminem’s mosh
    you gotta admit that this track is on point..

  • http://www.myspace.com/xadam22 Adam22

    anyone who doesn’t like lil wayne needs to start reporting their visits to transexual hookers on their taxes. audits are a bitch, mang.

  • hahaha

    even if you listen to supposed political guys like mr lif or the coup, their new stuff is pretty weak on the political tip cos theyre either ashamed of looking too militant so water it down and say they dont want to be regarded as political anymore cos theyre pussies and think they might be in with a chance of selling more than 1000 copies, or their stuff is just limp dicked like the coups album. the current generation of political rappers doesnt even want to be political or they try and say that talking about asinine shit is political. theyre bitchmade, in case you didnt know.

  • http://www.trendsettazinc.com DJ Main Event

    to the person saying: “even though I don’t read myself”
    how would you know this? do you make a habit of following me around?

  • prodigynius

    rap is dead, not hip hop. when i think of rap, i think of the D4L’s and DFB’s of the genre. when i think of hip hop, i think of kweli, commonsense ( i refuse to refer to him as common because he is anything but), sometimes Kanye, imm. tech. dead prez, akir, and shit like that. I’m embarrassed to tell people that i listen to rap now a days cuz i have to explain to them that i listen to hip hop, not mysognistic, watered down garbage.big up to kanye though cuz he has been doin his part to bring common, talib, mos def, etc… into the mainstream limelight

  • hahaha

    dont you mean hip hop is dead, but rap isnt? its all rap anyway, all that ‘hip hop vs rap’ shit got boring in the 90s. run dmc was rap.

  • PMulls

    Anyone who likes Lil’ Wayne needs to quit riding their bikes around Brooklyn to hook up with their transsexual hookers.

    For real, that guy is a Cash Money loser who needs to quit rapping and start collecting welfare.

  • thoreauly77

    i would recommend checking out mr. lif’s “emergency rations”, cage’s “hell’s winter”, and the new coup record for some relevant political content. i would also recommend tom morello to shut the fuck up because if he is such a revolutionary why is he charging 30 dollars for a t-shirt at his show that costs 70 dollars and is sponsored by budweiser or sprite. i guess the revolution starts in his pocket? c’mon yo.

  • xris

    I will not fight all those that say hip hop has become crap.. its not just hip hop, its country,its rock, bluegrass, its everythin..I am a great rock and country fan.. there aint no politics either…. but that does not make music crap.. country and rock still sound good and better than ever… rap only got whorsth..I miss tupac..he could have said somethin. it not the singers, its the listeners.. the musicians give them what they want.. no one watches cnn these days we all watch celebrity channels. the whole tv stations is filled with celebrity talk too.

  • goodwillsidis

    nah, Bol– you need to make a magazine that I can buy at the supermarket.
    You know this, quit playing.

  • jonjon–23

    I believe rap just reflects where Blacks are as a people. Many (not all) are ignorant, illiterate, lustful, degenerates–and proud to be. It’s amazing to me how a lot of these songs out now can be hits given the lyrical composition. Blacks have been in this country since slavery times and we have been surpassed by Mexicans, Arabs, Chinese and other immigrants because we are not driven, don’t stick together and look up to foul ignorant things. Rap just reflects this.

  • class of fitness

    ok, MC HAMMER did talk about a few things in his music.

    1. pray

    2. help the children

    3. black is black

    4. crime stories

    all those song came from his second album that sold 10 millions copies, in 1990?