“They Should’ve Never Gave You Niggas Corporate Cards”
I disappointedly watched some brainwashed Uncle Tom 80’s Babies in my posts blame their own generation for ruining Hip Hop. They truly believed that because the music now is arguably worse than ever (1997 anyone?), that’s its totally our fault. But us “crack babies” are only a product of our environment and upbringing. Yeah it’s all about the soundscan, sales and BDS now but who put this mentality in the 80’s Babies minds? Rap has been on a steady decline for 9 years now and I believe The Tunnel Generation (Puff, Irv, Jay, Dame, Stoute, Suge even Nas, etc) set that precedent. Their entrepreneurial spirit has single-handedly been a giant double-edged sword for the Hip Hop culture.
“I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars…They criticize me for it but they all yell ‘Holla’…if skills sold truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli….truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense…but I sold 5 Mil….I haven’t been rhyming like Common Since!”-A ’69 Baby (no homo)
“Don’t worry if I write rhymes…I write checks!” –A 70’s Baby
Don’t get it twisted. The music The Tunnel Generation released while they were still hungry was undisputedly dope. Ready To Die, Reasonable Doubt, Illmatic, Life After Death, Pain Is Love It Was Written, Its Dark And Hell Is Hot plus a plethora of classic singles and collaborations were all timeless pieces of work. They were eager to prove themselves as bosses and executives like Lyor, Russell, Kevin Liles, Jimmy Iovine, Donnie Ienner and Clive Davis gave them a shot to succeed. Never before in rap did a group of new Hip Hop businessmen takeover the rap industry like that. Then by eliminating the old schoolers who had their foots on the 70’s Babies necks, the Tunnel Gen was able to get funding and start releasing artists themselves. No more did they have to answer to people who tried to hold them back; it was a beautiful thing. But it’s when the corporate cards came that all the problems started.
When The Tunnel Generation started up their own labels, they totally abandoned “real’” rap and proceeded to sell out the Hip Hop culture left and right. Roc-a-fella put a bunch of artists who were pretty much Jay and Dame’s “mans and em”, cleverly packed under the crystal lifestyle smoke and mirrors. With the exception of Beanie Sigel (they’re not getting credit for Kanye), the Roc never put out any credible artists. It was always the production mixed with the Jay mystique that carried that whole movement. None of the other artists stood the test of time or can even be used in the same sentence as the word ‘progressive’.
Irv Gotti jumped out the window completely when he started Murder Inc. The man who produced my favorite Jay-Z record ever and Ja Rule made a brand new chamber of falsetto love rap. It’s not like Mr. Lorenzo didn’t know real rap when he saw it (DMX, Jay-Z), he just understood how much he could make selling out crossing over. Whether that meant doing ecstasy-ish videos with tons of white girls, love songs about crying or getting his Danny Zuko on with Ashanti Newton-John, Irv was not going to leave a dollar on the table. I’m not even going to get into the rest of the roster: Black Child, Blackchild, the guy from the Outlawz, Vita, etc.Gotti milked Hip Hop for every dollar and left it high and dry.
They helped further institute the “sales and spins before quality” mentality into the impressionable minds of 80’s Babies everywhere. Kids in high school wanted to be the next Damon Dash instead of the next Rakim. And can you really blame them? That’s where the money is! Heck, I cannot lie; part of my entrepreneurial drive is due to the inspiration given to me by The Tunnel Generation. But all this money didn’t do anything for the advancement of Hip Hop music as a whole. If anything, it set the bar very low for us 80’s Babies. Plus the entrepreneurial spirit can inspire in other ways; ask 50 Cent.
“Niggas keep talking about me…keep calling me crazy…fuck them old school niggas…they stuck in the 80’s!” -Fif
“The kid keep a snub wit ’em, good pair of gloves wit ’em
Your first week ain’t right, they can’t fuck wit ’em
Now if you don’t sell 5 mill, they had enough of ’em
Let me find out Hip Hop’s turnin’ Republican” –An 80’s Baby
Long story short, 80’s Babies have a tough task at hand: cleaning up the mess the 70’s Baby Executives made between 1999 and 2004. So while you grumpy old men are living in the past hugging your De La Soul Is Dead cassettes, we 80’s Babies have to look to the future and rebuild this Hip Hop shit. Most of the real 80’s infants are waiting for their shot still in High School, college (Wayne ‘82!) or now getting their first real chance at stardom (Lupe ’82!). We got the King Of The South (T.I.P. ’80!), the worlds best basketball players (Wade ’82 and Lebron ‘84!), both of the baddestchicks in the game wearing the Roc chain and America’s next top mogul (Sick ’84!) on our team. Our future is looking bright and we have at least 8 more years to clean up these old schoolers mess. So sit back and watch us do us (pause!)…See you at the 80’s vs 70’s charity B-Ball game!
*Quote credit to my man Al Branch. He said it one night while we were out in Houston’s