The Year That Hip-Hop Died…
One of the most popular things to do in Hip-Hop is to pour some liquor onto the ground for all of your friends that have died, or gone to jail, or gotten married. This is the equivalent of being mature in rap music by putting your good wine on the pavement. Paying bills and raising children… Not so much. There was one year that we poured out more booze than usual. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we should have been pouring out the entire bottle instead of just a sip. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty I suppose and now that we know what the real deal is I can tell you that 1999 is the year that Hip-Hop died.
First, let’s take a look at all the rappers that were killed that year.
Big L – Arguably the best rapper evar from New York City. Big L could freestyle with the best and his storytelling skills were unmatched by anyone in the game.
Bugz – A founding member of D-12 and one of the best rappers to battle his way through the St. Andrew’s circuit in Detroit.
Freaky Tah – Lost Boyz designated weedcarrier.
Luis ‘Papo’ Deschamps – From the group Sandy & Papo. Them dudes were huge in Miami. Ask Joey Crack.
MC Ant – I don’t know this dude but he managed to get shot up.
Malcolm Howard – 4 Black Faces? Make that 3 Black Faces now.
How many other art forms other than performance art suicide claim as many lives as rap music does? And with all of this bloodshed going on back and forth the death of Hip-Hop was ever so silent and subtle.
The energy and the essence of Hip-Hop has reached an apex and record companies have been making money hand over fist. Music videos have encouraged the sale of CD’s as these rap artists are televised in all of American cultures greatest status symbols from expensive European automobiles to multi-million dollar mansions. At this point the music video is the perfect complementary format to the CD and B.E.T. holds the cache for Hip-Hop and African American viewership. The eyeballs that tune in to B.E.T. are worth billions of dollars. They set trends and they spend their income like there is no tomorrow. Viacom wants this prize plum of a network for all of their advertisers that want to break into the African American wallets.
The overtures were made to B.E.T. founder Bob Johnson way back in 1999. All he had to do was show the loyalty of Black eyeballs in a big way. Bob Johnson did his thing with pop friendly music hosts in the afternoons and raunchy music videos played during after hours. Black Entertainment Television became a misnomer. It was white people that were being entertained more than even Blacks. B.E.T. broadcasted the urban safari that supposedly existed in the center cities of America. All of the teenagers were busy impersonating grimey savages and all the women were comely and promiscuous. This was 1999.
The viewership of B.E.T. was so powerful that Viacom still purchased the network in 2002 even though the national economy was still reeling from September 11, 2001. While the rest of the country was hunkering down and not using it’s income for luxury and non-essential items the Hip-Hop community was buying exotic cars and clothing. They were still spending their money as though they had never heard of the dot com recession or the World Trade Center disaster. The same people too cheap now to buy a CD were making Bob Johnson and his bosses billionaires.
Hip-Hop was killed back in 1999 and the rest of us have been partying with a dead body in the room something like that movie ‘Weekend At Bernies’. So pour a little liquor out on the ground the next time you listen to the dope ass CD’s by Redman or Devin. Keep in mind that you can’t have a funeral without starting it off with some fun.