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The First Annual XXL Mag Dot Com True School Awards…

The big argument that several people have given me over at DP Dot Com is that VH-1’s Hip-Hop Honors doesn’t do enough for the pioneers of Hip-Hop. I can’t totally disagree with them either, but I don’t have a problem with the programming or the concept. In over thirty years of artistic creativity Hip-Hop has delivered more than just music to our lives. As an artistic, and I would argue social movement, Hip-Hop has framed our tastes, our values, our aspirations and our dreams.

It’s not possible to ever honor all the people that have made it possible, but we here at XXL (read: me, BXS) believe that there are some that have been truly and undeniably influential and waiting for the mainstream media to recognize their contributions just wouldn’t be Hip-Hop of us. So let’s give thanks to these artists for keeping their shit Hip-Hop…

Too Short
Too Short is the father to the West coast lifestyle that evolved into the profitable pimp rap. In my opinion Short Dog’s bigger contribution was his model for marketing and distributing his music. Short literally sold his tapes from the back of his car trunk as he attended some of the most popular events in the bay area. Short showed the Tall Israelis how to work a street team and how to promote a product directly to a base consumer. Too Short was also the quintessential representative for the Oakland rap scene. Many people here love Tupac to death but they don’t credit Short Dog’s influence on his artistry.

TATS is a collective of graffiti artists from New York City who continue the city’s century old tradition of painted mural advertisements. TATS paints murals for record companies to publishing companies to television networks. Some might say that the commercial application of graffiti is one of the first signs of the apocalypse, but I argue that by creating a lane for graphic artists to monetize their talents TATS Cru is keeping Hip-Hop alive.

How many artists from the MidWest/South owe ‘Face for the lane he opened? The one thing I can say about rap artists outside of New York City/Los Angeles/Atlanta is that they had to have the ability to do more than just rhyme to make it to the light. These folks had to be especially media savvy and particularly business oriented to come up in the game. ScarFace was also talented as an artist who could create a portrait of the lifestyle of someone who crosses the law. How it is fraught with anxiety and depression. How the trap is named such because everyone inside of the lifestyle is just that – trapped.

Bob James
If you haven’t bought the collection of Bob James greatest hits then you aren’t Hip-Hop and you should prah’lee hang yourself from a tree in Louisiana. James’ classic song ‘Nautilus’ contains no less than one million breakbeats in the entire seven minute version.

Big Lez
I need to give props to this chick because she was the premiere dancer and choreographer for about a hundred videos back in the day. How funny would it be if Leslie was also a lesbian. Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good.

These niggas deserve an award just for bringing us Redman and beef curry Keith Murray. What more do I need to say about their production prowess? EPMD was all about hardcore unflinching boom bap rap music. Nevermind that E Double might have been taking business from the backdoor. That doesn’t stop rappers from being popular anymore. Nor should it. Redman wrote all of his best rhymes anyhoo.

So there’s the short list of XXL True Schoolers. Who did I miss?

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