The rapper said his new album represents the ‘broadening’ of hip-hop’s audience — one that demands evolution rather than reworking of old beats and rhymes.” -Common, CNN via BallerStatus.net
I fucks with Common. For realsies, I do. There had even been a point in time during which I kinda wanted to be Common.
[Blogger's Note: This was definitely before LWFC and the devastating effects of Baduism. Electric Circus? Really?]
In the Mexico household, Lonnie R. Lynn had always been a beacon of sensibility amidst raucous West Coast gangsta rap and the hardcore influence of say, an Onyx. The score to a typical afternoon in Ricky and Ronnie’s room in 1994 would sound something like “Gin and Orange Pineapple Juice.”
Two years later it would actually be just The Score, but that’s another column altogether.
Ironically, today–a day his brown-covered album implored I look forward to–Common doesn’t make sense.
Hip-hop only exists as Common says in a fictional societal vacuum preserved since the onset of his own rap career. In 1989 you were more likely to find socially and politically-charged hip-hop in the mainstream. Tracks like “Self-Destruction” and “We’re All In The Same Gang” were commercially-released singles. Today most rap tunes with such relevance are relegated to mixtapes or are album filler at best.
In other words, your “deep” song is the one Becky fast forwards between “party single #1″ and “party single #2.”
Bear with me a moment. This shit might get a little Jesse Jackson/Econ 102 in a spell.
As you all know, once a commodity is mass-produced, it’s cheapened over time. In order to maximize profit, it’s essential that quality be compromised in one sense or another. On a purely economic level, the radio stations aren’t overrun with conveyor belt rap because people don’t really care about what’s going on. We’re bombarded with such material because far it’s easier for major labels to distribute snap & lean babble than carefully-crafted lyrical and musical masterworks.
While Com very well may think so, I’m not self-righteous enough to say that Bohemian coffee shop rap is better than snap & lean shit. As my upbringing would indicate, I’m a regular-ass nigga who enjoys both when appropriate. I’m speaking more to cheaply-made, cookie-cutter material as it exists on both sides of the fence.
With that said, Barack Obama has neither the power nor the desire to change the face of hip-hop content. Unless there’s a major label bailout package in the works, this all has virtually nothing to do with Barack. If Common thinks that mainstream hip-hop will become more substantial because there’s a half-black President who admits to having Jay-Z in his iPod, I’d have to say that kufi of his is full of Serena shit.
Why does Jay-Z want to rhyme like Common Sense but hasn’t since going platinum?
Mind you, this entire discussion derives from the words of a Common who stands before you today more Hollywood than anything else. Homeboy went from my favorite unsung hero to the nigga in the Cadillac commercial with the headwrap rap pointing out the spots he “used to keep it real” at.
If hip-hop’s going to get better, we’re going to have to want better. If hip-hop’s going to “change,” Joe the Plumber’s daughter has to turn off her favorite urban radio station in protest of the current paradigm. Until we as a people want more than just to lean wit it to the least common denominator of music, we won’t be given more by the TIs who determine what makes it to mass media.
When we all care more about the world around us than the shiny distractions that keep us ass-ignorant, rappers will trade in their gold chains for library cards and subscriptions to Newsweek and shit. If for no other reason, they’ll do so at the insistence of the record execs who sign their checks.
That’s bigger than Barack Obama. That’s bigger than hip… hop…
Questions? Comments? Requets? There is a light that shines special for you and me. firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S.: Escalades–and the need to equip them with obnoxious rims, stereo systems and engines–are “shiny distractions.”