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Hip Hop the Fairy Tale: Cinderella, You’re Going Down!

I was speaking with Donny Goines a few days back about the reviews on his last project, Minute After Midnight. It’s a concept piece with an evocative title that draws a comparison between Cinderella and your favorite rapper. The Hip Hop clock strikes 12 and the Maybach turns into a Datsun; the fancy chain, a string with a lump of coal hanging from it. In his opinion, the tepid reviews were misunderstandings. He made that album for the “Dude, where’s my genre?” crew and all that trendy, fly by night stuff Hip Hop is starting to embrace was left at the studio door; if it made it that far.

He has a point. What is all the rage today fades tomorrow, making it completely possible for those in the trend trap to produce an album that turns passé prior to the release. Think of this vocoded concept masterpiece Diddy is working on right now. All I can say is he needs to hurry up. The antithesis is the basic representation of the music’s roots. However, this is a presentation seen by some as a little dusty.

Hip Hop shtick is spread about as thin as possible. Some folks profess to have organically developed into the abnormal hipster dude or wannabe rock God they present; blissfully unaware the image was considered hot. Or they fight tooth and nail to retain their status as catalyst of that particular movement. It’s a bit convenient, but why argue the point? Who is going to admit they are a simple regurgitation of what they saw in the game when they decided they wanted to be a superstar anyway? I guess the proof will come down the road when the tide shifts and only a handful are still rocking tight pants and holding pink guitars.

The rub comes with the disconnect though. When an artist releases their ode to the fundamental Hip Hop equation (beat + rhyme = rap song) and people don’t get it, does that make it impossible for the traditionalists to reign in the genre from the vapid, style bandwagon riders? If enough people see the base of the music, the rudiment from which all this fusiony Hip-pop-rock-Hop grows as irrelevant, then that is a path that will soon be closed to through traffic.

Or is this a cycle? I’m sure plenty of frowney-faced old heads who refuse to take Low End Theory out of rotation remember Hip Hop House. I mean we did get this during the golden age and the flagship song of this off-shoot was born of Native Tongues. Given it was a short lived sound, but we rocked it at the time not realizing how lame it was until years later.

Thus, at the plateau we wait. In the interim, embrace what you want to embrace; but realize all these tributaries flow to the same river. I know the bumper ends of the musical spectrum are not the only reasons for the crazed and somewhat disheartening sound melting pot we have in the genre. The causes are convoluted and many. However, as industry folks toss everything but the kitchen sink at us looking for the hot new new that actually has staying power; I hope we don’t forget where we came from. There are some super duper smarty-pants types who do believe knowing your past helps in defining your future.

So as Miss Cinderella loses track of time twirling around with the prince and sponging up her 15 minutes, the back to basics ground swell chomps at the bit. It’s a slow diligent progression that for many is still left open for debate; the opponents thinking we need not refer back to the rap abacus. So I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until the Hip Hop clock strikes 12 so I can witness the princess for a day and all her ill-conceived accoutrements turning back into pumpkins. I will channel my best evil step mother in celebration. Then I’m going to hide that bitch’s shoe.-Shelby Powell

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