No Homo Erectus (Pause, Pause, Pause)

“Niggas want it to be like it used to be back in the day, but it ain’t like that no more. Hip-hop changes and evolves, you know…”

You’ve probably seen or heard this said before by some rapper, trying to find the best way to cover for how far-beyond-sorry some of this shit is. That line is about a notch below “I’m just talkin’ about what I see” on the Hip-Hop List of Cliche Answers. Whenever I hear this, I tend to suspect that the artist saying this is either A) making excuses for their own weak-ass music, or B) completely oblivious to what it means to “evolve”.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a special place in my heart for older music of all genres, especially ’90s hip-hop. But don’t get it wrong: I’m not one of those “crack-came-along-and-dried-it-all-up” type niggas who swear everything was all good until December 31, 1999 became January 1, 2000. I don’t advocate the idea of new artists trying to rehash shit that was dope 17 years ago, nor do I care much for when used-to-be-dope artists drop awful new music, totally oblivious to how far off the wagon they are. I like and welcome new music that might not be “purist”-friendly, but is undeniably entertaining. At the same time, I know the difference between change and evolution. And hip-hop may stay changing, but it’s been a HOT-ass minute since the last time it “evolved”.

We’ve all seen that “Evolution of Man” chart before. Shit wasn’t about how a man grows excessive hair, shrinks, and stops walking upright. I know a lot of these rappers are opposed to anything “homo” (because none of ‘em are gay, right?) but the idea of evolving is in the direction of the homosapien, not the primate.

Evolution is when Run-DMC came along and almost singlehandedly rendered every group before them irrelevant by sounding nothing like them. Evolution is when a gang of new artists came along a few years later and did the same to Run-DMC. Evolution is how the Class of ’93-’94 made rappers from East to West go from tounge-twisting and simplistic threats to storytelling. Evolution is when Jay, ‘Ye, Just, and Bink! repopularized sampling with one album when people were trying to declare it “dead”. Knowing and remembering things like that, and then seeing Pliiiiiiies referred to as “The Future Of Rap” on that Vibe cover, it’s a hard-ass sell for me to buy that “evolved” shit. Nah, man. Change, not evolution.

I would be remiss to not mention these DJs as well. Surely, a case can definitely be made for how the technical aspects have evolved like a muhfukka in recent years. The DJs themselves? Not so much. Mixtape DJs who actually had DJing talents got largely replaced, mostly by random dudes who had nothing but access to new music and the equipment necessary to put them on CD. Mixshow DJs, for the most part, have lost whatever control they had over what they do on the air- they will play “Stanky Leg” and like it or they can be replaced. The club DJ has a bit more control than that, but they can only go so far outside the lines before they find their floor empty. Niggas can get mad at that Diddy blog all they want, but the hip-hop DJ was once the star of the show whose abilities and musical selection could rule everything that matters. Now, they are the total opposite of that. Change, not evolution.

So what has evolved? Technology, specifically involving the internet. I can’t imagine how extra-crazy for hip-hop I would’ve been back in the day if we had all the shit we have been privileged to have in this decade. Imagine being able to jump on the computer and watch the new Snoop video, then read what happened at the Source Awards as it was in progress, all while waiting for Illmatic to finish downloading so you can drop it onto your iPod. None of that shit was poppin’ in those days. Sure, the Internet existed, but you probably would’ve needed a day of uninterrupted dial-up service just to get a hopefully high-quality version of the got-damn intro. But nowadays, there’s a good chance you could have Nas’ next album 10 minutes after it gets mastered (uh, not that I or XXLMag.com endorse that kinda thing). THAT is evolution.

Sorry, rap guys: maybe it’s just poor choice of words, but the “evolved” angle doesn’t wash. We know it’s not your fault though- y’all have as much control over the rap game as mixshow DJs have over their playlist mixes. If it makes y’all feel any better, a lot of us out here ARE waiting to see said evolution take place. It wouldn’t hurt for some of you to try working towards that. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen- people won’t buy your album? Ha. -DANJA29

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    Good shit, Danja.

    I would agree that the evolution has not taken place yet, but I will say that I think we’re in the middle of it. The eye of the storm, per se. The evidence is there, it just hasn’t come to full fruition.

    You mentioned the technology we’re privy to within the last decade, well think about it. The last 10 yrs? That’s not a long time @ all. Imagine in another 10. These next cats are building the foundations of the future right now, whether we like it or not. & quite honestly, I feel like they’re still trying to get their sea-legs, feel me?

    It’s only a matter of time before the cycle reaches the end point, & something new is forced to be born. It seems to happen about every 15-20 yrs, not just in hip hop, but in culture period. I suspect we are on the forefront of big things over the next couple of years.

    • DANJA29

      Yeah- with further thought I do kinda feel like we’re approaching a point where things are starting to move ahead from where it’s been for the last few years. Whether it’ll be a real evolution is beyond me, but I do see where there’s some artists out there trying to push the envelope a little bit.

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

        Word. I think as long as it’s not @ a stand still, there’s always opportunity for forward motion. & I don’t see a stand still just yet.

    • ko

      jim jones, soulja boy, ,mims, and plies are the definition of evolution nigga…i’d rather supaman that hoe any day of the week than listen to a nas record

      • RJizzle

        dude must be like 13

        Kill yoself nigga.

  • yoprince

    this was truly a great post.

    “…the idea of evolving is in the direction of the homosapien, not the primate.”
    - classic

  • Arcey

    very dope post, Danja

  • Pierzy

    Very well done.

    Change is not always good. Period.

  • P-Matik

    DEvolution, my dude. Nice post and you are right. As a DJ, I also got upset by seeing dudes like Whoo Kid and Absolute come through and water down the game. I remember when I first heard of him in an interview and one of the first things he said was “I’m not one of those battle, scratch happy deejays” in a tone that basically insinuated that having those skills made you weak.

    In the mid to late ’90s, one of my DJ peoples was helping out with some function at Hampton University. DJ Clue was out there and he told my man that he shouldn’t scratch cuz “the ladies don’t like that sh*t.” I remember being mad dissapointed after that, cuz Clue used to be that dude to me and that was right around the time when he started falling off skill wise.

    • DANJA29

      True, I wanted to make it a point to mention the DJs too, cause they’ve lost a lot of power (especially lately with the mixtape game getting affected real strong). And don’t get me wrong, I love all those Clue tapes from when he was popular despite the lack of mixing, but that format took over to where half the DJs aren’t even DJs in the first place. That to me cheapens the whole thing, because there’s nothing special about being a “DJ” if anyone can do it. Same as the case with rappers.

  • JAY STONE

    No homo

  • DV8

    good post

    and cosign what Pierzy said

  • LB

    I think this post is inadvertently saying that with the evolution of technology comes the devolution of pure Hip Hop? I mean, cause if everything is about gettin it when and how you want it (the music), then I would imagine that songs will turn into a collection of soundbites, or adlis.

  • http://www.myspace.com/fastlifearchitects miles archer

    Couldn’t have said it any better.

    The story about that DJ Clue shit reminds me, too, that about ten years ago you started hearing “MC’S”(and I use that term loosely) say how they “weren’t with all that battle rhyme shit”.

    Really?????

    You’re right. Having the ability to cleverly connect words, within phrases, in rhythm, while creating a conversation among listeners — that shit is for Boti Boys.

    Yeah, son… I ain’t wit all that reading and shit either, shawty.

    Ya’ll remember the Chris Rock line about black leaders(pre-Obama)?
    “I want a motherfucker to move me… we had Martin and Malcolm and since then a buncha substitute teachers”…

    I feel the same way about my rap music.

    myspace.com/fastlifearchitects
    miles archer

  • Young History in the Making

    ………official…

  • Curtis75Black

    I’ve seen change in attitude towards our music more than change from any emcee. Wack emcees will always be wack and a dope emcee will always bring something different to the table. The attitude I talk about is whether or not you hear,listen and just enjoy the music for what it is, not hating it for what its not. Of course the technology aspect is definitely on point. If we was this advanced back in the day, no telling how we would’ve acted, maybe would’ve been taking the music for granted just the same.

  • LB

    Interesting From Prodigy-Mobb Deep

    “WHAT’S UP PEOPLE? I MISS YOU ALL.

    I MISS THE LOVE AND THE HATE, BUT NO WORRIES I’M ALMOST HOME. LET ME START OFF BY SAYING, GOD DAMN! IT SEEMS LIKE 40 GLOCC PUT A 40 GLOCC VIRUS IN MY WEBSITE. THAT NIGGA IS ALL OVER THE PLACE. THAT’S MY COMRAD AND I ASKED HIM TO KEEP HNIC2.COM INTERESTING WHILE I’M AWAY, BUT GOD DAMN! BUT, IT’S ALL-GOOD. I LOVE MY NIGGA FOR REAL. 40 IS A LOT LIKE ME CAUSE WE ARE TWO VERY OUTSPOKEN INDIVIDUALS. WE SPEAK OUR MINDS AND RARELY EVER HOLD BACK. THAT SCARES A LOT OF PEOPLE CAUSE PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF CONFRONTATION. THEY’RE SCARED THAT THEY WILL OFFEND SOMEBODY AND THEN HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. IT’S STRANGE TO ME. SINCE WHEN DID THIS HIP-HOP THING OF OURS BECOME FILLED WITH SO MUCH FEAR? HIP-HOP, JUST LIKE ROCK’N’ ROLL, WAS CREATED IN THE POVERTY STRICKEN BLACK COMMUNITIES AS A WAY TO EXPRESS OURSELVES THREW MUSIC. A WAY TO REBEL AGAINST THE CORRUPT GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE WHO TRIED TO KEEP US DOWN AND OUT.
    HIP-HOP AND ROCK’N’ROLL IS REBEL MUSIC. NO MATTER WHERE IT IS NOW OR THE CHANGES IT’S GONE THREW, IT WILL ALWAYS BE REBEL MUSIC CREATED BY PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN THREW HELL, SO THEY HAD NOTHING ELL’S TO FEAR. THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A MOMENT, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS OF LAND THEFT, SLAVERY, MURDER, GENOCIDE, LYNCHING, RAPE, RACISIM, AND SEGRAGATION BACK IN THE DAYS TO THE LAND THEFT, MENTAL SLAVERY, MURDER, GENOCIDE, RACISIM AND SEGRAGATION OF THIS VERY DAY. (AND DON’T TELL ME RACISIM OR SEGRAGATION IS OVER. JUST LOOK AT MOST OF THE T.V. SHOWS, MOVIES, ADVERTISEMENTS, “TOP MODELS” OR THE COVERS OF MOST “MAJOR” MAGAZINES. NOT TO MENTION THE 9 TO 5 CORPORATE WORLD RACISIM AND SEGRAGATION IS ALIVE AND KICKING BLACKS IN THE ASS.)”

  • What the ?

    I’ve been saying it’s in the numbers more than anything else as far a the hip-hop dying sub topics.

    If you really look, the population of rappers went from like 500 in the 90′s to like 5 billion today, now everyone and there mom kicks rhymes or wants to be a rapper. There is so much selection, every verse has been spit, all words and combination of words have been used up, all Mr. potato head styles have been pieced together. the truth is people like rarity, originality and to be different.

    If everyone had a presidential Rolex, it wouldn’t be rare anymore, and nobody would give a fuck, see what I’m saying. Popularity eventually kills. we need some population control in this bitch.

    There’s still good hip-hop out there if you dig hard enough, but definitely no good albums front to back anymore.

    • Zulu1925

      TRU DAT!! @ What the ?

      Technology has allowed us to hear all of those less than stellar “artists” that would have NEVER made it past any self-respecting A&R person in previous times. The good music is still out there – you just have to wade through much more gar-bage to find the “real.” And, the bar for acceptability for current artists is significantly higher than it was for previous artists BECAUSE OF previous artists. A prime example of that is Guerilla Black. Dude had a great voice and a nice flow. But, because B.I.G. came out prior to him, he was IMMEDIATELY shitcanned – even though he had talent, because he sounded too much like the Notorious One (one too many of the same watch style). We have to be careful not to dislocate our shoulders waving the “Real Hip-Hop” flag because we won’t be able to lend a hand to an artist struggling to free themselves from the muck and mire of the current environment.

      • LB

        I agree with ya. And I think the only way for there to be continued access for those artists is for those of us who are more music business intuitive, along with the pure artist, to continue to own our own publishing and distribution companies, our own PR firms, etc.

  • Detroit P

    Nice Post…although you seem to be using the term “evolution” as if things only get better when they evolve. Some species evolve and then die out because the way they mutated wasn’t right for their environment…which might be whats happening to hip hop

  • $ykotic

    “What happened to the revolution?
    They went to the federal building with purpose, and they came out with jobs…”

    official issue Danjah

    co-sign Pierzy

  • Beast McCoy

    This is just an excerpt of my response to Lupe’s New Project but I think it fits just as well here…

    “Just to be the devil’s advocate look at Outkast, Common, M.I.A., Kanye, UGK, k’naan, NWA & KRS-One. If you don’t dare to be different and push the art form forth then all you will ever hear is the “same ol jazz”. This is music it’s meant to inspire not only to maintain. Cats need to learn to appreciate other people’s style and culture, just because it doesn’t fit into what you believe is hip hop doesn’t make it not hip hop. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but at least be open to others. Hip Hop is evolving like any other art form from Jazz to Rock to Reggae and it can only evolve if we are open to new and fresh ideas – some may revolutionized the art and some will be forgettable fads but at least it’s something new and not a photocopy of what we already heard or seen.”

  • http://www.myspace.com/datdownsouthproducer DownSouth

    I feel the reason the game is the way it is is because the majority doesn’t like to listen to anything that makes you think. Party music is cool, especially if you’re in da club or in yo ride, but sometimes you oughta wanna listen to something that will raise your IQ. Open mindedness!

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