Pardon me ya’ll, I’m still on one. Michael Jackson’s death still has me feeling a sorta way. I wrote a blog yesterday about the BET Awards and the excessive hate exhibited toward the show. In reference to the O’ Jays I was so happy to see them get their props because people never felt the flowers while they can still smell ‘em. Maybe Mike didn’t get all the praise he deserved when he was alive, or maybe he did, I guess it all depends on how each of us individually regarded him. Still, MJ’s passing got me to thinking about some of my favorite artists (not just rappers, but artists) and the impact that their music has had on my life. So before we lose any more legends, I’d like to send praise to a few of my favorites. Who are yours? – Rob the Music Ed
As a kid coming up, I hated Prince. Why? Simply because he was my older sister’s favorite artist and like every bratty brother I despised anything that my sister liked. She had all the albums, movies and posters. But I guess growing up I absorbed so much of dude’s music simply by just being around my sis. Purple Rain is a hands down classic and joints like “Little Red Corvette,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Adore” speak on his remarkable legacy. As a songwriter the Purple One was pretty ill too, I mean he wrote the original “Nothing Compares 2 You” (a song made famous by Sinead O Conner) and “I Feel For You” which Chaka Khan later covered and turned into a hit. Aside from his creative accomplishments, Prince revolutionized the music business after he broke free of Warner Bros. control and went independent and has released 30 albums to date. Let’s celebrate Prince now and not wait ’til it’s too late.
I have always taken a great deal of pride in being born and raised in Brooklyn and through his music Jay has crafted the soundtrack for that pride. After B.I.G.’s passing Hov pledged to fill the void and that he did. At times I myself criticize Jay’s work of late, but the fact of the matter is when you take his entire catalogue into account there is really no question: Jay-Z is the greatest rapper alive. He said it himself: “There’s never been a nigga this good for this long/This hood, or this pop, this hot or this strong.” The chilling part is it’s actually true. Rakim and KRS are legends, but didn’t have the type of run that Hov had, neither did Cube, Kane or Nas. Biggie and Pac passed too early and Eminem’s 4-year vacay kinda takes him out the running. It’s not a discredit to anyone, just a testament to Hov’s greatness.
Much like MJ, The R. has been a controversial music figure, but his talent is unmatched! Now Kellz gets SHITTED on, in the press, on the blogs and in the barbershops. Yet, after Mike’s death I wonder when it’s all said and done how will Robert be remembered? The hits are undeniable, since the early ’90s dude has really been putting the R in R&B. “Bump N’ Grind,” “Your Body’s Callin’,” “Down Low,” “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Fiesta;” I can go on for days. So how much does the sexual allegations hurt his legacy? I for one never watched the infamous tape because who would willingly watch child porn? It’s kinda funny because we’ve crucified Kellz for having sex with underage girls (even though he was never found guilty), but what about the millions of people who essentially watched a kiddie sex tape? What does that say about us as a people? But that’s a different blog. Speaking from strictly musical standpoint, when are we gonna honor R. Kelly? When is the Pied Piper gonna get his award show tribute?
Dre is hands down hip-hop’s most meticulous artist. Who else takes eight years to follow-up a critically acclaimed and commercially successful album? Ya’ll know the run down, from the World Class Wrecking Crew to N.W.A., in the late ’80s Dre birthed the West Coast sound with his beats and essentially had his hand in creating (or maybe popularizing- shouts to PSK) Gangsta Rap. Then there was The Chronic then Snoop’s Doggystyle, then Pac, Em and of course The Chronic 2001. With the exception of a few duds, Dre’s catalogue is mostly quality- moreso than any other hip-hop producer. Real talk, dude is hip-hop’s Quincy Jones. We laugh and joke about how long it is taking him to put out Detox, but when he is gone, we’re gonna wish that a rap artist took that much care in crafting his work.
There isn’t a musician alive, Black, White or otherwise who hasn’t been influenced by Stevie. Berry Gordy signed Stevie to Motown when he was just 11 years old and he has since recorded around 30 albums for the label, his most prominent album being the 1976 Songs in the Key of Life. Not just a singer/songwriter wonder is a producer and multi-instrumentalist playing everything from the piano to the harmonica to the drums. Now of all intents and purposes Stevie does get his props, but I wouldn’t even want to imagine what music would be like without him.
Quincy Jones, Mary J. Bilge, P.Diddy, KRS-One, Lil Wayne, Babyface, Earth, Wind & Fire and DJ Premier.