Forever Ever

“You can’t kill me/I live forever through these bars” —Jay-Z

After Michael Jackson died, a lot of folks went out and bought his albums. People who didn’t already possess his entire catalog wanted to own a piece of him, which says a lot about what a true artist means to a music fan. Yes, people hit up iTunes, but a majority of them wanted to physically own all of MJ’s classic material, maybe to have something tangible to show their kids other than digital songs and memories.

A huge reason they wanted those songs and albums, though, is because Michael’s music was timeless. He made songs that could be played at weddings, funerals, birthday parties, baby showers, dice games… whatever. His music lasted more than a year or a decade. Even though joints like “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” and “Off the Wall” were so tied to the disco era, they’re still playable today because of that timeless quality.

What about hip-hop? Will the rap we listen to now be what we’re bumping 20 years from now or will we still be going for the original nostalgic hits?

A lot of the songs from hip-hop’s early days never get old – like “Rapper’s Delight” or “Walk This Way.” But I don’t see many of today’s rappers making timeless music anymore. Sure, you can pop in Rick Ross tomorrow, but I doubt you’ll be playing it at your kid’s wedding 20 years from now. You can jig to Soulja Boy but will his music deserve spins decades later? When I think about what our kids will be playing at their weddings, I wonder if they’ll choose songs from this era — Soulja Boy, Flo Rida, Ron Browz (please no) — or whether they’ll stick to our classics because none were created for them.

I think much of what constitutes a timeless song has to do with the commercial factor, good songwriting, and the amount of people it’s able to touch. And also nostalgia – the songs that evoke a special memory or moment in time are the ones that stick through the ages. That’s one of the qualities most hip-hop heads look for when determining classic rap albums. But compared to earlier decades, the songs we hear on the radio now and the albums on the shelves are way too disposable. On the other hand, “Party Like a Rockstar,” “Low,” “This Is Why I’m Hot” – maybe by the time 2040 rolls around, we’ll think of them like “Ice Ice Baby.” Think about that.

On his Sincerely Yours Southside mixtape, 50 said something about going back to the classics cause “the new shit is wack.” We all remember and still bump 2Pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” And Nas has a lot of timeless joints – “The World is Yours.” I think Jay-Z and Kanye are timeless, but I’m not sure we can say the same for “Crank Dat.” Can you imagine bumping Soulja Boy at your wedding? I know it’s impossible to tell the future but who do you think will be responsible for the “timeless rap” that we listen to decades from now? T.I., Jeezy, Kanye West? Are there any new songs, albums or artists in general you think you’ll still rock with when you’re 50 years old?—clovito

  • http://www.datpiff.com/MaxProfit.profile.html Max Profit

    Nah people didn’t buy the physical copies becuase they wanted to hold on to history – It’s because most of them came from the old era of buying CD’s or Albums or Tapes.

    Nowadays a CD’s don’t make no sense. They are just to inconvenient. Until they find a way for me to go to the music store and download new music directly into my music player records just won’t sell like they used to.

    If you got a really really big buzz you can sell some CD’s but back in the day even average rappers were selling 500,000 copies.

  • capcobra

    sorry but…crank dat is a true hip hop classic just off the way the beat drop and it got a dance to go with it…when certain songs from the 90′s drop it automatically make you do the running man.electric slide.jump around.slam or scream heeeey hooooooo…i think a few akon/t.pain joints gon have the same effect too…classics takes you to a place or time that you can’t return to unless you play that song…the same way old head wanna hear rakim is the same way the youngin gon wanna hear lil wayne…so basically if it ain’t a club banger now then it won’t be later.

    • Chris S

      i would agree that Crank Dat is a classic. solely on the fact that its probably the most popular song (any genre) of the new millennium. you had hs, college, & professional sports teams doing the dance along with oprah, ellen, and tons of other media outlets. almost two years after the fact, i’m starting to gain a new found respect for him and that song. it was definitely a trend setter and everyone tried to mimic/top it.

      i think 10 years from now, 808s & Heartbreak and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool will be seen as classics also. marshall mathers lp is probably gonna be “timeless” too

    • DownSouth

      I have to disagree with you on this line:

      “so basically if it ain’t a club banger now then it won’t be later”

      There are probably alot of songs I can think of but off top, look at Kanye West’s Through the Wire. That wasn’t an 808 club banger, but it was a damn good song that’s timeless. I’m just sayin…

      DOWN SOUTH!!!

  • PARIS PERSHUN

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    • Federal Ranga

      What up, Paris? See you promoting the mixtape… still aint heard nothing yet, but I will get around to it, I am sure…

      Which reminds me…

      XXLmag.com Presents (until I get in trouble for saying that): The Commission’s Federal Ranga: On Yo Ass!!! new weekly video blog on YouTube starting today… 3rd Testicle, if you’re watching… the first show is addressing YOU. Hang yourself, niggaaaaa……

  • ryne rich

    its like who buys music anymore, i just make mixtapes of songs i like ,i will buy a cd for the car to support artists. maybe in a month or so i might bootleg some of mikes real timeless stuff.

    party like a rockstar will be nothin to noone forever. sorry to dem boys or wat ev.
    any biggie
    any pac of corse
    your nobody til somebody kills you
    thugs mansion
    nas stillmatic
    any of his old shit
    thug motivation 101
    kanyes college dropout
    never had a huge hit that would have the best chance of being played
    lil wayne carter 1 2
    fuck i dont think white people would ever play any of the shit thats out now
    one i can think of that has a chance would be the kayne n t pain IMMA PUT SHIT DOWN IM GOOD

  • themusesince80

    perfect article!

    jay z will always be timeless to me though. (reasonable doubt, L&T O/ S.C vol., Blue Print)

    if drake can release himself from “someone’s” clutches… he will remain timeless.

    and Kanye… maybe one or two songs, but not his whole catalog.

  • ryne rich

    i think his shit turn my swag on has a better chance of gettin playin later then crack that in a family atmosphere

  • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

    This the real one, fools! Click my link, COMMISSION!

    Nice drop. There wont be shit we bump now that can even be played 5 years down the road…. at least not for a LONG time. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below IMO was classic yet when was the last time you heard anything from that album on radio or anywhere? When’s the last time you heard In Da Club? Grindin? Overnight Celebrity? Through the Wire? Bling Bling (nigga that was like 1998!)?

    I didnt think so. Hip hop has lost its timeless flare and needs a spark, big time.

    How bad have the chances gotten for rap to be timeless to the point where the Cha Cha Slide shits on every song at EVERY wedding I have been to since 2002?!

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Of course Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” is timeless. It’s garbage now and it will still be garbage 20 years from now!!

    • http://www.datpiff.com/MaxProfit.profile.html Max Profit

      I aint a hater but that was funny!!

  • Curtis75Black

    Of course Crank That is timeless, XXL and every other mag as well as fans that hate or love it made it timeless. When you have basketball players rocking it after SlamDunk contests, you know you’ve made it. Plus we tend to forget Hip Hop is still a party genre. ‘Jump around’, ‘Slam’, ‘Move Bitch, ‘It takes two’ and so on will always rock at a party of any spot. A club banger is always a hot for a emcee. Soulja Boy and Mix-a-lot will always get play.

    • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

      Co-Sign like a mufucka! Baby Got Back is like one of those few songs white people can bump somewhere and niggaz just join the vibe (no magazine)… Man, I would love to get my paws on that beat…

      36-24-36? Well, thats only if you 5’2″ – Sir Mix A Lot

      • DETROIT

        SO HERE’S MY QUESTION:

        IS “POSSIE ON BROADWAY” A CLASSIC?

        I would say yea! what do you guys think?

        • capcobra

          i say yes..posse on broadway is definitely more of a classic than beepers….that nasal flow..the beat..the catchy hook..underground classic with ease…and depending on the dj and crowd that joint can play right now…20 yrs later = classic?

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

          “Posse on Broadway”? I’d say it’s classic in a loose sense of the word, like “The Infamous” is a classic album. It never received the shine to get the outside world on its back, but to those who know about it, it’s priceless.

          Versus “Summertime”, “Aint No Future In Yo’ Frontin’”, “Can’t Touch This”, etc., which are classics pure & simple.

          I can’t see a lot of “new” shit being played 20 years down the line. But, I think that has something to do with the newness wearing off of Hip Hop. So many things are labeled Hip Hop (commercials, singers, etc) that its become the medium of choice; over-saturation. Shit just doesn’t catch our attentions like it used to.

          @ the very least, I’ll say Wayne. Not all of his music, but a good majority will still get play in my whip for years. Just don’t know why exactly…….

        • DETROIT

          what up grand$,

          “Posse on Broadway”? I’d say it’s classic in a loose sense of the word, like “The Infamous” is a classic album. It never received the shine to get the outside world on its back, but to those who know about it, it’s priceless.”

          i don’t agree with these types of songs/albums being “loosely” considered classics. i think that they are just as much a classic as song like summertime, etc. i know that i may be the only one who feels this way, but my reasoning is this….let’s start with the infamous. people started saying the word shook to describe scary cats based off of the song “shook ones”. that word is now a permanent part of american culture. maria carey jacked that beat, and em used the beat on 8 mile. in detroit, they play the beat to that song everyday when they do traffic on the radio. when you inspire great artists with your work, i think that counts just as much as radio spins.
          same with “posse on broadway”…e-40 did a remake, so did juvie, AND E-40s song was the lead single from his album. and them niggas both took the FLOW, not the beat, which really makes mix a lot classic!

        • Curtis75Black

          @Detroit,

          I feel the same way. There’s no such thing as loosely, especially if the song is being reintroduced to the next era by another artist in a remake. Countless tracks fit that mold in Hip Hop from NWA to LL Cool J, Slick Rick to Biz Markie, which means you did the damn thing !! It’s the same thing with ‘Borrowed or Jacked’ lyrics, new era fans might not know they are but hopefully the era before knows and will hip them to the game !! We have a full era of fans that are totally ignorant to their history.

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

          What’s good, D?

          I feel you, but as far “Shook Ones pt. 2″, how many people know that term was derived from that song? Will you ever hear it on the radio without provocation? How many folks watched 8 mile & thought “that’s that Mobb shit”, or just started bobbing [||]? Or, how many people know that song just off the strength of Mariah?

          I stay banging the entire Infamous album @ least 3 times a week. So, to me its a classic, but I wouldn’t put it up against “Summertime”, or “Baby Got Back”, or “You Can’t Touch This” in terms of general timelessness. Of course to real heads who know what the business is, but that only goes so far, realistically speaking.

          Even still, like capcobra said, “classic” takes a cat back to a place in their lives, so the word itself is kind of flimsy, which I why I said “loosely”. What’s classic to me may not be the same for someone else. That doesn’t take away from the music, though.

        • El Tico Loco

          Posse on Broadway is a classic, it did not hit me til last week they actually played it at sports bar and the DJ actually was doin a Old school set and dropped Posse on Broadway and the crowd went nuts, and it actually wouldn’t be out of place in this music climate.

        • DETROIT

          i feel you, but you have to consider the fact that “shook ones” was not a radio friendly song. so it wouldn’t have the same type of commercial impact as a hammer song. kinda like how “love and happiness” by al green will never get the radio play that “Billy Jean” gets, due to the fact that it’s not a pop song, but it’s still just as much a classic. based on your criteria, only radio songs can be classics!

        • capcobra

          and this is the birth of hip hop classics vs rap-pop classics…hip hop being shook ones or verbal intercourse..rap being summertime or o.p.p..a song like “it takes two” would be considered both because it was an hip hop song that turned into a rap/pop hit..most of those kinda songs was recorded in the golden era..since 2000 it’s been way more rap pop classics than hip hop classics..but at the end of the day..it’s still a classic…to somebody…even if it is drake’s “best i ever had”.

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

          I said the word itself is sort of flimsy, due to the fact that a classic is usually personalized to ones life. So, “Love & Happiness” is just as much a classic as “Billie Jean” to me. “Love….” maybe even more so to me, because I’ve never gotten ‘tang off of “Billie..”.

          But, in regards to only pop being classic, the pop songs get the attention on a broader level, thus more exposure. The more exposure you get, the more heads hear it. An easily accessible song, a la “Crank Dat”, has more of a chance at that status than a song that’s not geared toward the radio.

          But again, its all about personal effect. If it touches that vain in your experiences. & don’t get me wrong D, I’m a hip hop head, I’m just speaking in general. That’s just how the machine works. My classics won’t be the same as the next cats classics 8 times out of ten.

        • $ykotic

          Y’all gotta admit that clovito dropped one of the best blogs in a minute.

          Yeah “Crank dat” would be played years from now. Regardless of anything else it was a major song.

          But the majority of the other “get paid” music won’t. As always it depends on the individuals in that particular surrounding that will determine what they wanna hear.

          I will say I hear more heads word to word “Let’s Stay Together” or “Flashlight” at after parties and bars than “Gucci Bandana”.

  • kelito-vision

    timeless music

    50 Cent – In Da Club
    Jay Z – I Just Wanna Love You
    Kanye – Golddigger

    • Bobo D

      Co-sign. 50 Cent – In Da Club. The reason why I see it as timeless is because of the “It’s your birthday” part. It’s bound to be someone birthday somewhere. In 20 years time it may even replace the the tradiotional ‘Happy birthday to you’.

      • DETROIT

        “The reason why I see it as timeless is because of the “It’s your birthday” part.”

        that’s funny, because it goes back to what we were talking about earlier. the “it’s your birthday” part is originally from luke’s song “it’s your birthday”, which to me would make the luke song a classic also.

        • Bobo D

          Yeah, I recall that coming from luke, but the problem is that not many people are familar with that song.
          So this adds for a song to be timeless it has to have some popularity.

  • FLOSS

    I be on the same shit too man i be wondering if our artist today are gonna be looked at like we view them in the present state. its like in sporst especially basketball niggas thats the top 50 players of all time i be thinking now adays most of them niggas would be garbage and i feel like in the future certain niggas thats cool now is gonna be dust after their careers are over.

  • DETROIT

    GREAT POST! this touches on why i say that joe buddens is not even on the same planet as meth….cuz meth has shit that will bump forever.

    this is also why i say that lil wayne is not a GREAT rapper. which lil wayne songs are timeless? the only one that i would say is timeless is the new one with the whole young money crew.

    but as far as soulja boy goes…CRANK DAT AND SUPERMAN will be bumpin for the rest of our lives. and that’s quite an accomplishment for the young guy. think of it this way, 20 years from now, most of soulja boys fans wont even be 40! and who doesn’t bump the shit that they grew up to? especially if it has a dance to go with it. i was just playing that rockstar game, and busta move by young mc was the only song i knew!

    • General

      As much as I don’t like him, I think you are absolutely right about Soulja Boy’s singles being played years from now

  • General

    I think there will be just as much music that lives on from this generation as there has been in the past. If you look at it, there really is a lot of great artists in the game right now…

    I think Kanye is one whose music will be played for many, many years to come, as well as Jay, TI, Em, Ludacris, and yes even 50 has joints that will still be played many years from now

  • http://xxl All Dae

    The missing element in all this is personal taste and age. “Walk this way” was not labled classic when it dropped but rocked parties and many heads liked it.

    Same for “Superman” it’s already played at wedding receptions and parties and all races luv it. That 16 year old will carry S.B. with him forever.

    Don’t hate and miss out on great current music.

  • http://www.ronmexicocity.com Ron Mexico

    timeless is one of many things soulja boy’s music is not. it’s painfully dated. hopefully for his sake, the deandre way is his first attempt at something substantial.

    • DETROIT

      NIGGA PLEASE!…LOL.

      on the real tho, i hate sb just as much as you do! but the reality of the situation is that the superman dance will never die, which means the song will also live forever, kinda like the twist. also, i GUARANTEE someone will use the “turn my swag on” beat for their single in like 15 years!

      • clovito

        ha, I was also wondering about beats. A lot of songs right now sample R&B classics from the ’80s and prior. It’s funny to think about rappers down the road sampling some of ne-yo’s and erykah badu’s joints

      • http://www.ronmexicocity.com Ron Mexico

        haaaa @ detroit.

        but seriously, i don’t think anyone will be doing that with turn my swag on in 15 years, but… if they did, that’s not what timeless means.

        timeless means it’s always hot. not just “yo, remember this soulja boy shit we used to listen to when we were kids?” someone’s gonna have to pop open a time capsule to remember it.

        i.e.: “rock with you” shit’s still fire. shit still works at any party. somebody might unearth turn my swag on in 20 years as a novelty. that’s something totally different.

        …and where are you still finding niggas doin the superman dance?! please, let me know so i can get a picture for my time capsule.

      • http://www.ronmexicocity.com Ron Mexico

        and who still does the twist?

        i’d have given you the electric slide. niggas have done that since its inception… but the last time i saw the twist was in a dave chappelle joke.

  • lol

    what if an astist is okay with making disposable pop music?

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

      @lol

      That’s where the “smart” money is. Keep in mind, Hip Hop is considered Disposable Art for a reason.

  • Curtis75Black

    I was out chillin’ with my lady over the weekend. We stopped in at a nightspot that plays pratically everything The Dj was playing Biggie’s Hypnotize and right after rocked LL’s Headsprung and the crowd that was already in a zone just went Bananas when that song came on !! I remember when that song dropped and peeps was looking at it like Bird shit on a windsheild but here we are 5 yrs later and that song still gets major play everytime it runs. My point is that we take artists and songs for granted a little too much whennit drops for many reasons: I don’t like him, the flow is different, voice is annoying etc.,etc. It’s not until yrs later when you are out lounging, you realize how many tracks you slept on for silly reasons, especially when you find yourself reciting the lyrics, bobbing your head.

  • nycboy

    When you talk about MJ’s music it will always be classic among the world. But thats because he broke the barriers between different genres of music. When you mention dudes like Nas, Jay, or even Kanye yes they may produce material that will go down as timeless but only in the context of hip hop or r&b. When you go on hip hop websites,magazines, or even watch BET, we pay homage to the greats but that only pertains to the hip hop heads. Very seldomly do you hear a country or rock artist or even any random person you meet make reference to our hip hop artists, but MJ could definitely be a hot topic in any group or convo.

  • El Tico Loco

    Let’s get one thing straight, Crank dat is gonna be timeless no denying, that’s what you play to lead into the Cupid shuffle, electric slide set of your wedding reception/family reunion etc. But Souljah boy the guy that made the song? Hell naw! is like we love “it takes 2″ but who’s checkin for Rob Base? That’s where Souljah Boy’s headed, “turn my swag on”? think of it as his “joy and pain”

    • DETROIT

      great comparison, but to me the biggest difference between soulja boy and cats like rob base is that soulja boy makes beats. no matter how much people want him to go away, i think that we’re going to be seeing soulja boy for a long time to come!

      • El Tico Loco

        Then where’s EZ Rock?

      • El Tico Loco

        Really then explain where’s EZ rock?

        • DETROIT

          LOL….dunno!

      • El Tico Loco

        or Kwame?

        • Curtis75Black

          Kwame is doing beats. Peep LL’s 10 Million Stars. I’m quite sure if a dj rocks one of kwame’s last tracks it will make some noise nowadays !! We love those classics with a harder edge which makes people disregard those with a r&b or dance floor flavor.
          Doin it
          oochie Wally
          Ja Rule’s music
          Snoop’s Music
          Busta’s music

          the diversity of their catalog is what we’re talking about.

        • DETROIT

          yea, kwame is a pretty highly regarded producer these days….same with heavy d.

        • El Tico Loco

          He did Taleb’s “listen” but that was a

        • El Tico Loco

          Shit! I never had short memory lapse online! lol
          What I was sayin I’m up on Kwame but I don’t see that type of demand happening to SBT sorry.

        • El Tico Loco

          and if any doubts II on being up on Kwame’s production.

        • DETROIT

          think of it like this, SB had 2 #1 hits, and he can’t rap a lic! if jay-z used the turn my swag on beat for his 1st single, that shit woulda been waaaay bigger than doa. people notice that type of stuff, to act like SB can’t produce hot tracks would have to be considered hating. look at all the people who have re-made “turn my swag on”…from kerri hilson to young jeezy! shit, weezy jumped on the official remix…that should tell you something.

        • G2

          “shit, weezy jumped on the official remix…that should tell you something.”

          That’s not sayin much bruh, Weezy will jump on anything as long as there is a check attached to it.

    • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

      @ El Tico Loco

      What you kno about frankie beverly & maze? to me, thats like the epitome of timeless music.

      • Curtis75Black

        What’s up Southside,

        I’m glad you brought that up,mentioning Frankie Beverly & Maze. You see, because Hip Hop will never get that type of love from it’s fans. We are too worried about Era’s, flow, styles, regions, afililations, labels and genres and other shit that at the end
        of the day, doesn’t mean a thing because it’s about the music and how it made you feel. Were you dancing, bobbing your head or learning the lyrics. We as a genre has so many aspects of hip hop that of we put the pettiness to the side, will kill every genre ahead of us today.

      • El Tico Loco

        @Southside

        Frankie Beverly and Maze? I was hearing that before moving to the US real talk that’s the true test, when overseas niggaz dig your music and it’s still hot years later.

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    “He made songs that could be played at weddings, funerals, birthday parties, baby showers, dice games… whatever.”

    ^^^co-fuckin-sign.

    “or whether they’ll stick to our classics because none were created for them.”

    ^^^EXACTLY.

    • $ykotic

      “Before I Let Go”-Frankie Beverly & Maze

      Timeless. Still sounds fresh in the clubs. Even youngin’s get biddies off this song.

      I’m actually going to see George Clinton next week. Like 22 of us going(so far).

      Too $hort will be here Wednesday. No one’s going. You catch my drift, right?

      • DETROIT

        SHORT SELLS OUT THE D EVERY YEAR! DON’T SLEEP ON SHORT DOGG!

        and as far as classic songs go…”don’t fight the feeling” and “the ghetto” are bonified classics from 2 sheezy. every rapper that says “biatch” got that shit from short!

        • $ykotic

          Naw D I meant my team ain’t going! $hort get’s love!

          They tell me he comes here like 3x a year. Just everybody’s hyped over George/Dead Prez/NaS & Damian in the next 2 weeks.

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Oh come on, of course music doesn’t seem timeless when you pick from the bottom of the fuckin barrel. Of course Soulja Boy or Party Like A Rock star aint timeless music. But there’s still the Kanyes and Jay-Z’s and Eminems of the world. I’m so tired of this whole debate, those doofs who make wack music are wack. End of story. Can’t we please move on?

    • Chris S

      there is absolutely no denying the wack-ness level of soulja boy. he’s a shit sandwich. but name a song in the millennium that was more popular…

      for that reason alone it will be timeless.

      • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

        Again, like Clovito mentions, aint no song was more popular than “Ice, Ice, Baby Ice” and look where that is now. Same for shit like “The Macarina”

  • Moving Sideways

    Here are two lifetime musical guarantees, no matter the era.

    Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
    Hey Ya – Outkast

  • jonjon23

    Souljah Boy must be a F-ing genius. I hear a lot cats taking shots at him and saying how much he sucks–yet he continues to have hit songs. What gives?

  • abdulnasir

    jeru the damaja
    2pac
    biggie
    nas
    eminem
    there’s plenty
    the first dre album will always be timeless

  • http://youtube.com/thelupend yohannes Tecle

    American Gangster is gonna be a classic the same for 808′s & Heartbreak both of lupe’s albums

    Good Night

  • http://www.twitter.com/gooderz Gooderz

    Soulja Boys music is timeless

    It will still be just as shit 20 years from now