Artists Can’t Be Real Because the Fans Aren’t
First off, I don’t blog. This is the first time that I’ve ever felt compelled to contribute my thoughts in a public forum, such as this publication.
Well… That’s not ENTIRELY true.
You see, I responded via XXLMag.com a couple of years ago, after seeing a YouTube video of Jim Jones and his crew running from Junior M.A.F.I.A. at a Rucker’s game (in Harlem! Jones’ home! JM, of course, is from Brooklyn!). This was at the height of Jimmy “throwing rocks at the throne” of BK’s own, S. Carter. You will see the relevance of this introductory paragraph as I continue with my summary on the topic: “The importance of on-the record lyrical battles.”
Before I go in, let me apologize, because in my summation, I will also touch on the “realness” (or lack thereof) in today’s hip-hop. I know that I’m supposed to pick one topic or the other, however, you can’t talk about one without involving the other.
Let us begin…..
In the first paragraph, I stated that I don’t blog and I don’t, for several reasons. One main reason is because of the era that I come from. You see, I come from a time when you don’t talk about it, you BE about it, and, as stated in “The Real Street Issue” of XXL, there are way too many “Internet gangstas” out there who take it too far on these blogs but wouldn’t bust a grape in a REAL fruit fight. And there, I think lies (at least part of ) the problem: the fans of today’s hip-hop.
In Shyne’s interview of editor, Vanessa Satten, part of the debate was, are the fans what they used to be? The undeniable answer is, “No.” Like the culture itself, fans have changed. In the era that I came up in, the late ’80s and ’90s, it was about “keeping it real,” which basically meant you couldn’t talk about it if you ain’t live it. In the streets, if you “faked jacks,” you got checked. This spilled over into the music and therefore put some integrity in the game. Sucka MC’s got checked on the regular, just as a sucka n***as got checked in the streets for faking jacks. The environment of that era, the struggle, forced n***as to grind and the hustle to survive became the hunger to be the best, the flyest, the realest. That era produced a lot of legendary street hustlers and there, of course, was competition. You had to have the flyest whip; the flyest chain; the flyest clothes; the baddest chick! This too, paralleled the music (i.e., who’s the dopest MC?). It wasn’t just to have bragging rights, it was more about respect. Respect for the struggle, respect for the art, and the respect of being lyrically supreme.
The Bible states that the generation in latter days would be “weaker but wiser.” In this world of “high-speed” Internet and “instant messaging,” everything is “right now.” This microwave society has produced a lot of overnight sensations that did not have to go through any type of struggle to get on or prove themselves. So why bother themselves with a battle? It’s obvious that lyrics are not important in today’s hip-hop, therefore there is no need to prove who is lyrically supreme.
Ultimately, it is the fault of the fans, because, by supporting the music of rappers like Waka Flocka Flame and Soulja Boy, whose beats are bangin’ but raps are nursery rhyme, we’re saying that we don’t care about lyrical content. Therefore no need for battles of lyrical supremacy, thus the competitiveness, and ultimately the art form, suffers. No wonder when a Rick Ross comes along, who’s lyrical but whose background is questionable, we embrace him! We are lyrically starved and rap battles ensured that not only were we fed but fed with substance. That’s why rap battles are important.
‘Nuff said. —Biggstshombe