Hip-Hop is Dead | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hip-Hop is Dead

Hip-hop is dead.

That's was Nas is saying on his new disc (hitting the streets on Tuesday, yall), and I can't say I disagree.

It's a little ironic that Nas is bringing that anthem to the streets with Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am. Yeah, the Peas used to be something back in the day, now they're begging us not to phunk with their hearts, get it started, yall, buy Fergie all these ices.

So, um, Will ain't my idea of the new savior.

But Nas.

Nas has created the kind of album that made me ever believe in hip-hop in the first place. He puts the flow back into hip-hop, crafting songs that are about the rhymes, the 16 bars, not the hooks.

The Game raps on "Hustlers" about stealing a copy of "Illmatic" (Nas' glory album) and feeling ostracized in Compton because he was the only one with a New York State of Mind, the only one who could understand that ####.

Nas himself recognizes the risk of rapping too smart:

"I can't sound smart / 'cause yall'll run away ... "

Then adds:

"I beg to differ."

He pushes on, spitting lyrics so fast and so smart I just got say amen. thank you. all that. Hip Hop might be coming back.

On "Hope," the album's closer, Nas flows accapella about his hope that hip-hop will be resurrected, and I just wonder, are the young emcees listening?

"Ain't got nothing to do with Old School, New School
Dirty South, West Coast, East Coast,
This about us
This our thing, this came from the gut ...
If you askin', why is hip-hop dead?
It's a pretty good chance you the reason it died"

Meanwhile in the background, Chrisette Michele (that new voice of Def Jam) sings,

live, hip-hop, live
give, hip-hop, give
stay, hip-hop, stay
i pray, hip-hop, pray

I'm prayin', too.

Previous Comments

ID
109323
Comment

Hip hop is not dead. It’s alive and well. When I think hip hop now I think balling and bitches. I mean is life not a sprint to see who can pick up the most stuff and die? Maybe if you guys stopped looking for the message and just enjoyed the synth riffs you would see that hip hop is alive and well. Casey where do you get off saying that hip hop is dead. Clearly you’re not a ratchet thug. You are not living the life that these artists are living. You don’t know how it is in the wicked streets. Hip hop reflects the life of the people that create it. Right now we are all thugging and keeping it trill. Maybe if you stopped trying to make hip hop what you want it to be you would see that it was alive and well. skipper

Author
skipp
Date
2006-12-15T02:22:28-06:00
ID
109324
Comment

i like how Nas arranged three of the tracks: 5. Hip Hop Is Dead 6. Who Killed It? 7. Black Republican skipper, get the album. to borrow from your own suggestion, don't look for the synth riffs, try and understand Nas' message. it isn't a collection of 16 individual tracks. they all work together to tell the story of Nas' argument that hip hop is dead because no one cares about the art form, only the image.

Author
Vince
Date
2006-12-15T03:34:36-06:00
ID
109325
Comment

I was looking for a good hip-hop album to listen to. This might be it. I'm with Skipp on one thing, though: Even I know hip-hop ain't dead. Hell, even disco ain't dead. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-15T05:46:34-06:00
ID
109326
Comment

Being a child of the 70's: Disco Will Never Die. It is still one of my favorite genres: I can't go a day without Car Wash or It's Raining Men. :)

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2006-12-15T10:13:05-06:00
ID
109327
Comment

LOLOL No Tom....I think you can say disco is dead :-) Seriously though that music took a beating too. And I think my arch nemesis is being a little sarcastic..I hope. ..and casey..really never knew you were into hiphop like THAT...I see thats been your main topic lately :-) But NO hiphop is NOT dead, the former red-headed step-child (the south) has just kidnapped it and I don't think we want to give it back. :-)

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2006-12-15T10:51:41-06:00
ID
109328
Comment

skipp wrote: When I think hip hop now I think balling and bitches. I mean is life not a sprint to see who can pick up the most stuff and die? I can only assume you're kidding there. Because, if you're not kidding, the I have to agree with Vince: they all work together to tell the story of Nas' argument that hip hop is dead because no one cares about the art form, only the image.

Author
kate
Date
2006-12-15T11:23:57-06:00
ID
109329
Comment

I wasn't that crazy about disco. I did start to like the Bee Gees a little bit after disco died a needed and deserved death. I was quite hopeful that rap and hip-hop would have a quicker and more painful death but the young folks weren't going for that. Before long some rap and hip-hop starting sounding good to even me. Ninty percent of the time I can't make out the lyrics anyway. An artist can hook me with the music. If I don't like the music I won't listen to the song. Bring back MOTOWN (Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Commodores, et al); TSOP (Ojays, Teddy Pndergrass, Harold Melvin and Blue Notes, McFadden and Whitehead, Patti Labelle, et al); STAX (Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, Staples Singers, Otis Redding, Alber King, et al), Earth Wind and Fire, Dramatics, Chi Lites, Aretha Frankling, James Brown Al Green, the Dells, The Stylistics, War, Luther Vandross, the great blues singers, the great jazz musicians, et al, and I'm all for turning back the hands of time. What happen to the time when you had to be a great vocalist or musician to make hit records? I think beautiful behinds, fronts, faces, arms, legs, and chests and johnsons (although I've only seen one of those) have stepped in. They have been winning a long time now?

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-15T11:25:37-06:00
ID
109330
Comment

I forgot to mention that crazy and raunchy is winning now. I doubt anyone would argue Snoop Dogg isn't crazy.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-15T11:28:26-06:00
ID
109331
Comment

the pitchfork review (and normally i hate every review there) made it loud and clear about what Nas means by "Hip Hop is Dead": He needs us to give a fuck about the art, the history, and the craft or we won't get what he's saying. Hip-hop isn't dying because Nas hates it; it's dying because not enough people love it. Hip hop is dead...Long live hip hop.

Author
nyoung
Date
2006-12-15T11:48:48-06:00
ID
109332
Comment

Kaze/Skip, I think hip-hop is definitely alive in the streets, but I think the hip-hop that makes it to the radio IS what's making artists like Nas make such bold declarations (PS: Hip Hop Isn't Dead is his declaration; I just said I didn't know if I could disagree). But I'm going to re-quote Vince here: Nas' songs on this album "all work together to tell the story of Nas' argument that hip hop is dead because no one cares about the art form, only the image." And I know guys like yall are in it for the art form more than anything, and I respect that, but I just get so disappointed when "rap" (hooks and beats" become more important than the flows. I really do. But, Skip, thanks for reminding me: I can't co-opt hip-hop into what I want it to be. I have to let it be for other people. Still, though, this Nas disc is really everything I want a hip-hop album to be. Oh, check out this post Ken Patterson made on his blog called "Dear Hip Hop"

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-15T12:30:51-06:00
ID
109333
Comment

hmm I cant make that link work, but go to http://gutterspaced.com/wordpress/2006/12/11/dear-hip-hop/

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-15T12:36:59-06:00
ID
109334
Comment

Ray, I think we may agree on something! Love your list of musicians that we need to hear more from. But, I think that's because we are *old* (which is better than being young, of course).

Author
kate
Date
2006-12-15T13:50:35-06:00
ID
109335
Comment

Casey, took a look at Ken's blog. I have to say that Strange Fruit Project is one of my favorite hip hop groups at the moment. You might really like.

Author
kaust
Date
2006-12-15T14:11:40-06:00
ID
109336
Comment

Kate, we agree on lots of things. I'm merely too bellicose to admit it most of the times.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-15T14:19:47-06:00
ID
109337
Comment

I haven't heard Strange Fruit Project. I'll check 'em out. I like Ken's metaphor of Rap as that Crazy Uncle.

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-15T15:25:58-06:00
ID
109338
Comment

ps: Ray, my mom LOVES the Bee Gees (In fact, I wrote a column for the JFP about it once: More Than a Woman I owe a good bit of my musical upbringing to the Brothers Gibb.

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-15T15:29:15-06:00
ID
109339
Comment

Thanks Casey. I like that song too - More than A Woman. Another funny thing happened to make me like the Bee Gees. My wife and I went to visit my friend Kevin, the NASA engineer that I often talk about here, and "Staying Alive" came on. Mind you Kevin was very shy at Tougaloo. So shy that he losted the woman he loved to someone else. Going on thirty five years later and he still lights up at the mere mention or site of her. When "Staying Alive" came on the radio, Kevin who never danced at Tougaloo, jumped to his feet and did the whole John Travolta dance. He knew all of the steps, twists and turns. We laughted until we cried. I didn't even know the boy could dance. I have been trying to trick him into doing it before our whole class of 1978 but he refuses. We have a 30 Year Reunion in 2008. I may have to put up a $100 bucks or more to get him to do it. I'm willing to go up to $500.00. Loved your column. I think I read it earlier before knowing who you were.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-12-15T15:46:56-06:00
ID
109340
Comment

I can somewhat understand Nas’s statement, given he’s considered by many a top ten emcee all the while never really having had crossover mainstream success or huge album sales. My question is would Nas or any of the other emcees who have said “hip hop is dead” say so if they were consistently at the top of the charts and had big numbers in album sales. With that said too much of what’s considered hip hop is repetitive and in the words of Chris Rock “hard to defend”! I can not recall an emcee at the top of the charts with consistent successful album sales saying “hip hop” is dead, wonder why?

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-12-15T17:02:41-06:00
ID
109341
Comment

interesting, interesting, k. I think that may be what he is addressing mostly in this album, too, actually. Ray, I bet that was a damn sight to see. And that would be A+ if he did it for the reunion. Oh gosh.

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-15T18:21:59-06:00
ID
109342
Comment

Can I wear my Iron Maiden T Shirt the funeral? :D Carry on, I know I'm in a minority here..

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-12-15T21:05:30-06:00
ID
109343
Comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBanU-AHMqg

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-12-15T21:19:43-06:00
ID
109344
Comment

The Nas MTV interview is well-worth reading. Can't cut and paste, for some reason, but it's good stuff. BTW- Just heard the title track from the new album for the first time, and this is downright brilliant stuff. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-16T05:37:47-06:00
ID
109345
Comment

"My question is would Nas or any of the other emcees who have said “hip hop is dead” say so if they were consistently at the top of the charts and had big numbers in album sales." ahhhhh...you have asked the $60 million dollar question :-) woudl they now hmmmmmm? "I can not recall an emcee at the top of the charts with consistent successful album sales saying “hip hop” is dead, wonder why?" Because the are indeed succesful! No matter what an artist tells you, if they are signed and meeting with managers, label reps, press, booking agents and retail outlets on a regular basis they are in the business trying to sell records. Otherwise they would be content putting up indie albums on the internet ant thru consignment in local stores not really caring if they sell or not. Nas wants to sell Jay-Z numbers and the Roots do too (They signed WITH Jay-Z looking for that commercial push). Common has touched platinum and wants to see it again especially because his homie Kanye moves big units. The most oscure hiphop artists who rail against the climate would secretly, IMHO, like to sell big numbers, be financially secure, and enjoy the adulation of millions of fans.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2006-12-18T11:04:04-06:00
ID
109346
Comment

"No matter what an artist tells you, if they are signed and meeting with managers, label reps, press, booking agents and retail outlets on a regular basis they are in the business trying to sell records. Otherwise they would be content putting up indie albums on the internet ant thru consignment in local stores not really caring if they sell or not. Nas wants to sell Jay-Z numbers and the Roots do too (They signed WITH Jay-Z looking for that commercial push). Common has touched platinum and wants to see it again especially because his homie Kanye moves big units. The most oscure hiphop artists who rail against the climate would secretly, IMHO, like to sell big numbers, be financially secure, and enjoy the adulation of millions of fans." I agree. Specifically with Nas I think he’s really feeling the pressure having signed with Def Jam with his one time nemesis Jay - Z at the helm.

Author
K RHODES
Date
2006-12-18T19:35:02-06:00
ID
109347
Comment

Sorry, but hip hop IS a dying art form. Say hello to the days of "snap," "crunk" or whatever music. Cats like Rick Ross, Mike Jones, and whoever else these damn people are now-a-das are don't care about the actual music, they care about themselves and their pockets, which is what the bottom line is, money. But if you actually look at the sales of our hip-hop artist: Common, the Roots, Mos Def (who's new album will be released tomorrow), Talib, etc., you'll see that going "commercial" is the only way to succeed in the game. It's almost like selling out. Those "backpackers" are trying to compete in a world that is superficial and no longer values the integrity of music. Nas has always been brilliant and there's a reason he says hip hop is dead. In the end, we all have to wait and see.

Author
willwork4food
Date
2006-12-19T00:05:52-06:00
ID
109348
Comment

willwork, I hear what you're saying and can't claim to be an authority on hip-hop, but did you know they say this about all varieties of music--that when it goes mainstream, the integrity is gone and it loses all meaning. But there's still some great punk out there, punk being the bird-flippingest of the bird-flipping genres, and it went mainstream 25 years ago. I do love the new Nas track (he had me at the Iron Butterfly hook), but I don't think hip-hop is dead. Know what is dead? Rhyming metric poetry, man. I used to write that shit as a teenager ("martyrs confined not to hour or season / I blindly walk barefoot on burning red coals / as I gaze in your eyes and abandon all reason / these are the times that try men's souls," went my love sonnet), and nobody wants to publish it. I mean, nobody even wants to read my limerick summary of the Bhagavad-Gita: Sri Arjuna feared for his karma When he met, on the high plains of Dharma, with his battle-armed kin. Said Lord Krishna: "No sin, if you act in accord with your varna." Okay, I'll stop now and crank up Lenny Kravitz's "Rock and Roll is Dead." You know, from 1995. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-19T01:22:50-06:00
ID
109349
Comment

Actually willwork..Rick Ross had one of the better albums of 2006. I know you may say so but it is actually the first cd I PURCHASED in a while because its flows. It has a continuity that rap albums have lacked...The ability to put it and let it play without maximum "skips". You may not like the content per se' but he has a goos album. you should check it out. With all the hype Im going to get nas' album to see where he's at. but I really started about 5 years ago NOT purchasing the common (I got his first 3 albums. Ressurection and One Day Itll All Make sense are CLASSICS) blackstars, and such because they had gotten TOO preachy and too sappy for my tastes. I like some edge with my music and no one is "GOODY-TWO-SHOES" all the time. It just wasnt touching me, but the other extreme is not longstanding either and can get coarse to the ears. You have to find a healthy medium.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2006-12-19T11:23:37-06:00
ID
109350
Comment

I do think, Kamikaze, you're touching on something there. I want a mix, too: not just preachy. If it's all preachy, sometimes, too, you quit getting the message. It doesn't hit you because you've heard it so much. That's why I kind of lose it on the Coup sometimes, even though Boots Riley puts out some great songs that I love love. And plus, I love that new Clipse album. And that's straight up attitude and freaky-ass Pharrell beats. Nothing to preach, 'cept how trill the brothers are and 'bout how lame posers are. Wamp wamp.

Author
casey
Date
2006-12-22T00:42:24-06:00
ID
109351
Comment

I have a bad feeling that this is going to derail Nas' new track. Not that it's not an extremely sad event in its own right. What a horrible time of year for a family to lose somebody like that. Peace, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-24T12:36:30-06:00
ID
109352
Comment

And Kaze, even I can relate. I'd never ask you to be P.M. Dawn. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-12-24T12:37:15-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus