The New York Times writes today:
Hip-hop was long considered unfit for polite society. And yet the extraordinary snubbing of New Orleans hip-hop comes at a time when the genre is gaining institutional validation. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History recently announced plans for a hip-hop exhibit. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exhibited "Roots, Rhyme and Rage: The Hip-Hop Story" in 1999. Colleges and universities around the country are offering conferences and courses devoted to hip-hop history. At the same time that hip-hop is being written out of the history of New Orleans, it's being written into the history of America. Could that possibly be a coincidence?
The piece ends:
A quarter-century from now, when the social problems that Juvenile and others so discomfitingly rap about have become one more strand of the city's official history, they may find themselves honored in just the kinds of musical tributes and cultural museums that currently shut them out. By then, their careers will probably have cooled off. They'll be less influential, less popular, less controversial; not coincidentally, they'll have a less visceral connection to the youth of New Orleans. And finally, their music — and maybe also their recording studios, their custom jewelry, their promotional posters — will seem to be worth saving. Perhaps, like so many other pop-music traditions, "gangsta gumbo" is a dish best preserved cold.
New Orleans hip-hop music will be snubbed just as much as anywhere else. Because people used the musical arena as an avenue to communicate what is going on in their locales (not to mention the imaginative additions), some of the same topics stepped up and out--the gangsta lifestyle and the drug-dealing lifestyle.
There is so much in the history of New Orleans hip-hop that will be unappreciated by outsiders or hip-hop scholars, much in the same way as folk would look at Nelly (and, hence, his predecessors). The same way people view the negative imagery of "gangsta rap" and close the door, so-called scholars may neglect to realize the detriment of delivering a partial history message.
I type this and I know that it's happened across the country, but my heart belongs to New Orleans. There were so many individuals in New Orleans delivering quality music ***and the writer at NY Times unfortunately writes as if No Limit was ever the dominant brand name of N.O., but that's another story entirely*** during the days of Big Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakim, etc. It would be amazing to go through the older albums today. Unfortunately, Peaches Records and Tapes was located in a flooded area just down the street from Dillard University. I am more than sure that their older stock has been destroyed.
New Orleans hip-hop emerged out of N.O. music. If the Smithsonian does not want to acknowledge what has been pioneered as our hip-hop, they will be forced to reckon with what is to come.
It is a blessing to have hip-hop recognized in American history. Unfortunate as it may be to have an incomplete history recorded in 2006, it is a fact that we humans suffer the same ailments as always. Can't please everyone. In the words of one of the late Great artists of New Orleans, "Either you love me or you love me not; I'mma be me..." [r.i.p. Magnolia Slim aka Soulja Slim]