I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop, jazz, and RnB lately. I forgot how much I enjoyed fully immersing myself in the music as the sound waves beat on my eardrums. My journey started with some of the newer pieces from the likes of Nas and Skyzoo, but soon went back to some of those who changed music forever: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wu-Tang, The Coup, Public Enemy, NWA, and Common. I then began to think about how times, music, and the people themselves have changed. When discussing and reading about these changes, I often come across such lamentations as “I miss the ‘old’ Common,” or “Ice Cube used to yell out ‘F*** Da Police,’ now he’s starring in family movies?” Many talk about how this transition from producing underground street anthems to living as mainstream celebrities as selling out.
What’s ironic about rapping about the trauma of the streets is that, once one finds success with their music, they are able to transcend the situations that cause that trauma. After all, most rappers talk about how much they want to get out of the hood, not go into it. What I would like to see is work being done to change the systems that create these negative conditions in the first place, rather than focus on how somebody has “sold out” because they’re no longer rapping about crime, drugs, and run-ins with the law.
I love this video because Illdoctrine is able to eloquently say what has been percolating in my head for years.