State of Emerge-MC: Mos Def Warned Us
In October of 1999, we were all blessed with a gem that could never be replaced. The world was introduced to a classic album that has been slept on and not given it’s just due. The album I speak of is, “Black on Both Sides” created by no other than, “The Mighty Mos Def”. Some readers might be thinking, “Damn, the album was tough but a classic though?” Others are probably reading through this smoothly, knowing that there’s never no need to question a work of art that was lyrically composed with solid messages. Messages that hold true until this very day. The most important of them all probably flew past a lot of listeners ears and wasn’t understood for the foretelling prediction that it was. Funny thing is, you don’t have to travel too far through the album to hear this wordsmith’s wizardry because it’s right in the intro. Yup, it was before he even starts spitting on any track. So, what am I talking about, right? Let me explain.
On the opening track, “Fear Not of Man”, Mos does an incredible job prefixing the album by asking a simple question, “What do you think is going to happen to HipHop?” during his talking intro.
It is such a simple question but nonetheless, had such a complex meaning behind it. You see, if one is not to notice the flaws and failures of something, they would probably not fully understand the questioning of its legitimacy. For example, imagine you having a Porsche in your garage. Now, picture that beautiful car being in your favorite color and is in pristine condition. A family member decides to stay over at your house for a week and sees your car sitting in park. Well, as we all know, people love to grab the attention of those around them. One way or another, most of us love to “make a splash” and gain some type of status. This is especially true if it can generate monetary gain. So here it is, your family member decides that they are now going to take this thoroughbred of a vehicle and drive it all around your neighborhood. They’re driving to the local bodega, pizzeria, and any other place that they know would have people around it. They are double parking it anywhere they choose and letting people sit all over its hood. In fact, someone even challenges them for money to race your gorgeous vehicle with a dirt bike, across a non-paved street that has pot holes in it. Being that the car is not that of your guest, they have no care to keep it in perfect condition. It’s not their priority; No, not at all. Their priority is to gain this fictitious notoriety and “get this money”. By the time you get your car back, there are scratches all around the sides, windows cracked, mirrors hanging from hinges, and exhaust pipes touching the floor. In other words, your heavenly whip has now lost all its value. Disrespect to the fullest, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened to our beloved culture. That has to be the precise reason Mos Def probably felt the need to pose that question.
(The Four Elements of Hip Hop)
We all know the history of HipHop. We know why it was created and even how. If you don’t know, you need to do your research. This culture and way of life was given birth as a form of expression. Whether it was through Break Dancing, DJing, Graffiti, or getting on that Mic our cultural forefathers were molding something bigger than themselves. And yeah, there was bragging and egos involved but, HipHop was a funneled bullhorn used to get a point across. People involved with the art form were reporting the news of the ghettos that they were bred in. Even through the bravados and competitive lyrics, there was a genuine feeling of, “this is our baby and we will raise it right”. Somewhere along the lines, money became the sole motive. Respect for what once was became a joke and modern day black-facing. Our Porsche became equivalent to a broken down hooptie, used just for joyriding. Something that had such a powerful presence was diminished to something of no respect.
So where did it all go wrong? There are different documented events, eras, and people that are to be blamed throughout this timeline of existence. We can point to the times of so called producers putting out albums of recycled trash and turning the negative attention towards all who called them out. We can also shine the light on the times where people of other genres of music became the A&R’s and CEO’s of the very record labels putting out supposed HipHop. And then again, we can simply say that HipHop’s true demise started when “payola” was spawned. Or, we can just put everything in one bowl and say, these are all the ingredients to the destruction of something we love. Case and point, ask a teenager who says, “they love rap” to name you the elements of the culture. Some would turn to you and tell you that DJing is when a person sits by the speakers and switches the music on their phones. Could you imagine that? The DNA and intricate make-up of HipHop’s foundation has been and continues to be erased from the memories and psyche of all who are, “knowledgeable followers”. “Our baby” has been attacked for years and the question is, WHY? Why has something that was supposedly so hated in the past, become so interesting now? And once again, I can only say it’s because history repeats itself and “cooning” is alive and well.
HipHop has been diluted to a more synthetic and cheaper form of itself (currently known as “Rap”) and has become “the make-over experience”. The sad part is, its like seeing a healthy, respected, and beloved athlete turning into a crackhead right before your very eyes. The transition took its time and toll throughout the years but nonetheless, the mission has been completed. You can see that through every young kid who’s wearing extra tight jeans; saying, “no homo” yet have their boxers and ass showing; and now at the lowest of lowest, idolized artists wearing dresses and skirts. So something that was created to voice the struggles and challenges of a people has now done a negative 180 and turned into a whole bunch of mentally confused, who are helping to continue the confusion of their listeners. The true “JediMindTrick”. How sick is that? “Our Baby” has been taken from us and has been violated to the point where we can’t even claim it as “ours” anymore. It is now a rag doll, plaything, used to spread the vibes and messages of those sitting back and getting rich off of it. The Matrix is real!
And let’s set the record straight, since we’re on the topic. There is definite differences and they need to be differentiated from. HipHop is a culture that should be respected as such. It changed lives and did more for a lot more people than probably any genre of music. That is very different from what current “rap” is. Furthermore, there is a tremendous difference between an MC and a “rapper”. MC’s spit for the sake of Motivating/Moving Crowds. Rappers spit for the sake of getting a coin, no matter how much there’s no motivating involved. In fact, rappers are perfectly fine with doing absolutely anything for status. Thus the reason I spit when I was younger, “HipHop changed lives/that’s a fact/put a “c” in front of rap/nothing but crap”.
If anything currently speaks volumes at all, it would be Hopsin’s newest video, “No Words”.
I salute him for speaking up and letting it be known that we have been dealing with nothing but gibberish for way too long. It’s been too many years of absolute utter nonsense being spewed and released. There are many who are still working hard on putting pen to paper and spitting actual heat while, it’s those who commit no time to their craft, and are seeing number one spots on billboards and charts. More trash is being acknowledged than is skill and genuine talent. More negative messages are being promoted from “PG” (Pure Garbage) rated rappers than positive MC’s trying to uplift people. This is a trend that needs to be changed immediately.
What can we do? How can we change what’s been going on for more than fifth-teen years? During “Fear Not of Man”, Mos might have given us the answer to that. While answering the question of, “what’s going to happen to HipHop”, he also explained, “So, if HipHop is about the people..and HipHop won’t get better until the people get better, then how do people get better?”. Yes, it starts with us, “the people”. It starts with each and every one of us who hates what our first love has become. It starts with intros from Mos Def speaking on change; It starts with videos like that done by HopSin; It starts with each and every true HipHop head to not support the music that doesn’t fit the standard and, every radio station that helps with the continuous hypnotism; And, it can also start with every real MC merging together for this movement of “Emerge-MC” to stop HipHop’s “State of Emergency”. Maybe then we’ll have a fighting chance to get HipHop back to its prime. Then again, maybe my wishful thinking is nothing more than too much of an imagination when we live in a world that celebrates Columbus Day!
By: LITESKIN | @