(Boogie Down Teenagers KRS-ONE, D-Nice, and Kenny Parker)
Peeped this morning on COCAINE BLUNTS, these links to the XXL articles on the making of ILLMATIC, READY TO DIE, and CUBAN LINX. Recommended read for any rap fan or just anybody interested in great stories about great art, ie. how tiny, insignificant and random details can turn raw talent into classic material (and also, if time indeed tells, on how memory can be very selective sometimes).
One of the greatest mysteries of this rap game is: what was it that made 1988/90 the golden age of Hip-Hop music? ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions’, ‘Critical Beatdown’, ‘Paul’s Boutique’, ‘3 Feet High And Rising’, ‘People’s Instinctive Travels’, ‘Straight Outta Compton’, ‘Long Live The Kane’, I just can’t stop that list. There were at least twenty absolute Hip-Hop classic albums produced in this two year span. At least.
Now compare it to the number of great rap records released in the almost 20 year period from 1990 to now. Ten, give or take? Nas’s first joint, a couple of Wu-Tang records, couple of Jay-Z’s, Biggie and Outkast maybe. Dr Dre might’ve produced two or three, ok. After that, left to your own opinion, if you want to call ‘Get Rich Or Die Trying’, ‘Marshall Matters’, ‘Late Registration’ or ‘Tha Carter 3′ great Hip-Hop achievements, it is really one’s opinion.
Anyway, you get me: there had to be something in the water of these NYC taps back then. Were the artists better? I doubt it, the later developments in LL-Cool-J, Rakim or Big Daddy Kane careers don’t really vouch for it. Was it the music production technique? Probably, as in any mostly youth artistic movement, the limitations of technical means tend to make people search more, if you may. But then again, what do you make of Pete Rock, Premier, or Just Blaze beats, they’re definitely as good as anything on ‘By Any Means Necessary’, maybe even better. No, it has to be something else.
The usually agreed explanation is the hunger, the restrictions, the grinding, or if you want to summarize THE MONEY***, or the lack of it. Which makes our genre very material-oriented and give reason to the most common critic argued against Hip-Hop. Come to think of it, Graffiti art, Punk music, Skateboarding, anything that was defined against the well-established by kids who didn’t care, to finally end being a solid part of what it tried to destroy in the first place, faces the same issue ADDRESSED BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO WANT TO AMEND IT SO THEY TOO CAN MAKE MONEY OUT OF IT, in some kind of absurd, adapt-or-die twist.
It’s almost like Charles Darwin made me want to blast BRING THE NOISE super loud this morning,
***Nod to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing track number 10.