Many months ago, I wrote a post on here decrying the 30 and 40-somethings bemoaning the current state of hip-hop and dwelling on 1993. I still believe there was plenty of crap around back then to match the current onslaught, but I have to admit to a certain hypocrisy — look at the old Source magazines and old ACG fanboy uploads in the posts that followed…it’s tough to shake off a love for the early 1990s aesthetic. I still have a problem with the people who seem to spend a great deal of time writing “THIS IS THE REAL HIP HOP. NOT WACK SHIT LIKE DRAKE AND LIL WAYNE” under pretty much every rap video from pre-2000 on YouTube. Less time spent on your anti-Drake crusade and more time realising that Roughhouse Survivors playing in a club isn’t conducive to meeting the opposite sex and maybe, just maybe, you’ll at least hold hands with a woman one day.
What I do miss is the level of criticism that went down back then and the seriousness with which rap journos went about their work. The ‘Unsigned Hype’ section of ‘The Source’ felt like something to aspire to and the magazine’s reviews would knock a mic off for minor infractions. I’m sure I recall ‘Beat Down’ dismissing ‘Life’s a Bitch’ for being too smooth. And yes, when we lost that sense of integrity, we ended up with Made Men albums getting 7 mics out of 5. Still, I would give ‘Classic Limited Edition’ 3 miss for the ‘Is It You?’ video alone, which combines some thug Aladdin ‘A Whole New World’ steez with leather camo gear rocked on flying carpets, the worst CGI sphinx ever, Master P as a hologram and cheap ‘Stargate’ knockoff elements that don’t fit the music in any way, shape or form. It’s more fun than another Rik Cordero production though.
What caught me off guard was the new generation of young MCs and their dedication to the early to mid 1990s. Mac Miller spitting over Lord Finesse’s ‘Hip 2 the Game’ was interesting, but Joey BADA$$ and Wiki seem to go even further in their preoccupations with old rap. Are we seeing some curious reaction from the young ‘uns to the mid-life crisis of rap fans my age preoccupied with the works of Gunplay and the artist formerly known as Tity Boi? Joey’s ‘Survival Tactics’ sounds like it’s from the HAZE ‘New York Reality Check 101’ compilation. It’s a bloody Styles of Beyond beat…it doesn’t get more Mr Bongo Jansport headnod than that. Pro Era might stand for Progressive Era, but it’s a throwback sound and the impending mixtape’s called ‘1999.’ That Joey’s 17 is pretty staggering — it’s not surprising that someone can spit at that age…Nas was on ‘Live at the Barbecue’ at 18, Kane seemed to be ghost writing for some greats at 16 and wasn’t Bun-B making UGK music at 15? What’s odd is that Joey was around 4 years old when Styles of Beyond’s ‘2000 Fold’ originally dropped. That makes me feel downright pensionable. Are we seeing indy rap’s sound and look being retroed by a generation too young to remember it burning out in a blitz of verbose super-scientifical babble (and full-lengths bogged down in boring Tribe-copy beats from a time when even a Tribe Called Quest were treading water musically and primed to implode)?
Wiki’s 18 but with a graff preoccupation, Rammellzee and Suicide references on deck, well rehearsed breath control, and inspiration from Cam’ron at the close of his Epic days and Buckshot’s work, he’s defiantly New York at a time when even New York doesn’t want to sound New York. Trumping Joey’s tape date by called his first EP ‘1993,’ I recommend picking it up for £3.25 or so from Bandcamp — it’s accomplished stuff that’s heavy with the wordplay and chunky beats in a world dominated by fluid ambience on the production front, despite the arty presentation it’s not some abstract project. Had ‘1993’ been released in 1993, it would have fallen through the gaps with Jungle Brothers’ 3rd album then been resurrected by German rap bloggers rinsing the Yousendit account in early 2005. Remember that scene in ‘Belly’ with Tommy watching ‘Gummo’ (“Shit is bugged out”) on that big screen in his palatial home? Looking at Eric Yue’s ‘Wikispeaks’ video, it’s as if Hype’s filmmaking opened some weird vortex where a high gloss and lo-fi world merged. Those children of the 1990s are making some interesting music and visuals. It’s all about the movements, and teams Pro Era and Ratking seem happy to talk about their reference points whereas OFWKTA get pissy at talk of anything pre-Pharrell. I like the Ari Marcopoulos helmed promo for Wiki’s ‘Piece of Shit’ too. Are we going to see major label dough getting thrown at folk making music like this? That really would be an early 1990’s throwback.
While we’re talking about the kids, shouts to commanderdeviss3 on his YouTube video where he shows off his “Swag collection” — this looks like a Harmony Korine creation, from the young man’s periodically disappearing headphones to the total lack of joy for any of the amassed swagger he’s hoarded. commanderdeviss3 is awesome.
Out of interest, can anyone explain the Crustified Dibbs/R.A. the Rugged Man ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ comic book? I’ve never seen this item beyond this mention here. I’m assuming that it was a Jive promo item like the Extra Prolific and Casual comic books, with Crustified’s proposed 1994 release date being around the release of ‘Fear Itself.’ I need more information on this one.