My son, 9YO, has decided that hip-hop is his future. He is consumed by it, lives and breathes it, and if it came in Pop-Tart form, he’d eat it too. As a fan of hip-hop from back when Adidas and fat shoe laces were in style, I have a certain level of appreciation for his new-found interest in that particular art form. And make no mistake, it’s an art form. However, while I’m cool with him showing an interest, today’s hip-hop isn’t exactly a shining example of music at its purest form. Today’s music, by and large, is utter pig swill surrounded by a steaming pile of bat guano.
I realize that I come off as an old-school fuddy-duddy trapped in the past, but seriously, today’s artists aren’t even trying anymore. Back in the 80s (and to a lesser extent, the 90s), rappers usually had a point to their songs, some type of greater message to convey. Even people like Salt ‘N’ Pepa or NWA had SOMETHING they were trying to say in their music, even if it didn’t seem that way on the surface. But I want someone to listen to the stuff that’s on the radio today (and don’t be diggin’ through track 12 on Flo’Rida’s CD to show me some song that’s about his momma or about the sad state or welfare, that doesn’t count) and tell me if there’s any message there other than “Hey girl, shake whatever body part is closest to me and count the diamonds on my rented headband”. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em (yes, that’s his stage name) has a song called “Booty Meat”, which evidently is about his deep appreciation of the musculature of a female’s gluteous maximus, and how much he’d enjoy it if the female in question would offer a small portion to him as a gesture of goodwill. It’s a long walk from “The Message” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. And I know that times change and people’s taste in music shifts from one generation to the next, but it’s truly disheartening to hear some of the stuff out there now and how popular it is, while the same kids listening have absolutely no idea who KRS-ONE is, or Whodini, or Digital Underground, Public Enemy, or Brand Nubian, or countless other rap artists who had something to say. It wasn’t that you had to agree with them; but you at least had to recognize that they had a point. I’m having a very hard time hearing the point behind a lot of today’s stuff.
Now, I ALSO get that most of the music isn’t for deep reflection – it’s for dancing, pure and simple. I get that, and that’s why I’m not cropdusting the entire lot of rappers out there today. If you make a song just to the sake of dancing, and you don’t take yourself too seriously, I’m good with that. That’s all that “It Takes Two” by Robb Base and E.Z. Rock is, after all. But all the “I’ve got all this money and I’m buying platinum-plated rhesus monkeys and medallions the size of banjos while I shoot at my enemies, or the chick who screwed up my order at Burger King, and bitch you better put on your thong and dance in my champagne-filled pool” crap is utter nonsense. And that’s the stuff that I catch 9YO secretly listening to, way too often.
I’m trying to educate the lad. I have Sirius satellite radio, and whenever the old-school rap station isn’t playing Ice Cube songs, I’ll flip over and let him hear some Eric B. & Rakim or some 3rd Bass or even Hammer, depending on my ability to stand it long enough. And sometimes it sinks in, like the day he heard a DJ scratching on a record and didn’t know what it was (’cause today’s artists don’t really do that anymore), but he’s entrenched in his generation’s version of music, and nothing I say will pull him out.
Just like me, when I was his age, listening to the music that my mom called “junk”. The wheel keeps on turnin’.
Anywho, 9YO was slated to perform at a PTA function at school about Earth Day which involved some dancing. Before this event came about, his dancing style could be best described as…well, there aren’t many words that could describe it. It was a hot mess marinaded in a confusing mass of arms and legs and The Worm. Yes, the one piece of old school that he picked to cultivate was The Worm. But once he told us about this, he seemed dedicated to honing his craft. He practiced in secret, not letting us see his ill skills. He had me take him to school 20 minutes early so he could work with the music teacher. He was focused – which, for him, is utterly amazing. We didn’t know what to expect when we went to the school that night to see the performance.
But this is what we saw.
He’s the one in the middle, in the blue cap.
Stick with it all the way through – it’s so very worth it. Trust. If the video won’t play, just click on it to go to YouTube directly.
Lawd have mercy. The boy was throwing down like an extra from “Step Up”. I couldn’t help but be impressed.
But I’m still not letting him listen to Soulja Boy. I have to draw the line somewhere.