Er’body Grown in Here, Right? Pt II

The next installment in my ongoing series where we talk about artist of days gone by.
If you are a head of the golden era of hiphop and political rap then you have likely heard of The Coup.  If not then take Public Enemy set ‘em Oaktown and give them Marxist and Mao leanings instead of the Nation of Islam affiliation and then you got The Coup.  Of course nothing is that simple, but just work with me here. While P.E. had the Bomb Squad, The Coup had Pam the Funktress.

I mean really the empress of funk. You don’t hear me doe. She proclaims herself the Empress of funk my nig.  That’s some serious talking—but she backs it up.  The Coup albums were never at a loss for good beats and that is due to the skills of Pam.  The Funktress also calls herself the party slapper—-because she keeps hitting you with bangers.  She has been around since the 80’s but is perhaps best known nationally from her time with The Coup.  A pioneer in the Bay area which has always been a community engaged in the culture.  Peep her here on the 1’s and 2’s and in the video for Dig It to your right.

“Talk about beautiful things a little bit”
Aging and Hiphop-Generation X Speaks: A Conversation with DVS Next  I interviewed a local Chicago MC and friend of mine, DVS. Aside from being a dope emcee (I knew him as an emcee before we we’re cool) he’s a cool brother with an interesting sense of humor.  For a glimpse into his funny side and lyrical abilities check out the Waldorf and Staler Experience.  Whatever may tickle his funny bone, he and his producer Treblefree have the makings of a dynamic duo. Solid production, lyrics, the Muppets and a Soldier Story concept.  This is hiphop for adults. Fo’sho. We talked over the phone about what it means to be an old head in hiphop.As the conversation progressed it became clear that his answers were going to be decidedly different from most because he never anticipated making music as a means of earning an income.  For him it has always been about the love of the art of lyricism and the culture of hiphop.How old were you when you got into hiphop?  How old are you now?I was 16 when I started. First recorded at 19.  Now I’m 36.36? I thought you were older than that? Naw.How did you get started?It was natural progression for me.  I was used to speaking in public. Giving speeches in church, in school.  Use to being an orator.  That and I was 16 when I went to college so that was my intro in hiphop.  I started writing my own material when I got to college.  It was about self expression more than getting a deal.Do you think hiphop is strictly an arena for young people? I was talking to a young mc who said she didn’t want to be fifty on stage. And I said what if you still have something to say?That’s a really skewed perspective—-alot of people think that it’s a young man’s game. Got cats calling people old on record . That’s incorrect. Its not a fad its a complete culture. Its a part of me.  I grew up with it. The older age range, audience will continue to expand as we get older and will still have something to say. I may not be as venomous on a track but my song construction has expanded from where I was at 19 when all rapped about was fucking, weed and fucking.  My thought process is more cohesive, my concepts more advanced.  I  evaluate my skills from where I used to be.So but…I have never had the paycheck or art conundrum I part because I’ve always had a family, had to earn a living.  its always been that way since 19. Never had that as an option to earn my way via my art.You never were interested in trying to get a deal?Not really, I never banked on it. It was in in the back of mind but I never really saw it as viable.  So when I was down in Memphis In 2000 I was in a group called the Genesis Experiment.  That’s probably when I had my greatest financial success directly linked to hiphop.  I mean even now its considered an underground classic in Memphis hiphop.  So behind the success of that we all went to the  BMI seminar and the producer, Travon Potts for Public Announcement offered us a deal., but it required that he get half of the production, executive production rights on the first five albums,  and then there were points in all these other areas. And that experience just let me know, gave me the insight to the kind of indenture servitude some artists get into in order to get a deal.  I was not willing to make that kind of sacrifice and my family always came first. Even then when all the buzz was going on I had to leave because my family needed me in Chicago.So in other genres you can be an old artist and still make a living. Why is it different for hip hop? Does your presence mean there’s no room for a younger artist? At what point do you foresee yourself exiting the performance arena?  There’s a market for an older artist in other genres. I will stop being an emcee when I feel like I have nothing to say—-that is the only criteria.  Cats like De La Soul are doing it. Qtip can still do it. Sean Price but he was older when he started. Duck Down are still doing it, giving us a sense of the culture. If you put together a quality product there will be an audience. If bootlegging wasn’t so rampant and the new generation wasn’t use to not paying for music people could stay in the game longer and eat. And for me the game has changed in terms of the kinds of engaging material I’m able to put together.  I’m still accessible even with my pop culture references. They tell my audience that I’m seasoned and it works in my favor as an emcee.  But you know like with generation swag, Odd Future appeals to an old head like me.  It seems like they have some understanding of the culture they did the knowledge and then flipped it.  They didn’t like the bullshit and went out and tried something different.  I can feel that.How has the culture been shaped by your generation in a bad way?  With us we tried to horde it, tried to shit on the [next generation] instead of  instead of building, We  demonstrated bad business management.  We flossed out have nothing to show for it.How has the culture been shaped by generation next in a good way?They are showing new and innovative ways to get this money.  I mean Wild Pitch is gone, Def Jam is a shell of its former self.  We demonstrated it as viable art form. They have successful come with a new business model. The use of new marketing tools, social media.  I can share my music with a tool like bandcamp. Are we ready to see a 50 year old emcee in the mainstream?I don’t think anyone is ready for it. That’s something we haven’t seen yet. I mean KRS ONE has lost a step, Masta Ace is prolly the exception consistently put forth quality material but he’s more of an underground artist. If it happens he’ll [who ever s/he is will] be the first nigga to pull it off, the first motherfucker doing it.How do you continue to be active in the culture as you age? How do we engage with the younger generation? You have to continue to be active participants in the culture. The disrespect has more to do with the culture, than the music. The same cat who will say fuck you old niggas on a record is the same cat likely to say it on the block.   Its a reflect of where we are as a community.  We have to play our position, continue to put forth our music. If your fan base is shrinking then you have to  take it where you have to.  Mentoring is critical. Getting old doesn’t mean stop being a pioneer. Just because you’re getting older as long as continue on the path that you created you’ll be aight. The politics of trying to get money has been the biggest hindrance to the game but  the art is always gonna be pure.

Will Gen Y put Gen X in the hiphop old folks home? Pt II

  • I had been pondering these question for a while and then LA said this on twitter.
  • “U shouldn’t be rapping at 55 unless it's for honorary purposes”.
  • Here is how our conversation progressed.
  • @UCanCallmeLA How old is too old to be a bgirl? Hiphop is a young person's game?
  • @UCanCallmeLA I ask because its a question I'm exploring on my blog and a younger person's perspective is needed in this discussion
  • @alwaysabgirl I think hip hop is a history of youth culture. Idk how old [is too old] but I just think the ring leaders should be old asses
  • @UCanCallmeLA You know this is new for our us old heads too. We didn't necessarily think we'd be old and still a part of hiphop
  • @alwaysabgirl Hip Hop could be analogous to any other sport. There should be the coaches, the captains, MVPS, players, cheerleaders and waterboys.
  • @alwaysabgirl In trying to be the top all the time that they don't realize that [it’s] not helping its growth
  • @UCanCallmeLA So you would like to see the older generation groom the younger generation? What if you still have something to say?
  • @alwaysabgirl I don't like the word groom, but instead I feel mentorship and supportiveness is really necessary in hip hop
  • @UCanCallmeLA Competition between the generations shouldn't exist because we should be focused on mentorship? What about money?
  • @alwaysabgirl I agree completely but I think there is way of telling ur story without the competition which is what I was getting at
  • @alwaysabgirl The competitive stance of hip hop [should morph] into a more parenting stance at which u tell the youth ur story in hopes it will galvanize
  • @UCanCallmeLA With the exception of Mcs and Bboying---Any other part of the culture you could technically perform until you're old...
  • @UCanCallmeLA And [earn an] income. You can be an old writer, an old graf, an old dj-- If u make the focus mentorship how do u get paid?
  • @UCanCallmeLA After 30 years of being an artist and selling a product?
  • @alwaysabgirl Money is cool but u can get money without saying I'm the Don Dara when ur reaching ur 50's. Look at Queen Latifah.
  • @UCanCallmeLA Is Queen still active in the culture? Some would say no--She made a career segueway.
  • @alwaysabgirl and yes but Queen Latifah still raps. And it's not for the money as much but for the opportunity to still tell a story
  • @alwaysabgirl That's why u must diversify ur product in my opinion. Just being a rapper is not enough. U need other outlets for income
  • @alwaysabgirl Education and other frontiers. But these are just my hopes and I will try my best to get some of this done
  • @alwaysabgirl I also envision a hip hop that breaks the barriers of commercialism and allows to open doors back up in poetry theater...
  • @alwaysabgirl In my hopes I see a more diverse group of ppls telling more truths than lies being coached by the ppl who was before them..
  • @alwaysabgirl with the age comment I made earlier
  • @alwaysabgirl they have that I yearn for.
  • @UCanCallmeLA I'm kinda thinking out loud ..so excuse me. Will the younger generation's music continue to speak to the older?@alwaysabgirl no prob mama thank u! : )
  • @alwaysabgirl In my vision I would hope so because at the end of the day we are all human and we go through similar troubles in our life..
  • @alwaysabgirl [there’s] thought and conversation and diversity within us all
  • @alwaysabgirl So why shouldn't my story relate to an older persons and vice versa.
  • @UCanCallmeLA I think some stories are universal, I also think you don’t decide to tell some stories until you get older--in part because
  • @UCanCallmeLA It hasn’t occurred to you or happened to you until just then.
  • @UCanCallmeLA So what does the hiphop old folks home look like? By what age are we stepping to the side 40? 45?
  • @alwaysabgirl lmfaoooo I would never put u in a home per say. I would hope instead u would decide at ur right time to step down from...
  • @alwaysabgirl Well I think u can be a spoken word artist forever and in fact my favorite poets are the lost poets cause their is a wisdom
  • @UCanCallmeLA Thanks for having this convo with me sis. I appreciate it. It was useful.
  • In light of what was said and the format. I thought I should take the conversation to email for the follow up. Stay tuned for Part III of our great discussion on the need for collaboration and mentoring between Generation X and Y hip hop heads.

Will Gen Y put Gen X in the hiphop old folks home? Pt I

My very first post on this blog  sought to examine hiphop and aging.

 

Lately amongst women my age we have been asking, questioning what’s out there for women our age who still love hiphop.  (What does a 40 year old bgirl look like?  I don’t know, but we gonna find out).  What about the up and coming women? … If the generation before can’t add anything to the discussion from age and perspective then certainly we aren’t doing a good job of assessing our culture.  This has really been along time coming.  I love hiphop but as I got older I had to ask myself should I still be listening to this?  Can one grow out of hiphop?  Can hiphop grow old gracefully? Will hiphop grow up?  Maybe it has and I’m focused on the wrong thing.  Here’s an opportunity for all of us to weight in on these questions and concerns? …

I’m sure we’ve all  heard it said by now  that hiphop is an young man’s game.  It began as a youth culture. True.  But so did rock and roll, blues and jazz.  I mean after all, It’s party music.  Who do you think is going to all these parties and juke joints, drinking beer and eating pigs feet?  But these genres didn’t remain grounded in youth culture they grew as did their audience.   Roger Daltrey, of The Who is no longer singing I hope I die before I get old.  He’s 66 and still performing.

And so goes the way of hiphop? Or does it?  We continue to explore this question and shape conversations on the aging of hiphop culture as we the first generation who grew up on it gets older.  

I  invited several active participants in the culture of various ages to ponder these larger issues and the questions that feed the conversation.  LA, a young emcee out of Brooklyn who just dropped her first mixtape entitled The Presentation.  DVS, an underground legend in the Memphis hiphop scene, also a part of the Chicago group Four Fingers and Thumb  and one half of the duo behind The Waldorf and Statler Experience series of EPs and Brandon Williamson, Thee Ambassador of Sole Search, the number one selling sneaker head app available for Ipad, Iphone, Itouch and Android.   

Much of the dialogue was had around growth, mentorship and the mainstream. Where is the mentorship in hiphop?  Is that something that makes sense in the commercial arena?  While the culture has always had each one teach one as a mantra.  That is not a philosophy that is embraced in the mainstream necessarily.  In this ongoing series we will continue to engage members of the community around these questions and share them here.

Up first my conversation with LA.  I ran across this emcee’s mixtape about a month ago online and was thoroughly impressed.  She is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University.  She is a spoken word artist and emcee and just dropped her first mixtape, The Presentation.  

Queen in the UK jungle

Here to chat to you is Lioness Official.  Six years on the London Grime scene. Released a highly anticipated mixtape in summer of 2010 and opened for Rick Ross in November 2010.  

I first came across this MC watching this. She to my eyes was a serious standout. Witty lyrics, adaptable flow, great voice. It was also nice to see women making their presence known. Grime is seemingly primed for this in part because the genre is still so young. Making the moves now will only make it easier later.  Get yo tissue ready because she spits.

Er’body Grown in Here, Right? cont…

Boss was on her way to underground gangster success until it came out that she wasn’t quite the G she purported to be on record.  It stopped her hot career in its tracks.  

This was a period in time when hiphop still demanded authenticity from its artists.  If you talked about it, you had to be about it.  Not the case today if Rick Ross’s career trajectory is any indicator.  

 
However,  this is particularly interesting since there were skits on the album that indicated as much.  Clearly no one put it into context until much later. Truly her background only became something to investigate because her album, Born Gangsta, was the number one female rap duo selling album of all time.  

At the time and even now I had some issues with her gansta persona.  Mostly because I’ve never been a supporter of gansta rap and the violence and negative imagery it highlights.  

But credit must be given where credit is due. This woman can spit like no other and she reps for the D, even if she is on some west coast gansta shit on the album and in these videos.  Though to hear
her tell it (and others) she been on some gansta shit since day one.  

As part of my “Er’body Grown in Here, Right” feature let’s reminisce on one of the nicest chicks on the mic. Here’s Recipe of Hoe from the Born Gangsta’s album.  A very successful twist on the typical gansta/hoe cliche track.

alwaysabgirl

alwaysabgirl

Rheal Talk about women and hip hop not necessarily in that order.

Oh yeah we cuss ALOT--might not want to read us at the J-O.
Check us out on http://twitter.com/alwaysabgirl
.
Comments and Feedback are welcome and appreciated.
google-site-verification: googlef313eaf78fbeb7f1.html