Where I Stand with Hip-Hop/Rap

Many who meet me nowadays may be quick to assume that I’m far to into the indie scene to enjoy rap music. For the most part, that’s true. But it’s not necessarily the case that I don’t like rap music, so much as I just haven’t been impressed by what’s been happening in the mainstream rap game recently. My appreciation for rap takes its roots to the music of artists like Kurtis Blow, Sugarhill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash.

It then stems to the 90s where gansta rap was unavoidable so naturally I’m always game for Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Dr. Dre, Warren G, and Notorius B.I.G. I also have love for LL Cool J, Timbaland, Lauryn Hill, and of course Missy Elliot. Then there are the groups like Bone Thugs ‘N Harmony, Kriss Kross, Naughty By Nature, That was what rap music is to me, that is what I hail as the golden age of rap for me.

Then there’s hip-hop, for me growing up in the 90s that means Arrested Development, Black Eyed Peas, A Tribe Called Quest, the Frest Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and so many others who created music with a message that just made you want to put them in your stereo and ride down the street with your car windows rolled down and the volume up.

I cannot describe how good that music makes me feel inside. Good memories of growing up in the American south when these songs were popular, and just infamous car rides that they happened to be the soundtrack of. It like you can feel the movement in the songs.

Lately, I just feel like it’s all so unfocused. The early 2000s had me turning away from it all and in place finding the depths of neo-soul to soothe that need for urban music that meant something. The attention to detail of that genre, the stripped down instrumentations and clarity of the percussion, just set a rhythm that seemed right.

I’m not really sure where exactly this post is going. But it all stemmed from my urge to listen to Black Eyed Peas today, and I’m talking starting from my earliest memories of “Joints & Jam” to the more recent “Boom Boom Pow”. Now that’s a group that knows how to make some impressive moves in hip-hop and keep a uniquely fresh edge with each album.

Anyway, something I did enjoy about the 2000s, was the fusion of hip-hop and rap. It seemed like more rappers were running to top hip-hop producers the make sure their backing music portrayed as much meaning as their words. Here are some of the tracks I loved.

1. Twista “Overnight Celebrity” (2004)

Love the fast flow and the use of strings and piano in this track. I still get into this song every time I hear it. Did you know Twista is in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Fastest Emcee” (1992)? 11.2 syllables per second. Talk about getting tongue-tied.

2. Kanye West featuring Adam Levine “Heard ‘Em Say” (2005)

When I think of the Golden Age of Kanye West, I have to remember this song, and the Late Registration album. Many people don’t like my current disregard for the artist. But I feel like this marks his many early works, songs that had message, and songs that could inspire introspective thought and positive change.

3. The Roots featuring Cody Chestnutt “The Seed 2.0”

This song. Man,we need to bring more live instruments and true musicians back to hip-hop. What I love about The Roots as that they play their own instruments as well as right their own songs. They bring it, and they are geniuses.

4. Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started” (2004)

This was the point when I knew Black Eyed Peas were really back and seriously rockin’ it. Elephunk was out and it was loud and clear that the group had new direction, and was ready to keep the tracks coming. The video was hot, and the song was EVERYWHERE. This song STILL makes me want to get up and dance.

5. Common featuring Lily Allen “Drivin’ Me Wild” (2007)

I can’t help loving this song. I’ve always had a respect for Common, and I absolutely adore Lily Allen, so this song was a match made in heaven to my ears. I love the message and the flow of the song. Plus, if you are like me and have a talent for recognizing songs and samples, you’ll realize it’s main theme comes from “Love Has Fallen On Me” by Rotary Connection (specifically right around 1:17 in the track).

So that’s insight and countdown for the day. I hope it inspired good thoughts and memories.

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