The past is the past right? Well, by today’s hip hop standards it really isn’t. Artist’s need to stay current with trends; be it throwbacks, leather t shirts, white t’s, pelle pelle’s, only smoking a certain paper (whats the point of that?), or getting tattoos, hip hop loves its cyclical pattern of whats cool. It’s what keeps the genre’s image fresh and helps sift out what is a positive contribution to the genre and what is a negative one (cough…skinny jeans…cough) but recently it seems like going back in time is the hottest thing in the game.
The new hotness in videos is adding a grainy filter to give the video a more “old school” (“old school” meaning the 1990s at this point, which is sad) feel. Here you can see A$AP Ferg and Bizzy Bone hanging out probably laughing at the hat Ferg decided to wear that day. Notice the time machine of a filter they used to make the viewer feel like they hit 88 and went back to 92. This is a kind-of-interesting effect that gives credibility to how much the 90s mean to Ferg, as if listening to his flow didn’t give you the idea already, and is a cool one-off for a freestyle session video.
Grainy filters are one thing, but now artists have taken it upon themselves to
completely fucking make up add their own version of history to the hip hop catalogue. The most glaring attempt at revisionist hip hop was perpetuated by the “No New Friends” video. Here you see Drake just pretending he was kickin it with Cash Money since 1996…when he was 10 years old.
This is where the trend needs to die.
Going back in time and jumping on the bandwagon of an up and coming record label is something we’d all probably seriously consider and probably do if we had the chance, who wouldn’t want to fly helicopters and hang out on gold tanks while playing basketball right? Re-imagining hip hop’s history through music videos is a cool idea, but when the entire song is about having “no new friends”, putting a “May 15 1996” timestamp on it comes off as a last attempt to show that the artists have “always kept it 100”.
When an artist uses an effect like this one it puts the idea that they literally have been down since day one in the viewer’s head. This is not to say that all viewers will think this, but some will think of the image anytime they hear the song and connect those artists to being involved in hip hop’s teen years. Moreover, using technology to make one’s self seem more credible is frowned upon in hip hop. Remember in the mid 2000s when to be a successful artist you had to look like you benched 300 lbs? Well some artists
totally did were accused of using new found techniques and it was seen as ridiculous and sad. Hopefully this was the last instance of artists revising hip hop’s history, or maybe in a few weeks we’ll see a video of Justin Bieber battling Biggie in Bed-Stuy back in 93.
So I’ve mentioned the 90s before here but until recently it hadn’t occurred to me to wonder where the style (meaning flows, clothes,) of hip hop is going to go after the 90s fad has passed and old Ralph Lauren hoodies aren’t cool anymore (or again). As trends go the 90s one is running short, there logical place for hip hop to go and its to the future. No more Bone Thugs flows in every song (looking at you ASAP everyone), no more “90s babies” references that are meant to be clever, and no more nostalgic boners for anything pre-1999. The 1990s influenced sounds of today are going to be pushed aside for a futuristic, based version of hip hop.
Clothing wise hip hop is starting from scratch with a deconstructed couture. Kanye is running around wearing unisex skirts, everyone wearing black all the time, and the recent embrace of middle eastern oil tycoon style jewelry has hip hop looking like a Mad Max movie costumed by Slick Rick and The Crow. The based level fashion is punctuated by lines like “$650 for the t, no logo”, from Vinny Cha$e on Rolls Rollie, and captures what hip hop is going to style wise: post-apocalyptic, stripped down, high-fashion accented by gold ropes and four-finger rings.
When it comes to flows and music I can only hope that the Bone Thugs flow vanishes, its a nice novelty but hearing it in every song just keeps reminding me why the harmonizing Bone Thugs faded. The 90s musical influences are great, no one is denying that, but if history keeps repeating itself it is bound to implode. When that happens whatever product comes out of it will hopefully help usher hip hop into a new “golden age”similar to the one young rappers are yearning for in their ode’s to the 90s.
Hip hop is constantly growing and trying to figure itself out, being one of the youngest music genres it has to learn what works and what is real at a faster rate than older, more established genres. Having said that, its nice to see that hip hop is on the way to it’s latest “golden age” and carving out a path to growth. It’s going to be a rough go, but the direction hip hop is headed is a solid one.
A staple in any city is the local bodega. This is the spot where wraps, snacks, and if you’re lucky enough Armenian sodas (S/O to Gazoz) are bought. The bodega has a spot in hip hop’s heart that is a unique one. Most everyone in a city can agree that local bodega can serve as a perfect meet up or in some cases smoke/kick it spot. The idea of “community” in hip hop is huge and the local bodega embodies that sense of community perfectly: a close knit group of people/family from the community usually own’s said bodega and do all they can to help out their own community through running it. The love for the bodega is helped by the fact that it sells the essentials (see: wraps and sodas) while being a staple of the neighborhood. Discounts get thrown your way if you go enough, a solid piece of business done by the corner store to help ensure more local customers, and relationships are formed with the various employees/people who hang out in front of the store. Every time I hit mine up its the same four Armenia gentlemen smoking cigarettes outside and it’s the same owner who charges my girl less for things than he does for me. These pieces of consistency that make up the local corner store give it an image, and whatever that image is it is always deeply rooted in the bodega’s neighborhood. So here’s to the store 150 feet away from my house: you might have recently gotten a facelift (a facelift which allowed me to obtain the old sign from your storefront) but as long as you sell swishers and tarragon soda I’ll be there. Finally I’d like to mention the bodega in Beacon Hill called the Asian Express, although you once threw change at my step brother and you get robbed every now and then I won’t stop buying Reese’s and (again) wraps. To all the bodegas: stay up.
Song Of The Day: Radio Sunday (1/20/13)
Song: The Mezzanine
Artist: Kingdom Crumbs
Album: Kingdom Crumbs
I don’t think we’ve heard a collective this good in a long time. This group of Cloud Nice dudes synchronize so well together and the experimental sounds are refreshing to hear. We were talking on Street Sounds today about how Jarv Dee is probably the “most improved” out in the scene. This wasn’t the track played (‘Ridinonthestrength’ was, but stupid Tumblr won’t let me upload it.) He definitely showcases that here. Get this album now here.
The West Coast is on the rise again and younger artists of quality are emerging quite frequently. One of these rappers is Jay L.A.; a Cali rapper who is doing his best to put a newer spin on left coast rap with an even more synthy approach to g funk style cuts.
Recently I had the privilege of listening to Jay L.A’s first mixtape “Words I Never Said”. This tape goes hard, end of story. Jay’s flow is a blunt, deliberate, and heavy one that pairs well with the spacey and synthy beats on this tape. The Cali influence can be heard easily on “Words”, but it sounds like a more modern g funk. This “future funk” sound seems to be coming out of the west mostly (S/O to Kingdom Crumbs) and Jay does a good job at putting his own spin on what could easily become a stagnant type sound if done lazily.
Jay’s first tape is legit, its a nice first effort that makes the listener want another release soon. There are some things that could be done better by Jay, a few of the adlibs come off as a little dated (“bounce with me” feels like something from Bow Wow in the early 2000s) but thats expected on a first tape. With minor flaws, good flows, and strong production (“Drumline” stands out) Jay L.A.’s “Words I Never Said” is solid addition to any listener’s rotation.
So this post has nothing to do with the music of hip hop but a sativa had me thinking last night about the upcoming possibilities in the streetwear game, so here goes. Lately it’s becoming more noticeable that the “hipster” fashion scene and the streetwear genre are mixing and starting to heavily rely on the other style of clothing. Outwear brands now popular with the “hipster” crowd (although these brands are all old news to people north of Arizona) are starting to be seen in things like the “Terrorist Threats” video by Ab Soul featuring Danny Brown; Brown doing his best to rep the brand Patagonia (also known as Pata-Gucci) while rapping about smoking on papaya and overthrowing the US Army. The new year brings new ideas and it seems like it is inevitable for outerwear brands to start collabing with streetwear collectives to keep up with the melting pot that is urban fashion.
Walk into an Urban Outfitter’s store and mostly likely see all of these items: Obey brand hat, a t shirt with a character from Saved By The Bell on it, and a Patagonia brand sweatshirt. The addition of Patagonia into Urban Outfitter’s stores signals that being “outdoors-y” is considered cool, while at the same time having a high enough price tag to be considered fodder for braggadocios hip hop lines. Hopefully soon brands like The North Face, the aforementioned Patagonia, Cloudveil, and Mountain Hardware will start producing lines with the likes of Stüssy, Nike, or any other brand trying to feed the streets with the most current fashion trend.
Song Of The Day: Sippin’ Saturday (1/5/12)
Song: Cadillac Spaceships (Ft. Parker Joe)
Artist: Jarv Dee
Arguably one of the best releases to come out this year, this track comes from Jarv Dee’s DOPE album, DOPAMINE. This song isn’t exactly a club banger, but it’s not too laid back either. It’s dope to just put on at a party and get a little hyphy. I don’t know about you guys, but I wish these two would make more music together. This album has so many other good songs on it, it’s ridiculous. Download this for free here.
Hell yeah. Last time I saw Jarv there were Swisher carcasses everywhere.
Bro if you smoke swishers fuck you. Matter fact, if you smoke joints than I don’t fucks with you. Or if you smoke a bong. Or a pipe. Its all about the gravity bong, the only legit thing to smoke from.
This is what weed in hip hop has become.
It used to be “no stems, no seeds, no sticks” and that was it; weed was weed and anyone who smoked could throw in on a session, but not anymore. Wiz Khalifa’s anti-blunt “only smoke joints” attitude has helped to create the most pointless of divides in hip hop; rappers now state their allegiance to a certain way of smoking weed and turn their nose up at any other way. How and why is this happening? Weed has been in hip hop since the day it started, the culture of the drug is one of collectivism and community not one to divide people over how they choose to enjoy it.
In a genre where everyone thinks they’re the greatest rapper ever/alive weed is what brings everyone back to earth and together. But if you want to smoke with YG you better only bring swishers, or its a no go. Don’t be in the same circe as him and Wiz though, unless you brought a joint and a swisher so there’s no weed-beef. The idea of someone turning down a blunt because it is wrapped in a swisher and not a white owl or packed in a pipe is ludicrous. It is even more disconcerting that there is now another thing in hip hop for people to rep/shout out/be upset over; what we need is less division and more unity.
Now this is not to say people can’t have preferences to their smoking habits (S/O to grape swishers and vapes) but the fact that people have run out of things to rap about to the point where they attack another smoking device is boring. Stop putting things like #teamswisher and #teamjoints in twitter bios, just smoke and chill out. Hopefully this smoking fad will pass and everyone will break a pound and put it behind them.