I was talking with a few kids who were way more pysched about ‘My Morning Jacket’ and ‘Panic At The Disco’ than they were about ANYTHING that was going on in rap music. It’s interesting to have a conversation about Jay-Z and Nas with people that don’t know (or care) who Peedi Crack or Nashawn are. As big a commercial juggernaut as Hip-Hop may seem it still doesn’t resonate past popular culture when you cross reference mainstream America. When I asked these kids who they thought the best rapper was they all agreed that Tupac Shakur was the “realest”.

Like it or not, and I don’t like it at all, but Tupac is the zenith for rap music in many people’s minds. It’s already been more than ten years since Tupac’s untimely death and Hip-Hop has gone on to transcend the violence that defined the period when Tupac and Biggie were killed, but we find that it now sputters in the hands on corporate mismanagement and artistry that is neither compelling nor challenging intellectually.

These are dark days for the artistic movement called Hip-Hop. Will it descend from omnipotence much like cubism and jazz have done when there were no longer significant artists to push the envelope of creativity? Hip-Hop is surely in danger, but I believe in the talent and desire of a few artists that remain in the genre. Hopefully their light will shine on as an example for a future generation of artists. Not just to save Hip-Hop, but the essence of the griots, who speak the pre-historic poems of the honored elders.

The first piece in my holy trinity of rap music is Raekwon the Chef. Only Built For Cuban Links has stood the test of time as one of, if not the definitive snapshot of Hip-Hop music. The soundscape and lyrical content described a place that was battered and bruised by supremacy, but through faith in GOD it would persevere. Contained therein was the charisma and swagger of the essence of Hip-Hop. Something was being made from nothing. I can find the DNA traces of OB4CL in not just Hip-Hop music, but television and cinema as well. It’s the album that keeps giving back.

The second piece of Hip-Hop music’s holy trinity is the yin to Raekwon’s yang. Ghostface and Raekwon exist on the highest plane of complementary artists. This is Hip-Hop’s version of MILES and ‘TRANE. Both are virtuosos that can bland in with a larger group. To my ears, GHOSTFACE represents the evolution of Kool G Rap.

nas NaS
Some might argue that in terms of sheer talent NaS is the greatest Hip-Hop artist ever, but it has always been a seemingly on again off again relationship that he has with Hip-Hop that prevents me from giving him that title. There is no question in my mind that NaS, Chef and Ghost are the next generation behind RAKIM, KANE and G RAP who were the followers of CAZ, STARSKI and MELLE MEL. I anxiously await the next trinity of prophet artists to emerge. Until then, I know who killed it with his ether and his rhymebook.

There is a short list of emcees that give me the impression that they would rhyme for no money at all. It just means that much to them. GAYME is one of those dudes. His style continues to improve and he mainatains an intensity and purpose for his art. He constantly gives homage to the people that have influenced him almost to the point that it become annoying. His age and his attitude all point to an upside still for his potential. That and the fact he can always find an issue to grind his axe on means he should remain interesting to listen to in the new year.

A few years ago when MOS DEF said that KANYE was going to save Hip-Hop I scoffed at the notion. Who was this guy?!? In that small window of time I have come to understand KANYE as someone who respects and revers the architects of Hip-Hop. KANYE is the poduction heir to JAY DILLA and his lyrical ability grows with every album. KANYE took an incredible leap of faith when he made those remarks during the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon. No one in his peer group had similiar courage. The true spirit of Hip-Hop is when you are not a coward to talk truth to power.

9 Responses to “MERRY CHRISTMAS From TUPAC’s Hockey Jersey…”

  1. sangano says:

    ^cosign….AZ keeeps churning out albums too

  2. miss ahmad says:

    loving panic at the disco right now, it’s all the rage in vegas….go figure. they’re not the killers but then again they don’t need to be…the album is dope and they are gonna make a splash like wet panties at christmas parties:-)

    Feliz Navidad Amor!

  3. Amadeo says:

    The Purple Tape is a benchmark in my life…Hip-Hop or otherwise. I still get a sick pleasure out of the look on Mike Myers face when Kanye says that.

  4. Vik says:

    hip hop ain’t dead…..yet.

    it’s up to us, the FANS, to keep it alive.

  5. esbee says:

    ^^^ What Vik said..

    I can’t be mad at the picks…

  6. notoriousekb says:

    you are one of the few niggas who get it right…merry christmas…i just bought cuban link on cd for the 5th(!) time

  7. SordidPuppy says:

    I like how you include Kanye in this list. His rapping gets hated on a lot, and it’s not undeserved, but as you say, he is improving. His verse on “grammy family” is the shrimp tacos.

  8. Candice says:

    Good picks. I cosign on Kanye just for saying George Bush doesn’t care about Black People.

  9. .. says:

    What about Beanie sigel and Z-ro??

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