The other day I was scrolling through my iPod and I realized that there is damn near zero rap music on there. This made me feel a bit odd, hip hop used to be the only thing on my iPod and now it is virtually non-existent. This lead to an even more depressing realization, and that is that I really don't give a crap that there is no hip hop on my iPod.
Why is this a big deal? Well at one point I held the belief, and all be it a corny belief, that hip hop was my life. My love for this style of music was true, complete and total. I spent my nights and days digesting raps, analyzing albums and stanzas, absorbing beats, studying classics, and trying to wrangle the beast. In college I spent more time rapping, listening to rap, going to shows, and performing than I ever did in the library or in the books. I would travel far and wide just for the chance to hear an obscure MC and producer. I spent every Thursday night, nights when I should have been taking advantage of nickel draft nights with the FM wires wrapped around my toes so I could tape the legendary Stretch and Bobbito show and maybe hear a Company Flow or a Juggaknots song.
When I graduated college the obsession continued to grow, I moved to Brooklyn, started attending underground shows, building friendships with rappers and producers, finding my way into studios and onto wax. I could not get enough. It was all rap all the time. Eventually I even walked away from a pretty good career I built in the world of advertising sales for the opportunity to tour, travel the world and live the hip hop lifestyle, whatever the Fuck that means.
It was truly my life calling. Again I know that sounds very naive and childish but I was able to make a living, pay New York City rents and work only as an artist. I was living the life. It meant everything to me. So what happened? How did I go from total dedication to complete and total indifference? I have a few guesses and none of them have anything to do with the quality of the music. I hate people who use that as an excuse because it's bullshit. The music, while maybe falling off the mainstream cultural radar a bit, is just as vibrant as ever and I am of the mindset that it is better for rap music as a whole to be out of the mainstream. Rap music is always at its best when it isn't trying to conform and is about the individual expressing themselves, their lives and their world views.
Look around right now at some of the amazing artists that are popping up all around the hip hop landscape. Whether it is your A.Dd+, Mellowhype, Mr. MuthaFuckin eXquire, Homeboy Sandman, Lil B, etc. there is no shortage of quality unique artists out there. The art form is always going to be alright with or without me and for that matter anyone from my generation that grew up on it. In fact I personally think it will thrive even more without us.
My issues with hip hop are more personal in nature and two-fold. The first is that I learned how the bread was made.
The mystery is gone.
I have seen behind the curtain.
For a while this was exciting, unfortunately it also shows you all the warts and rotten smells that comes with being on the inside. I saw all of the shitty promoters who had no business bringing in acts from out of town, the egomaniacs who's idea of themselves was much grander than any ideas they brought to the table. There are so many shitty self important artists that just want to get on and hound you non-stop despite not being your friend, colleague or associate. There are just as many brilliant artists that throw it away because they are so self absorbed that they cannot edit themselves in either behavior or output. While I have made many a great friend from the art, they are far out numbered by the vast population of shit bags and slackers, so much so in fact that I often joke around that rappers and producers are the worst people on the planet. The problem is that it is only a half joke.
The other part of this equation is merely over saturation. I remember as a child overhearing a conversation my father was having with a customer of his who owned a pizzeria who claimed that he hated pizza.
I was shocked.
How could someone hate pizza?
At the time I would have eaten pizza for every meal for the rest of my life if the option to do so was made available to me. Now I understand this. After spending 20 years obsessed with hip hop it just doesn't have the same impact. I have put into it all I am willing to. I no longer get the same thrill. Don't get me wrong there are still artists I love, and songs that hit me, unfortunately now once I hear them I never need to hear them again.
You see, this isn't even about hip hop, hip hop is great, and always will be. Hip hop really is a wonderful art form and I wish all of the people involved and making exciting music the best, I can just no longer give a Fuck. I'm sorry hip hop it's not you, it's me.