Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Remember When Hip-Hop Was Plain & Simple?

I know yall read that topic and was like wtf? What im trying to say is, remember back then when rap was all about dope beats and rhymes? When innovative ideas was really simple & smart? When the gear wasnt over the top and expensive? As u see now a days, hip-hop has became way too complex, over the top & expensive! Its sad it got this way, but it was gonna happen regardless over time as hip-hop has got bigger and bigger. But who's to say we can revisit that time? Can we go back to just plain & simple ideas and concepts hip-hop used to be?

To take a matter of fact..... videos. Why are are all the videos from the 80's & 90's are considered classics with no major money spent on them? Most of those videos was shot like in a party scene, round the way, outside, parking lot or a simple venue. But they were all dope and the visuals made it seem more than what it was. U gotta give Hype Williams a lot of credit for the slow motion in videos that made them seem more than what it was. Take a look now. Millions are spent on videos and the outcome is way trash! Matter of fact, videos are now almost extinct!!! There is no way this would happen in the 80's & 90's cause videos was a very important tool in getting ur music out to the people. I know the internet has changed things, but there is no way videos shouldnt be considered necessary anymore. They are a vital part of hip-hop, go back and check out the classics and u can reminicse about when u 1st heard that particular song and where u was at. Also remember in the mid 90's when rhymin on top of a dope ride in ur vid was on some next level stuff? It wasnt major but it was very creative, innovative and simple compared to nowadays with high tech visuals and other unnecessary stuff.

How bout the actual concept of puttin together a record?!! Back in the golden era hip-hop, the standard way of doin a record is a dope beat and hard rhymes. I mean u had to come with ur A game to be respected back then. It wasnt about how many records u sold. It was about what he said on that record. What type of style he comin wit. The producer just had to produce a nice hard beat and be original in ur own style whether it was sampling or organic. Producers didnt need no damn hi-tech studio to make classics, they made it at they damn house!! Marley Marl made those classics at his house!! Naughty By Nature made OPP at Kay-Gee's house on the ave.!! Organized Noise made those Outkast classics in a damn bassment!! Do yall see where im goin with this? Now, producers think they need a big studio to make classic records. The artists think they can just say anything on a record, dont have to use no rhymin skills at all but just rap. Somewhere the lines got blurred. Producers back in the golden era didnt have the expensive equipment that they have now to make music. But they used that equipment to make timeless records, nowadays producers have all that expensive equipment but not even using it up to their potential. They just wanna make the same ole music as the next. Emcees had to come correct back then, keepin their reputation as a nice lyricst was the world to artists back then. Wasnt about the money or record sales, it was about dope rhymes and innovative concepts.

Next up is how far we gotten away as in hip-hop gear! Back in the 80's, hip-hop gear was very accessible for ordinary people like me to obtain. U saw artists wearin Polo, u can go out and get it. U saw artists wearin custom made outfits by Dapper Dan, u can go right into his store in NYC and if ur paper was ok u can get one made. U saw artists wearin Nike, Adidas, Brooks or Filas on their feet, u can go to the store and get it. In the 90's it was the same way. The artists was wearin clothes i can just as easy can get so i can be like them. Starter jackets & hats, Jordans, Nike gear, Karl Kani, Polo,Guess, Girbaud, Tommy Hill and etc. was very easy for us to get in stores. Heck believe it or not when Biggie brought out Versace & Coogi, it was kinda easy for us to get and that was pushin it. But when the new generation came around in 2000, the lines again got blurred and money was doin the talkin!! Expensive clothing lines started coming out makin it hard for ordinary people like me to dress like our fav. artists and look dope like them. Iceberg, Sean John Velours, Parasuco, Rocawear leather jackets, Avirex leathers and mad other lines was shooting for the stars as in dollars. Even Fubu & Phat Farm was up there in price for some of they stuff. Then the sneaker boom happened and thats when things started to get outta hand for real. Sneakers now can fetch up to a down payment on a car!! What part of the game is that? How did we get to the point when sneakers are now a high priced asset? Back in the days, hip-hop gear was nice and simple man and it was availiable to everyone. Just walk into the store and get it. Now u got artists gettin stuff custom made and just for u to obtain that certain item u gotta pay hundreds of dollars to own it. Dont make no sense. Go back and check the footage from hip-hop in the 80's & 90's, see how simple it was but it looked dope and nice. It was all about how u put it together to make it seem more than what it was.

So do see now what im talkin about? Do u see what makes me so vexed? As we look back and see how things were, why could it stay that way? The old saying is, if it aint broke dont fix it. What was broke about what we had going? Why did it change for the worse instead of the better? The present generation thinks that this is what hip-hop was always like. But like my father used to tell me back then about music, that back in the day it was all good and i used to look at him crazy. Now here i am saying the same thing, it was all good back in the day when it just plain & simple.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Look Back At Big Pun

Big Pun to me was one of the best rappers of all-time, his flow was mad nice and impeccable. This man passed away way before his time and it seemed like he was gonna change his life around health wise before he left us. Pun to me is one of those MC's that came out of nowhere and made his impact felt very fast. But also he was one of the coolest from what i read about him and he was every bit of a jokester. He was just a kool nigga that looked out for his friends as well. He was on the rise and the sky was the limit for him.

The 1st time i even heard of Big Pun was that freestyle he did wit Fat Joe on Funk Flex's Vol. 1 mixtape. That joint was crazy to me cause he was rippin it and i was like who is this? Also it didnt hurt that they was rhymin over Raekwon's "Ice Cream" instrumental. Now the 1st time i ever seen Big Pun and didnt even know it until later was LL's "I Shot Ya" vid. That big nigga with the wife beater on standing right next to Fat Joe...was Big Pun! To myself i was thinkin who was this nigga and he sure is wrong rockin a wife beater??!!!! Now this was '96, so when '98 hit and Big Pun came out wit "Still Not A Player" im thinkin he was a new artist cause i never heard anything from him up to that point since '95!! But remember yall, i live in TX and like i said many times we wasnt gettin mixtapes like that out here at all. So i had to go back and read the manuscripts on him, come to find out that this man had built up a rep on a couple of tracks and he was very anticipated. On that Fat Joe b-side single in '95 he had the illest verse on "Firewater", i myself didnt hear that song until sometime '05-'07. I know, i know. Then around '97 he was on the smash track "Off The Books" wit the Beatnuts, i myself didnt hear that song until a couple years later. And at that time i wasnt as big of a Beatnuts fan as i am now, so that track i didnt pay attention too. So late '97 some singles for his heavy anticipated LP started coming up and DJ's was playin it like crazy. Singles like "Beware" , "You Aint A Killer", "Lyrical Respresentin" (i think thats the name for it, it was that Rocky sample in it") was all over Clue tapes everywhere. And dont forget he was on one of the hardest posse cuts of all-time wit NORE on "Banned from TV". So thats what i mean by that he was buildin up a rep, so when '98 came around and "Still Not a Player" dropped he was set. But the track that made me a instant fan of his was his 1st single which was "Im Not A Player"!! This track had that dope O'Jays sample and Pun just ripped the joint and the vid was on point as well. Then i made the decision that when his LP drops im coppin it!!

When it dropped, i popped it in as soon as i got home and i was overly impressed!! Blown away! The way the LP was put together and how it sounded was top notch. Hard tracks like "Dream Shatterer", "Punish Me", "Glamour Life", "Twinz", " You Came Up" & "Tres Leches" had me at a loss for words. Then the LP had tons of funny moments like "Pakinamac", "Uncensored(Skit) w/ Funk Flex" & "The Rain and the Sun". These joints was mad funny especially that skit wit Funk Flex. So now a new star was born and he was a Latin artist. He was representin for a whole race and was holdin it down. The 1st Latin artist to go plat as he went double. But at times he felt he didnt get his just due cause of the competition he was facin was gettin more shine than him. Him and Jay Z had some sort of tiff, over what i dont know ( and dying to find out if anyone knows) but i did read in the Source that he said Jay's LP "Hard Knock Life Vol. 2" was a dope LP was one of the year's best. Also he felt dissed at the Source Awards cause he didnt win not 1 one award (thats crazy aint it? not one award he won). If u think about it, Pun came out at a time when hip-hop was blowin up all over and the competition at that time was fierce. We're talkin about Jay, Nas, DMX, Eminem, Busta- the heavyweights. And not to mention new jacks like Juvenile & Nelly was comin out in the scene and sellin records by the boatloads. But to me Big Pun did one huge thing for another artist, and that was bring out the best of Fat Joe.

If u listen to Fat Joe pre Pun and after Pun, he was a different rhymer. He taught him to hold his words together for long stretches and being a better song maker. We all know Joe let Pun be the man while he played the background. And thats cool cause he recognized the power Pun had as an artist and didnt hold him back. Pun made Joe the best he could be, and both as a tandem was a very killer combo! But i remember back in 2000 when i was overseas in the Navy and i called family to tell them how i was doin. I was talkin to my brother and he broke the news to me that Big Pun had died. I thought he was jerkin my leg or somethin, i told him stop playin. But my brother was serious, i asked him how he died and he told me from a heart attack. After we finished and talkin and hug up the phone i was just in shock more than anything. That was a death that totally caught me off guard. As i started reading more about him after that a few weeks later i read that he associated success with eating. I seen skinny pics of Pun!! This man was once a like a clothing model, i mean he looked real fit and everything!! So i couldnt believe he got to the point where he was when he died. Then like a week later the single "Its So Hard" dropped and this track was like its title.. so hard!! This was my shit when it came out and the stuff he was talkin about was real. He tryin to live, he lost some weight and was tryin claim his spot as that lead rapper.

Its amazing what happened when Pun passed. Joe fell off, Terror Squad broke up and Pun 's family was in financial help that they had to auction some of his stuff off. Plus some outlets was tryin portrey Pun as this big angry man who beats his wife as some footage got out there showing him doin these things. So its just sad man how this all ended up. But i know there is some sort of new Big Pun documentary supposed to be coming out and that is something i would love to see. I already saw some old footage of him and from what i saw all he wanted to do was rhyme. He had rhymes ready 24/7 for anyone that wanted to hear. That right there told me and showed me that this man loved hip-hop and his profession. He was a perfectionist and his rhymes was always on point. I remember seeing Joe say that when BIG was alive he never said one wack line. Can u say the same about Pun?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When Did U Start Taking Hip-Hop Serious?

Thats right.....read the question again. When did u start taking hip-hop serious? When did it start becoming a way of life for u? This is a more reflective topic for me since im a couple months away from being 30. I know everyone has that moment when they realize that hip-hop is the way to go for them, u just become fully immersed in it and it becomes a way of life. I remember when it happened for me, it has many layers but u wanna hear it? Here it go.....

Lets go to like '90-'91 which is 3rd-4th grade for me. We used to go to my grandma's house all the time back in those days making vacation trips. And at that time my uncle who was my age now at that time was fully into hip-hop at that time. Myself i was a newbie, i was still interested in other things like cartoons, WWF wrestling and etc. So when we used to go over there i always dibble and dabble over the many VCR tapes my grandmother owned and it was alot. So while i was looking through some tapes, i ran across a tape that had a movie on it that i wanted to watch. But when i popped in the tape it was a full of videos and episodes of Yo! MTV Raps from '88-'89. I was like ok let me go ahead and check these out, and the more i looked the more i became interested. But when LL Cool J's "Im That Type Of Guy" vid came on i was locked in. Not only was the vid dope but the beat and topic he was rhymin about just mesmerized me. That right there was a little mini-moment but it wasnt nothing too drastic.

So we still in '90 and then another mini-moment happened...MC Hammer! Now i dont give a damn what yall think, but if u go back 20 years ago when Hammer 1st came out, it was huge. "Turn This Mutha Out" & "Cant Touch This" made u wanna dance, it made u lose yourself into the music and just go wild. Even if u couldnt dance at all, u was doin somethin groovy. My mother bought that LP and me and brother was rockin the hell out that tape for a long time. Matter of fact, lookin back in those times was great man cause the way we viewed music as kids is totally different now. So that was another moment, but im still building at that point.

Its '91 now and 2 songs played a crucial role in me turning the page for me and hip-hop. 1st was when i was flippin through the channels and i came across MTV and the vid that was playin was Cypress Hill's "If I Can Just Kill A Man". This track was very graphic for me but the message hit home as well. The beat to this track just hypnotized me, i was thinkin to myself what they was talkin was crazy but the beat is awesome. 2nd was when i was over my dad's friend house and i was chillin with his son outside in his car. At that time he was older than i was and he was jammin some music in his car, and i was like what u listenin to? He said "U ever heard of Tribe Called Quest?" i was like naw. He was like "what?" Then he forwarded the tape to let me hear "Butter"!! I was blown away in what i was hearing!! Now i wasnt paying attention to nothing Phife was saying, i was just focused on that beat and that saxaphone!! That still is one of my all-time fav. Tribe tracks. These 2 songs started the motor running for me and hip-hop but we aint movin yet.

1992 was the year things started to get kinda real. The 1st big movement was Kris Kross. Once again, i was in the 5th grade and if u didnt like Kris Kross somethin was wrong with u!! This was the 1st LP i bugged my mother to get me!! And when she got it for me i couldnt be any happier!! "Jump" as we all know was that track that made little youngsters like me lose our minds!! Now i didnt wear my clothers backwards but i did get sagging from them. And at times i did go overboard with it, but thats hip-hop, if its kool and new u gonna do it! I was jammin my Kris Kross tape day and night every damn day of the year '92 almost. It was that ill. But then a song came along that wasnt all dancy. It wasnt happy either. It was a song of sorrow and remorse but it made u feel gratitude for ur loved ones and how much u would miss them if they were gone. The track "T.R.O.Y" by Pete Rock & CL had a deep feeling to it. I never heard a beat like that, that could make u have a out of body experience. Why dont u all go back to '92 and remember the 1st time u heard "T.R.O.Y"!!!!??? How did it make u feel? My point exactly. '92 was a good year by all fronts and those 2 moments played a huge role for me in my love for hip-hop. Now the motor is running and we getting somewhere.

The 9-trey was the turning point for me that hip-hop could be the way to go for life. And certain events help cause that but only a few i am gonna talk about. In my 5th grade math class at the end of the semster we was gonna have a party to celebrate us makin good grades in class. The teacher said we gonna have pizza, soda water and the whole nine plus she said u can bring ur walkmans and listen to music!! That right there did it for me, she said we could bring music and get our jam on. One problem tho was that i had nothin to jam to. Thats when the era of makin my own mixtapes came about. But at this time i only wanted one song on a tape and it was biggest song out at that time. Naughty By Nature " Hip-Hop Hooray" was plain and simple the shit at time. I had to have this record on a tape ASAP! So i stole one of my dad's jazz tapes and waited by the radio damn near all day for that track to come on. And when it did i recorded it with the quickness, and actually they played it like 3-4x that night and i recorded everytime. So all i had on this tape was "Hip-Hop Hooray" like 4x but i was good to go!! Now...Run-DMC back in 80's was the premier rap group but comin into the 90's i really didnt know them well. So as i was lookin at MTV one night, i saw the vid premier of their new track "Down Wit The King"!!!......Let me tell yall, i thought at this time that this was the illest rap track of all-time!! At that moment, i said to myself there is nothing that can top this track!! Nothing!! Every time this song came on the radio i jammed it plus recorded it. Everywhere i went with my walkman i was reciting the lyrics word by word. This track at that time was my life blood. At this time, i was almost fully immersed in hip-hop...almost. 2Pac as we all know was controversial figure, but back in '93 i didnt know him well. I just was listening to the music, i wasnt reading Source mags and etc. yet. But yes, when 'Pac came out with "I Get Around" he was my fav. rapper at that time. U couldnt tell me no different. That was the track at that time for me, it was nice, mellow and the lyrics was dope. Now since then 'Pac wasnt in my #1 position but for a brief time he was. '93 was dope man and it really told me that fuck all the rest, hip-hop is the new way to go. And by the next year i was.

1994 was the year that i was all the way in. And it happened early in that year so thats what only im gonna speak about. I remember me and my boys was over at a friends house just chillin and talkin. Then one of them brought up a new group that just came out and he jammin their album. He was saying that they was different from the rest and they was using karate noises and samples in their tracks! We was like for real? Who are they? Whats their name? He said.. Wu-Tang Clan. We was like Wu-Tang? He was like im tellin yall, they are bangin! Coincidentally, later on that night i was watchin a episode of Yo! MTv Raps and Ed lover was set to premier a new vid that night. The vid was "C.R.E.A.M", and this was the beginning of the point that hip-hop is the way of life for me. The beat, the vid and the lyrics just struck a chord wit me!! 1st i realized that yo..living in the east coast as a youth was tough!! 2nd i was like who is this homeless cat singing the hook with a toothbrush in his mouth? I was thinking..man he got it rough then later on we knew him as Method Man. But this track right here bring back alot of memories for me cause that was the anthem for us. Even tho i was in the 7th grade, hey it was all about "CREaM" and we gotta get ours whether it was selling candy or sports cards we all was trying to ours in school at that time. Here we are now at the grand moment that hip-hop became serious for me!!! It happened like this....i came home from school and i was flippin through the channels to see what was on. I went through BET to see what was on and thats when it happened. I was looking at a vid that had a beat i never heard before, it was mind blowing to me that he would take a MJ sample and flip it the way he did. I was knocking my head so hard it almost snapped off. But Nas's "It Aint Hard 2 Tell" did it for me!! It was this song that had me in a frenzy that i never felt before. And after this day, everyday when i came home i turned it to BET to watch Rap City and it became a ritual after that. Now i know what u saying, what about BIG? Hey people, Nas came out before BIG. I was already hooked before BI came out.

Like i said, for me it was a lot layers to get to that point, but thats how it happened for me. So the question im askin u is.... When Did U Start Taking Hip-Hop Serious?