Hip Hop Got To Stop 10: The Doctor In The Morgue
Sun Tzu instructs that the appearance of success can be failure. A world of Billion-air Hip Plop Biznessmun is a failure and a poverty of ambiition beyond words.Andre Young is a business genius. He has moved from making macho bullshit Hip Pop over a limp George Clinton cumpilation into a dimension of blingtard rinsing perfection so cosmic and atomic it makes Puffy Daddy look like a corner shop proprietor.The Devil has the best tunes, and the sacred journey that began with Kool Herc forgetting to cite the rich Jamaican toasting DJ tradition as he combined two records to extend the danceable delicious bits sagged to a final close with the multibillion dollar gamble of Apple purchasing a maker of sweatshop serf crafted crap people put on their heads and a streaming pig piss alternative to the wackery that is Spotify.A golden, diamond encrusted coffin dildo nail into the once vital heart a genre that has long ceased to be vital. It really is over. Over.Marshall McLuhan said that stuff becoming obsolete frees it to become an art form.The rebirth of Hip Hop as such was a very long, difficult mutant pregnancy. So much so that its beautiful children are often unnoticed to this day. Jungle. Parts of House and Techno. The fag ends of Bristolianism.I have long riffed on the tragedy of Biz Markie's defeat in the Courts but never really, really thought about it until I fell into a dangerously deep conversation with Philippe and Pete about why and how my old hero DJ Shadow started to blow harder and stupider than a Buckfast powered hooker on an oil rig. I tried to parley with a story about an old very connected friend who had an informally sourced MP3 folder of the long awaited followup to "Entroducing" - "The Private Press". Back in the haze of a stupider better time when I was fucking up more than I felt.I remember plugging in his iPod to my "Sony" boombox thing.I expected genius.Instead I got a gush of sonic sewage and beige beats made by rich new age chancers and worse. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but was loose, artless, a struggle. Like a fine painter left with nothing to use but Tipp-Ex, Post-Its and spit.Or less.I pretended not to curse the Gods and went out to buy every fucking novelty Slurpee mash up Josh made in protest before realising that this horse had long bolted and run on to a plateau of irrelevance.I had been lying to myself. All the faux clever talk about how the sample costs killed it all I meant but never really felt the real damage. When bagging collectively on Josh and the deep French wisdom cut through it all like a Katana blade.The Private Press. Not just something that sounds like a very shifty mistranslation of a Japanese erotic film franchise, but an admission of impotence. A dead end, a great race left to struggle along with only fumes in the tank.An art form that relied on samples made to pay, big and hard every time like prison romance, just ran out of road in the 90s. There was no easy fuel left for the vehicle. Where could anyone look to mine beats without having to be a billionaire? Library music. Private Vanity Press oddities not represented by anything resembling a label or else with rights held by the dead and insane. Or keep small and hope no lawyers come calling. The freedom, the rage, the lust - the ability to make a collage and art anew from the infinite record crates and minds around us was the Way. And that road was long, long closed.There was momentum, so long after the last smells of energy had been burnt and the engine had shut down, covered in cobwebs and jammed with costume jewelry. Some went worthy. Never a good move.I was sucked in to another Jeff Davis side thing with Bay area conscious college kid type rappers. Deeply offended by the way Black voices were seemingly strangled with criminal boasting, vile tweenage homophobia, misogyny and a general tendency to call out brand names rather than truth - I looked for something else. Public Enemy had long left the battlefield. What was left? Blackalicious. The Roots, some lot with pet tramps whatever. These cats often played with a live band to get past the sample tax. But all too often were really Phd Literature and Ethics seminars first and head nodding Hip Hop third. Or fifth.In my right on way, I had misunderstood the situation. Class Blues, Soul, R and B and rock at its best surfed on or drank deep from the rich stew of criminality, sexual tension and macho braggadocio. People don't want to have a Message in the Music jammed down them, they want to groove and dance and get away from the horror of being alive. Mobb Deep rock. Blacklicious slump and slush. Ok where to next?On a psychedelic trip, a bunch of over talented prettybois called The Pharcyde cut a couple of amazing LPs before burning out hard against another creative brick wall - a dead end again.Mos Def seemed attractive. Had his moments. Sat between the real Hip Hop and the College Grad version covered in cod Africana, made up mythologies and dodgy dishdashas. And yet and yet oh dear. A close cousin of Nu Soul - a retread of a retread for people who wish Whitney was more credible.The reaper kept chasing me further and further away. Ok, fine I'll tune in closer to home. The UK. Ninja Tune has created some other thing other than played out novelty film samples and VHS mash ups - what was is? Big Dada? Interesting. Stupid fucking name for a label but, whatever.Limited use of samples, processed beats and rhymes about beans on toast just did not have the espresso vodka crack hit I craved. Not Fight the Power, more Avoid The Lawyers.I recall being at a Cinematic Orchestra show with My Lady. These cats had talent, but again ran into pastiche parent friendly nowhere after a bit, but seemed cool, we loved them. Opening Act from Big Dada (what a haha funny hipsta name for a sub label) we'd not heard of. Lo-Tek HiFi.Some worthy geezers started bouncing as desperate and odd as prison aerobics to a UK pastiche of a 1993 Public Enemy B-side demo. And to even say that is so fucking libellous that Chuck D Himself might call the Lawyas.For me, this was the end.Again and again, I did not feel and hear it at the time. But I can't think of any occasion I bought or cared about a properly labelled as such Hip Hop LP from that point. A generation ago. And I'm a lot by no fool. This Means Something,That does not mean I extinguished all hope.I just ended up away from the actual term and somewhere real real fresh. I've been inspired by Death Grips. Never can lose my love for Jungle.Yet much like Miles Davis long after his cash and label pushed "cumback" involving Cyndi Lauper and gurning loveless for the cameras, while crying on the quiet and speaking some science to those that would listen Hip Hop is: "Dead. The Music of the Museum."Sleep well Miles, you understand. The ghosts live in other places but Andre is rigjht.It's all just brands and money.