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#001: Nas Can Shut Up

2006 wasn’t a great year for hip hop. The genre suffered the loss of one of its best producers at the start of the year (J Dilla R.I.P.) and one of its best inspirations, James Brown, at the end. Only a few releases managed to stand out amongst the homogenised majority and even they went missed by many. However the future still holds much for hip hop and despite the genre gradually becoming wider and splitting into more and more factions there is a lot to look forward to.

YouTube and Myspace seemed to have powered a resurgence in bedroom beatmakers, as well as awful emcees, and have allowed musicians to have a new level of public exposure. Downloads are now being counted alongside traditional sales in weekly music charts. The door has been opened for good music to enter the spotlight and bust a move before tagging ‘wild style’ on the wall and breakdancing out the exit.

Despite this Nas still managed to put a downer on everyone’s existing musical-related misery by letting us know that “Hip Hop Is Dead”. His lyrics mention shooting DJs but who would have thought one man could take out an entire genre? In fact Nas is wrong - if hip hop had died then he would not be saying so because his record label would undoubtedly not let him release a record using such now-unfashionable techniques as ‘rapping’ and ’sampling’.

This highlights one of the problems that is currently facing hip hop and has faced hip hop since the release of Rapper’s Delight; dilution. In an attempt to cash-in on the culture, commercial use of hip hop has divided it into too many sub-parts. Rapping. Turntablism. Drugs. Cash. Guns. Well, anything that sells actually. The result is that the general public has no idea what hip hop is. It’s unfairly represented as individual aspects and has become synonymous with crime, money and misogynistic lyrics. To continue the scientific metaphors, hip hop needs to be distilled. All of it’s key particles need to be filtered out and condensed; solo rappers may have to hook up with lone deejays, but for the good of all hip hop.

Nas 1 may have a point and hip hop may only have a few more years left as we know it, before it splits up as its sub-genres reach adulthood and have to find their own homes. For one of the best rappers ever to suggest that what made him famous is dead (meaning hip hop as a whole not Illmatic) there must be something going wrong. It’s not dead yet but if hip hop continues as it is then it risks elimination through natural selection against grime and trip-hop. For hip hop to stay alive it has to redefine and reassert itself within society and this is the year for that to happen.

Rest In Peace to all who have moved on in the past year. Please can we hold our heads up in 2007, hip hop ain’t dead and neither is disco. Peace.

[1. At this point you may feel Nas has remained on-topic for too long. You might think that this is in fact a craftily managed promotional blog for the rapper-turned-genre-killer. Don't worry, it's not.]

2 Responses to “#001: Nas Can Shut Up”

  1. better_than_chevron Says:

    IMO, Nas’ last good record was Nas is Like.

  2. Florian Says:

    Hi,
    I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog :-)
    Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day :)

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