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Are Rappers Better Off Dead?

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Biggie Smalls fell off! He was never that nice anyway! I mean Life After Death to me was better than Ready To Die and even that could’ve been one CD instead of two.” As I sit here and conjure up all sorts of imaginary vitriol one might have found on modern day social media had Biggie still been alive, I can’t help but wonder if there is any rapper whose legacy has not been tainted by simply remaining alive?

Every other genre, sport and special interest seems to have untouchable heroes and legends that represent their brand. So why not hip hop?

Hip hop is an unforgiving genre. It’s rooted in urban culture and, if there’s one thing that has always been lacking in urban culture, it is long term praise for our heroes. Whether a learned or innate attribute, a Mount Rushmore of hip hop could probably never be constructed by virtue of dissension in our ranks. No one would ever concede long enough to formulate any sort of general consensus (aren’t there three hip hop museums in NY alone?!) The hood may sing your praises but you better believe someone has a problem with every single component of your ascension (“Why you work so hard?!? Why your girlfriend so pretty? You ain’t special!”) Be that as it may, every other genre, sport and special interest seems to have untouchable heroes and legends that represent their brand. So why not hip hop?

At no point in time was hip hop ever expected nor intended to come as far as it has. Competition has also always been a purveying component of rap. But is it possible that every single emcee has fallen off or was never really that good? Every single one? Slick Rick fell off? Rakim fell off? Nas fell off? There isn’t one rapper who sustained any sort of complementary track record throughout their entire career? DO we really believe there ain’t no Tony Bennet of this rap ish? Now that to me just seems ridiculous. Of course no one is above reproach and no one is infallible but come the hell on now? Everyone sucks except for the dead guys?

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For every “Top 5 debate” ever had, there’s so much acrimony presented as to why everyone we love should not be that heralded that I’m not certain if these debates should be called a “Top 5” or “Top 5 things wrong with your fave emcee (“Jay -Z is a biter, Nas can’t pick good beats, Andre 3000 don’t record enough, etc.”). Even the dead guys get it occasionally (“Tupac wasn’t as lyrical as the rest, B.I.G ain’t have a large enough body of work”). The “battle” has over taken the “rap” in every instance and contention is the ONLY order of the day these days.

Could it be that all our favorite emcees didn’t become terrible and our irrational formula of [nostalgia + consistent innovation/newness * personal expectation= all emcees will eventually suck] is what may be the driver?  I’ve said it before but you can only lose your virginity once and with each additional occurrence, no matter how pleasurable, the newness will eventually wear off and you start to look for other benefits to satiate your needs. In other words, a dope emcee is a dope emcee.

If the only artists you can truly appreciate are the dead ones then it may not be the artists who’ve changed for the worse (hint; it’s you you cranky curmudgeon.)
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SideBar: I think I figured out exactly when age “old age” takes place and that is the point in time when you complain to no avail about the things you swear you like. SideBar Complete.

Crazed Afrykan is a writer / hip hop producer (Nas / Damien Marely) and aficionado of hip hop culture. For over 30 years, he has gained personal introspective into the motivations, rhymes and reasons for one of the most revered genres in modern music. He is also a smug, smart ass with a perplexing penchant for alliterations. You’ve been warned.

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How to Tell If You’re Motivated by Negativity

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We hold in high regard the tactics that allow us to succeed while disregarding that those same tactics stop us from succeeding correctly.  When you and everything around you is results oriented, how those results are obtained isn’t scrutinized when they probably should be. Seeing as how we can’t drug test for positive or negative motivators and no one really cares how you succeed as long as you are successful, why should you even care?

Well aside from your eventual therapist and the people who used to love you but have since left due to your unknowingly toxic behavior, your eventual cardiologist and pharmacist who will have to treat you for stress related illnesses,  you should probably care also.  If you are paying attention and observing the trail of emotional destruction left when using certain motivators,  particularly fear and negativity,  you would care much much sooner.

With that said, here are some hopefully helpful tips so you can identify and begin to correct.

1.  When someone asks you what you want, you typically respond with what you don’t want. “What do you want for dinner?” “Well we had pizza yesterday so I don’t want that and I had Chinese for lunch so that’s out…” Process of elimination is time consuming and quite frankly, if you want pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should have it. We’ll deal with health choices later. Right now, let’s focus on HOW you make choices in the first place.

2.  The first thought that enters your mind after you say you want something are the reasons why it can’t be obtained. “I want to workout but I have no time. I want to pursue my interests but I don’t have the money.” Everything you currently have, you made the time and money for. It is possible for future aspirations as well.

3.  The motivator is not the desired result, but the ails that might occur if that result is not obtained. “You better get an education or your friends will leave you behind.” “If I don’t catch the early train, my commute is gonna suck!” Or none of that may occur and you day could progress perfectly fine. Since you can’t recoup emotional capital already extended, better not to expend it at all.

4.  You feel you need more in order to begin any task. You just really need to accept that you are enough.

5.  You focus on any time frame other than the present. Speculating on future failures only brings you current stress. Speculating on past failures only brings you current stress. Now speculating on past or future successes may seem beneficial but the fact is, if you are speculating at all, you are probably not present and that is the main ingredient required for success anyway. So don’t speculate!!!

The root of all negativity is fear and when fear is your motivation, you will constantly need to be afraid in order to progress. When confidence is your motivation, all you ever need to progress is to remain present.

I wish you all success in everything you hope to accomplish.

 

Sidebar: Michal Jordan once stated that fear of failure motivated him to accomplish 6 NBA championships. My question to him would’ve been  “How much more rings would you have had if confidence was your motivator and not fear?”  Sidebar Complete.

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Hip Hop Now

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Here’s five acts doing their thing in the first installment of Hip Hop Now.

Chicago rapper Saba‘s new record Care For Me features Chance The Rapper on “Logout.”

From Everything is Fine, a collaboration between rapper/satirists Jean Grae and Quelle Chris, here’s “Zero.”

Tyler, the Creator stays weird and rhymes chicken nugget with fuckit on rap nugget “Okra.”

Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions lost his cousin to police violence and channels that energy into the controversial “Like Me.”

Rapper/actor A$AP Rocky samples Moby‘s “Porcelain” on “A$AP Forver.”

Brooklyn's own MC Krispy E has an opinion about most things you can put in your ear, eye, and mouth holes.

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Aegyo – What the What?

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You know how you and your significant other do the baby talk thing? Come on, you do it, admit it. Sometimes you talk to each other in a childish voice or make silly little gestures that you would never use at, for example, a business meeting or at the dentist. Well, this is a whole cottage industry in South Korea and they call it Aegyo. 

Aegyo, a tool long leveraged by South Korean ladies to get what they want through sheer cuteness, has been leveraged by male and female K-Pop Idol groups to ginormous success. In fact, there are songs where one can do little cutsey gestures to the whole thing. Two popular aegyo anthems are The Gwiyomi Song and Oppaya, and there are videos aplenty on YouTube where folks of all ages and backgrounds vie for cringe-worthy cuteness. Some of these videos have millions upon millions of views. There’s even K-Pop Idol shows where folks watch each other express aegyo and react with howls of laughter.

Holy cow, the more I talk about this, the weirder it gets. Yet, I can’t look away.

Other cultures are jumping on the band wagon, too. Check out the videos below for some adorable examples.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcgGASL8EXo

 

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