American Hip Hip is lost. The birth of Hip Hop, the expression of ultimate aspiration against all odds, has been perverted by the new school, bling bling, bullshit, get rich style of contemporary hip hop.
The old days of rebelliousness, of working against the odds and devoting the art of rhyme to the street struggle is long gone. But not in Australia!
Aussie Hip Hop is going through an incredible boom at the moment. The reason can easily be linked to the fact that young males need a musical outlet for their frustration; a voice which they can identify with, a voice which speaks from the position of some disadvantage or perception of a long road ahead with a lot of choices and difficulties. Aussie Hip Hop is delivering this in SPADES while US Hip Hop is rubbish. Bling Bling Nelly and his mates are too busy talking ’bout the Benjamins and driving Bentleys to be writing and singing about rebirth and pride.
Not to be a melancholy old school nostalgist, but Public Enemy used to call themselves “the Black CNN”. Ice-T invented gangster rap not to glorify rap but to show that a criminal lifestyle is “fun in the beginning but it’s pain in the end”. Boogie Down Productions talked about Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement. De La Soul just plain tripped.
But now? The stuff coming out of the US is rubbish. Not since Wu Tang Clan has there been relevant rhyming about the hard times, aspiration and the hope that one day there will be a better life. Honest rap, not the record company advance fuelled, multi-million film clip styling of a boring and irrelevant music industry.
Aussie Hip Hop is achieving this honesty because it is yet untouched by the boring old marketers who are so out of touch they think Fox FM is cool. Aussie Hip Hop is about “wishing I had $50,000 and some land” not rubbish which does nothing to appeal to the true school of Hip Hop fans. US Hip Hop has moved into full on product marketing territory, with songwriting and imaging manufactured to appeal to the latest brainwaves from a polling company’s study of 12-16 year old school girls.
It’s wrong and it won’t be long before Aussie Hip Hop charges into the mainstream of public taste. Hilltop Hoods and their stablemates at indie labels like Obese Records have come close with a Gold selling album, and it won’t be too long before TZU, Fizard and other Aussie acts achieve the same and maybe even the unthinkable – an Aussie Hip Hop success in the US.
Who is going to represent a rebirth of true school hip-hop in the US? The Pharcyde? Newcomer Kanye West? Pray tell readers…