“The great debaters debate about who’s the greatest MCs
Subject matter don’t matter because the verse is empty
No food for thought, nothing for the brain to digest
So I guess it’d be about who can jive talk the best…
I’d be a liar if I wasn’t sick and tired of this mess”
Big Boi, “Something’s Gotta Give”
Rappers ain’t been saying much for years now. Occasionally someone will surprise you by stepping out of the norm and saying something that makes you think about our world, but it’s rare…and it’s not consistent. Every mainstream album has about one positive or socially-relevant track, and the rest of the album is promoting bullsh*t. The rappers who are consistent with socially conscious material, however, ain’t exactly what’s hot in the streets. And maybe it’s cause a lot of them are plain corny. But what happens to artists who can relate well to what the streets like, and want to deliver music that is actually REAL?
Why is it that popular artists almost never say anything that will help better the streets? It’s almost like they’re being held back from saying what needs to be said.
Even Russell Simmons was worried about the state of hip hop when he said:
“I do wonder if there’s enough diversity, ‘cause I pulled the top 10 [hiphop] records for the year, and they’re all f*ckin’ dance records. Nobody’s saying nothing. ‘Put Some D’s on It’? What’s that?”
It’s ironic then, that even the rapper behind “Throw Some D’s” felt the same way. In a recent interview, Rich Boy said:
It’s in an era where songs that are playing aren’t head-banging. It’s more of a certain feel-good party song revolving around a dance move, where artists like Tupac used to talk about deep topics, world issues, racial profiling and things of that nature.
But is it that rappers are just too ignorant to do things differently? Or do they have their reasons? Maybe it’s what happened to political-minded thugs like Tupac (see page “Tupac Lives”) and Soulja Slim (see “Soulja 4 Life”). Then there’s all the artists that just can’t make it big until they make a bullsh*t pop song. Both David Banner and Jim Jones have spoken about the fact that they really want to rap about reality, but they have to make songs about nonsense to make money and keep people listening! As Jay-Z says on “Ignorant Sh*t”:
Y’all niggas got me really confused out there. I make “Big Pimpin” or “Give It 2 Me” – one of those – y’all hail me as the greatest writer of the 21st Century. I make some thought-provoking sh*t – y’all question whether he falling off…
So Jay continues, rapping, “C’mon, I got that ignorant sh*t you need/ Nigga, f*ck, sh*t, ass, bitch, trick plus weed/ I’m only trying to give you what you want/ Nigga, f*ck, sh*t, ass, bitch, you like it don’t front” Young Jeezy says the same thing on “Crazy World,” where he raps, “They want that young sh*t, that dumb sh*t/ That ‘Where you from?’ sh*t/ That ride-around-your-hood-all-day-with-your-gun sh*t.”
Even T.I. – who describes himself as a “living revolutionary” – told Vibe magazine about his attitude towards making socially-conscious music:
If I knew that there was more of a demand for songs like these, then that’s what I would do. I’m only gonna make songs that the market supports…I can rap simple, I can be complex. I can do whatever I want to do. The thing is, to sell records you have to reach everybody…This is a business, brah. I’m not gonna cut off my nose to spite my face. Some of my best songs most of my fans have never even heard. For your own self-gratification, you make the songs you want to make around those other songs. You get them in where you can, but I’m not fixing to block my blessings.
T.I. is not alone with this attitude. Rappers don’t want to held up as role models or educators. They usually run from that responsibility like a 17-year-old babydaddy. But can we really be mad at them? They’re just speaking on what’s real for them, right? Well, maybe not. Or haven’t you learned anything from 50 Cent and all the other well-known imposters?
“Music is supposed to inspire…so how come we ain’t gettin’ no higher?”
There’s a rapper comin out of New York – who I won’t name – who has entire songs encouraging young brothers to start hustling, and all the benefits the lifestyle will get you…but his music never mentions anything about the risks it involves, or what it takes to avoid getting caught. There’s no message in any of his sh*t. The irony is that someone like him should be the first person to speak on risks, considering that he had a hit out on his head over $40,000 worth of weed that he never delivered to a Pennsylvania crew. Worst of all, I hear he’s broke anyway.
So if the popular rappers are fakes, and the real gangsters are broke…when’s the truth gonna be popular again?
The good thing is, everyone isn’t fooled. Rap game vet Pimp C gave an interview to Hot 107.9 on July 26, clarifying some very strong comments he made about the industry in Ozone Magazine:
You know why I’m mad? Let me tell you why I’m mad. I’m mad because everybody on these records lyin.’ Everybody lyin…C’mon mayn, at the end of these records we listenin to, we don’t get nothin out of em no more. We don’t get no social commentary, we ain’t getting no kind of knowledge out these records. Everybody just talkin bout how many chains they got on and how much dope they sold. But the truth of the matter is this: I don’t believe you! Cause I know you, dude, and I know you didn’t sell no dope.
In addition to the fake drug dealers and the lack of social commentary in our music, Pimp C also addressed what the game, heavy on dope and bling, was missing:
Cause these kids listenin to us and lookin up to us – cause a lot of em don’t have no father figure in they house – and every record you get on, you lyin bout some dope…If you gon talk about some squares, and talk about the drug game, then you need to talk about the bad side of it too. What about when you get busted and you go to jail? What about when your mama and your wife and your kids is cryin cause they at home and you in prison in a cell? What about that part of the dope game? Everybody talkin bout how many cars and how many jewels they gon buy, and how many squares comin off…but ain’t nobody talkin bout the other side of it. So if you gon talk about that, you gotta talk about both sides.
Pimp even dug into one of the dirtiest sides of the industry – the side Terrance Dean would later reveal in Hiding in Hip Hop. If you didn’t know, many of the most powerful people in hip hop, Black and white, are gay or bisexual. The author of Why do Black Men Date White Women? even relates the following:
One well-known member of the hip-hop elite was overheard saying that he has sex with guys not because he is gay and likes it, but because as long as the person lives, “he will always know he was f*cked in the ass; no matter how big he gets, I will always have that over him, I own that motherf*cker forever.
After talking with a few industy heads, I’ve learned that there are at least eight to ten major players who could have made this exact comment, as it describes exactly how they get down. And that’s not including Chris Stokes! Pimp C, an industry veteran, knew much more than he told:
It was a bunch of things I could have said about a bunch of people, and I could have really, really digged and hurt some feelings. Now, don’t you know that? Cause I know who the gay rappers is! I know who let them models stick them dildos in em, and I know who did what, where, when, and why!
But rather than naming names, Pimp C finished the interview by promising to spark a movement that would change the course of hip hop – for the sake of all Black people:
Somebody gotta do it. But guess what, you think anybody that [told the truth] thought that [the people] was gon like it? Don’t nobody like medicine. It don’t taste good. They just want a whole bunch of the same old sh*t, everybody lickin each other booty and bein cowards. But guess what, I’m taking a stance against the cowards. I’m takin a stance against the liars, and I’m tellin you we need to stop doin all this negative sh*t. And anybody got somethin to say bout me…you can come see me. I’ll give you my address. We can box it out, pop it out, stab it out, or talk it out.
Pimp C promised that he would change the game if no one else would. Less than five months after this interview, the great Pimp C was found expired in a hotel bed in California. He was found dead due to complications from a sleeping sickness. Yeah, right. And Johnnie Cochrane suddenly got cancer…while preparing a fight for reparations.
What really happened to Pimp C?
Why would it be that dangerous to reveal the truth about the music industry?
Now who’s going to tell the truth?