I don't much care for hip hop, truth be known. I like some of the SOUNDS employed; I LOVE some of the proto-hip hop like the Last Poets or even Grandmaster Flash; and I have respect for provocateurs like Ice-T or Chuck D., but I don't really dig the brainless glorification of violence, hard drugs (or massive overconsumption of soft ones), sex, bling, and/or Tony Montana, all of which runs through the genre, which generally doesn't seem to object to the evils of capitalism or pursue an alternative to it so much as it reproduces and celebrates these evils on a cottage-industry, boyz-in-the-hood, proud-to-be-a-stoopid-thug level. It's such a loud and prevalent part of the culture that it turns me off from exploring the cooler bands - like, I'm sure I could find things to like in the music of Roots or Jedi Mind Tricks or such, but for every one song I like, I hear five that are off-putting. Not only does the whole gangsta trip seem unenlightened and politically counter-productive, the whole fevered egos aspect is a big turn off too - LL Cool J ripping on Kool Moe Dee and vice-versa; I much prefer punks attempts to generate tribal unity than rappers jockeying for tribal position, because I just don't care who has the tightest rhymes, the best coke, the most bitches, or the biggest dick and/or gun. At least Crass used to bitch about the Clash from a principled political position; there's something that seems, well, just kinda childish
about a lot of hip hop. Plus, you know, I see white gangsta kids every day, and they seem like violent, stupid, poorly-dressed, illiterate thugs, stalking the suburban streets in baggy clothes, looking for skaters to beat up or something, boasting about their crimes from the back of the bus, loud enough so that everyone can hear, because what are you gonna DO about it, bitch? They're scary, but they're also just kind of gross, like they're wallowing in their own degradation, proud of it. Hell, maybe one of 'em will shoot me now that I've dissed his particular lifeform, but it won't make me like them more...
That said, one of my favourite albums in any genre is a hip hop one: New Kingdom's Paradise Don't Come Cheap
(thanks go to Blake for turning me onto it all those years ago). To commemorate receiving the vinyl in the mail today, here's a link to the single off this album, "Mexico or Bust
." I loved this album for years before realizing that there was a Vancouver connection, through Scott Harding; it's sleazy, sweaty, sludgy, and spectacularly inventive, both in its conception of sound and its lyrics; and it's playful in a hardboiled crime/ "up-for-eight-days-straight," alcohol-soaked, sleep-deprived kinda way. Best of all it manages to not partake of a single cliche of ganstadom: there's no bling, no boasting, no guns, no bitches, no drive bys, just awesome, fun, memorable music.
Long live New Kingdom! May they reunite!