The game has changed and it definitely ain’t the same. The year is 2015 and at least from a social media perspective, the worst thing you can do with your life, is become a rapper. It wasn’t always like this.
Even though the majority of rappers were known to be mildly financially stable and it’s always been the theory that “going pop” or “selling out” were deemed the “only ways” to achieve riches in rap music, the freelance occupation known as “Rapper” seemed like a really cool job. I know it always did to me.
When I first seen Black Moon’s “How Many MC’s” video I thought, Yo! I would like to rhyme with my homey’s in a elevator. That looks cold! Wonder who I could get to record it for us?
I felt the same way about Tribe’s “Award Tour” video, Mobb Deep’s “Survival of The Fittest” and of course Every Busta Rhymes and Redman video of the 90’s. Now, I know a lot of you are going to take this to the “Yeah! The music SUCKS today and all these “rappers” are bullish now!” Let me steer you in a different direction though. Let’s get to the root of hip-hop and the root of cool in hip-hop; The Rap Crew.
In the beginning stages of rap music being brought to the TV and Movie screens, it was all about the crew. It was the Sugarhill GANG, The Juice CREW, The Native Tongues, The Def and Hit SQUAD, The Wu-Tang CLAN and Boot Camp CLIK. Rap was about rhyming and rolling with a crew. It was actually camaraderie and a united front.
You and ya mans hung in every verse in your rhyme – Jay Z
Present Day a “Rap Crew” may consist of a weed-man, a social media person, a publicist, photographer, the girl that knows promoters and hopefully a DJ and or Producer. The problem with this group is, it’s more about money and branding and less about culture, creativity and art. There is a good chance that the average group consisting of these people could care less about hip-hop’s core. Partially because a lot of these people were hired. It’s a big difference. Rap Crews epitomize stand out branding. Name 2 successful rap crews that definitely looked alike from any era?
Sheek, Styles and Jada all grew up together. They knew DMX, Dee and Waah from their neighborhood. So them being in Ruff Ryders was more of a family decision than a business decision. No Limit started off as literal family with Master P, Silkk and C-Murder when the label starting picking up steam.
Present day, it’s all about the acquisition. Remember the early 2000 “bidding wars”. Rappers are willing to go to the best offer and not be apart of the strongest team. Much like the NBA, a lot of cat’s would rather get 100 Million for their potential to be great and be the 6th Seed out in the first round, than take 50 Million and try to build a Dynasty. Neither man starves, but 1 has the potential to cement a legacy for many decades beyond his time.
Rap looked cool because of the people in it. Some cats wore Jeans and Timbs, Some wore sweats and Timbs. Some wore Iceberg Sweats and Air Force One’s and Treach wore Carhartt suits with a yard chain with a Master Lock on it.
Whether positive or negative we had unique images. Images that sent a shock to the senses. To see the Dogg Pound in oversized flannel, Dickie Suits and Chuck’s was a culture shock to me, being in the midwest. It made me want to visit California because by the look, it just felt like something different was going on, on that side of the world.
Maybe it’s social media connecting the world 1 post at a time, but now it feels like, you don’t miss much. A lot of Cali dudes, look Like Atlanta dudes, look like New York dudes and a “fly out” to Dr. Miami has changed the game to where you really got to pick your girl by her Jr. High or High School TBT pics.
I want rap to look cool again. That’s really why the people complain. We’ve let a lot of subpar emcee’s survive because they looked cool or ran with a very cool looking crew. When crews became record labels, that kind of messed things up, but the best way to do business is with no personal emotion involved. That in itself is the difference between Hip-Hop and the Music Industry.
Videos could be a lot better and more creative. Rap crews could come back and be the supportive entity they started being. Real DJ’s with tricks and skill-sets could be elevated and supported by crews better and rappers could maybe look like their having a little more fun. Maybe it’s all the new drugs, but a lot of rappers don’t seem to enjoy themselves much. The even mean mug the video vixens, if there are any.
Bring Back The Respected Rap Crew, man! Kids need to see that. Hell the 25 and up need to see it too. Not many loners look cool. With the crews resurgence, style, originality and musical competitiveness resurfaces. T.D.E stays winning out here, right? Well ok then.
One more for y’all just cause I always loved this video. Be Safe. Be Humble. Live Hip-Hop.