Life After Death: Hip Hop Lives!, (1997-1999) Aquemini, The Imperial Album, The M-Pire Strikez Back, Wu Tang Forever, It's Dark and Hell is Hot, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, Still Standing, For The People, Third Eye Vision, Operation Doomsday, Poly Sci, The Carnival, Blackout!, Beneath The Surface, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Moment of Truth, Tical 2000: Judgement Day, Capital Punishment, Soul Survivor, Back In Business, In My Lifetime: Vol. 1, Black Star, Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars, Uptown Saturday Night, The Love Movement, The 18th Letter, War Zone, Black on Both Sides, So....How's Your Girl?, Angels of Death, Uncontrolled Substance, The Slim Shady LP, Things Fall Apart, The Piece Maker, When Disaster Strikes..., Magnum Force, Funcrusher Plus, One Day It Will All Make Sense, Soundbombing Vol. 1 and 2 and I could go on for a while with this. THE POINT is that it's not disrespectful to the deceased to see that there has been a lot of great albums after the 1996. Hip hop is the continuation of a world it inherited. Beyond race, hip hop is a celebration of individuality and it is a combination of influences that couldn't be created anywhere other than New York City. Common histories and culture mixtures offerred alternate perspectives which expanded hip hop beyond a fad into a nationwide cultural revolution. Hip hop is immortal. Rather than dying, it was resurrected, grew to include the whole world and recreates itself constantly to keep it fresh.
Some hip hop fans take the easy route and others chose elevate and explore the genre. Stereotypical roles prove that not everyone is interested in the growth of hip hop. The Scarface role is stuck on repeat, the baby doll role is ragged and the fly guy is dragging a dead horse behind his taxi. Graphic enough? Some people are ok with fitting into stereotypes. But, I'm willing to bet there are a lot more people that don't really care what other people think. You can see the people that drift to one of these polar positions day to day.
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There are a lot of different influences in hip hop and getting to know the styles from other cities can teach about what's going on creatively on the other side of the country. I repeat the word culture because it's ability to connect, excite and inspire people across the world based on local scenes. Hip hop adapts, rebounds and has enough endure forever. Psychologically, it can be like boxing or poetry because of the historic literal and boxing histories in industrial centers. Music videos revolutionalized hip hop and the music industry in general. Popular recognition of musicians has never been more detrimental to the creative advancement of music than now because of the hyper-commercialized marketing. The inability of a centralized media hub to expose hip hop heads to different styles of hip hop has created a mirage of a dying artform. The internet has provided an opportunity to get similar exposure as the early 90's, but without the opportunity to make money the same way record labels capitalized on in the past. Just a few examples, Black Star formed one of the most influential groups in hip hop history, J Dilla was really beginning to blossom as a virtuoso and Outkast creatively stepped it up with every album! But I don't live for highlights, I live for the day to day beauty of hip hop culture.
What's the point?........ The point is that hip hop has continued on with the same creative passion as the 90's, but the support of "fans" is non-existent. I'm sure the recession plays a big part, but I have a feeling it's something bigger than that. Specifically, I think people believe they don't have the time to find new music and/or that people are just too lazy. RA-NYC is a place to find some of those artists pushing the envelope. Check for RA-NYC's album reviews here. New album reviews will come each week and you can be guaranteed they aren't the one's in the top 40's! Ronin