A Girl in the World & the World in a Girl…

{February 4, 2013}   Hip Hop and New Jacks in the City.

Let’s have a “Brown Sugar” [movie] moment:
“So when was the first time you fell in love with Hip-Hop?”
If you asked me to answer that, I would have to answer it two ways:
• The first time I fell in love that Hip-Hop that “popped”
• The first time I fell in love with Hip-Hop

The very first time I fell in love with Hip-Hop (that “popped”)
the lyrics blasted through my speakers:
I aint no joke, I used to let the mic smoke. Now I slam it when I’m done and make sure it’s broke…”
Then later in the song when he said: “When I’m gone [pause]…then you can joke!”
And when they slid through with another joint that went like:
Thinkin’ of a master plan…this aint nothin’ but sweat inside my hand.”
I was lit! I went crazy! I mean…I was a fool! I was totally obsessed!
That was non-other than Erik B and Rakim.

The very first time I fell in love with Hip-Hop was from being the
only girl in a house of boys. My oldest brother was the first to put us up on rap.
Let rap tell it (and it very well may be true considering when I researched the timeframe);
Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five were the originators of rap. But the very first
time I fell in love with “rap” is when my oldest brother popped in this god-awesome
filthy rap song that he could only play when my mother was good and off to work.
It was some by some cat named “Blow Fly” singing a song called:
Rap Dirty:” the speakers belted the words: “This Blow Fly the master of class. And I’m here to sock some soul to your ass.”
That’s when I first learned that you could tell a story in words where you
could see the visual and nod your head to the scene in your head and rap along with it.

Those were the two ways and beginnings of rap resonating with me.

Let’s all admit it.
Once you fall in love with Hip-Hop, it becomes your baby, and we become overprotective of it.
The stories are compelling, the beats can compel you.
The reason we love it so much is because it’s more than just “music”-it’s a subculture–a
subculture in which (because of its origin having begun of the rough streets of New York City
where the originators rapped mostly about hard times, struggle and humble beginnings); those who
come from the same feel like they have a platform to tell their story, and if you can nod your
head and dance to it; that’s even better-a bonus.

newjackcitybasketbalc court sceneThe ways that we guard Hip-Hop (especially the old-school heads) is like a
scene out of the movie “New Jack City,” when GMoney, Nino, DahdahMan and the crew were
playing basketball [on a public basketball court where it looked as if when they came
through this public court, it was shut off for anyone else to step past the gate].
It could mean murder if you tried to get in the paint without permission and proving yourself.

Keisha (the female gangster of the crew) would step to you and reach into her Houndstooth blazer as
a warning to you that you were about to get flat-blasted if you took one more step.

Nino Brown (the head gangster) would put a halt the game and send G-Money (the vice-head gangster)
over to you to pat you down before you could even state your business.

The rap game was rooted in a subculture where (because of its origin), if you stepped to the paint and
you did not look like [the originators], or sound like the stories from whence it originated, it
(the rap game) had a “Keisha”-and a “Keisha” is everybody-everybody who loves Hip-Hop is that
“Keisha” who’s going to pat you down or smoke you for daring to step into the paint should you not
identify with its origin.

KanyeWhen KANYE stepped
on the scene, I was like: “who is this cat coming into the game rapping about having a car accident
and his mouth being wired shut but he can still spit fire through the wires of his jowls? Number one-who is he,
and Number Two-why the hell do we care?”
But then he spit fire: hit after hit after hit after hit after
hit…like a madman. I (or anybody else with some sense and who knows a good rapper when they hear one) had to
put their guns down-let him through. He put his skills where his mouth is and he could not be denied. He was the
shit so bow down and let him in the paint. He’s a hog in the game.


vanilla ice_thenI think maybe the need for being patted down began with VANILLA ICE.
Good-looking dude. Masculine, square jaw-line.
Fly haircut. Hot, B-boy dancing. Catchy dance track (“Ice-Ice” Baby).
This fool just showed up in the paint and had a hit. And during play in the paint,
we patted him down enough to know that he didn’t identify with the origin enough
to stay in the paint any longer than that one hit. And if he tried-he was gonna have
to get to smokin’ on some “Keisha.” He didn’t stay around too long, and got clowned on longer
than his rap career even lasted, even ‘til today. Still a good-looking dude, who ironically does
home improvement now but still; he is the poster-child for the Keisha’s of the world guarding the door and gates of hip-hop.

One thing about the rap game is that it isn’t so much the fact that you don’t identify with its
origin[ators] being of African American descent than it is your story-your beginnings, of
which are most “accepted” when having come from struggle of some kind and even better; if you were
from the streets of New York.

mcserchWhite rappers like: MC SERCH (of the group: 3RD BASS) and SNOW (“Informer”) didn’t get clowned too bad (at least not like Vanilla Ice did).

Beastie_Boys_thenWhite rap groups like THE BEASTIE BOYS’ music was so dope (“Paul Revere,” “She’s Crafty” “Brass Monkey,” etc.) that they couldn’t be fronted on, clowned, or Keisha’d. Not to mention, they were from the streets of New York City.
Rick-RubinTheir music was so dope + compounded with the fact that they were under the wing of (then) rap mogul RICK RUBIN and Def Jam records (as was ERIC B & RAKIM); so they were bulletproof-anybody would have been a fool to try and clown The Beastie Boys. Their music (especially their first album) is timeless.

houseofpainHOUSE OF PAIN/Irish group (“Jump Around”) came through with a hit song that hit your head in such a way that you would just start wiling out. The lead was a thorough rugged dude, therefore (unlike the perception of Vanilla Ice) House of Pain didn’t seem “gimmicky,” and that song gave you such an adrenaline rush that we paid nothing else about them any attention. The beat was exciting, and the lyrics resonated with the streets enough, (especially in the song where he bluntly says: “And if your girl steps up I’m smackin’ the hoe”) so House of Pain didn’t have to meet Keisha. And that song is timeless, still today.

eminemBut when EMINEM stepped onto the scene and into the paint, he had to get patted down. Because that white boy tried to step in the paint soloin the 90’s!…(bold move). So the Keisha’s immediately thought he was about to be yet another Vanilla Ice, and this time around; we weren’t having it. We didn’t really care that he identified with the struggle in that he was from a trailer park from the D. Although his beginnings were humble (and even despite the fact that he was a Dr. Dre protégé); he still had to kick down doors to prove that he was cold as ice-not “Vanilla Ice.” No matter how hard people tried to front on him-his shit was consistently dope: Hit, and after hit, after hit, after hit, after hit. And he can spit fire something serious. He too, is a hog in the game. And whether people want to admit it or not; he shot Keisha, but she lived-and now she’s coming to pat down this Jewish pretty dude called “DRAKE”…

There are many dudes in the rap game that (upon stepping to the paint) could get right in the game, because not only was their music that good; but in addition to that, they identified with the origin[ators] of the rap game. They were magnetic to the subculture-too many to name. So without having to meet Keisha or being patted down by G-Money, they were able to get in the game without incident. If ever there is anything to be found out that didn’t line up with who they say they are; it will be found out.

drakeBut out of nowhere, stepping to the paint is this cat called “Drake.”

He got past Keisha’s gun. Next, Nino ordered:
“G-Money, pat him. Pat him down!”

The subculture’s “Keisha” heard the needle to the record scratch-and-stop at this pretty
boy with the good looks of an eighties Al B. Sure: Tall, thick body and a masculine unique voice,
but with a different slant in the rap game: Genius emotional appeal but without alienating the usual
male bravado in rap: Speaking lyrics of various kinds about their emotional detachment to women
outside of a hot night of sex, drinking and a little bit of disrespect on the rocks-rapping clever,
timely lyrics behind beats that could both rock a party and wet many-a-girl’s panties and keep ’em
hopeful-just like the next great rapper who identifies and fancies himself a thug did (and does).

baby_and_weezyThe “Drake” never presented himself as a thug; he was just Rick Rubin’d under some heavy hitters [slash] thugs in the
game with tattooed teardrops on their faces and true-to-life street backgrounds to prove it.
But just like a thug that raps about life and the streets in which he lives; Drake rapped about the life
he lives too: A little bit alcohol/some “lean” and “sticky”/clubs, girls and other hot-life shit;
thuggish things minus the thug background, life, and past.

drake_logo_name_lyricHis name is one fucking syllable: “Drake”-oh what’s in a name: How unique, masculine and rugged the sound-matching this Romeo. It dropped down on us like a ton of hard-rock bricks. Yet despite how his underground/mix tapes started out as whispers that eventually hit the scene like a rebel yell that had everybody screaming more, more, more; [unfortunately?] we learned another unique thing about him: His first name was just “Aubrey” (*crowd sigh*) and this handsome lad didn’t hail from the rough streets of a northern or southern area of the globe but rather, an un-tough good community somewhere in the comfortable terrains of a Toronto suburb, where his actual first hit was by way of an all-American television show called “Degrassi”…What say you!? (*crowd sigh*)

Despite his mounting success, we like to use those superficial,
meaningless things to build weak foundations as to why we feel its okay to try and
clown him-in denial and working overtime trying to overlook the fact that he too,
is truly a hog (not a clown) in this game, just the same…

You see… he changed the game in this game in a different way: Exclusive and by-design;
tailored to him-uniquely so. The most overlooked part about it is that nobody is going to be
able to come through Hip-Hop after him and duplicate what he did: his branding, his PR,
his rap style/lyrics, his playboy (then peel), and his appeal
(feel free to choose whichever order you wish to). His methodology baked and broke the mold.
Love it or hate it, it’s the truth.

“A guy like Drake will rap hard, sound like a tough street dude even, and come across
entirely different in real life. He’s playing a persona. He’s an actor. Phony balony.
I can’t feel that. That’s not true to hip-hop.”

said someone on a radio personality’s music blog
that I was reading
(regarding Drake and his new single “Started from the Bottom”).

No matter how much he’s contributed to the success of Hip-Hop and his own personal success;
a mere song title called: “Started from the Bottom” sent shockwaves to the “Keisha’s.”
“From the bottom?!!! Of what?!”
This, coming from a guy called Drake who’s first name is Aubrey, having come to the paint
straight out of the Toronto suburbs, startled many (well actually, those who were forced to
reckon with his five-year force but still had their eye on him waiting for whatever they
perceived to be “one false move”)…in order to flat-blast his ass.

As I explained in the beginning of this blog, my coming from and having love for the roots of
Hip-Hop myself; we have come to a point in this love of Hip-Hop to feel that if you can’t show
and prove pictures of you eating mayonnaise and sugar sandwiches, and you don’t identify with the
rap stories by the Hip-Hop originators; then you have no connection to the origin-therefore,
no right to be in Hip-Hop (especially talking about coming from a bottom).

That’s stagnant thinking.
For yourself, the subculture, andmusic.

Hey, I feel the same way about love songs. Many of the love songs “today” cannot light
a candle to love songs of years past. But if I find a good love song today, I won’t deny
its greatness, either (simply because I have an opinion on the distinct differences in love songs
of the then versus the now). I have to be sensible enough to understand that the songwriters,
the audience, and the singers themselves are experiencing “love” in a toooooootally different
way “today” than yesteryear; so a love song today, is what it is.

As times changes, classic Hip-Hop heads have to understand that this generation of Hip-Hop aint
necessarily “fighting the powers that be” but rather, fighting for and collecting more
superficial things now: swag, shine, Twitter followers, each other, notches under their belts,
and all things that come with that.
And when classic Hip-Hop heads are living in a time where good storytellers and lyricists are being
overpowered by barely understandable jargon and redundant hooks over hot beats; anyone who
isn’t “fighting the powers that be” is looking suspect and seen as a blatant disrespect to Hip-Hop.
And let their eyes and ears tell it-that’s pretty much all of them today (with the exception of classic
Hip-Hop head’s picks of “conscious rappers”).


Although you may not like or agree with the goings on with the change in times, you do
have to understand (and accept) that times have changed…but you also understand the difference
in simply loving Hip-Hop versus loving and knowingHip-Hop (there is a difference).

Loving and (truly knowing) Hip-Hop is being able to accept the change in times while
understanding that a good rapper today is too like yesterday’s good rapper:
And those good rappers are going to be rapping about the changes in times “today” that may very
well be repulsive to yesterday’s times. But if you are truly a good judge of Hip-Hop, you know
the difference between a Drake and a Soulja Boy and you can be true enough to yourself to admit that
(no disrespect to Soulja Boy but there is a clear, they are in two different leagues,
and there is an obvious distinction between both their music).

For the Hip-Hop head of yesteryear and the origins of it; I know it’s hard to accept some of the
“Hip-Hop” today, I understand that-for real. And if I had it my way too, I would invent a rap
category called “Hip-Pop,” where those rappers with the basic redundant lyrics rapping over
beats so hype and hot that the beat itself is worth more than the rap [that although may rock a party nicely];
I would stick them into that Hip-Pop category so that Hip-Hop won’t be so easily disregarded
by old school Hip-Hop heads, and the new school rap lovers can understand and clearly see the distinct
differences between the two.

That’s not to say that both aren’t valuable to the rap game altogether (because they both are), but let’s
not belabor the obvious: The beauty in the beat can sometimes blind the mind in a way that undervalues a
true hot lyricist/songwriter (like the Drake’s and such) and throw ‘em all in the Soulja Boys’ type of
army (simply because they are all new school rap).

You can’t hate that the mainstream, other genres of music and people that disregard rap/Hip-Hop merely
some violent culture of music that breeds problem children who smoke, drink, and do drugs all day,
disrespect women, walk around with their pants hanging down to their knees, shoot at the police,
and are uneducated, crack-babies who speak broken English with a mouth filled with diamonds and ink
across their bodies who you’d be scared to meet walking past a dark alley but yet…some new jack steps
on the scene who, because he’s Jewish and has a white mother and is “only” half-black and acted on an
all-American television show, is a pretty boy, wasn’t raised in the hood and happens to speak
coherently and in complete sentences: “He’s playing a persona. He’s an actor. Phony balony
and [you] can’t feel that [because] that’s not true to hip-hop.”

Since when and where is it written that true Hip-Hop had a true “type” and “stereo-type”
(that was redeemable, or respectable, or non-threatening in the eyes of mainstream anyways)?

So why not being accepting of someone who “doesn’t fit the stereo-type” but at the same time,
can rock the mic just as good and better than some who do fit the “type” or “stereotype?”
Whether you feel that they are an act, or a persona; if their music, lyrics, and rap appeals to the
masses, they can’t be denied.

Stop making up excuses to not to accept or embrace New Jacks in the City who you can clearly see
(by your very own reasons of blatant hate and disregard) have changed the game…

Acknowledging what’s right in front of you (that can’t be denied) is what “Keeping it Real” means, TOO


[…] now and here lately; over the past few years, we never hear much from rapper: Marshall Mathers (“Eminem”) unless he’s spitting fire (on wax). We all know that early into his career he was never one […]

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