“They gave us lemons we made lemonade,
but this nigga’s paid, ancestry of slaves,
Descendant of Kings, its necessary I…bling,
Puts rims on every thing wear Timbs on every scene.”
The Titanic is sinking. The world economy is headed for disaster. America’s middle class is being systematically destroyed while the already eroded pillars of the once great republic begin to give way. The price of oil is skyrocketing with no end in sight. Food prices soar. The collapse of the American dollar is on the horizon, while the country is fast approaching a 10 trillion dollar deficit. The beast of the New World Order is finally beginning to rear its ugly face…and, as we march into the line of fire, the only thing we all seem to still worry about is …Hip Hop. It is our matrix. It is our life, our….culture. We are permanently hardwired in, our children are tuned to its frequency, the world is listening…and the Beast is watching. While the banksters, through the global elite, continue their assault on all sovereign peoples and free nations of the world, we are just now awakening to the stagnant stench of this archaic system, and only now realizing that it is too late, we brace for impact in its ultimate crash. We are entering a time of darkness, of tribulation, as we are seeing the end of an age…and the birth of a new one. For out of order comes chaos, and from that chaos comes order, as the chess pieces are shifted, and the play is played out. We are the pawns and are to remain totally ignorant of the game being played. We are the cattle. We are the stock. We are the capital. We are their slaves, and we must be dumbed down, distracted, entertained, and kept from the light of truth, because when we awaken, the vale will come down and all will come crashing to the ground. This is why we are held in bondage, in captivity, and purposely kept in the darkness, to keep that light hidden, and replaced with an artificial light, a matrix of sort that we will plug into, accept as reality, and even fight to protect. However, for some of us who have unplugged, we find refuge in the light, and we seek that truth to kindle this little fire called hope, for in that hope lives this thing we like to call…Hip Hop.
“Cuz my seconds, minutes, hours go to the all mighty dollar,
And the all mighty power of dat cha cha cha cha chopper…”
The euro has trumped the American dollar, while the value of the dollar, along with the world economic institutions’ faith in the American economy, continues to fall, more and more countries are dumping the dollar in favor of the euro. The days of the almighty dollar are finished. But what does that mean for hip hop? Money has become our God, our idol of worship, or end all be all, as we sing along to the tunes of I Get Money, Money on My Mind, All About the Benjamins, Money in the Bank, and other cash worshiping anthems. But as the Federal Reserve readies the final nail in the coffin, the only way we hip hoppers peep the Dow Jones is if he’s a nigga that make hot beats. Instead of watching the NASDAQ, we live check to check on soundscan, hoping that through the numbers we will find our next savior of the month. We are haunted by the ghosts of our past, looking for the next 2pac, the next Biggie, and at this point…even the next 50 Cent. But the aforementioned has warned us repeatedly that there will be no more after him, that the death of the multi-platinum American rap star has occurred, and as album sales descend into all time lows, most would unwillingly have to concur. The average drop off in second week sales for any major hip hop release is about 60% and growing, festering rumors of inflated numbers and exaggerated sales statistics on behalf of the major labels, which if true, only points to the prolonging of the inevitable. Hip Hop elitism continues to divide the people, while as one half of the nation mourns the death of hip hop, the other keeps it on life support hoping for, what at this point would be, a miraculous recovery that isn’t coming. Hip Hop is dead and the end of the material age is upon us, but remain positive, for the best has yet to come.
“They say hip hop is dead or on life support
Maybe not …it could be something I just thought…”
The last vestiges of Hip Hop’s golden era were buried and given a 21 gun salute with the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, 2pac and Biggie respectively, marking a huge victory for the government’s War on Rap, while ushering in a new age of mainstream commercialism epitomized by the popularized phrase “bling bling,” coined by artist Lil Wayne. With the throne empty, and the nation without a ruler, the grim results of the immense power struggle had left a power vacuum in hip hop leading many battling for control of its reigns….the number one contender being Jay Z. The death of spiritual hip hop, at least in the mainstream, was at its end, and a new age of materialism was birthed. Hip Hop had stopped being revolutionary, and therefore evolutionary, and instead bought into the system it had once opposed. Hip Hop had sold its soul. It had become…republican. Gone were the days of “U.N.I.T.Y,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” and “Headed for Self Destruction,” as our mantras would now be replaced with odes to materialism, consumerism, drug sales and use, pimping (mixed in with a lil chuch!), and of course sex, sex, sex. The strong conscious black feminism necessary for the uplifting of a people, so eloquently conveyed through female emcees like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, has been drowned out and suffocated by the sex-capade tales, designer wearing, and fuck-a-nigga anthems by the new female rappers, with the likes of Lil Kim, Trina, and Khia. Sex is hip hop’s number one commodity, import and export, with the ever celebrated drug culture as its backdrop. For the past decade and some, we have been sold a dream, we have bought everything these major corporations, in cooperation with these major labels of course, ever had the desire to sell us, every liquor, every car, every fashion trend, every designer label…down to our last dollar, and we still continued to buy and consume. Then something happened. The music started to suck, and the people stopped buying, and more people began to get worried…very worried.
“…if skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be…lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
(But I did 5 mil) I ain’t been rhymin’ like Common since…”
“Moment of Clarity”
As we approached and entered into the new millennium, the substance and spirituality in hip hop was replaced with materialism, record labels became sweatshop factories for slave labor, music videos became three and a half minute commercials for corporate advertisement and product placement, rappers became walking billboards, and hip hop listeners, who had become mere consumers, began to catch wind of the whole scheme. As major labels refused to stray away from the same cookie-cutter formula, a couple radio friendly club songs with the rest being filler, the labels began to rely solely on their monopoly of radio (clear channel) and television programming (MTV and BET both owned by media giant Viacom) to sustain their system of modern day slavery, and the listeners started to catch on. Record sales hit their peak around 2000 and slowly began their steep decline sometime after 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin” in 2003, with sales dropping over 40% from 2000 to 2007. With the rise of digital downloading, file sharing, mp3s, and online digital retailers, music buyers could no longer stomach ripping the plastic packaging off of the cd, much less taking the time out of their busy schedules to go all the way down to the record store, look for a cd, and purchase it all while running the high risk of being severely disappointed in its content. Fans knew that since there were only going to be a few songs worth listening to, it really didn’t make sense in buying the whole cd for $15 when they could listen to the whole cd ahead of time, pick what songs they wanted, and simply download those single tracks. This gave birth to a new wave of one hit wonders…respectively called “ring tone rappers,” as artists and labels became focused on the sales of singles and ringtones, instead of pushing quality music. The majors again attempted to take the easy road, again only prolonging the inevitable….which was the system’s ultimate crash.
“Some say they expect Illuminati take my body to sleep
Niggas at the party with they shotties just as rowdy as me
Before I flee computer chips I gotta deal wit brothas flippin
I don’t see no devils bleedin’ Only black blood drippin”
“They Don’t Give a Fuck About Us”
The almighty American dollar is about to collapse, the economy is caving in on itself, and it is far too late to do anything about it. Since 2001, the value of the American dollar has dropped a staggering 32%, and as foreign central banks begin to diversify their investments, moving away from the dollar, their dumping of the American dollar will further push billions of dollars back into circulation, further lowering the value of the dollar due to inflation. The American dream is on the verge of becoming just that, a dream, as the American way of life as we know it prepares to come to an abrupt halt. We have been living off of borrowed money and borrowed time for far too long, and the reaper has come to collect. The international bankers are bankrupting the nations of the world, and Americans are oblivious to the severity of the situation as most could never imagine the reality of what is about to take place. But where does hip hop fit in all of this? Well, hip hop, in effect, is a mirror, if you will, of American society, as it is a self-sustained living matrix built within the framework of America’s capitalistic caste system. However, in hip hop, the rules are reversed, as it is the poor and marginalized who have the power, and it is the rich who are frowned upon, that is up until recent times, before we bought into the system. Now, with that system about to be yanked out from underneath us, hip hop as a whole will have to kick its long time addiction to fast money, materialism, and consumerism cold turkey, ending its dependence on that system, as it is forced to re-inherit its own independence. This will have a major trajectory effect on hip hop itself, namely in the form of honesty, and quality music from its artists.
“Brooklyn breed emcees, the Bay breed drug dealers, show me a youngsta with flows, I’ll show you a young nigga that push coke, plus he got hoes, stay on the road, can’t tell you ‘bout life but grab the mic and make the track explode.”
The record industry is faltering, labels are consolidating, Universal has a virtual monopoly of the hip hop world, controlling the two major labels where 90% of all major releases are manufactured, Interscope Records and Def Jam Records. As far as mainstream releases concern, sales are at all time lows, as we are entering a digital age, where in a short time, major record labels bearing the burdens of corporate interests will become a distant thing of the past. More and more artists are starting to wake up to the sheer slavery of the current system, and they are ready and able to take control of their own destinies and careers by going independent. As hip hop is pushed deeper and deeper underground, due to ongoing world events and the upcoming collapse of the world’s monetary systems, we will start to see an influx of independent artists rising from the ashes to reclaim what is rightfully theirs….real unadulterated hip hop. However, in actuality, hip hop is just a name, a phrase coined to describe this current matrix, and subsequently hip hop lost most of its power once it was named and corporations began to demand stake in it once they figured out how to control it. Furthermore, hip hop in itself could never be controlled as it is the essence of the underclass and the unspoken for, it is the private property of the poor, the soul of black folk. In its death it is reborn again with new vigor, new life, and a new energy. Unrestricted and released from the chains of corporate control, hip hop, or whatever its new name will be, will mobilize an army of the underclass, of the underground, and those exiled from society in their rejection of the status quo. Hip hop will once again, as it was originally intended, be the voice of the people, with its own language, customs, and culture undecipherable to outsiders and off limits to those who trespass against us. Hip hop will once again be….independent.
Written by Amadeuz Christ on 06.29.08