Jrnl Entry No. 1.13.2001

HIP HOP, I am so frustrated with you right now and direction you have taken for a good cause, but in the process, you have destroyed the essence and rawness of the music that once lived through Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, KRSONE, Rakim. The cause which you have pursued is money, and money is being made, by god, it is being made by the millions. records are selling double platinum, quadruple platinum, but something is definitely lacking for us old Public Enemy lovers. One, the lyrics are sagging with laziness all over each new release of an album battling for a top spot on the charts.

MCs are making shameful quotes such as “I don’t write my rhymes down. I just make up the song in the sound booth to the beat as I go.” Jay Z, I can tell you did that all through 1999 and 2000 because that’s when I started to get a little tired of your shit. I was so tired that I didn’t purchase the 2000 album or the 2001 album. You went from one of my top MCs with the brilliant flows and choice of words on your first album, “Reasonable Doubt”. “You coppin’ me like, white crystal / I gross the most at the end of the fiscal year than these niggaz could wish to.”; to being of the worst MC on my list with “In My Life Time Vol. 4.” The MCs on your label follow the same. When I heard Memphis Bleek  onReasonable Doubt, “Coming of Age” I was an instant fan. When I heard “Memph Bleek Is” I was an instant hater. I didn’t hear that album nor the new one for 2001. Lyrically you all watered down your flow. Beanie Sigel came into the game like that so I was never impressed by him. And what was on your mind when you even thought Amil could hold her own without you on a solo album?

But of course you don’t give a damn about me and my opinion, who was once of the opinion that “this guy rapping with Jaz on “Originators” is wicked.” Jay ripped ”Can I Get Open” on the Original Flava album and a few other songs. Reasonable Doubt was one of my favorite albums that year to come out. But this means nothing because all those projects sold less in total compared to what that garbage album with ”Big Pimpin”  on it. But you got to know and in case you don’t, let me tell you that when you lose a true fan who was there from the beginning starting with Hawaiian Sophie even though you didn’t rhyme on that, you’ve lost everything and it’s gonna hit you hard one day. (I read this 10 years later. Jay Z was one of the tope selling, top grossing PAID MCs. LoL)

Hip Hop right now is about the very thing that MCs used to despise, commercialism. Whereas we all used to be as one, there are now two audiences. The industry shows no love for the underground. The underground is really underground now, with the only way to get a record out is to put it out yourself, and hope by some major miracle that it gets heard. Back in the 90s, at least niggaz could get record deals: Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, Smif  & Wesson, Artifacts, Bush Babies, Madd Skillz. Even Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z’s first albums could be considered underground albums that just blew the fuck up because they deserved to. That’s why you stopped rapping Pace, whether you know it or not. Back in the early 90s, that 5 song EP I got of yours would have made a little noise if on a major label like Elecktra. But in the late 90s to 2000, that shit will create a buzz, but it will be heard by very few. So it’s either we become Jay Zs and Puffys or we die. I hate to say it, but contrary to DJ Premier’s words on Gangstarr’s last album “Moment of Truth”, the roaches in the underground are dying, at least in America.

This is what I wrote to my frat brother who is a nice MC by my standards, who also won’t let me do a beat on his upcoming independent release album. Fuck you for that Stehen. I ain’t asking no more to do a beat for you. You know I make beats so if you want some, you’ll ask for some and actually get them recorded. If not, fuck you again! I also sent this message to one of Stephen’s producers named Pace Maker. He is a cool cat who used to rhyme, but I think the pressures of commercialism and knowing that MCs such as himself have little chance for success, stopped him from wanting to be an MC. He begs to differ, and truthfully, only he knows, I’m just guessing.

Pace Maker: Like Premo said underground hip hop will never die. It might not be accepted in the mainstream, but quality music will always be made. I stopped rhyming because I felt my skills were outdated and I felt I had nothing else to say. You got to understand also that you don’t have to be on a major label to sell underground hip hop music. You could sell 30,000 copies of a record put it on your own and make $500,000! You wouldn’t make that much if you went platinum of a major label.

The kind of music we make would be embraced better overseas. That’s why we’re putting together an overseas tour and an EP release for The Phat Rapper. So far he has about 15 new joints recorded. Shits gon’ be that heat! Keep ya ears and eyes open.

This is me and Pace going back and forth on the subject. We have these spats sometimes with no one really being the winner.

Me: Yeah but besides the money, MCs want recognition also. Who wants to rhyme if nobody is hearing you? And all mutha fuckas is hearin’ now days in America is the bullshit rhymes Jay Z is spittin over mostly bullshit tracks. I’m just sayin that the underground had a voice that wasn’t so hard to hear back then; now, if there ain’t a Fatbeats recod store in ya town, you shit out of luck. And you worried about what you sayin, just listen to Ghostface. 85% of the time, he ain’t sayin’ shit and he knows that.

Pace Maker: You got a point about the Fat Beats situation, but if we can do what we love to do for a living and live a comfortable life off of selling 30,000 copies that’s love! Unlike Ghost (wit his dumb ass), I truly consider myself a poet, so I made sure everything I said had meaning and made sense. Just cause he say dumb shit and sell records (yeah he got my money too, but never again) don’t justify it as being ok to do. You right it ain’t all about money. But life is about finding yo niche and doing what you love to do for a living, so you’ll never feel like you’re going to work. Making $500,000 off being heard from 30,000 fans is enough exposure for me. I’m sure Phat (Stephen) feels the same way. Ask him.

Me: You’re right. Maybe I better start rethinkin’ my strategy in this music shit. About Ghost, I think his style is fly. The more I listen, the less is makes sense, so it never gets boring.

But I guess this is just a phase that all music goes through. I’m currently watching this movie about Jazz that is showcasing all the greats: Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb etc. It is talking about jazz and how it basically started in New Orleans and spread to Chicago then to New York which became the mecca. It spoke of how jazz was becoming too commercial in the 1930s during the depression years. Benny Goodman was considered the King of Swing in those days because the white people just latched on to him, even though Duke Elliington was doing swing three years earlier before Benny hit the scene.

Benny Goodman’s band went into a challenge with Chick Webb at the Savoy to see who really was the king of swing and Chick Webb and his band ate Benny and them alive and bowing down. It’s like what’s goin’ on in Hip Hop at this very moment in time with Eminem. He is selling more records than any solo artist ever has in Hip Hop history. He is not considered the King of Hip Hop; for there are and were too many great MCs for him to hold that title. But he does get respect as an MC who raps his ass off, I must say so, and in a battle against the best he could hold his own.

Benny did Jam sessions with other less fortunate artist than himself, and he never bragged about his position in Jazz, he just simply played good music and was respected by most his peers as a good musician. Duke Ellington never changed his sound to become commercial. He stuck to what he loved and he still came out of it a legend.

This is an eye opener to me because I love underground Hip Hop but it seems to be dying from the scene. I often say I’m confused about what type of music to make: what’s on the radio or what I love. This Jazz special has brought to light that if you stick to what you love, it will love you back in the long run. This jazz special is Hip Hop before Hip Hop was born. It speaks of the same issues: commercialism, different genres, the best and who the public makes out to be the nest. Hip Hop is a mirror image of Jazz music. And this lets me know that Hip Hop still has a long run ahead. The special is in the 30s, and it hasn’t gotten to the 50s with Charlie “Bird” Parker, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie yet, who were legends in their time. I just got to New York a year and a half ago. I got time to become a legend in my own right. The Jazz Show has shown me that if nothing else, I just need to work a little harder and do what I love, not what I think everybody else is gonna love.

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