The Questions by Common feat Mos Def

Every weekday to generate intelligent discussion amongst the class I ask an essay question and post it on facebook. Friday night on my show I requested that the class ask The Professor some essay questions. I got some pretty good ones and was going to answer them on my Facebook page but it just seemed fitting to post the answers on the blog so that’s what I’m doing here. I’m also going to answer some of my previous essay questions. Let’s go!

Sheray Oliver’s home town is Philly which you all should know is rich with Hip Hop history. From clean cut Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince to the first rapper I heard curse on record, Schooly D, Philly is well represented in the evolution of Hip Hop. Where she lives now though, is one of underground Hip Hop’s hotbeds, NorthCarolina. Home of 9th Wonder, Little Brother, Kooley High and L.E.G.A.C.Y. In the entrepreneurial do it yourself spirit that Carolina Hip Hop embodies Ms Oliver has a website where she sells some exquisite gift packages that are very reasonable and attractive for home, him, and her(http://giftsbysheray.com/.com). She digs old school hip hop and dusties and despite me not agreeing that Love Jones was the best rom/com ever written (Brown Sugar? Annie Hall?) I find her loved, loving, and loveable! Her question is as follows.

Some claim that Nikki Minaj is picking up where Lil Kim left off. My 17 year old son disagrees. What’s ur take?

First of all, I hope Lil Kim isn’t reading this because I’m sure she doesn’t feel as though she is “left off” lol. To answer your question though, it’s hard to say. Diddy may say so. He is currently managing Nicki Minaj as recently as this past week. Maybe I can answer this best with an analogy. Lil Kim was special in the beginning but in that “side piece” kind of way. You loved Latifah, Lauryn, and Lyte and those were your main hip hop chicks. Lil Kim, lyrically wasn’t in their lane, in my opinion, but she took an approach to sex & money in her lyrics that they didn’t take. Kinda like a side piece does things your main girl won’t do. Now we have Eternia, Dominique Larue, and Jean Grae today. Nicki Minaj ain’t them. She is more of a “side piece”. I like some of the stuff that Lil Kim & Nicki Minaj do but I don’t LOVE them like I do the other chicks. I have crazy respect for both of them and they both have impressed me at times. I think that Nicki is taking pages from Kim and Lil Wayne’s Playbook much like Kim took from Biggie’s. Now, Lil Wayne is NO Biggie and it’s safe to say he knows that, which is why he proclaims to be the best rapper alive but an argument could be made that Nicki Minaj is following in Lil Kim’s footsteps especially referring to her self as “Nicki Lewinsky” in her cut Little Bitty Piggy. Now a story I’d like to tell is one about the daydream I had while typing this about pre surgery Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and myself but that’s another story for another time lol

Next up is fellow PTI fan, fellow Chicago native, fellow Hip Hopper,DJ and Steve Berger. I’m trying to get him to come down and hang with The Professor but more importantly, I’m trying to get him to bring me some food from home! More on that story as it develops. He says I’m his 2nd favorite teacher and our show is the best show he’s heard in 10 years! Well, I can’t be his favorite teacher (he is married to a teacher)but I will not rest until my show is the best show he’s EVER heard. I have listened to one CD outside of my show and it is his highly entertaining and eclectic Black Manta : The Midnight Marauder the A Tribe Called Quest Mixes which is on sale at Grammaphone records & all 3 Reckless Records locations in Chicago if you’re in the area but I’m sure if you get at him (www.facebook.com/steve.berger1) He said he has 2 questions but in fact he had several. I will answer them all now.

I have 2!! #1 what took you to Arkansas?Will you stay there?Do you like it? What is the hip hop community like there? A Hip Hop cat like yourself I thought you’d be breaking you neck to get to NYC.

#2 What do you think about the current state of hip hop? It’s been in style to say it’s dead but with rappers now doing the… electro style to make it more dance it’s morphing again.Now rappers only really try to put out one good album & then fall off like the jumped off a building, or they become: bad actors,bad producers, annoying pitchmen or rich dudes who do nothing.No one (who currently gets radio play on popular radio& is a recording artist) seems to care about the state of hip hop.Y is that?

My dad was in the military. My junior year of high school, my dad sent for me to live with him in Germany. The experience led to me joining the military. In Georgia, I met my future ex wife who was from Arkansas. When I left the military, my choices were Virginia where I was currently living, Chicago, which was my hometown. Or Arkansas where she was already set up. Financially, Arkansas was a better choice. I am dedicated to staying here. My two sons are here and my show originates here. I have grown to love it here. The Hip Hop community here is much like the radio now a days. There are alot of pseudo gangsters and pseudo rappers but there are quite a few core real hip hoppers many great DJ’s like G Force & Swift, MC’s like 607 & Ill Chemist, Graf Writers like DJ Dirtbag (also from Chicago) and B Boys like B Boy David. I have mad love for NYC because it is the mecca and you all should get there just to feel the hip hop emanating from the streets. Living there has never entered my mind. I’m reminded of a new show on HBO called Treme where Steve Zahn’s character David McClary asks well-known New Orleans musician Kermit Ruffins, who plays himself, if he plans to stay in New Orleans, play trumpet, bar b cue, and get high all day. Kermit’s response is simple yet profound.He simply says “That’ll work.” I have bigger aspirations of course, and wherever this love of Hip Hop takes me I’m willing to go but if I died today I can say I had a good life and I died with having the chance to do the one thing I wanted to do in life. That’ll work.

When asked about the current state of Hip Hop I’m always inclined to say that I am quite pleased with it but please understand I have never heard a song by Wocka Flocka Flame. Half of the guys that get mainstream play I’ve never heard of. They do pop. All the Hip Hop I hear I love. I don’t listen to much pop. Now, about the dreaded sophmore jinx. A lot of artists we love had a bit of a slump which is why old school resonates with us the way it does. King of Rock was not up to the level that Run and D started out with. Wu Tang and Nas still reside in the shadows of their first albums. You ask anyone what’s Jay’s best work is and they all will say Reasonable Doubt. I have two theorys on that. The first is the million songs theory. When you first get on every song you have you sift through to find the best ones and that’s your jump off album. By the second album you make enough songs to complete that album. You don’t have as much material to work with. The second thing is the fame theory. When you did that first album it was your closest homeboys, if that, and you didn’t waste time because you were a nobody. Second time around you got a whole entourage of yes men present and probably a few yes ladies as well. It’s a problem that is common in Hip Hop as well as the stuff they play on the radio. As far as the capitalist nature of all of this. Well, Cube said it best when he said “Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money!” Movies, TV, and endorsements is how you get real cash because selling albums ain’t it. The reason they don’t care is because they take it for granted. When we were coming up we had to defend Hip Hop so now we are quite possesive of it and the direction it’s taking. They’ve always had hip hop around so they don’t have that sense of history. Add to that, Hip Hop is the only music genre where the history is not promoted to the youth. In fact, most youth in rap call the older guys has beens. Do you think John Mayer would dare talk shit about Bob Dylan? Would Trace Adkins shit on Hank Williams Jr? Does Branford Marsalis diss Miles Davis? In Hip Hop we like to say it’s a young man’s game. Even if it’s true, it’s essential that we maintain a sense of history and remember how hard it was to get Hip Hop played on Mtv let alone a pretty decent amount of radio stations in the world.

Next up From Canada (and you all know how I love Canada) we have watch fanatic (lol) Amr Salt. If it’s hip hop going on in Montreal, he’s there!!! I have mad respect for my man Amr just on the strength of he knows and appreciates Tanya Morgan and (even though you should) you dont!! He’s currently Skyping his ass off at AmrSalt so get at him! He got at me. Here’s his question.

From one prof. to another:
What are your thoughts on people of non-African American heritage/ethnicity embracing hip-hop culture and music as their own? If anything, what qualifies someone to claim hip-hop culture as their own

I LOVE that non African American people embrace Hip Hop culture because it adds a diversity to the culture and while it brings people into our world, it also allows us to go into theirs. Big Pun (Puerto Rican), Qbert (Filipino), Eminem (Caucasian), Kardinal Offishal (African Canandian), Gagle (Japanese), Jin (Chinese), Reddnation (Native American) all have embraced Hip Hop culture and none of them are African American. Please let’s not forget that when hip hop began it was not exclusively a black thing. A good number of the members of The Rock Steady Crew were Puerto Rican. In fact, the other elements of the culture are embraced and in some ways dominated bypeoples of non African American descent. The Invisibl Skratch Piklz are one of the premier DJ crews and they are almost all Filipino, The Quest Crew have several members with Asian Heritage and they are an AMAZING B boy crew that had excelled on America’s Best Dance Crew and several members have appeared on So You Think You Can Dance. Legendary graf writer Lady Pink is from Ecuador. MC’ing may be prdominately African American but I assure you Hip Hop Culture as a whole is not.

What qualifies someone to claim Hip Hop culture as their own is a much tougher question. The way I feel is it starts as a spark and from there and it grows in you. The culture itself does not care about your nationality, your religion, your sex or your age. It’s all on you. If you are Hip Hop, youHip know it. It takes alot more than owning a few rap albums to be Hip Hop. Real Hip Hoppers by nature, are historians and they repsect the architects of this culture. If you love Hip Hop and all of it’s elements who am I as an African American to say you aren’t? One race cannot own Hip Hop culture. It is worldwide as evidenced by the fact that I have listeners in Germany, London, France, Russia, and South Africa to name a few. Are they not Hip Hop just because they aren’t black and weren’t born in America? I’m sure they would argue that they are and may have a better grasp on the whole of Hip Hop culture than those of us in America. You qualify yourself. You make it your own by being Hip Hop. Trust me, if you claim to be Hip Hop and you aren’t, a real Hip Hopper will call you on it. No matter what nationality you are.

Next up we have Mr “Late Pass For Your Ass” Nick Drake. He was given that nickname by me because every quiz I do on Facebook he has the right answer, just a few seconds late. Maybe his connection is a little slower I don’t know but he does know his ish. Just not as quick on the draw lol. Nick Drake is from Toronto, (I LOVE CANADA) where I will be visiting next year and he reps the T Dot about how I rep Chi Town. He’s a Maple Leaf fan, Blue Jays fan and Raptors fan and I want to thank him in advance for sending Chris Bosh to the Chicago Bulls next year. He’s one of my favorite people on Facebook and he hit me with a great question. His question was…

Everybody seems to be saying Hip Hop is dead these past few years. Obviously, with the cyclicle nature of music we have the commercial ish at the top. When do you see a change coming that will bring the underground back to the top and see a resurgence like we had from 91 to 95?

I thought Kanye West was going to spearhead that change having Talib and Ludlbuma as well as Freeway and Mos Def on tracks together back on his 2004 College Dropout album. 6 years later I can see that I was being hopelessly naive. The fact is that it will never happen and hears why. I read a book called the Right of The Dial by Alex Foege that chronicled Clear Channel’s rise to dominance. In this fascinating book Mr Foege explained the Telecommunications Act that Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996. Prior to this act a company could only own 2 stations per market. After that was passed it cleared the way for a station to buy up as many radio/tv stations as they could afford. This is how Clear Channel rapidly came into dominance. What they did as explained in the 2006 documentary Before The Music Died (a must see!!!!) was they started treating blocks of air time like used cars. They found it to be more lucrative to focus on selling ad space and playing music became a secondary priority. So they proceded to find songs that more people could gravitate to and then they played these songs over and over again. The quality of the music gave way to the music’s ability to hold you till the next commercial. Why take a chance on Little Brother when our focus groups show that more people in that key 18-34 demographic like Lil Wayne better? If we’re playing something that is unfamiliar to our listeners they may turn away and we will lose revenue and so on. What does this have to do with Hip Hop you ask? Well basically it became less about beats & rhymes and more about dollars and cents. Real Hip Hop will never be on commercial radio because it’s too hard to sell to middle America.

Hip Hop is dead became a popular sentiment among those that don’t know how or where to find REAL Hip Hop. I am reminded of a time when Ultramagnetic’s Four Horsemen album came out. When my best friend Jay and I went to the record store there were two copies. I felt that if they only sold two copies I’d be thrilled. It’s weird that above I mentioned how global Hip Hop has become. Well as global as it is real Hip Hoppers are in an exclusive fraternity. I, in a way, never want it to come to a time where undergound MC’s are promoted by the mainstream. I like being seperate. It promotes my elitist attitude about my music. I have said on numerous occasions my class is not for everybody. I like to think of it as a ride at an amusement park. You must be this smart to enjoy this ride. I only want real intelligent Hip Hoppers to listen. I don’t care about the fringe. I love my show, I love my class, I love my music and if the mainstream doesn’t get it and bastardize it, it will always be ours. That’s the way, ah ha ah ha, I like it. Look at how nice Eminem is when he’s not making “radio friendly” cuts. We are part of an exclusive fraternity. I guess I can best answer your question, with a question. Do you really want them to get behind underground Hip Hop so everyone can think they are as smart as us? I didn’t think so. It’s a selfish and exclusionary sentiment, I know, but I’d rather have a hundred true heads behind me that truly believe in what we’re doing than a million half ass johnny come latelys nahmeen?

I truly enjoyed the questions I received from the class. I was expecting a few “What’s your favorite…” but you all put a lot of thought into your questions. Hopefully, by the length of my answers and the time it took me to get this done, you can see that I did likewise. I was in the middle of this when I found out about Guru and to be frank, these questions were a huge help to me, in dealing with the loss of one of the legends that helped define what Hip Hop is supposed to sound like. I have people tell me all the time about the things my show does for them. Well your support of my show and me does many things for me as well. This time your questions helped me deal with a great loss and for that, I thank all of you.

Ya Man,

The Professor

Advertisements

~ by Professor Mike on April 25, 2010.

6 Responses to “The Questions by Common feat Mos Def”

  1. Good insight…the side piece anaolgy makes a lot of sense..no comment on the fantasy part..I’ll just say mine includes Common & QTip 😮

  2. Lil Kim’s cadence was like a Biggie Junior, sans the lyrics – except for the joints he wrote. The same w/Nikki M. Her whole style is a female Lil Wayne. I agree w/the side piece ref. Also, Lil Kim & Foxy Brown paved the way for her. Actually Leshaun was the first that i know of to rap like that, but that was b4 u could really say wild sex shit on the radio. she was ahead of her time.

    • I can’t argue with you about Lashaun. I would have incleded Fox Boogie because really Nikki is kind of a mix between the two but Ms Oliver didn’t really talk about Foxy

  3. Awesome man!!!You are a true visionary!!!Keep doing it!!FYI my favorite radio show was when Cartier was on WGCI & would spin the B-Side but you are gaining ground!!!

  4. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian,

  5. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: