What I Learned in 2013 pt.1 - I'm Done

So...as one calendar flipped past it's final page and another opened to it's first, I began doing what about 99% of us do: I started to reflect. Not only on things that were paramount to my life, but even the things that to some would outwardly appear as seemingly trivial or insignificant. Why those too? Well, because it's my life and cot-dammit it's my prerogative (does the Bobby Brown Slide) to decide what is important to me and what's not! So, because I'm a writer in my sub-life (some day I'll talk about that concept of mine a little more), the best way for me to get these ideas out is through....writing. So...here goes.

What Raze learned in 2013, part one.

*Deep Breath*

I'm done with "Hip Hop".

Now, let me explain this. I've been a fan and liver of Hip Hop music and culture my entire life. LITERALLY. From my mom getting me autographs from the artists of the Fresh Fest Tour of 1985 (RunDMC, Whodini, The Fat Boys....and for some reason, Cockroach of The Cosby Show was there kickin it pretty tough too, so she got his too. Mom dukes was the shit BACK THEN. lol) to being a 30-something emcee/producer/engineer. So when I woke up the morning of January 2nd, and had the realization that I had simply grown tired of the culture and it's many iniquities...it was an indescribable feeling to process for me. To wake up to the realization that the ONE constant of your entire life, has now become the thing you for the most part loathe, was f*cking heavy (UNDERSTATEMENT).

So, why am I done with "Hip Hop" and why do I keep putting it in quotes? Because I'm done with this iteration of "Hip Hop"; I've fallen out of love with it and more importantly what it has become. Being a fan of Hip Hop now is more about being "one of us"; meaning there really aren't FANS anymore. People for the most part need to "like the artist and feel like they too are just like them". Now, before the surface level thinking idiots throw their flags on the play, let me explain....

People used to covet being a fan. The used to LOVE being the first person to find an awesome artist and share that artists music with their friends. I know because I did it. Even as a young kid. But with the introduction of The Like Button, which for some reason trumps The Share Button that sits less than 20pixels away, the intimacy and personal coolness of sharing something dope with your friends has been lost. Even though we are all more connected than ever because of the internet and social media, we as fans of music couldn't possibly be more separated from one another. And the only way to get that same deep, necessary, internal rush of sharing or discovering a dope new artist...is to appear that you are somehow "in" with that artist. The Tweetback from an artist isn't cool because you got a Tweetback from a celeb you love; it's cool because it's a STATUS SYMBOL. You either said something so "witty" or simply trolled so hard, that the artist had no choice but to acknowledge you. And that...saddens me. Because it's not the artistry that is taking precedence, it's the self-aggrandizing, "look at how cool I AM" mentality that is paramount. The artistry is completely secondary. And the "fans" and  "writers" and "bloggers" are ALL guilty of it.

Another thing that has killed my love of Hip Hop is...the "WE the best" social mentality. The competitive spirit of being an emcee/producer/etc has been lost and replaced by this disturbingly soft and fragile belief that someone standing up for their work and/or claiming that they are in fact, The Best...is for some reason...WRONG.

I posted to Facebook that, in my opinion, Wale's "Kanye moment" with Complex magazine was the best thing to happen in Hip Hop in 2013; and I stand by that statement. While a million-plus people talked shit on Twitter about Wale "sounding sensitive" and "being emotionally fragile"....I GOT IT. Now, maybe that's because I'm an artist. But, honestly...whether as an artist or DJ or whatever, I've fortunately never had much problem with getting pub or praise for my work. I thank God and my hard work ethic for that. But, back to
my point....ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WERE WRONG. We've become so force-fed this ideology that artists are supposed to be humble, and that WE ALL ARE GREAT (or are at least capable of producing great things) that when an artist recognizes a potentially bullshit slighting of his art happening...instead of siding with the artist...we SHUN and BELITTLE the artist. Now, pardon me and my multi-generational perspective here but, since the fuck when is THE WRITER more powerful and defended than THE ARTIST? Could you possibly imagine Outkast, at the height of their creative prowess, being shamed on social media because they were slighted by a writer or publication? Now, don't be a moron and focus on my comparison of Wale to Outkast and miss the point: The point is, no artist should be looked at negatively for standing up for the art they've created and their belief in that art.

Unfortunately, that very thing...happens DAILY. That's why so many people think Kanye is f*cking crazy. That's why people made a joke of The Wale Scream. Because it's no longer acceptable to wave your own flag, proudly, boisterously and loudly. And that is....f*cking absurd.

Lastly, I'm done with "Hip Hop" because...it bores me. Yup....I'm bored with it. Or, more accurately, what it has become. Hip Hop has grown backwards and devolved to a cubicle art. Not only is it disposable by reason of over-saturation, but it's also apparently a definable art now. The creative evolution of Hip Hop artists has been arrested and jailed by the bars and boundaries of "what is/isn't truly Hip Hop". Experimentation and ambition have been thrown into the hole, in favor of The Safe Norm. I remember FIRST HAND how people reacted to ATLiens (which IMO is superior to Aquemini in many ways). I remember first hand how people reacted to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (and recently Yeezus). Now, these are all VERY MUCH so, Hip Hop albums (Rock music isn't innocent either, because the initial views of OK Computer and KID A, very much mirrored my sentiments about Hip Hop). However, the thing they all have in common is: They were not the albums that Hip Hop heads expected or more importantly, WANTED them to be. And therein, lies my biggest problem with what Hip Hop has become.

The People, now let their own biased and non-artistic beliefs of what the artist's artistic growth SHOULD BE, dictate their appreciation (or lack thereof) of what the artists growth and evolution actually IS. To not like something is very much anyone's prerogative; but to not dig something because the instant you hit play, it was not what you expected or wanted it to sound like, is fucking criminal and downright DUMB. We are ARTISTS, and no matter what many of you may like to believe....while we deeply appreciate your fanfare, make NO mistake about it, we create our music...our ART.........for......US. It is our therapy. It is how we cope with living in a world that makes very little to absolutely NO F*CKING SENSE TO US, because as creative people we see and hear and process EVERYTHING differently. On levels and planes of thinking that many of you aren't even capable of acknowledging exist.

So, I'm bored with Hip Hop because honestly, I feel like it's stuck in an endless loop; doomed to recycle the same processes and concepts and sounds as the previous almost 40yrs of it's existence. And that, is a shame.

In closing....

...what does this mean for me? Does it mean I'm done as a musician? Nope. Not at all. It just means my religion has changed. I no longer pray to "Hip Hop Jesus". I believe in "Yeezus", so to speak. I believe in the spirit of The Love Below. Because I was raised on the Gospel of Hip Hop having no specific and particular sounds or bounds. Hip Hop is EVERYTHING....but somewhere along the lines of growing up...it got....OLD.

Praise Yeezus. LOL


  1. Welcome to RazyLand coming soon!

  2. https:// www.jhollins.comJanuary 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    I said nearly the same exact thing when I was working on my project the middle of last year. A local DJ entered a studio session of mine and asked if I was going to use familiar sounds. Like sounds that you hear on mainstream radio everyday. No, I'm not. If you can't grow as an artist; then why be one. I approve this 100%!


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