I have very bad news for black people who like hip-hop, and I do extend my condolences: Hip-hop isn't cool any more.
How do I know? Because I've been listening to it.
Me—a vanilla, white-as-can-be, erudite, somewhat stuffy, perilously close to sixty-year-old male autodidact who, according to demographics, should be listening to nothing but Classic Rock and getting into arguments with my beardy friends about how Journey is underappreciated and whether the Stones can still access the true spirit of rock-and-roll now that they are all wizened little old men who resemble elves. I go bopping down the road in my Acura (really, I'm very sorry—not a hip-hop vehicle) with XM radio set to the "Backspin" station (subtitled "Classic Hip Hop"), the speakers pounding to Public Enemy, the Notorious B.I.G., Coolio's "I Remember" (aight!), Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day," Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne's "How To Love," OutKast, Salt N Pepa, Geto Boys...you get the picture. Love it, love it.
You will be relieved to know that, as I drive, I am not puffing on my bubonic chronic or sipping on gin and juice.
But I have taken to referring to A Tribe Called Quest as "A.T.C.Q." Again...so sorry.
Elijah Wald's book How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll has a startlingly cynical title, faux-provocative for purposes, apparently, of marketing—the book is an iconoclastic history of American popular music and how it was played, written, recorded and disseminated over the years, and has nothing at all, or very little, to do with the Beatles or their alleged destruction of anything. Anyway if memory serves, I think it was How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'N' Roll in which I read the thesis that the pattern of American music is for black music to be in the vanguard, only to become popular with white people thirty years later, by which time black music has moved on. Not sure if that's true, but I appear to be one data-point in favor of the theory.
All this is a long and wholly gratuitous preamble to mentioning "Don't Fall Asleep," featuring tracks from Wechsel Garland, DJ Shadow, Eric B. and Rakim, Irresistible Force, Freakniks and more. DJ KK has been on a hot tear recently, with new mixes seemingly every other day. Wonderful, wonderful mix, with much to love and more to listen for. Possibly especially if you are anything like me.
Full disclosure, I actually did go to sleep halfway through "Don't Fall Asleep." But it didn't put me to sleep; it's just that, the older I get, the earlier I have to go to bed. LOL!
(Props to KK)
"Open Mike," which is meant to appear on Wednesdays, is the off-topic, anything-goes page of TOP, written by Yr. Hmbl. Ed.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Del: "Mike. I fear the deep end is near. Better strap on a Mae West!"
Ken James: "I Respect hip-hop. That said, maybe you could combine your pool and hip-hop posts. I am smiling Mike."
David Raboin: "Speaking of hip-hop, every color photographer needs to watch the Netflix series 'The Get Down.' My wife and I just finished watching it and I was blown away by the visuals. Baz Luhrmann, the director, is a master of color. There's one episode where a pink shirt almost becomes a lead character. In that episode, every set has a color pallet that plays off the pink shirt, even blurred out street signs in the distant background, it's amazing.
"'The Get Down' was the prettiest and most visually interesting eight hours of TV I've ever watched. Some reviews complain that 'The Get Down' is a mess, but I think the show's creators where trying to create a hip hop fairy-tale. To enjoy the show you've got to accept that it's over-dramatized for a reason. Or, if you're a photographer, just pay closer attention to the color palette than the story."
Joe Holmes: "Hip-hop used to do nothing for me (though in the 90s I'd sometimes buy a 12" hip-hop EP and play the instrumental side), but lately I've gotten just where you're describing—old school hip-hop now sounds so good to me. It feels like pure energy.
"Recommended: the movie 'Straight Outta Compton,' especially if you can still find it in a theater (unlikely). It gets sappy in the last third, but until then, it just kills."
Stan B.: "Last post I ever expected to see here—and I do mean last...."