Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Hip Hop Pass

My man Ink jumped on the buzz about the Biggie movie with a link to P. Rosenburg's recent posting of the entire 4-hour Mr. Cee's Big Mix. And then Ink said two of the best things he has ever said. Big was not the Goat but he was gifted as hell.

I agree. Somewhat.

Someone already threatened to take my Negro card when I said I neither enjoy cornbread nor collard greens. But I got my AARBG (American Association of Retired B-Girls) card well hidden, so back the hell up.(My NY card, on the other hand? I might not be able to keep that one.) Back in the day, no one could question my allegiance to East Coast Hip-Hop. If you got in the whip with me on the way to school and tried to pop Black Moon out the deck for Master P or Eightball and MJG, not only were you getting put the hell out but you might have lost a digit on the way. And Biggie was King.

So clearly, back then, if you had asked me the hip-hop head password of yesteryear "Pac or Big", I would have said Big. Admittedly, it was partly because I because of the East Coast allegiance, and partly because I was living in Cleveland--where real hip-hop could go die and never be found. And you can add to that, the fact that I started every morning with a little Big with my Breakfast. (But it was mostly because I couldn't stomach that wack shit that passed for hip-hop on the North Coast.)

Now? The answer is different. The answer is Pac. And you know what? I shoulda said Pac then. As I have gotten older, I have actually paid alot more attention to Pac then I did in my early hip-hop listening days. He is prolific, conflicted, poetic, and often reaches down into a vat of emotions few people in any genre of music can. Shallow party shit. Crime drama. Heartfelt what-the-fucks. All of it. Brilliantly laced together.

Now before you start calling me unpatriotic to the hip-hop head nation or some sort of hip-hop terrorist, let me say there is still no doubt that Big was incredibly talented. There is no doubt that Big had an incredible lyrical gift. There is no doubt that he has spit some of the most amazing verses in hip-hop. Ever. Point blank. Period. I mean, I used to go home and practice the man's rhymes so I could spit it like I wrote the bars myself. But in my old age it seems to me so much of Big's flow is shallow. Its about shallow-ass shit. If you go back and listen to both of his first two albums most of the material is a precursor, perhaps treasure map to the road to riches via the unadulterated hood-rich, bling-bling, me and my 55 bitches and 4 video ho's hip-hop that we is rammed down our throats daily on a Radio Won station near you. Big was the King of Hood-rich and on down the hill it keeps going.

When I listen to Big now, I can so clearly hear that he had yet to tap into his best game. He was resting on his laurels. To me, he was a lot like Jay has been his whole career. Big could KILL you with his lyrical flow whenever he wanted, and every once in awhile drops a verse to remind you, but he didn't have to in order to be viewed as King shit. He only gave us the good flow cause it sells just as well. Money was the motivation. And while, of course Pac rapped about much of the same shit--seems to me he dug deeper. Perhaps that is why he was so conflicted.

Maybe I've gotten to hip-hop righteous in my old age. But I always need you to say more to me. Big chose not to do it. Perhaps he knew he was so talented but saw it more as a hustle he was good at then something he wanted to wreck shop at. Perhaps, it stopped being a challenge. Who knows. But I need more in my hip-hop, particularly as the world gets more complicated and simple all at the same time.

...Now, if you are looking for me, I will be in a witness protection program or hiding out at Gitmo. And my NY card has been stored in a country where I have immunity from US intrusion.


  • At 3:24 PM, Anonymous thepoliticalassistant said…

    WAIT, YOU'RE A METS FAN!?!?!?!?



  • At 5:13 PM, Blogger Big Man said…

    I agree completely with your analysis. It's the same one I've been giving for years.

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger So...Wise...Sista said…

    I'm gonna have to disagree ...with explanation.

    Pac loses bec he was conflicted and brilliant, YES. But he was borderline schizo. His mom was a Panther and he was rooted in Oakland, so it's almost inevitable that it trickle into his art. Poetic, emotional, allll that.

    I dont however believe that Big's penchant for materialism loses him any points. In his world, the ashy to classy journey was his "black power." That was profound for him. And I give it to him not only bec content is fantastic but Big put words together like nobody else could. "Who the hell is this..." WHAT??!!! :)

  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger Jonzee said…


    I don't even own a Pac album...but I own all Biggie's shit.

    I just think Ashy to Classy built an uncontrollable monster. And it was all so one-sided though clearly multi-dimensional if that makes sense.


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