Lupe Fiasco - Dumb it Down

| 9 comments

Lupe can rap his ass off, right?!

Comments

Thanks for very interesting

Thanks for very interesting article. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It?s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else?s point of view? makes you think more. So please keep up the great work.
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Cornel West-side kills it!

I was with him until he mentioned Scuba Steve. Otherwise very on point.

Like my friend on a hip-hop forum said, Lupe sure can rap his ass off. It'd just be nice of he tried to talk about ANYTHING with his first single. This shit is rap masturbation.

I grew up listening to hip-hop in the mid to late 90s, the glory years in my opinion. Most of today's stuff is intolerable--Jesse I don't think you are critical enough of it by the way. Anyhow, this is passable as decent hip-hop.

Everybody thinks that the era they grew up in is "the golden era." Do you remember the mid to late 90s, or do you just remember the parts you liked? Puffy had hit records. Will Smith was doing huge numbers. Big Willie Style sold nine million records.We live in an era where the most popular artists are guys like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Ludacris... people who are top-of-the-heap quality wise as well as sales-wise. There's lots of crap, but that's the case in any genre at any time.My point isn't that the mid-to-late 90s weren't great for hip-hop, but rather that we all look at the past through rose-tinted glasses.If you think Lupe is "passable as decent hip-hop," I can see how you would find almost anything intolerable.

Jesse. First off, I'm new to TSOYA and maximumfun.org, very cool that you comment on your own threads, a lot of people don't. Okay, this is a little longwinded, do not feel obligated to post or respond. I will not argue that my opinion of contemporary hip-hop is free from the distorting effects of nostalgia. I guess my point, which I failed to make, because I wasn't expecting a response from you, is that the ascendancy of the shitty hip-hop today doesn’t coexist with the good stuff like it did in 1994, or any random year you pick from that era. Sure, there are still good hip-hop artists putting out great records: Pharoahe Monch, Ghost Face, Outkast, Jay-Z, The Clipse (though I disagree, but, it seems to be the commonly-held opinion amongst the people I cavort with), etc. But these guys don’t get the attention that they used to get.It’s kind of like a balance of powers. When Life After Death was out in 1997 it offset and forgave, to a certain extent, all the other junk. Today, there exists a much smaller force acting against the junk, which, you can’t be afraid to say exists. Any of the hip-hop veterans have and will come out and say as much.I fear that a lot of people listening to hip-hop today aren’t aware of the hip-hop that really deserves to be heard. Look at the Notorious B.I.G.’s two biggest singles, “More Money More Problems” and “Big Poppa”, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing those songs back then (admittedly, they weren’t the best songs on either album). It’s a shame that commercial success and quality don’t correlate as much as they did. Of course, this is widespread in virtually every genre, but we’re talking hip-hop here.People like you and me are lucky to have grown up with classics like Moment of Truth and Reasonable Doubt, but most kids listening to hi-hop today probably aren’t that fortunate. Maybe you’ve spent time discussing this in previous blog posts or podcasts. P.S. The Jordan and Jesse, Go! Podcasts are awesome. My brother and I put like 20 of them on an MP3 disc and listened to them the entire time on a recent road trip. We also hit and killed a bird, which had never happened before to either of us. Perhaps an omen or portent, John Hodgman could probably tell us.

The most popular rapper in the world right now is Kanye West. I think that's a pretty amazing thing. De La Soul sold a million records in 1991 or whenever that album came out, but they were never the most popular in the world. Tribe sold a lot of records, but Onyx were selling more. I think Kanye's success right now is as epochal as Biggie's was. Biggie was a great MC, don't get me wrong, but what Kanye represents thematically is so huge that I think it undoubtedly matches that Biggie stuff.I have nothing against Moment of Truth or Reasonable Doubt, but Jay is still making music, and I'd say that his recent output is similar in quality to his early effort. And while Guru's got a great voice, his mediocre-at-best MCing dates that record very badly.Again, I'm 26 -- I grew up with these same records. But it's easy to get down on the present, for one of many reasons... the form's not new and exciting to you... it doesn't have the same emotional associations that the older stuff does... you're not as plugged in as you once were... the movements and ideas you identified with withered and been replaced by new ones.I can assure you that in the late 90s, people who came of age in the late 80s were bemoaning the lack of Africa medallions and Stop the Violence singles. And in the late 80s, people who came of age at the beginning of the 80s were wondering what happened to the park jams.

I'll fill a generational gap and speak for those who bemoan the lack of leather medallions, rope gold and charity singles. I got into hip-hop by way of Kurtis Blow and the Fat Boys back in 1984. Ever since then, hip-hop has been my favorite form of contemporary music, at any given point, even though I haven't been a daily observer for a long time. I love what I came up with, and I do think there's such think as a golden era. The mid to late 90s was the worst era to date, I'm sorry.I'm not looking for nostalgia, I just have high standards. If I don't feel something new, I just won't listen to it. I don't agree that we should be relativists with today's hip-hop. If you don't like what's out today, listen again to yesterday and wait for tomorrow. So that said, Lupe Fiasco has nothing to apologize for. He would be a top MC in any era. Kanye West has nothing to apologize for, no one in this century has innovated like he has. I'm all for Kanye's popularity too. Biggie popularity, not so much. It ushered in and incredible amount of crap along with it. He was a very good MC, but his popularity was overblown and his music wasn't groundbreaking in the least, it only felt that way to mainstream audiences and kids. What I meant to say, I've seen almost all of it, and we are living in one of the better eras now. The fan base has grown so wide and matured so much, it's once again possible for MCs to be viable without pandering to the mainstream.