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Troy

Black & Write - A documentary on black authors and the publishing business

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See the first footage from Black & Write - A documentary on black authors and the publishing business. C. Mikki, Ifalade Ta'Shia Asanti, Bryan-Keyth Wilson, Kim Johnson, Sherrice Thomas, Pat Tucker, Nakia R. Laushaul, Renee Daniel Flagler, Kim Green, Dr. Jacqueline Green, Takeyah Young, Jamillah M. Warner, LaVonda Howard, Dr. Venise Berry, James Jackson, Faynetta Lavergne Burrle, Irma Bryant, Dr. Linda F. Beed, Kimberly A. Bibbs, Kim Johnson, Patricia Haley, Tia Ross,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9JmfGVEgco

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"This is for the manuscripts trapped in terrorized minds." I loved that line. We have so much to share with the world - especially stories other than street/thug lit.

I do wish the short clip would talk more about black authors and publishing though. I thought this would be an expose on the publishing industry and black authors and it wasn't. Then again, it's a teaser to raise money for a larger project via indiegogo, right? Well...I wish them well!

Best,

A. Yamina Collins

http://yaminatoday.com/

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I agree with your Yamina. The title suggest the documentary will be more of an expose on the publishing industry and black authors. I hope so. more coverage is definitely needed.

Speaking of street lit have you seen Behind the Book film:

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Troy this is my first time hearing about the Behind the Book film. Great stuff. I especially agree w/the point made that if the kids are reading something, it's better than them not reading anything at all. All of the writers speaking about street lit sounded very compassionate and concerned for the state of their neighborhoods, especially K'wan and Teri Woods. Cornel West made good points too.

I really like Michael Eric Dyson's take on things when he says, "...how does urban literature play a role in facilitating greater learning and deeper engagement with truth? And at that level it becomes serious."

Somebody needs to go ahead and make it happen. Because if we don't, then someone else will, and then we'll be complaining that "white folks" stole our street lit.

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What occurred to me while watching this video was the repetitive messages excusing the gravitation of young black people to street lit as being a case of them wanting to read about what they can relate to because of its familiarity. But why should this be the case? Why should readers who prefer books that reinforce the negativity in their lives be humored? Why not remind them that books should be doorways to enlightenment wherein you learn about what you DON'T know.

Reading should first and foremost be about acquiring knowledge and broadening your mind. Entertainment? What's more entertaining than being introduced to something different and new? Street lit does have its place in the annals of black lit and it should be there for people who don't know about the hood and want reading a book about this life to be a learning experience rather than an inititation into a cult of sordidness.

Fans of thuggish books can be compared to addicts and they cannot be defended with rationales about what's "real" and "true" and what "sells". These type of books should be just an option in the specturm of black books. Getting hooked on them can repress curiosity about other genres, and adults who don't emphasize the importance of diversity are enablers to those stuck in the gritty rut of street lit.

All that aside, good reading habits have to be established at an early age. Unfortunately, that's wishful thinking. Preaching to people about what they should read is an exercise in futility and may even be a presumptuous gesture. Bottom line: there's a reason the masses are referred to as the "common people". it's because they like common things. And so it goes...

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My (brand new) understanding of street lit is that it is a platform for writers to express what they know and see, much like hip hop was for pioneer rap artists. Some fans of street lit can directly relate to it, and others enjoy it because it gives them that peek into another world. Ditto for hip hop/rap.

The feedback to urban/street lit seems to be similar to that of early hip hop/rap as well. Some love it; others hate it. Back in the 80s my parents swore up and down that rap was a disgrace and set the race back 100 years. And yet, it persisted, and even had its place in bringing awareness to certain plights and sending positive messages to our people. Not all rap, of course...but enough of it was positive to where it stuck around and evolved into whatever it is today.

I think the same could be said for street lit. I'm sure (or at least I would hope) that behind at least one of those oddly similar book covers is a story that brings awareness to our struggle AND teaches a valuable life lesson AND has a delivery that is second to none.

Fans of thuggish books can be compared to addicts and they cannot be defended with rationales about what's "real" and "true" and what "sells". These type of books should be just an option in the specturm of black books. Getting hooked on them can repress curiosity about other genres, and adults who don't emphasize the importance of diversity are enablers to those stuck in the gritty rut of street lit.

I think that repression was already there to begin with. That's why young people started reading street lit in the first place. We heard in the video how someone asked a young person to read a book and that individual said that there was nothing he/she wanted to read. And then the kid was introduced to street lit and the kid started reading.

I think street lit could be a very good thing IF writers start getting serious about the craft and start weaving learning opportunities throughout their books. Michael Eric Dyson said something along those lines. (see my earlier post in this thread)

A learning opportunity could be something as simple as tightening up the editing so that the finished product is one that includes the basic elements of fiction. Writers should present the story in a way that gets the reader used to quality material and causes them to refuse poorly written books. Don’t readers of street lit deserve that? Sure they do. Just like readers of any other genre.

In fact I will go as far as to say that IF you, Mr. or Mrs. Street Lit Writer, care about the "hood" the way you say you do, you will put out nothing but the BEST for our kids to read. And if you honestly don't know how to do that, you will go to school and learn...ESPECIALLY if you are now making lots of money from the sales of these books...

Now perhaps some of the writers are already doing that. And if they are, and if any of you know of them, please toss me a few names so I can check them out and clear them for my nieces to read. So far, everything I've picked up has had major editing issues right out the gate. I'm not speaking for all street lit books...just that every single one that I happened across was that way, and so I simply moved on to another genre and don't even bother to read the synopsis on these types of books any more. Not to mention, all the synopsis were beginning to sound the same to me. I did like The Coldest Winter Ever, as many of you know, but now I won’t even give that book to my niece because I now can see the book has some definite writing issues that I don't want my niece to get used to seeing. I want her to know what good wrting is…and I want her to learn it earlier than I did. Cynique you mentioned a writer in one of the other threads and I tried to find it but got lost. Do you recall that author’s name? The one you suggested for ppl who enjoyed The Coldest Winter Ever?

I’m going to wrap this up but I do want to mention one more thing. For those same books I’m referring to …well those same books had hundreds of five-star reviews. And then there were usually a few one-star reviews from people screaming about the shoddy work and poor editing.

I thought about this and then it hit me: What a powerful learning tool this street lit could be! With readers engrossed in the stories as they are right now, imagine what our kids would be exposed to if we really put some quality writing behind these stories! Again, think Michael Eric Dyson's statement.

It may be time for some of these writers to give back to the community by going back to school themselves. And it needs to happen quick! Before these young readers of street lit become the next writers of street lit, carrying the exact same poor writing skills into the next onslaught of books for yet the next generation of “hood” children to relate to. Cycles are so exhausting. But this is real talk. I'm speaking from experience and from my own personal sense of duty to my readers.

True story: I wrote my first book before I knew anything about writing or even serious reading for that matter. When I first wrote that book, I thought it was the business! Shortly thereafter I enrolled in a couple of literature classes. After I took the classes, I read my book again because somebody had posted a one-star review and I simply couldn’t believe it. I just knew there had to be a mistake. A one star review???

So I started reading the book, with my formal education fresh on the brain. And I discovered two things. #1. The wrong file had been uploaded for the published book. #2. Even with the right file, that damn book was awful!!! My own book. SMH. I cringed at the beginning of every chapter and nearly every section. And yet...man I can't believe I'm about to say this...And yet---I had five-star reviews! I had five-star reviews! People loved that book! Now I could have left it out there just as it was...hell, it was selling. But I couldn't do it. There was no way I was going to leave that book out there in that condition because I knew for a fact that it simply wasn't right. And I didn't want anybody getting comfortable with that type of sloppy writing...a sloppiness I wouldn't have been able to see had I not taken those classes and been introduced to great writers and a fine-toothed-comb look at what goes into superb storytelling. And so I re-wrote it and published the 2nd ed. The storyline didn't change at all. Only the delivery.

Thinking about my own situation makes me believe that a lot of what I saw when I perused the street lit book samples is due to lack of education of the writers. Again, I hope that with the money they are making, some of them will invest in an education for themselves so that this can trickle down to their readers.

Okay, I said I only had one more point. I lied. Feel free to take a break, eat a snack, and come back to finish. :unsure:

When all is said and done, someone needs to take hold of the children and teach them that there is more to the world than just the hood. To that end, I agree with you Cynique when you say that "adults who don't emphasize the importance of diversity are enablers to those stuck in the gritty rut of street lit."

Then again, even if no one explains it, I believe that some readers of street lit will eventually venture out toward other books. I fail to believe that anybody, once they've discovered a love for reading, would settle for only one type of book. As these readers mature, their opinions of what's good or bad reading will change. Growth. Didn't Cornel West say something like that? A kid could start off saying "I hate reading," and from there go to "Oh I found this book by this street lit writer!" and end up with "I used to read nothing but street lit, but one day I just got bored with it and so I picked up this alternative fiction book by so and so" and embark on a totally different journey in different genres. Who knows?

Street lit can open up the door to a variety of reading experiences - and even writing experiences if the author dares to explore his own creativity and learn his craft - in the same way that hip hop opened the door for a variety of life experiences for its fans and artists alike. In both industries, there will be those that jump on board and embrace the positive aspects, there will be others that exploit and abuse it, and even there will be some that do nothing more than stew in it and use it as a justification for their unfavorable lifestyles.

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writegirl, would you provide link to your book? I often hear the rise of hip-hop being compared to the rise of Urban lit. I agree with only in so far as that they both grew because they were very profitable.

Hip-hop, like urban lit, is very profitable because they both appeal to a broad audience and are relatively easy to produce.

Hip-hop is to Jazz as Urban Lit is to literary fiction.

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Troy, do you think the appeal is so broad because of the stereotypes that get reinforced? I often wonder if the artists (in the music industry & publishing industry alike) realize that there are stereotypes being reinforced through the music and the stories. I wonder if they care. Is money that important to turn a blind eye to self-destructive behavior? I guess we all know the answer to that. To some...it really is.

Then there are others who probably just don't see it. They think that they are telling their story, their truth, and that's all that matters...to hell with conformity, even if that conformity revolves around a "proper" education. I guess those that think like that would see nothing wrong with a book filled with spelling and grammar errors, and thrown together with no plot or weak characters. These are just examples of what I saw mentioned in some of the one-star reviews of my random sampling of street lit books. What I read in the excerpts typically validated the low review.

So, I don't know...I guess as long as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there will always be street lit just like there will always be rap music. Those who think it should change or be tidied up will probably just be wasting their time. For as many can't stand it, there will be more that love it, just the way it is.

Here's a link to the book.

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Writegirl I'm surprised you understood what I wrote I had to go back an rewrite it :(

Sure the appeals has to do with the reinforcement of stereotypes, as most people I encounter don't like to experience unfamiliar things -- let alone read about them. But it is more complex.

I truly believe if it were just Black people making the purchases Wahdia Clark would outsell Toni Morrison. There probably is enough data out there to substantiate my statement, but anecdotal evidence points in this direction.

What people appreciate is a function of what they have been educated to appreciate. The education does not have to be in the classroom, but what people are exposed to by their parents, and what the community and society values. It does not even matter how smart you are -- if you are ignorant and unsophisticated you can't appreciate complex things -- indeed you may be highly critical of them! Have you ever heard someone say, "Jazz (or Morrison) is for snotty people".

Or how about some of these other gems ; "I don't need no man to raise a baby". "School is for suckers". "I ain't gonna work for that little bit of money". "Why you always got your head buried in some stupid book". "Whatchu always doing in front of that computer". "I already did a nickle and I don't mind going back". "Man try some of this it will get you f-ed up"

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What people appreciate is a function of what they have been educated to appreciate.

Ooooh...I see.

Starts in the home...in the environment...

So what hope would there be for someone like that - who grew up and lives by the life-rules you listed? How do you reach that person and encourage him/her to try something new? I've met people like that - in my own family - and to even get them to do something like EAT a new food is like pulling teeth. They don't seem to think there is any other way than what they know and what they grew up under...

BUT...sometimes there comes along a kid who simply decides to do different than what she was taught to value...and she becomes the exception to the rule. It would be nice if there were more like her...

Oh, brain pain...brain pain...too much thinking too early in the morning. :huh: This whole street lit issue confuses me. On the one hand I'm glad that the kids are reading. But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder "at what cost?"

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@ Writer Girl

I don’t think Street Lit will open doors to a new reading experience IF the readers are too comfortable with the content they're reading now

Reading habits, like anything else, need to be monitored because people are creatures of habit

People rarely think outside the box, and in order for anyone to progress, they need to hang around OTHERS who are sharper than them on a mental and intellectual level

Iron sharpens iron

And it’s unfair to compare Street Lit to the early stages of rap music

You’re forgetting that the early stages of rap music produced the BEST Hip-Hop

The Golden Ages of Hip-Hop started in 1987 and ended in 1989…that was because rap music suffered through an identity crises between going pop or hardcore…then it picked back up in 1992 and ended in 1996 because of the commercialization of materialism and superficiality in rap music which brought down the quality

The conversation stemmed from beats and lyrics to who sold the most albums

That sounds EXACTLY what the book game is going through now

I would argue that we’re in the dark ages of Black Literature considering that damn near everything is the same

And if you produce anything different, it gets ignored unless you have a kick ass co-sign

I don't think street lit nowadays has evolved from Donald Goines, Iceberg Slim, Nathan Heard, Guy Johnson, etc

I say that because they lack SOUL...at least the ones I've read

It's almost as if I'm reading ministrel shows on paper

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Here’s another take on this many-faceted subject. First of all, getting the younger generation to become readers is not a problem that is limited to black parents. We know that young people in general are not that into books because they prefer the instant gratification provided by electronic devices that include games and twitter and texting and any other pass time for which an app exists.

Obviously reading books is not a priority of those who are visually-oriented and prefer to watch a screen rather than peruse a page. Bona fide book lovers are a special breed because not only are they able to connect with the printed word, but their minds are wired to comprehend and critique what they read. Like you say, Troy, it’s not about how educated you are or how refined you are. Like you contend, “writergirl”, there are certain individuals who upon discovering reading through street lit, no matter how riveting these books are, will eventually evolve and decide they want to branch out into other types of books and I'm beginning to think that discriminating readers are people from all walks of life and are, arguably, born, not made. Which is to say that cultural and parental sources may wield some influence, but their input is secondary to the core personality of someone who naturally developes into a well-rounded reader possessing an imagination that stimulates their curiosity about different genres, while others just won’t venture outside the comfort zone of what they are familiar with.

Hummm. Hip-hop was always explained to me as being a lifestyle whose mantra was “keeping it real”. I didn’t know it ever disappeared. I just thought it was an ongoing vibe that was an alternative to anything that was bougie/preppy.

BTW, writergirl, the name of the book you asked about, is “And It Goes Like This” by G. Andi Rhos. Also, I read your book “What You Don’t Know”. You’re a good writer, although your cautionary tale was a tad depressing.

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@ Cynique

Are you saying readers are born, and not made???

That doesn't make any sense because if that's the case, Black people would read almost anything considering the West African griots before and after the Trans-Atlantic slave trade

Not to mention the hierogyphics of Kemet (now known as Egypt)

And there are DIFFERENT types of rap music

Case in point, A Tribe Called Quest is different from NWA

Rap music can't be placed in one giant box

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Writegirl the hope for a child who grows up in an environment I described using quotes (actual quotes, so often used they are almost cliches), are slim. Even those who make it out are scarred. It seems it is more difficult to escape today than it has been since the Jim Crow era.

Nah'Sun I suspect I have you by a few years and I think my perceptions differ because of our age differences. I grew up in NY City during the birth of hip-hop. When you say the Golden Age of Hip started in 1987 I think of it as the beginning of the end as Gansta Rap was going strong and hip-hop was completely co-opted by then. Being a conscious rapper basically meant you were not making any money.

Sure the analogy between book and hip-hop is not perfect but there are certainly some interesting parallels.

As far as a Kick Ass cosign being required, yeah you are right. But you usually do get the co-sign untl you've made a name for yourself. If you look at all the urban authors signed by all the Big Six publishers, or Cash Money Content, all of them made a name for themselves first.

Speaking of age, Cynique did Rap music ever resonate with you, in such a way that you related to, purchased it, and really enjoyed listening to it? I was dogging Gasta Rap earlier, but I remember when I first heard NWA in 1986 I was like damn this is the shit!

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@ Troy

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to history and knowledge about certain subjects

You can also live during a certain time period and still find yourself oblivious to the hap’nins

That’s not directed towards you…I’m just sayin’

As an emcee (lyricist) and a student who builds with people who are part of the Hip-Hop culture, I know I’m qualified to speak on Hip-Hop as a whole

The influx of so-called Gangster rap didn’t begin until the early 90s, which I DID mark as outside the first cycle of the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

Gangster Rap didn’t become strong until the early 90s…it reached its peak when Dr. Dre’s The Chronic was released, which gave birth to G-Funk

During the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, you had a SLEW of classic albums like Paid In Full by Eric B and Rakim, Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Strictly Business by EPMD, Critical Beatdown by Ultramagnetic MCs, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy, etc

I’ll even throw in Straight Outta Compton by NWA because that album was revolutionary but gangster…even Ice T dropped knowledge in his gangster albums considering he was connected to the Zulu Nation and his songs were cautionary tales

1987-1989 was also the peak of Black consciousness in rap music even in the face of so-called gangster rap.

Anybody with Hip-Hop knowledge will tell you that most of the greatest rap albums and songs were released between 87 and 89…I’ll bet my bank account on that

Hip-Hop didn’t get co-opted as a whole until the mid-90s when corporations started merging, more money was made, and not to mention the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which allowed larger radio stations to buy out smaller radio stations thanks to then President Bill Clinton

Also…

What does making money have anything to do with the quality of albums???

Hardly anyone was making money even if you were conscious or gangster

Artists back then, just like now, were getting jerked…that’s why Ice Cube had left NWA and went solo

There are interesting parallels between rap and Street Lit, but no way in hell can anyone compare the Golden Age of Hip-Hop of the late 80s to current state of Street Lit

The Golden Age of Street Lit was between 1999-2003…then it became clownish on some copy cat shit, just like commercialized rap music of today

Street Lit is past its prime, but it seems like people have no choice but to read it because that’s the only genre that’s mass marketed and visible to the Black community

When you get fed the same food, your taste buds will get used to it and reject anything different

And anybody with some sense knows that the brain is the FIRST stomach

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Age does matter when it comes to one's perception. Actually living an event or period also makes a difference in ones perception compared to someone who just read or heard about it from others.

Of course you are right; Just 'cause one lived in an era does not mean they have a clue about what was going on -- and that could apply to me too. You probably have more factual knowledge than I about my own era when it comes to rap (I'm still assuming I have at least a decade on you ;)).

But I think I have enough experience and knowledge of Rap and Urban lit to draw some meaningful parallels. I appreciate your thoughts though as you've given me a different way to see things and have filled in some gaps. That said...

Straight Outta Compton by NWA is firmly in the genre of Gansta Rap. They were not playing this type of music on the east coast -- and Definitely not New York City. I also discovered Too $hort the same year. That may be why you don't feel it was strong until the 90's but it was strong in the late 80's -- certainly out west.

Money has everything to do with the quality of the album -- it determines which albums get made and promoted. If you can get some teenager to rhyme over a synthetically generated beat. Why pay for trained musicians to write original melodies, song writers to craft lyrics and signers to sing? It is cheaper to make, faster to create and Black people cant buy it fast enough.

Money drives everything. Now I know you were talking about the "quality of the music" has nothing to do with the money generated of course look at jazz, classical, opera, blues...

Now PE was my group. Their shows were relatively weak, you could not really dance to their music, but they are one of my favorite rap groups of all time. Can they get an album made today?

It Takes a Nation of Millions came out in 1988, Paid in Full came out in 1987, Straight Outta Compton in 1988 so I may be with you on the Golden age in terms of Albums releases.

When I think of golden age I think of a time when the lyricist was secondary to the DJ. The DJ would discover beats, mixing them together and get the crowd motivated and dancing -- if he was sufficiently skilled. B-boy music was not on he radio, you could not buy it in stores. Mix tapes were passed around and you were lucky to get one to duplicate. I still have a tapes with Flash, Starski and others. I know this is more nostalgia than anything else.

Speaking of Ole school I was at a party a few weeks back and Grandmaster Kas walked in rocking a thick rope chain and kagol brim. My boy used to spin for him back in the day.

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@ Winter Girl

I don’t think Street Lit will open doors to a new reading experience IF the readers are too comfortable with the content they're reading now

And it’s unfair to compare Street Lit to the early stages of rap music

You’re forgetting that the early stages of rap music produced the BEST Hip-Hop

I don't recall stating that street lit was like the early stages or golden age of hip hop. Then again, I wrote a lot...I'd have to go read the whole thing. But if I said that, that is an error on my part bc I've never believed that. What I said - or at least MEANT to say - was that EARLY street lit is much like EARLY hip hop. Do you not see a connection there? By the way, I do agree that the early hip hop era was indeed the best era for that music. And I also believe that whatever it has evolved into (I believe you referenced copycats) is actually what has happened to street lit. That's why I believe that at some point the readers of these types of books will begin to crave something else. It's only a matter of time, IMO, especially if the person has discovered that he/she loves to read --- and this is a possibility, yes even for fans of street lit.

I see that this is where I probably went wrong and got my own message all mixed up:

"The feedback to urban/street lit seems to be similar to that of early hip hop/rap as well."

Should have said the "early" feedback to urban/street lit...

Sorry about the confusion. Next time I'll post BEFORE going for the Moscato. Lawd! smh

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BTW, writergirl, the name of the book you asked about, is “And It Goes Like This” by G. Andi Rhos. Also, I read your book “What You Don’t Know”. You’re a good writer, although your cautionary tale was a tad depressing.

Thanks Cynique. Yeah, I know that there will be a lot of ppl who agree w/you on "What You Don't Know..." It definitely was a depressing tale and the ending was...well -- you know. But I figured I'd go for it anyway. The worst a person can do is hate it and then post an awful review. I've survived one of those already, so I know it won't kill me. :ph34r: And my skin thickens! :rolleyes:

You'd commented somewhere on the board about authors and egos...I gotta find that comment because it was spot-on!

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@ Writer Girl

I do agree that early Street Lit is like early Rap

The only difference is that rap music had evolved for the better

Lyricism and beat making are more advanced today than it was during the advent of rap music

I honestly don’t see an evolution of Street Lit from Donald Goines til now…if anything, it regressed in my opinion

And it kills me when people say, “as long as they’re reading” when it comes to teenagers reading

That comment subconsciously gives off the dummy vibe as if regardless of what, as long as they’re reading, even if what they’re reading has no nutritional literary value

@ Troy

The DJ was just as important as the MC on albums created in the late 80s

NWA had Yella…KRS One had Scott La Rock…Fresh Prince had Jazzy Jeff…Kool G Rap had Polo…Rakim had Eric B…LL had Cut Creator…and so forth

NWA is only one group...to use one group and say that there was an influx of Gangster Rap is rewriting history

When I think of influx, I think of taking the country by storm…not just one region like the West Coast

The influx of Gangster rap in the early 90s was birth from the combination of movies like Boyz N the Hood, Colors, Menace II Society and South Central coupled with NWA, Ice T and Above The Law

The LA Riots of ’92 also helped the intrigue of gangsta rap

Gangster Rap completely phased out Conscious Rap once The Chronic dropped

“No medallions, dread locks or Black fist…it’s just that gangsta glare…that gangsta rap…that gangsta shit…make a gang of snaps” – Dr Dre from Let Me Ride

I agree with you in part about money…however, I think we have two different arguments in different eras

Back then everyone was broke…so you didn’t need money to spend excessively for sampling and producer fees like you do now because you had in-house producers

I’m saying you don’t need a lot of money to make a classic album unless you’re sampling like crazy

One of the reasons why albums back then were so good was because of the lack of funding

You had no choice but to put your best foot forward considering the lack of money you had as an artists for studio time

You didn’t have time to screw around in the studio

KRS One once said he recorded The Bridge is Over and South Bronx in one take because him and Scott La Rock didn’t have enough dough for studio time

Nowadays you can bullshit around because it’s more affordable to buy a home studio and bang out as many songs without effort

With the advent of YouTube and social media, you can create your own buzz if you play your cards right

Also, I don’t think it’s fair to base perception on age when it come history

I know some youth who are wiser than their elders in that regard…some of the elders can’t see the forest from the trees

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This is what I wrote, Nah Sun: "I'm beginning to think that discriminating readers are people from all walks of life and are, arguably, born, not made. Which is to say that cultural and parental sources may wield some influence, but their input is secondary to the core personality of someone who naturally developes into a well-rounded reader possessing an imagination that stimulates their curiosity about different genres, while others just won’t venture outside the comfort zone of what they are familiar with." Sorry if you can't make sense out of that. You obviously can't process "writergirl's" name either, since you keep calling her "winter girl". :lol:

Troy, I liked some Rap. I was always appreciative of the cadences of it and how clever the lyrics were and how the rhyme patterns would use 2 words to rhyme with one. I also like the zeigeist of that era, and one of my favorite magazine covers was the Rolling Stone one with Ice-T posing in a cop's uniform and one of my favorite samplings was the inclusion of "it's a hard knock life" from "Annie" in one of Jay-Z's songs. I appreciate Kanye's "haikuesque" verses and also the puns of Little Wayne's who is a genius in his own right.

I have always recognized that Rap was an art form and that it would eventually take its place in American music annals. To me, it was comparable to word-jazz because of its improvisational aspects.

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Nah'Sun I always used the word "different" when talking about perceptions relative to age. I never made a value judgement or said one was wiser, or better than the other -- just different. But the difference in perceptions I speak of is just a fact of life. There are perceptions that are common to those of the same generation based upon changed experiences -- especially when it comes to recent history when one lived it and the other did not..

Judging by your comments I'm assuming I'm older than you which I think explains some of our differences. You sound like me 20 years ago. See now, if it turns you are my age, or older, I'll really look like I don't know what the heck I'm talking about. :-)

Back to the DJ's. Who is Jay Z's DJ, or Kanye's, Biggies or Tupac's? Why use a DJ when you can just play a recording and never have to worry about anyone messing up. In a minute, we are gonna ditch the MC too.

I did not realize was we were all being gypped when the DJ replaced the musician. Now the DJ is gone.

Today virtually ALL the music begin rapped to today was sampled from actual music recorded in the past. Virtually always, the entire original song that has been sampled is FAR better the digitized, repeatedly looped, smidgeon that is rapped over with wack lyrics.

I have not purchased a rap album since the "golden years".

No, Gansta Rap had not taken the country by storm in the late '80's but it had the same impact on me, when I heard it, as when I first heard a DJ mix Lets Dance, or Apache for the first time.

"but him was real bop

on the cover of the rap weekly

baldheaded with a snarl of spit

hanging from his lower lip

financial secure

synthetically angry

his job was to keep blk boys pointed

toward prison"

--wadud

This was written at least 15 years ago.

Why do rap lyrics have to be so bad, when I can point to 20 relatively unknown spoken words artists who could slap something together in 5 minutes that is better than the popular rap lyrics now? That is one thing I will never understand.

You are right Nah'Sun the Golden Age of hip-hop has past...

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@ Cynique

I did make sense of your post...I just thought it was flawed

And I got a good laugh out for your spite

I was waiting for my first taste of a Cynique sarcastic remark...thank you...I'm honored

@ Troy

We're gonna have to agree to disagree with the age part

Age doesn't automatically give you wisdom and a greater perspective of life...I've met a lot of old fools in my time who are living in their second childhood

Back to rap music...

Now you're on a totally different arguement when you bring up today's rappers

We're talking about the late 80s, remember?

Not our contemporaries

Gangster rap may have impacted YOU...but that's not to say it had impacted the entire country in the late 80s

Because to keep it funky with you, you STILL had socially conscious music coming out the West Coast

I'm sure you heard of "We All in the Same Gang" from the West Coast All-Stars

MC's still use DJs...they're just not as in the forefront like the past

There are A LOT of talented MCs out there...you just gotta dig for them...simple as that

Nothing in life is easy

By the way, Biggie's DJ was Mr. Cee

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What was "flawed", Nah Shun, was your irrelevant criticism that had nothing to do with the subject I was discussing, which happened to have been about motivating non readers to not only read but to develop an appreciation for different genres. You, instead, chose to go off on a tangent, treating us to your trivia about griots and Egyptians and hieroglyphics. :wacko:

Spiteful, huh. You don't seem to realize how YOU come across. :angry: You have a chip on your shoulder. BTW, I don't anticipate being honored by anything you have to say. :P

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Nah'Sun, I think Cynique likes you :wub:

Yep, we will disagree on the age thing.

The West Coast Allstars?! Easy E, Ice T, Dre, the most egregious gangster rappers of their day -- that is a terrible example of socially conscious music. That is like saying how benevolent a drug lord is who dispenses turkeys at Christmas in the neighborhood he has helped destroyed.

I'm sure you are right about talented MC's being around. I just don't hear them and I definitely don't have time to wade through all the garbage to find them. They are apparently not being played on the radio -- but for the most part I've stepped listening to the Kisses and Power 99's fronting as urban radio.

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@ Cynique

Once again…it’s Nah’Sun

Not Nah’Shun

Write a book or somethin’

I see you can't process my name the same way I wrote Winter as Writer's Girl name

@ Troy

So you want your gangster rappers to NOT have any consciousness in their music?

Comparing drug dealing to rap music is a bad analogy

Rap music isn’t responsible for damn near single handedly destroy a generation

NWA and Ice-T were just as important to Hip-Hop as Public Enemy and Big Daddy Kane

To come out with a song called "Fuck The Police" was very powerful and bold at the same time

As far as Cynique…I guess I’m her new crush since the other guys hardly post here anymore

Old women need love, too

I guess

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Sorry, Nah sun or shun. You guess wrong. Look elsewhere for a cougar. I didn't even know you were a guy. I thought you were a girl, because your posts were so bitchy.

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"Rap music isn’t responsible for damn near single handedly destroy a generation"

Well Nah'Sun I did not mean to imply all that. My analogy was an attempt to explain why doing a few good things can not eradicate the impact of so much harm. Like the emptiness of the act of an abusive husband who gives his battered wife a bouquet of flowers after a one of many beat downs. Perhaps it is one of the reasons you revere them today.

But I'm not blaming the actual rappers, they were just easily obtained tools used to make money for record execs who could care less how the money was made, how we were portrayed and how we assumed the roles glorified in the lyrics.

And while you wax poetic about the social consciousness of NWA Fuck da' Police. Lets not forget the types of lyrics that actually put them on the map.

But I understand I got caught up in the shit too...

Shoot a motherfucker in a minute

I find a good piece o' pussy, I go up in it

So if you're at a show in the front row

I'm a call you a bitch or dirty-ass ho

You'll probably get mad like a bitch is supposed to

But that shows me, slut, you're composed to

A crazy muthafucker from tha street

Attitude legit 'cause I'm tearin' up shit

-MC Ren

Lookin' for the one they call Eazy

But here's a flash, they never seize me

Ruthless! Never seen like a shadow in the dark

Except when I unload, see I'll get over the hesitation

And hear the scream of the one who got the last penetration

Give a little gust of wind and I'm jettin'

But leave a memory no one'll be forgettin'

So what about the bitch who got shot? Fuck her!

You think I give a damn about a bitch? I ain't a sucker!

-Eazy-E

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@ Troy

SIDE A

You’re making seem as if NWA were responsible for the demise of rap music

I never said NWA were perfect, but you can’t show the negative without acknowledging the positive

Simple as that

NWA was a mere reflection of what was going on in Compton with all the gang violence and the mentality behind it whether you liked it or not

Even conscious rappers were influenced by NWA

One group who held the torch for so-called Gangster Rap doesn’t negate the conscious movement of the late 80s

They complimented each other, and showed there’s room for everybody

Just like how there’s room for Street Lit

The reason why NWA sold more than Public Enemy was because sensationalism and violence SELLS…that goes YEARS BEYOND rap music…just like how people will slow down to watch a car crash

SIDE B

And since we wanna post YouTube clips, check out Loaded Lux’s third verse in this battle against Calicoe

This battle was this past August

Loaded Lux's (the guy rocking the black suit) lyrics will show you that MCs STILL have something historical and socially relevant to say…even in an MC Battle

You don’t have to watch the whole battle, just watch the clip starting at the 34 minute mark

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Nah'Sun, if you think I'm "...making seem as if NWA were responsible for the demise of rap music." you are attributing an idea to me that I do not hold. A couple of times already you have drawn a conclusion that could not have possibility been drawn from what I wrote.

I believe Rap music was destroyed by those attempting to make more and more and more money from it while contributing less and less to art. When money became more important than the art, the art was destroyed.

I liked NWA, a great deal, they were one of my favorite rap groups but I was in my early 20's when they hit.

If NWA came out today, in my 50's I seriously doubt -- no I know -- the appeal would not be the same. In fact, the last new rapper I found interesting was EMINEM. I have not heard anything a rapper was done in the last 15 years that has interested me at all.

Occasionally some rapper will pull a beat from back in the day that I like, but all that does is draw me to the original song.

Check out the joint Nobody's Perfect by J.Cole a very popular beat.

Now check the original Think by Curtis Mayfield;

Now Nah'Sun, here is when age comes in. I don't have data to support this but I can virtually guarantee you the preference of one over the other will be skewed by age. With older folks preferring Curtis.

But I'll take in farther. There is NOTHING that the best rap artists has done EVER that surpasses the best musicians like a Curtis Mayfield. Now I would not have said this 25 years ago, but I've matured some since then.

BTW, Loaded Lux did not interest me very much. I'm sure he is talented, in the way it is measured today, and would have a broad appeal to other kids his age.

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I find it intriguing that nowadays anybody can rap. Little kids, white people, even foreigners. It used to be a special talent. But a generation later, rapping has become something that comes as natural as singing. Now it is no longer innovative or riveting. It is just another type of performance.

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I believe Rap music was destroyed by those attempting to make more and more and more money from it while contributing less and less to art. When money became more important than the art, the art was destroyed.

If NWA came out today, in my 50's I seriously doubt -- no I know -- the appeal would not be the same. In fact, the last new rapper I found interesting was EMINEM. I have not heard anything a rapper was done in the last 15 years that has interested me at all.

Occasionally some rapper will pull a beat from back in the day that I like, but all that does is draw me to the original song.

Yes! I can relate and I agree!!!

[Rap] used to be a special talent. But a generation later, rapping has become something that comes as natural as singing. Now it is no longer innovative or riveting. It is just another type of performance.

Absolutely! And this is why those of us who miss the Golden Age...do. Man it was fun in the beginning...inspirational even. And now..."yawn"...except for those times when, like Troy says, a rapper will pull a catchy beat --- but oh wait! We just love the beat, and can usually find the source in an old song. It'll be interesting to see what my kids' generation comes up with.

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@ Troy

Side A

Here you go again with the age thing

The Superfly soundtrack is my FAVORITE soundtrack to date…the lyrics and musical composition of Superfly from Curtis is genius

In fact, I would say the lyrical content of that album is STILL relevant because I really don’t see a change in society from then to now…but that’s another subject

It’s unfair to compare today’s music to that era because the 70’s is the GOLDEN AGE of Black music, or R&B in general

A lot of the samples in rap songs come from that era

You’re assuming too much about my musical taste based on age which is unwise thinking within itself

One should NEVER judge someone based on age, but rather from their knowledge, wisdom and understanding along with their actions

Side B

Now I KNOW you don’t have a close ear to rap music to say that Eminem is the last MC to come out in the last 15 years that interest you...LOL

To each their own

My conclusions are drawn from your perception that a gangster rapper can’t be socially conscious at the same time

The beauty of rap music IS its contradictions and politically incorrectness because that’s the reflection of the human psyche

"Double Think," as George Orwell would say

Dr King was said to be a womanizer, but that doesn’t negate his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement

I believe Rap music was destroyed by those attempting to make more and more and more money from it while contributing less and less to art. When money became more important than the art, the art was destroyed.

That’s ONE thing I agree with you on

And that quote from yours reminds me of today’s Black fiction market

What’s sad is that listeners and readers can’t see how the arts and crafts nowadays are severely dumbed down

By the way…

Loaded Lux is one of the reasons why lyricism is RELEVANT in today’s rap music without the help of a catchy beat or chorus

Once again, to each their own

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I do judge people (individuals) by their actions. But that is different that what I'm doing in this conversation. It is certainly valid to make generalizations about a group of people based upon different shared characteristics, including age.

Nah'Sun you may be different that the typical person your age -- any age for that matter. You are more contemplative and articulate than most. However you just have not demonstrated to me, based upon our conversation about Rap music, that age is not a factor in our differences in opinion.

The fact that you even know who Loaded Lux is makes my point. I can guarantee you if I asked my peers who Loaded Lux is I would get blank stares. Again, that does not mean Loaded Lux is not the shit. It just means after a certain point things like who the hottest rap artists are fails to matter very much. Now 50+ year olds like a Chuck D, or KRS 1 might know who Loaded Lux is, but your garden variety 50 year old will not.

Part of the reason for this is that we've heard it all before, many, many times -- including the beats the youngsters are not using. How many times can I listen to a James Brown or Funkadelic sample?

No, a gangster rapper can be no more socially conscious than the aforementioned drug dealer who hands out turkeys at Thanksgiving. Trying to construe Easy-E and NWA as socially conscious is the epitome of double speak. Sure NWA reflected the harsh reality of a segment of a community, but socially "conscious" -- Please!

I would put Superfly right behind the Issac Hayes' Theme from Shaft as my favorite movie soundtrack. ;)

I agree with your statement, "What’s sad is that listeners and readers can’t see how the arts and crafts nowadays are severely dumbed down"

What I am learning from you is that there is, what you perceive, as social conscious and relevant rap music being produced today.

What you are failing to learn from me as that as one gets older the appeal of Rap music wanes, in much the same way, the appeal of nursery rhymes do. You may argue that the reason for this is that the "quality" of the popular rap music has declined.

I argue that the very nature of rap music is the reason: repetitive beats we've heard before, rap lyrics spewing the same braggadocio and misogyny.

Again I've heard spoken word artists rap better over a Conga beat than anything a Jay Z has ever done -- think The Last Poets.

Or better yet check a snippet of some brothers I recorded in Newark earlier in the year. The cat, Kasim Allah, at the 0:45 second mark was tight. I did not capture his best stuff -- but they were all good. The live musicians make added to the whole experience.

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@ Troy

Side A

It’s very dangerous to put people in the box based on age

Age doesn't automatically give one a heighten sense of perspective...I know those who suffer from arrested development as they numerically get older

I’ve met A LOT of old fools in my life time…I know children who have more sense than their parents!

LOL

You’ll be amazed how many people born in the 80s and 90s appreciate artists and songs from the past

The problem is NOT age…the problem is not exposing the youth to their history and failing to pass down traditions…that art is lost in the Black community specifically

I don’t expect a 50 year old to dig Loaded Lux…which is why I said “to each their own”

I’m just saying Lux is a dope lyricist as I’m tired of people saying that rap is not what it used to be when they don’t dig deep for new music

Side B

Rap producers sample a variety of music…you’re stuck in the 90s because no one samples James Brown or Funkadelic anymore…LOL

It's also not what you sample, but HOW you sample

“Nautilus” from Bob James is an extremely popular song to sample in rap circles, but EVERY producer who sampled that song added their own spice and made it fresh

It’s no different from writing books in the same genre as thousands of other authors and putting your own spin to a particular subject

Sampling songs can also be used as a tool to teach the youth about the past so they can LEARN about the artists that are sampled

Side C

So you’re saying “Fuck the Police” and “Express Yourself” aren’t socially conscious???

“Fuck the Police” was so powerful that the Feds had sent them a letter to cease performing that song

Once again, James Brown used to physically abuse Tammi Terrell, and Dr. King was said to be a womanizer and cheat on Coretta Scott King…but those actions don’t diminish their contributions to Black history

I’m not saying anybody’s perfect…I’m saying look at the SUM of the body of work instead of the half

NWA during their Straight Outta Compton days are just as important as Public Enemy when it comes to bringing forth social consciousness

They just put a gangster twist to it

I can’t say the same for their album “Niggaz 4 Life” because that album was totally ignorant…LMAO

Side D

I argue that the very nature of rap music is the reason: repetitive beats we've heard before, rap lyrics spewing the same braggadocio.

You’re judging rap as a whole based on what you hear and see on radio and TV

Commercial rap music is repetitive

You gotta go to the underground to find fresh material

You don’t dig deep for rap music…so I wouldn’t expect you to know there are a good number of artists that are STILL pushing the creative envelope

Me personally, I prefer rap music from the 80s and 90s…however, I still keep my eyes and ears open to the streets

Comparing Jay-Z to The Last Poets is apples and oranges…they don’t have the same content or flavor

You would've been better using The Roots

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Shaking Nah'Sun by the shouldersw vigorously, I say, "Nah'Sun, I did not say 'Age gives one a heighten sense of perspective', or that old people could not be fools"

All I'm saying is that age cohorts have similarities, based upon shared experiences. I'm not making a value judgement, or saying one is better than the other. People of the same age group have similarities to each other and differences to those of different age groups. Seen?

Of course I'm judging rap as a whole. You can find brilliance anywhere, if you look hard enough. I just don't have inclination to dig deep for rap music any more (for the reasons I've previously described). If I spent an hour scouring the net and came up with Mr. Lux I would be disappointed.

A single query turned up so many artistes who've sampled James brown in the last 5 years it is ridiculous.

As far as people born in the 90's who appreciate music from the past -- I know that is right, 'cause I raised two of them myself. They don't like it all --- yet. Neither did I at their age.

I do not recall hearing a contemporary rap song that sampled a beat I was unfamiliar with.

While I don't exactly have my ear on the pulse of Rap music I don't live in a vacuum either, and am probably more versed in contemporary rap than most my age.

I also have two daughters 19 and 20 who have exposed me to contemporary rap as well as some stuff not commonly played on the radio. I don't care very much of any of it outside of rocking a party.

The Roots humm. I take Ursula Rucker and you can keep the rest of them.

Does ?uest Love drumming skills account for his popularity? I've seen him play a number of times and he while he exudes cool he does not strike me as unusually skilled.

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@ Troy

Side A

My bad

I meant to say perception…NOT perspective

People do have similarities to each other when it comes to age…you did not say that in your original statements

You said perception…and perception by definition is how someone views a person, place or thing based on their value system

Theoretically, an older person should have a wide range of perception…it’s just dangerous to assume someone younger than you doesn’t when you’re building with them on an one-on-one basis like we’re doing now

I’m considered an old soul (whatever that means)…so my perception is supposedly different from those in my age bracket…I just see the world for what it is and strive to think outside the box

Side B

I do not recall hearing a contemporary rap song that sampled a beat I was unfamiliar with.

That quote shows me your range of rap music is limited

Producers are infamously known for masking samples by chopping them up so no one can figure them out…especially producers like DJ Premier

Chopping up samples is a slick way to avoid paying for them

As far as Lux…like I said, to each their own…he destroyed Calicoe in that battle

His flow, lyrics and use of metaphors and punchlines are advanced in contrast to the 80s, 90s and 2000s

I don’t see how you can say Eminem is the only artist that interest you in the past 15 years

Side C

Just because you still have producers sampling James Brown doesn’t mean they’re popular

That particular sound isn't dominating the airwaves

Like I said before, it’s not what you sample, it’s HOW you sample the song

Some producers may just his voice in a song and therefore the sample is credited

There are many ways to sample a song…not everybody sample the loop and call it a day

The production in rap music has advanced since it’s inception

Side D

I wanna know the same of these artists that your daughters know…LOL

There aren’t a lot of women whom I come across, especially those born in the 90s, that listen to underground music

I seriously doubt they listen to Dead Prez or Jedi Mind Tricks…I’m just saying

?uestLove is a dope drummer…if he wasn’t, you wouldn’t have artists, even those outside of rap, asking for his services

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The fact that you even know who Loaded Lux is makes my point. I can guarantee you if I asked my peers who Loaded Lux is I would get blank stares. Again, that does not mean Loaded Lux is not the shit. It just means after a certain point things like who the hottest rap artists are fails to matter very much. Now 50+ year olds like a Chuck D, or KRS 1 might know who Loaded Lux is, but your garden variety 50 year old will not.

"...after a certain point things like who the hottest rap artists are fails to matter very much."

That's where I am...with rap and pop and a whole host of other things. I would say age has everything to do with that. With age, in many (but not all) cases comes new experiences. I got older and my interests changed as I became exposed to different things. This isn't a bad thing and it doesn't mean I have anything against rap...I'm just saying that rap doesn't get me hyped up. It's just more entertainment - and we are bombarded with entertainment (much like some would say we're bombarded with street lit books...haha).

Troy mentioned EMINEM and I can relate to that because I am one of those people who can honestly say that the last rapper that made me stop and listen and say "Oh okay! That's the ish right there!" was EMINEM. And I know there are talented individuals since him, but I just don't pay much attention. By the time 50 cent came along (for example) I was just kind of like, "Oh okay...that's hot," but it was a dull response. I never once thought about getting the cd and playing it in my car. But back in the late 80s, early 90s my friends and I couldn't wait to get our fathers' cars and bump some NWA and even Too Short, with his grimy, degrading lyrics! But, we grow. Our tastes change. Hell, I used to love McDonalds...

Do you know that I didn't even know who Lady Gaga was until this year? (And I know that's not rap, but I'm just saying...) Another example: Lil Wayne. Now we all know this kid has mad talent. But had I not caught the episode of Lil Wayne's story on Behind the Music, I wouldn't even realize how much that kid has overcome. I love success stories like that. But again, had I not been watching TV, I would have never known - or cared. That's because I don't seek out rap music now the way I did in my teens and early twenties. So I think Troy's points regarding age are valid. Different strokes for different folks, but sometimes age really does play a factor in how we rate/value things...IMO.

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I'd like to inject my 2-cents about age as it applies to the black music scene. Y’all have restricted your discussion to Rap, and I was content to sit back and listen and learn, until Nah’Sun very off-handedly asserted that the 1970s were the “golden age of black music.” and the first words that came to my mind were: “Oh, really?” His statement is typical of an element of younger people who tend to overlook or dismiss anything having to do with a time before they were born.

I, myself, give R&B and Rap their props. I acknowledge their importance and their artistry. But so many younger people, if not clueless, are condescending about the type of black music of my day, the music that preceded Rap and R&B, - music that laid the groundwork for the next phase. Yeah, there are those who toss around names like “Miles” and “Trane” because it’s cool to do so, but the majority of them have no appreciation for jazz, or respect for the Blues. They consider the "swing" music of the big band era to be “corny”, ignorant of how influential the black instrumental artists of this time set the pace for what was being listened to back in the 1930s and 40s, - giants like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. They yawn at the sounds of the lush ballads of the 1950s with their exquisite lyrics, melodious tunes that comprise the “American songbook”, a repertoire that was interpreted and popularized by black vocalists like Nat Cole and Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Ecstine. How many rappers know that the frenetic be-bop music of genuises like Charlie Parker were in the vanguard of free style as an art form.

These "Johnny-come-latelys" think that black music begins and ends with what they are familiar with, and they are indifferent or even contemptible of any music that their pulse is not in synch with. This attitude, of course, is not unusual for people during a certain period of their life, and the phrase "to each his own" does, indeed, apply. My point, however, is that the wisdom to respect and appreciate things of the past is, more often than not, something that comes with age.

Golden Age? In assessing the 1970s, this ol broad prefers a less exclusive choice of words, - a description that is more in keeping with the wide perspective that years have nurtured. “The 70s era was a facet in the jewel of black music.”

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My point, however, is that the wisdom to respect and appreciate things of the past is more often than not, something that comes with age.

Golden Age? In assessing the 1970s, this ol broad prefers a less exclusive choice of words, - a description that is more in keeping with the wide perspective that years have nurtured. “The 70s era was a facet in the jewel of black music.”

Now if this aint food for thought, I don't know what is! Great points Cynique.

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