This conversation I had with my Dad last weekend still sticks in my head. He, my Uncle Pat and I were driving home from a yummy lunch of chips and margaritas at Mexicali Blues followed by a grocery trip to the Whole Fuds. The Creative was on mix and some rap song came on, and my Pops totally dissed rap music, saying that he didn’t think these guys actually had anything to say and that they didn’t do much writing or thinking. I immediately tracked down Sage Francis’ “Crack Pipes” and made them listen for the rest of the drive home. I don’t think it helped.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t adore everything hip-hop does. I’m only just now coming around to Biggie Smalls, and that’s just from hearing Artie Lange do his stuff on The Show. But I do have a couple acts who over the years have just stunned the hell out of me. I’m a cracker who loves Public Enemy (what the mainstream media used to call “disaffected white adolescents.” I never thought I was disaffected. I just thought “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” was a masterpiece.). I love Da Inner Sound Ya’ll (De La Soul). I think M.C. Serch is Sallieri and that Sage Francis is frickin’ Mozart. Have recently started listening to Them, who’s sort of a mashup of P-Funk and Andre 3000, you know, if that mashup rapped weird stuff. And you can bet your sweet bippy I’ve season passed “Ego Trip’s Miss Rap Supreme.”
I like hip-hop. I like that it has history and respect for its history. That’s why I like the ska so much. Later performers look back on guys like Desmond and Alphonso and they get down on their knees in song. Hip-hop has the same reverence for guys like Grandmaster Flash and Afrikaa Bambaataa. Music without reverence is just a product created for sale. Of course, there’s a lot of that in hip-hop. But there are also the gems, like Sage, who for me is the best rapper on the planet.
Anyway. It was an interesting little discussion, especially to be had with my Pops, who considers Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” to be some sort of masterpiece. It’s never dull talking to my old man.
Amendment: This entry is not meant to disparage the musical taste of my Father. He is actually one of the most knowledgeable people I know regarding the subject. He is, after all, the man who introduced me to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Paul Butterfield, and The Black Keys, among countless others. Nope, Dad’s cool, and I can see his point about rap muzick. But there certainly is some good stuff out there as well.