Letter To The Editor March

What's Real Hip Hop? pg 3

The patient is very, very ill. Perhaps terminally ill. You see he suffers from L.I. (Lack of Integrity) which pop music has a natural immunity for due to its fake nature. Lack of Integrity for hip-hop, as with most art forms is a deadly disease. It acts similarly to cancer damaging the host from the inside giving birth to parasites known as Rapperhorribilus, commonly known as the 'Fake M.C.'.

We also have producers claiming to possess genius but in fact stealing the beats of others. If a song was a hit and you simply update it it will be a hit again. This is not a miracle formula but it is obvious. The 'cover version' has been beneficial for decades in pop music but it is lethal for hip-hop. Symptoms include duets with pop singers (Warren G with Peter Andre), unbelievable lyrics (has any member of The Firm had to deal with either F.B.I. agents or Colombian drug dealers? Perhaps they sold drugs on the D.L. but not on THAT scale.)

Rappers claim that they were gangsters when they've never seen a gun trigger. Frequent references to material items and free advertisements for racist Italian designers are also widespread. There appears to be an L.I. epidemic. I prescribe It Takes a Nation of Millions... to help regain conciousness, The Infamous for REAL street tales and Muggs Presents... Soul Assassins for all round help. And lots of rest.

Dr Doctor

Although I can't agree totally with the kid who sent you the letter, I must admit that you do give a lot of props to the gansta rappers of the bay area. I know that you must represent your own....(west coast and bay), but there are a lot of us you check in with you from time to time that don't live on the west.....

Having lived in Oakland and San Fran for a period of time and then moving over to the west I see the majority of west coast music embrassing a culture of players, pimps, ballers or whatever other names they have choosen. The song remains the same. Not to say that the east is all original either.... i.e. Puffy and Crystal, Moet, Rolex and Mercedes. But sometimes what east coast lacks are Icons that can bridge the gap and make up for what is lacking in style, music, delivery and topic. i.e. Rakim, KRS-1, Common (midwest), Q-Tip (and native tongue), Guru and Premier, Wyclef (fugee allstars)

I think what we do need is more of is a sense of responsibility. Everyone is not a player, pimp, gansta nor does everyone aspire to live that life....so why make it such an important part of our very special and prominent culture. Would Spice and Cube make so many records glamourising gansta-type lifestyles if they didn't sell records. Or would they switch styles ? We may never know...but what I do know is that from time to time we need to check our own. This thing called Hip-hop is an animal that is here to stay, but if we don't want it to become a beast we had better do some real soul searching........

Deluxxe out.!!!

Wow! May I re-print this and hand it out at my next panel discussion? This is ALWAYS an issue at my panels. It's always the kids who are struggling to get on (struggling to get a deal to enable them to sell records--not pass out their tapes for free--hence the commerce) who have this complaint. I call them the "keep it real" kids because that's their battle cry. Until they get on. Then they want me to do conference calls with Meth and Jay Z and Cube so they can ask them how to sell records and so they can ask them to do a song with them....

May I pass this out to the up and coming artists who come to my monthly panel discussions? About 200 or so...

Wendy Day
Hip Hop Coalition

I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and they can listen to whatever they want. i don't agree that Ice Cube and C-Bo's music "isn't real" or good but every artist should bring the fun back to hip hop and make it a little more positive because this east-west coast shit is gettin' old and there are too many songs about drugs, glocks, gangbangin' and tha hood.


First off, I am tired of these east-coast cats claiming "gangsta rap" is not hip-hop. Most and foremost reason they do that is because most of these artists come from the west-coast or south. I mean listen to the lyrics in a Mobb Deep song, in a Wu-tang song, in a Fat Joe song, etc. These cats are talking negativity too! Everyone there wants to be a drug dealer, a mafioso, a "gangsta", etc., too. That's total hypocricisy. I hate it that acts with a lot of talent like Above the Law never go gold because people label them as being "gangsta rap" or because of their west-coast status. Nothing is worth disrespecting and we have to respect every artist's work. I think it was 2pac that said "you don't have to bump this, but please respect this" or something to that extent. I'm from Chicago and I geography has no influence on what I listen to or like. You can find albums by KRS next to Bone next to Outkast next to Raekwon next to The Beatnuts next to NWA, next to The Roots, etc. What you won't find is a Common album (and I'm from Chicago).

As for the negativity being a reason, these things are real. Crime is real, gangs are real, drugs are real. Regardless from what point it's cast, one should not use that as a basis for disrespecting other artists. As I've stated before, there are east-coast cats rhyming about the same ish yet you never hear any debate as to whether or not they are real hip-hop or not. That's just plain bullshit.

That's all I have to say. Peace.

S. Castro
Just another latino head

I want to respond to the criticisms about gangsta rap. I completely agree with the idea of rap reflecting one's environment and that couldn't be more true then in LA. Have you read City of Quartz by Mike Davis? If not, this book goes into detail about the history of the Bloods and the Crips in South Central in the early to mid 1970's and even shows how they intially may have been indrectly influenced by the Black Panther Movement.

What I find interesting is how 25 years later, themes in gagnsta rap reflected the attitudes of angry young men on the streets. I think for example NWA's first release makes some very powereful political statements. The danger I see is gangsta rap is how I think it has been infiltrated by the recording industry and turned into a soap opera designed to make money. I think there is a certain level of blacksploitation that exists in the music.

Rap music is powerful because of how direct it is with its audience. It becomes a great form of communication about local areas where it is from. With gangsta rap hwever, one of it's biggest consumer groups has become young white middle class males. I think this is great becuase it exposes people to new music, but it can become negative when gangsta rap starts being soley made to sell in these conditions. Suddenly it changes from being a powerful urban voice into a windfall of money for the big record compaines that are largly dominated by whites. I think this whole process is couter productive to hip hop culture. peace

josh baker

i agree 100%. you just articulated exactly what i've tried countless times to explain to countless people. peace and keep it divine..

fritz the cat

> Peace, Dave.
>My name is Osei(O-say) and I'm from the midwest, Milwaukee to be exact, 
>and I am a big connosieur of music form Common and other artists that 
>pay a lot of attention to their lyrics and are considered to have an 
>"East Cost" style.  I have to admit that at times I have been guilty of 
>using my opinion as the absolute truth and disqualifying certain artists 
>that I don't care for as not being true members of the Hip Hop 
>community.  I am so glad that I heard you break it down and show the 
>historical precedence that this mistake has amongst the hip hop 
>community.  I really understood what you were saying. You articulated it 
>so well.  I do have one question though what do you say about artists 
>like Vannila Ice and P.M. Dawn?  To this day I can't quite accept them 
>as being real hip hop artists.  Get at me.  Peace.
Osei Adofo (Noble Warrior in Akan)

I would definitely consider PM Dawn and Vanilla Ice hip hop.. why wouldn't they be? PM Dawn's Prince B has a few songs that are off the hook.. One was entitled 'Ode To A Forgetful Shame'.. which talks about how hip hop has been exploited.. It was on Pow Wow records and was without a doubt a hip hop jam.. I used to do contest to see if people could guess who the artist was doing the song..? Prince B defintely represents on that cut... PM Dawn has another track that had a rough and rugged feel called 'Nocturnal' which squarely is a hip hop jam.. It was featured on the C-B4 sound track..

As for Vanilla Ice... he too is hip hop... Before everyone discovered who he was and what he was about.. they were jammin' to Ice Ice Baby.. Heck I recall some of the Alpha Fraternity guys..trying to claim that that song was done by one of their members...since the hook 'Ice Ice Baby' was their slogan... In addition Vanilla used a lot of hip hop producers..like Khayree from the Bay Area, Chocolate and others...I admit Vanilla might not be the best rapper... But he was a damn good entertainer.. and he was and is a part of the hip hop family..

The thing to keep in mind with acts like PM Dawn or even Vanilla Ice is that not all of their songs are hip hop songs... So when they deviate and start singing and doing lullabys you can clearly see that they are also singers..... They're part of both communities.. They sing and they do hip hop....

Davey D

What a incredible response. It was so intresting (and a little weird) that the thoughts and opinions you replied with were ones that I had been thinking all along. Fashion has always been a part of HIPHOP culture and people are just in denial or mad because they can't afford the latest fashions when they go on and complain about it. Everything you said was so on-point.

PS. You brought it waaay back when you spoke on OJ's car service. (had me crackin' up)


Dear Dave,

Thanks for sharing those letters. I've found out that a lot of the "gangsta" rap is fake, in that it is produced just to make money. It's not about reality it's all about a salary. The real problem is that young people hear that shit and think it's a message about how to live their lives. You can promote this kind of music if you want, but perhaps some sort of warning or disclaimer should be included. Just my opinion.

-Paul Griffin-

Nice respones D.

The other kid had some good points, but not alot of substance to back them up.. And like you said Hip Hop is viewed differently in all parts of the country.. Just because Spice and Cube's sound ain't what you feeling that shouldn't mean that it's not Hip Hop.. It a touchy subject to talk about Hip Hop, especially when trying to define what sound is Hip Hop.. How's the saying go, "It's a thin line between love and hate." That's the same with Hip Hop and what region of the states or country you in.....



One of the reasons I subscribe to your newsletter and go to your website is the universal view of hip hop that you maintain. I can see the brother's point, God knows being in Florida I'm continually beat over the head daily by Master P (on the radio at least 10-12 times a day).

But I can't look down on MP because he's hip hop, whether we like it or not. The Elite, as I like to call them, tend to try to label what hip hop is and isn't. Artists and fans alike toss around definitions, but the truth is, it's all hip hop, whether they like it or not. You may not get down with that, that's fine, but that's that. And the recent article on C-Bo is exactly the type of information ALL headz should be checking for. The case against C-Bo could set some dangerous precedents, and I for one would like to know what the outcome of the whole thing is going to be.

The brother is right, we do have a problem with certain elements in the community, we do need to hold some artists accountable (like the Three 6 Mafia and that damn song "Tear The Club Up"...the song is just irresponsible, especially with the fools we have here in Jacksonville. They're going to tear the club up regardless, they don't need a damn theme song to do it), but it's all from the same place. We need to start looking at the whole thing as a community and start to correct the problems ourselves, move as a single entity, and try to remove some of the petty differences we have in the entire Hip Hop Nation. You're right, the information was very informative, and I thank you for fwding that on to me and everybody else.

Hank McCoy

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