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Hip-Hop Turns 30 (If You Say So!)

By a Gossiping Bitch on January 12th, 2005

Hip-hop CakeThe celebration of meaningless round numbers in our society is one way we are bound together, and hip-hop is no different. Apparently, someone somewhere has declared that hip-hop is now 30 and everyone — television networks, record labels, commentators — has taken the opportunity to blabber on and on about its history and social significance. Not to be outdone, and motivated by professional jealousy, the GBs set about writing our own hip-hop retrospective. Sadly, initial enthusiasm gave way to eventual boredom, and we stopped about 2 paragraphs into it. Luckily, one of our readers has done the job for us, as he has related his own hip-hop experience in a way we think is both eloquent and instructive.

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 14:37:42 -0800 (PST)
From: “Josh Davis” [stylz4mylz@yahoo.com]
Subject: Hip-Hop Turns 30 (If You Say So!)
To: contact@gossipingbitches.com

What up, GB,

My name is Josh Davis (just like DJ Shadow!). I just read somewhere that hip-hop’s 30th birthday is coming up and wanted to share my thoughts about it with you guys.

First of all, happy birthday! Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear graffiti, rap, dj’ing, and breakinnnng, happy birthday to you! I had no freaking clue it was so old. I am just 23 myself. I could almost be hip-hop’s little brother! LOL. I’m just messing around, because I read a lot of old dudes in articles and on the message boards saying they were “raised by hip-hop” and stuff. It’s not your daddy!

I first learned about hip-hop back in the day, like 94 or 95, right around there. I mean, of course I knew about rap music and all that shit, but not, you know, hip-hop KULCHA. All that stuff on the wall just looked like messy writing before that, like, “your grammar school teacher came up waaay short, dude.” I was so dumb! B-boying was more an acrobatic type thing to me. And turntablism? Back then if you were to ask me the difference between a baby skratch and a flare, I would have looked at you like “whaaat?” I had no idea that all of these things were all connected and shit. You look at it from the outside and think, “What does rapping have to do with graffiti? What does turntablism have to do with breakdancing? What does breakdancing have to do with anything?” It was all so confusing. But I learned that all of these groups, seemingly so disparate (dictionary.com word of the day, yo!), were actually all connected in what is called Hip-hop Culture. To tell you the truth, it still doesn’t make too much sense, but I’ve seen some DVD’s and stuff of ancient hip-hop culture and they kind of say the same thing, so whatever.

Anyways, it was right around this time, right before high school, when I used to hear my man Brad’s rap tapes (remember tapes? Time warp!). While I was bustin a move and doing the wild thing, he was listening to dope rappers like Wu-tang and Nas and Biggie Smalls. (OH SHIT, I just remembered! Last week, I was watching Jeopardy! and Biggie was one of the answers! What was funny was that one of the contestants buzzed in and was like “Who is Biggie Small?” What a stupid bitch! They didn’t give that dumb ass ho any points for that answer, and I’m glad. Alex was like, “Bitch, you forgot the S on the end.” She kind of gave him a dirty look, but he was looking back at her like shut the fuck up, ho. I should be on that show. I would have got that shit right!) He put me onto that stuff, and I was just blown away. Biggie was great. He just didn’t give a fuck. He told Tupac to fuck off and everything.

So, that pretty much got me hooked on REAL hip-hop, and I’ve been like that pretty much ever since, even though it’s hard these days when they play HERBS like Lil Jon all day everywhere you go. In a way, I’m celebrating my own anniversary, because I’ve been a hip-hopper for about 10 years myself. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been called black boy, jungle bunny, spade, jigaboo, tar baby, nighttime, The Shadow, Dikembe, and all kinds of other stuff. (I’m White) I don’t even know what some of those mean! Some people are just ignorant. I’ve put up with a lot of shit for this culture, and I don’t think us White hip-hoppers have gotten enough credit. We just want to be treated like everybody else, and it’s fucked up that some people dis on us for being White. I say later for that bullshit. I can’t help what color skin I am, can you?

I want to help people understand the powerful transformation that occurred to hip-hop around that time, the mid 90’s, one that made color not matter much anymore. I’ve heard a lot of talk about commercial rap and corporate control of it and everything else in this country, and all that is fucked up for sure. I mean, I’ve seen Fahrenheit 9/11 too, you know. But there’s something even more important that happened to hip-hop that I don’t see anyone talking about: The Internet!

I first discovered hip-hop on the Net sometime around 96. I didn’t even have a computer back then, but Brad did, and he was on it all the time. That dude knew about all the hip-hop websites as they were starting up, and would show me all of it. I thought it was all pretty weird, and kind of nerdy, you know? Later, he told me about rap message boards, where people would get on and just shoot the shit. He used to post all the time on them, and I thought that was so weird! Next thing you know, I’m all over those things too, posting all day from school or wherever. I begged my mom to get a computer so that I could post from home. I wouldn’t even leave the house sometimes; I was so addicted. Hip-hop was my LIFE!

It was on the internet where I really learned about hip-hop. People would talk about albums and artists I had never even heard of. There were a lot of rap mags out that I would buy, but really it was all about the internet. I registered on every site that had a board, even the one the American Taliban was up on for a minute. What an idiot. But yeah, I learned about all these classic rap albums like Tribe’s shit and Ice Cube’s older shit. I threw out all my tapes and started buying cd’s. But then Napster came out, followed by others, and I’ve been pretty much downloading a TON ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy cd’s — I just got the new Nas — but there’s so much garbage out there that I don’t want to get burned. Plus, I’m totally broke all the time. I just can’t afford to buy a lot of music anymore. But I’m still a huge fan, so what else can I do?

Listening to all this great music really opened my eyes. I got to understand what it?s like for black people in America — dirty police officers, drugs on every corner (which sounds cool by me! J/K!), people shooting at you all the time. It fucking sucks. I even got to experience racism firsthand on the internet. The interesting thing about message boards is that you’re anonymous, so nobody knows shit about you. I experimented with being different ethnic backgrounds (but never a different gender!), and I was even black for a while. People do treat you differently, it’s sooo true. I’d be like, “You guys don’t know what it’s like. Racism is everywhere. You shouldn’t even be listening to rap music, because it’s not your culture, it’s mine!” And those assholes would be all, “Fuck you! Just because you’re black doesn’t give you the right to be a fucking jerk.” Either that or they’d be like, “You’re not really black. Stop fronting.” I’d tell those guys, “You don’t know shit about me, so don’t act like you do!” I got caught a couple of times, once people started tracking my ip address. Oops!

But, the funny thing was, I kind of agreed with some of those people. I mean, I didn’t own any slaves, and I don’t hold anybody down. So why are they always complaining about racism? I’m poor as shit too, you know? I can barely afford gas, and I eat Ramen ALL the time. They should just get over it, I think. I can’t stand when rappers say stuff like “fuck whitey” or “blast holes in the devils.” Why should I have to listen to that shit? They’re just as racist as anybody. Especially considering how rich these guys are. You see them on BET all the time, with jewelry and cars. Racism isn’t keeping those guys down. Just my opinion. I guess what I’m saying is, we all have problems, but we also all have something else in common: a love for hip-hop. To me, we should at least all respect each other based on that, and not talk about who does or doesn’t get to be a part of the culture for whatever bullshit reason. Fuck that shit.

Through the years, I, like hip-hop, have changed. I really had no idea it was that old, though. You mean to tell me they were skratching in freakin 1975? I doubt it. The oldest shit I see on those TV hip-hop histories is like “Rock Box” or some shit. They’d have some other disco looking shit, but that must have been some kind of joke. Not real hip-hop. I think it really started like in the mid 80’s. If you listen to what old people say, you might think hip-hop started in some other country 50 years ago. Regardless of when it started, back when I first got into it, it was dope! You could listen to all kinds of groups, like Pharcyde and Anotha Level and Bored Stiff. Mad variety. But look at what’s happening now. You turn on the video shows and all the groups are exactly the same. Shit like Trick Daddy, Fat Joe, Snoop. That’s the problem with hip-hop, I think. People complain about corporations, but they aren’t the ones making the music. Why can’t El-P be on Rap City? Or even Aesop Rock? Hip-hop would be better off if we brought back variety like that.

Well, that’s about all I got to say. I should add that while I LOVE hip-hop to the death, I’m kind of getting bored with it now. I’m downloading less and less of it, in comparison to other shit. I mean, Loretta Lynn is dope! I’ve only got a few of her songs, but so many people are putting her on their Best of 04 lists, that I thought I should check it out. I also got a job and school (I go to Michigan), so it’s hard to spend as much time on hip-hop as I used to. My computer’s down too, which SUX. I’m using Brad’s laptop. That’s right, we went to school and moved in together! He’s more into stuff like Agnostic Front now. Whateva!

I don’t care, GB, I’m gonna be a hip-hoppa for life. It remains to be seen whether it can be saved. Personally, I think it’ll be fine. Hey, and if it isn’t, it was a great ride.

P.E.A.C.E.!

Josh D.

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