This is Part 2 in a 3 part series.
The Legend: When I was growing up in 80’s Miami, Hip Hop’s greatest achievement below the Mason-Dixon Line was Me So Horny. Scarface and the Geto Boys changed all that, bringing much needed substance and skill to Southern Hip Hop, paving the way for artists like Outkast, T.I. and Ludacris to dominate the spotlight and legitimize the Dirty once and for all. Some call him the true King of the South (Sorry, Tip), but I just call him Mr. Scarface.
The Aftermath: Unfortunately for true hip hop heads (and those with working eardrums), the South’s eventual and continuing dominance means more and more rappers who think substance is something you get stuck in between gold teeth. Long gone are the days when the epidemic of drugs and violence that continue to permeate throughout the hood were looked at as scourges of the community in the eyes of rappers. Now they are looked at as part of marketing strategy and street cred builders. Add that to the growing parade of minstrelsy we see coming from the south these days, and it’s a wonder we haven’t seen a rapper named Young Bojangles yet.
Worst Offenders: Lil’ John, D4L, Soulja Boy
The Legend: Hailing from the birthplace of hip-hop, The Blastmaster gave the genre more than a handful of classic material: Criminal Minded gave us rap’s first meaningful battle anthems with The Bridge is Over and South Bronx, By Any Means Necessary injected political commentary into the mix, and KRS-One’s Stop the Violence movement gave us the socially conscious Self Destruction, a song the likes of which we could use a lot more of these days. He took his nickname “The Teacha” literally when he opened the Temple of Hip Hop, dedicated to maintaining and promoting hip hop culture – an admirable feat if I ever heard of one.
The Aftermath: While preserving and maintaining hip hop culture sounds fine on paper, KRS-One has a very limited scope of what “real” hip hop actually is – in his mind, it’s a 90’s time capsule where people do graffiti while spinning on their heads simultaneously. As a result, most rappers who follow his anti-mainstream doctrine end up relegated to virtual obscurity, unwilling to broaden their horizons and unable to get the kind of reach that more commercial rappers enjoy. Hard as it is to believe, Nelly of all people said it best on his song #1(which, incidentally, peaked at #22):
“Aiyyo I’m tired of people judgin what’s real Hip-Hop/ Half the time you be them n****z who f****n album flop”
I hate to admit it, but most graduates of the Temple of Hip Hop go on to promising careers at McDonald’s.
Worst Offenders: Thanks to KRS-One, I have no idea who the hell they are.
Tune in tomorrow for No.1 on our list.