Monday, August 9, 2010
Golden Era of Urban Music
So I'm not going to rant today. I was just thinking about music recently and, as a musician, most people are very surprised to know my favorite type of music.
Some background: I am a musician. I'm first and foremost a singer and am pretty damned good at it as well. I've played the drums for 15 years and can also play the Guitar, Bass Guitar, Timbales, Conga's and Bongo's reasonably well. In addition, I am slowly learning piano on a slightly grander scale as I am versed in the rudimentary fundamentals of it. My musical influences range from The Beatles to Blink-182, Glenn Miller Orchestra to Johnny Cash, Tito Puente to Pancho Sanchez to Earth Wind and Fire and most things in-between. I am diverse (Modern Country does not crack my listenable list) and appreciative with music.
So, it comes as a surprise to most, including myself, that 1990's Gangsta Rap is my favorite type of music.
From Snoop to Dre to Coolio to Tupac to Biggie, 90's hip-hop represented a cultural revolution through lyrics that brought the plight of the inner streets to mainstream America. Personal experiences with drug dealing, murder, family relationships and living on the streets painted a poignant and raw interpretation of how difficult life could be in the land of opportunity.
Set to catchy melodies and beats, these pioneers of hip-hop flowed so succinctly that one can not help but to be drawn into their struggle while reflecting on our own personal fortune to not have been forced into that type of upbringing.
Despite many artist's legal trouble and gang affiliation, the lyrics seemed to hide a deeper meaning of a desire for success. Most rapper's would immediately buy a house for their mother's as soon as they got that first big check, a testament to the strong family unit that many critics derided as being non-existent. Nearly every artist in the 90's either made a song in reverence for their parental figure or alluded to it in various songs. It struck a chord that inner-city people were no different than anyone else. They were not mindless killing machines who preferred to be strung out on crack. They were poetic souls who drew from their own experiences to bring inner city life to the forefront of the public conscience.
The 90's hip-hop scene brought about a different kind of revolution than was seen in the 1960's. It was not a response to an unpopular war or the glorification of drug use. It was a response to the indifference shown to the poor, urban area's of America. Urban America was not going to simply put up with being ignored or looked down upon. Their intelligence, wit, talent and abilities were put on full-display during the 90's and the world took notice.
When I listen to modern Hip-Hop, I long for times past, but the spirit of this tumultuous but, ultimately, beautiful style of music lives on.