Hip Hop is Alive

April 29, 2008

2008 could be the year that applies a defibrillator to the chest of hip hop, revitalizing a genre currently comatose amidst ringtone rap and Rick Ross. If I have to sit through another commercial threatening me to call and make Flo Rida my phone ring, I might put my head through a window. I find solace in the fact that this year will see releases by Kidz in the Hall, The Knux and Cool Kids, artists whose style and aesthetic hearkens back to the days when hip hop was about more than how many kilos you could push, it was about creativity and having fun.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been genuinely excited about a slate of hip hop releases. I grew up on rap and count De La Soul, Tribe, Pharcyde, Eric B. and Rakim and Big Daddy Kane among some of my favorite artists. These were artists whose fundamental priority was the progression of an art form and I believe the cats mentioned above, from Chicago, LA and Chicago respectively, have that same agenda. I’ve heard people call Cool Kids et al “hipster hop,” perhaps due to heavy stylistic and musical borrowing from 80s-era rap, or due to the amount of attention they’ve received recently in the blog community, but I’d equate these haters to those who originally called De La, Tribe and the Native Tongues Posse “hippie rap” back in the day. I’d love to see these kids usher in a new era for hip hip based on originality and leave cookie cutter club rap in its wake.

Here’s “Hard Days Night” by The Knux, a song that reminds me a bit of old-school Souls of Mischief:

Here’s “What It Iz” by the Cool Kids, which could easily be at home on the Juice soundtrack:

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