The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States, and used by African-American slaves to escape into freedom. It was a way to communicate without being detected. Hip-hop has carried on this tradition via using symbolism and subliminals in rhyme.
The anger and frustrations of the community were put on display for the world to see, stores were burned and looted. While it was nowhere near the magnitude of LA, it was a reminder to America that you can only push a community so hard for so long until eventually they push back. All news media directed their efforts towards the happenings of Baltimore, and as fate would have it, all of these events occurred within days of the 23 year anniversary of the Los Angeles uprising. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, or maybe its just a coincidence.
Throughout my years as a hip hop junkie the NEVER ending debate of who was/is the BEST MC has been the topic of discussion. Wheather it was me and Lil Rob (RIP) arguing who’s better between Mobb Deep or 2Pac, the Grandmaster Caz vs. Melle Mel debates of the early 80s, the Rakim or Kane of the late 80s, or who can forget LL and Kool Moe Dee. Some of these fan rivalries resulted in verbal sparring, but more times than not the battle has been soley faught by the followers of a rapper and not the actual artist themselves.
We first encountered The Real Ligit at Lovely's Chaos open mic in Brooklyn. We were definitely impressed with his message and wordplay...reminded us of a young T.I. in fact! Check out his story below...
"People have always trusted me and I've always been that person where my friends come to me for advice..."
Scroll through your instagram, Facebook or Twitter feed, and it's very likely you'll find quite a few seemingly #selfie obsessed young women between the ages of 16-25 years old.
While everyone seems to be focused on the fact that Dr. Angelou made Tupac cry (how shocking - he was a human being!) it is her consistency of courage that should momentarily leave us in awe and serve as lifelong inspiration.
Clearly, hip hop is no longer a music genre or culture by teens, for teens. We have all grown up, and the 35-45 year old parent driving to pick up their child from school is less frequently bumping Boyz to Men but Biggie. It's time to return to our roots, and give these at risk youth something to connect to as Cudi so eloquently put it. Not just behind the scenes, but also in your day job - your lyrics and your message.
Jada spoke frankly about her friendship with the late, Tupac Shakur, "Pac was one of the first male figures that I had in my life that saw the beauty and talent in my intelligence separated from sex."
Our funding campaign wraps up this Tuesday, December 11th. We hope you've enjoyed counting down the Top Ten Songs about Hip Hop! We close out this week with Biggie and Tupac!
You can help by making a contribution to our IndieGoGo funding campaign:
“I saw him as a kindred spirit, I saw him as a brother, so it was like beefin’ with your brother. Not even beefin’, it felt like, your brother over there’s a little mad. This is an issue right now, so you gotta deal with it.”
Nas & Tupac both cared about people, and about the community at large -- about our sons & our daughters; the less fortunate; pregnant teens; convicts with no future, etc. Those that we [society] would rather forget about.
As we reflect this weekend on the life of Tupac Amaru Shakur, while celebrating Nasir Jones’ 40th birthday, let us not forget their message and what they have contributed to not only rap music, but also to the culture known as Hip Hop.
Rap music is essentially stories set to rhyme. But the best stories have a message. The essence of HIP HOP lies in the MESSAGE.
There was a time when that message was to uplift the urban black community. There was a time when that message was used to inspire our youth (whether the song's message was pain, activism, heartache or love).
Those voices became drowned out with the over-promotion of gangsta rap in the 1990’s. Yes, the stories of the “Hustla” goes back even to the 1970’s; especially the Blaxploitation film era. But that story has evolved in so many ways.Queen Latifah and Will ‘The Fresh Prince’ Smith, for example, are both movie stars now. Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter is a business-man by his own admission. VIBE magazine and BET are more powerful media outlets than ever before with the explosion of social media.
Yet, what do we amplify? What do we glorify? Beef. Gossip. Sex tapes. Twerking videos. If Tupac were alive today, think of how he would use the internet and social media to rally his “soldiers”! It would NOT be to direct your attention to the latest twerk video. Yes, World Star Hip Hop -- I’m talking to you.
Our beloved Nas continues the legacy of the message. He used Twitter to bring aid to a homeless family in need of help. He carries on the tradition of hip hop’s true roots – we are one. We are united.
And what of Mr. Shakur’s current fanbase? It continues to grow – and unlike a lot of aging rappers, Tupacs fans almost seem to be getting younger. Yet, we mark his death today, 17 years ago. When I listen to Cinos' Teenage Crime, I hear frustration and anguish similar to that of 2Pac. I also see a generation of young people who still feel like no one cares. As we brace ourselves to intervene in the Syrian rebellion, we do so with the full knowledge that the war in Chicago has spanned decades. Our youth are also still reeling from the unnecessary murder of one Trayvon Martin.
But do we see the stories of Anala Beevers, Carson Huey-You, James Martin, or Zuriel Oduwole pushed through these so-called urban media outlets? Does 106th and Park share inspiring stories such as Misty Copeland or Jaylen Bledsoe? The old saying goes, "The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book. Well, undoubtedly Tupac and Nas are two of the most well-read emcees in history.
Tupac’s classic track about his gun ‘Me and My Girlfriend’ was inspired by Nas’ conceptual track ‘I Gave You Power’. According to Young Noble of the Outlawz, Tupac heard ‘I Gave You Power’ in a studio out in North Hollywood in the Summer of 1996 and was amazed at the creativity and power of the track. Which is ironic, since Tupac dissed Nas on the same album. (7 Day Theory) [source: hiphop365.com]
What happened to that element of hip hop? Where did it go? Will it ever be welcomed back? Versace, Gucci, and Prada. Most of us (myself included) - cannot afford these labels. I say we cannot afford to continue to be labeled as ignorant, unintelligent, lazy, and so on.
Nas famously declared Hip Hop Was Dead Years ago. Did Hip Hop's true message die along with 2Pac on September 13, 1996?
“I’m never gonna die, never heard of death, energy can never be destroyed – only the flesh. So when you try to murder me with bullets to the head, this is why you can’t kill me, n-ggas, I’m already dead.” – NAS ‘Eye 4 an Eye’