6 PM Mountain Time
The hip hop legend Nas has said hip hop is dead.
Many fans would disagree, but for different reasons. Some would point to the record sales of platinum and multi-platinum performers such as 50 Cent and Eminem as proof of the genre’s vitality.
Yet hip hop sales have been falling, or actually plummeting. According to music industry statistics compiled by Nielsen SoundScan, hip hop sales have declined more than those of the industry at large: almost 47 percent since the year 2000.
Apparently the fans who shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars have become satiated with years of the materialistic idiocy of “playa” rhymes and the sociopathic, KKK-sponsored fantasies of gangsta rap.
But with those fans having moved onto other genres, have they left hip hop’s bloated and bullet-ridden corpse in the street?
And how did hip hop move from being a diverse, ranging series of styles in the mid 1980s to one led by a dynamically political vanguard around the hub of 1990, only to collapse into misogyny and violence by 1993?
Some of those who make the most passionate argument that hip hop is not dead are those who have been engineering the return of the music’s social and political consciousness. Classic artists who never left such as Public Enemy, KRS-One and Brand Nubian, come-back grown-ups such as X-Clan, and relative newcomers such as Talib Kweli, all prove that hip hop for adults is the indeed the shining star.
And then there are the artists who are richly talented and skilled, who’ve fought rhyme battles and real ones, who’ve paid dues in the community and struggled up from obscurity for years, who are only now beginning to gain their place in the moonlight. One of those artists is
When he’s not onstage, Jitu teaches Afrikan-American history at
Tonight we’ll listen to my feature conversation with this titanic MC. Jitu spoke with me via telephone from the offices of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organisation. Occasionally you’ll hear the sounds of his colleagues doing their daily work, which at one moment included vacuuming the office.
For legal downloads of select songs, or to buy the album Necessary Ingredients, click here.