Thursday

Hip-hop has, since it's explosive arrival, been an amazing documentary source. From Wu-Tang to Jay-Z to Lauryn Hill, hip-hop has never even come close to loosening it's grips on lyrical prowess to any other music art form, arguably any other art form period. I haven't seen a movie or read a book that can as closely detail the horror of NYC's crack wars in the '80s than Liquid Swords. No movie, book, or news report has come within an afro pick of a distance to the intensity of being looked down upon and past in a world of violence, corruption, angst, and rage than Strait Outta Compton. It is amazing at detailing the world around us. In fact, one of the charging reasons why the information of what exactly is going on out "there" (meaning our own backyards, right past the multi-million dollar downtown lofts) is because of hip-hop. Everyone knows the deal of what's happening; drive down the highway and people can point out the ghettos. Businesswomen and men reclining back in the chairs for a moment can spot the "no fly zones" just right beyond. Anybody can easily recreate a gang shootout or looting or a bum getting beaten within an inch of his life. Than why the hell isn't anything being done about it?

There is something chilling about the fact that we can identify a ghetto and laugh about it. And I don't mean laugh about it in the sense of staring it down, overcoming it, but in a "Aw shucks" way, as if it's an everyday thing much like crammed traffic or waiting for a burrito to fully cook. What isn't hip-hop doing to fully grasp people and scream, "Wake up!" Take a look at the record I'm listening to right now, Fishscale by Ghostface. The album is brimming with dark tales from the hood that blow up into terrifyingly violent eruptions. It makes for an amazing song, but fucking disgusting reality. Ghostface's content may or may not be ficticious but the reality of the situation is balls on tight. Is it a good thing that people are getting shot over crack? Of course not. Than why aren't we taking these songs as seriously as we should be, beyond just being good party starters (or stoppers for the matter) or whatever?

Maybe it's the fact that serves itself mostly as a documentary source. A lot of the times it falls the ideals of what a lot of artists think- art serves as mirror for the times around us and clear pool to see ourselves in. But that is not all art can be. It can be a mirror ball for not just the way it is but the way it can be. My all time favorite music has been composed by U2. Listen to something like Where the Streets Have No Name; it doesn't just document the time, that feeling, but the hint of the possibilities of what can be, not just what is.

Now, of course, hip-hop raises it's voice a lot; it's not some politician on the hill pointing fingers with one hand, stuffing it's mouth with caviar with the other. But no one has fully risen to the point standing up like Atticus Finch and put up a real fight for what can be done. It will happen, maybe already has and I haven't heard it (or have and didn't read the scribes deep enough). Either way, it can't come soon enough.