Is Hip-Hop Dead? If yes, explain. If no, explain:
Hip hop has is more alive than it has ever been since its birth around 1974 (peace to DJ Kool Herc), yet there are dimensions of hip hop that are more extinct than a brontosaurus. Some true old schoolers talk about hip hop before it was even recorded on wax, and that era is ancient history that not even I experienced. But for me, who’s been a hip hop human being since 1982, the aspects of it that I loved and lived that are dead and gone include things like recording albums on side A and side B of a 90 minute cassette. It’s getting excited when I found 120 minute length cassettes. I called them “time capsules”, and they still are to me (because I still have all of my tapes). Getting hip hop music off a radio station transmission that you fidget and scramble to receive on your ghetto blaster at some ungodly hour of the night is also a long-gone thing. But it still feels kinda hip hop to download now (even though people take music so much more for granted when everything they want is literally at their fingertips, with a search engine or bit torrent. When you had to hunt and strive and dig in the crates to discover great hip hop music, you appreciated it so much more, and sharing it with friends created a much deeper sense of community. Some styles of rapping have died and never come back (for better and for worse). Even break dancing was dead for a lot of the 90′s, but strangely, television (and the explosion of the new millennium rap music video) had a lot to do with bringing break dancing back. DJing died for a few years in that decade as well, until the DMC’s and such came around, and the word “turntablism” was invented. Some things in hip hop are dead and gone forevermore, and some of them have died and been attempted to be resurrected by new jacks, hipsters, suburban white kids, big businesses and whoever else is vaguely interested in expressing something in life “the hip hop way”.
But to me, it has been extremely alive since the first moment it touched me, (word to Grandmaster Flash and the Message, and LL Cool J and Run-DMC), and I live and define my universe through it. It never died for a moment. Not when Tupac or Biggie or Big L or Eazy-E or Big Pun died (though those were eternally tragic moments that I remember vividly to this day… among other great artists who have been reborn), and not when Nas said “hip hop was dead”. He was just trying to force new thoughts out of everyone. And he did.
Hip hop devours itself constantly, and recreates itself in new ways with every new person, neighborhood, city, country and continent that creates hip hop.
(The past of) Hip hop is dead like Nas said, but also, (the future of) Hip hop lives like KRS-One said. Hip hop forever, like Wu-Tang.
What is your vision of Hip Hop’s future?
Hip hop would be (and soon -will- be) the new religion and new form of governing for the ghetto and places on earth that would be open to taking the divine art form they are already keeping the tradition of, and connecting their concepts to the place they hold their church and their politicians. I trust Rakim and Nas and KRS-One more than I trust Stephen Harper, Dalton McGuinty and the people behind Barack Obama (I got my eye on him cause the government is #4080 to say the least, but god bless the brother for inspiring the world to change their minds). In a perfect world, hip hop would be the best way to solve conflict. Countries should have b-boy/b-girl battles, not wars. Art and music should be the way to challenge an opponent. And the music should be seen as sacred as prayers. The more holy the lyrics and beat are, the more worshipped it will be. Lauryn Hill was loved like a Goddess when “Miseducation” was out. And Nas was worshipped like a God when “Illmatic” dropped. Cause he IS a God. Everyone is X amount God and X amount Devil. Music is the best way to capture each element of our essence, and hip hop’s best people have paved the path to walk towards Heaven on earth through this subculture made of soul and rhythm and funk and jazz and rock and all the dimensions of sound and technology to come before it, and into it now. Hip hop culture is the future of life. It won’t stop expanding around the world until the world either blows itself up, or it bows down to the divinity of hip hop.
Do you listen to other forms of music outside of Hip Hop, if yes WHAT?
I love all music that my ears think is good, in every genre that exists. To be honest, if I had to listen to only one musician for the rest of my life, it would be either Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder. But it meant the world to me for Nas’s very first single to be based on Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” sample (peace to Large Professor). If I had to listen to only one MC for the rest of my life, it would be Nasty Nasir Olu Dara Jones.
Who were your artistic/musical influences growing up?
My mom played lots of Teddy Pendergrass, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston (that first album is immaculate), Sade, James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, lots of dancehall reggae, Motown, Jazz, and some rock and roll. My big brother also won Best Break dancer in Edmonton in 1982 at a contest at Sports World roller-rink, and I idolized him eternally for that. So I loved music and dancing at a very early age, and never stopped.
What is your music background?
I may be misinterpreting this, but both my parents are Jamaican, and my father is still there, working on his music. We have the same dreams. My background is based on a musical foundation, and I’ve only gotten deeper into it as the days have played their songs in the key of my life.
How do you describe your music to people?
It changes from person to person. Sometimes I compare it to pieces of my influences and heroes (RZA and all of the Wu-Tang Clan, El-Producto and Bigg Jus of Company Flow, Del the Funky Homosapien, Saafir the Saucy Nomad, Freestyle Fellowship, Cannibal Ox, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Andre 3000, and of course… Nas), or sometimes I use descriptions that other people have used: “he sounds like Busta Rhymes mixed with DMX!” or “you’re a mix of De La Soul and Digable Planets”… once I was told I sounded like “Pharoahe Monch from Outer Space”, and that warmed my heart. Sometimes, I just say “it’s hip hop soul music”. Or sometimes I say “its modern day poetry”. Sometimes, I just spit a verse, because sometimes I have no idea how to describe what I do to some people.
What image do you think your music conveys?
I often say its “spiritual, political, sexual, mental, physical, mystical” music. That’s the image I want to convey. Never the same song twice, never the same thought twice, never the same style twice. I hope I give off the vibe that it’s loving and edutaining music. I want to give off the impression of gaining intelligence, having fun, feeling sexy, and enjoying life to the fullest. I also want to fuck your head up.
What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
The record industry doesn’t exist like it used to in the “please listen to my demo” days. THANK GOD! Those power-mad bastards ran this shit into the ground. But at the same time, the competition bar has been raised so high that there are a million MySpace pages to wade through to hear a few great MCs who deserve to be paid attention to for their whole career. The power has never been more in the hands of the independent artist, but the responsibility of knowing your business, and your strengths and weaknesses matters more than ever. The artist development that the best labels did is not there for the indie artist, making their music on ProTools, producing beats on either an MPC or Reason or Cubase (or Fruity Loops, ha), pressing up their CD-R and designing their album cover and assembling their product at home. Labels are still the right way to go for a scant few artists, but the rest are better off learning how to market and promote themselves, make some videos, merchandise, and find out how to get a booking agent and manager to make them a mini-conglomerate. It’s a good time to be an unsigned musician. Drake just made world history. I plan to next.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Necessity and destiny. My mind cannot conceive a reality where I’m not doing this. That thought literally cannot be processed or contemplated by my mind. I don’t know who I would be or where I would be if I didn’t do music. I know if I had the same heart as I do now, it would feel like HELL ON EARTH. Music is heaven for me.
What project or projects are you currently working on? When will they be released?
There’s a few ideas floating around my body that I have yet to give birth to, but here’s a few, including some collaboration projects that are coming soon:
Supreme Being Unit – In Space, No One Can Hear You Rhyme
Micill Shazaam Write and Mindbender – Obeah
Mindbender Supreme – Fearkiller / No More Mr. Fucking Nice Guy Vol. 3: Rude Awakening / Psychic Soundwave Sanctuary / Mindbender Futurama / and more…
If you had an opportunity to collaborate with ANY artist or artists (dead or alive) in ANY genre of music/art, who would you choose? And why?
MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON.
Because he was the closest thing I can think of as an artist on the level of a God. His voice is the most angelic thing I will ever hear. His songwriting is some of the most immaculate, delicate, excellent executed and perfect sound I will ever hear in this lifetime. His honesty, kindness, and generosity is beyond that of a Saint. And his unparalleled legacy will stand for all time to teach all future generations on earth the levels of divine artistry, compassion, and dedication to music and melody and dance that we can all dream to reach one day. I always loved Michael Jackson, and even talked to another hardcore MJ fan/friend of mine about trying to go see the “This Is It” show in London, England. Now that he’s not with us, I’m studying his examples and seeing how phenomenal of a human being he was, in every dimension of art and life. I saw Janet Jackson, and she was amazing for real. But if I got a chance to see Michael Jackson perform, I would be happy beyond the ability to express in words. I’d just have to sing it, like: SHAMON!
If there was any other, it would be Stevland Hardaway Judkins aka Stevie Wonder. I’ve seen Stevie Wonder twice, and they were some of the most holy moments I have ever known in my life. I wasn’t hearing music; I was hearing magic in the air. I highly recommend you see him one fine day in your lovely life. It will do you a world of wonder, no pun intended.
And that’s it. Those musicians are the human and musical equivalent of the highest love in heaven to me.
Mindbender loves you all.
Please check out Mindbender Supreme @: