Music Dead Man Rapping
posted by January 10 at 11:58 AMon
We can look at this new CD in two ways:
One, and the weaker view, Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother, is keeping her son’s work and dreams alive; two, as the title of Nas’s new CD puts it, hiphop is dead. The question to ask is this: What is the function of hiphop today? Do black Americans really need it? In the 80s, during the crack epidemic and Reagan’s ruthless execution of anything that looked or acted socialistic, hiphop had three main functions: one, producing pleasure (as Tricia Rose pointed out in her masterpiece Black Noise), creating economic opportunities in areas that were abandoned by the formal economy (NWA in Compton, Boogie Down Productions in the South Bronx), and lastly, offering a base from which black artists could launch into other and higher areas of the entertainment industry (for example, Will Smith, Ice Cube, Puff Daddy, Queen Latifah, and LL Cool J). These days, however, hiphop primarily provides pleasure (and a bad pleasure because it is an empty pleasure). Blacks don’t need hiphop for the other purposes; and it is in the decadence of pure, empty pleasure (50 cent, Lil Kim, Nas) that the sun of its life has set. All of its creativity is now in the networks of an underground world not unlike the one in Lucas’s THX 1138.