If you ever claimed hip hop as your own, or tried to, you’ve felt some anxiety, probably unspoken, that the music would not grow up with you. That maybe it just wasn’t meant to. Your favorite artists would age with you, but the genre would bind them to themes and affectations that would diminish their dignity and wisdom — baggy jeans, paradoxically too constricting. Also, not a good look. What would be worse than hip hop remaining youthful, which of course it always ought? If the artists you knew to be geniuses were thwarted by the modal notions that rule a music that sprung you both. Just because they grew up and learned some stuff. How would hip hop contend with the guiding stars of adulthood; keeping your word, loving helplessly with core exposed, knowing what one must not do or have, sustaining dialog in the face of indifference or contempt, and all these even when there’s no glory in it — especially then? Would all your heroes give up on the art form as a “young person’s game”? Or cling to it, thirsty and unseemly? Would you then have to let hip hop go and get into like, jazz or something? This is the answer. God bless De La Soul.
- Have I ever owned a pair of Michael Jordan-brand Nike basketball sneakers, you ask? I can answer that question.
- George Pitts, RIP
- Hip hop, grown-ups, and growin’ up
- Letter to my Dad, in re: J Dilla’s “Donuts”, a record I gave him for Christmas 2015
- Hip Hop and Africa, Letter to Hugo Burnham 3/29/2015