There are two events in the history of me listening to rap music that are still deeply embedded in my mind. The two different artists, who have actually now blended into one due to their choice of collaborative conspirators, were contrastingly different at one point.

The first encapsulated my ear-drums in 1993, when I didn’t know what gin & juice was and I couldn’t think of six ways to die, let alone six million. At this point you’ve probably guessed that the somebody in question was to his mother Calvin Broadus but to us Snoop Doggy Dogg.

The second ”rapper” I’m referring to is as vivid in my recollection as the first but for completely contrasting reasons. It was 2008 and admittedly and thankfully I was late to this guy’s party. Having waded through a deluge of sub-par and utterly pointless nu-school rappers up to this point, the ghastly and abhorrent Lil Wayne decided to enter my consciousness and he hasn’t left since.

Hey, see cash, money is a army 
I’m walkin’ with Purple Hearts on me 
You’re talkin’ to the sergeant 
Body marked up like the subway in Harlem 
Call ’em Weezy F. Baby 
Please say the baby 
If you don’t see me on the block, I ain’t tryin’a hide 
I blend in with the hood, I’m camouflage 
Bandana tied, so Mami, join my troop 
Now everytime she hear my name, she salute! 

What happened between the years of 1993 and to a further extent, the days of BDP, Big Daddy Kane etc for rap to become acceptable to the masses as something that provides the lightest, most imponderous form of entertainment? Picking an urban pop song( as I now call most rap) with some old old wooden ship and a meaning is about as arduous a task as getting Snoop Dogg to stop appearing in Katy Perry videos or making people sweat.

The appearance of the 2Pac hologram at Coachella this year marks just how regressed the rap scene has become. Minimal beats with no distinction or 4/4 dance type tracks with Trance synths. For all the innovation and entrepreneurism shown by the early black youth of America, their feuding and subsequent killing of their two biggest stars led to a void that has not been filled and an artistic direction that appealed to an even more naive and acceptant middle class white America.

While it seemed Dr Dre had peaked in his Death Row years, he unearthed a new gem upon which to bestow, what were for the most part, incredible music productions. This was of course Eminem and while his lyrical dexterity for his first two albums were near flawless, as a rapper he is now a complete non-entity yet never more popular. I think the last thing I heard him say in a song was:

”But you lied again, now you get to watch her leave out the window. I guess that’s why they call it ”window pane”

Really Marshall??

It would appear that people don’t want to think about content. The buying/illegally downloading public don’t want to hear it and the performers don’t want to write it. A classic example being pretty much anything Nicki Minaj has ever written since the inception of her career with the exception of her verse on Kanye West’s ”Monster”. If someone has a justifiable and substantiated argument as to how this qualifies as music I’m willing to listen to what you have to say. But it better be good.

If you look at the views on the above track you will see it has 19 million plus. It’s staggering when you listen to some of the actual lyrics:

I spit like crack, like I’m in that trap so if you need a hit then I’m with the bat 

I can write that. My mother could write that. Even Shooter McGavin came up with better than that.

On the other hand, the greatest ever rap duo Gangstarr, have a track called Battle with a beat that puts 4 bars of  Minaj to shame and has lyrics that don’t depend upon on a shambolic appearance from 2 Chainz(one would have been enough thanks) or the listing of various American geographic locations.

Keith Elam aka Guru, was the vocal and lyrical half of Gangstarr. His sad passing in April 2010 went largely un-noticed except for the hardcore or nostalgic fan. When I said to someone recently that I love Gangstarr he said:

I’m not really into NWA and all that kind of gangster stuff

That’s the sad reality of where talent, conviction and a determination not to sell out will get you.

There are so many more artists that deserve a mention here that won’t get it because the post would be longer than a queue for tickets to a Drake concert. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that joke here. Quite the claim:

Last name ever, first name greatest
Like a sprained ankle boy I ain’t nothing to play with
Started off local but thanks to all the haters

So rather than go through them all just listen back to some Wu-Tang, Gangstarr, Rakim, Lord Finesse, Mos Def and all the others before, in or around them.

It sure beats listening to ”Beez In The Trap”, I can guarantee that.