Friday, March 28, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Stakes Is High
Artist: De La Soul
Album: Stakes Is High (1996)

Just as Common paints a picture of the progression of Hip Hop with the seminal I Used To Love HER, De La Soul does the same for the members of the rap game with the title track from their very much underrated 1996 release.

As a matter of fact, De La Soul as a whole is very much underrated. I got a chance to see these cats live in London (England not Ontario) a couple years back and it was one of the best performances I've seen. Stakes ended the show.

The song deals with what De La Soul saw as a decline not only in hip hop the music, but hip hop the culture at that time. Twelve years after being released, it's sad that many of the things Plug One and Two talk about over Plug Three's beats still are relevant complaints about hip hop today:

Gun control means using both hands in my land

I'm sick of bitches shakin' asses
I'm sick of talkin' about blunts,
Sick of Versace glasses,
Sick of slang,
Sick of half-ass awards shows,
Sick of name brand clothes.
Sick of R&B bitches over bullshit tracks,
Cocaine and crack
Which brings sickness to blacks,
Sick of swoll' head rappers
With their sicker-than raps
Clappers and gats
Makin' the whole sick world collapse

Loving to love mad sex, loving to love guns
Love for opposite, love for fame and wealth
Love for the fact of no longer loving yourself, kid

I say G's are making figures at a high regard
And niggas dying for it nowadays ain't odd
Investing in fantasies and not God
Welcome to reality, see times is hard

Honestly, tell me these lyrics don't translate to the state of the rap game today? All the same stereotypes and shortcomings delivered a decade ago are maybe even more prevalent and relevant today.

Some people may call the lyrics of this song sour grapes; pointed retorts to those that made it to the mainstream and big dollars from a group that seemingly plateaued in the middle. Personally, I don't think that's what it is. To me, this is a three guys seeing what they love being marginalized and materialized and voicing their displeasure with it.

In short, this is what we need more of in hip hop today.


Newt said...

I had a friend in college named Corey. He was the biggest hip hop fan I had ever met. This kid had every tape and CD you could want and he knew them all inside and out. De La Soul were one of his fav's and I remember him always talking about the downfall of hip hop while on its way to the mainstream. While Busta was "woo haw"ing his way to top 10 status in '96 its nice to hear that somebody could still see through the bling and tell it like it was.

Deuce said...

So, ebonics is great when its 'sung'...but yet newfies are stupid? common spence. gimme a break.

sarah said...

Deuce... I think you're missing the point, and I can understand because to some degree Newfies do get a lot of flack for the way they speak and are often stereotyped as being stupid, and 99% of you aren't (just like the rest of the population).

I love the newfie accent, and think the sayings are endearing, even if it has taken me 5 years to understand some of them. But I do agree with Spence that the words used in newfie-speak can make you sound a little dumb.

Neither of us are saying in any way that the people using them are stupid, it's just that they don't follow "proper" english language. It doesn't help that all the skeets around here have the same accent and sayings as the rest of normal newfoundlanders, because it means you tend to all get lumped in to the same category.

That being said, there are tons of dialects in england that sound stupid too (cockney for example). The difference is, over there, in schools, everyone is taught to write differently from the way they speak. Here it seems like the majority of the population isn't taught that. I think it speaks volumes that at UBC I got a 74% in first year english because I had good grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, but my essays were unoriginal and a bit basic. When I got here, I had to do another first year english course and I got an 85% and was asked to do an english major, because I had such good grammar etc. compared to the rest of the class.

I think it's great to be proud of your identity, part of which is the dialect, but being different always garners some amount of criticism. It's also important to realise that there is such a thing as "proper english" and from what I've seen during my 5 years here, many newfoundlanders aren't really taught to use it, even in academic papers.

Sarah said...

oops, I wrote a lot

Deuce said...

fair enough....i need to stop commenting when i'm loaded lol