Song: 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.