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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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False Saviors
Friday, August 24, 2007

There’s been a pretty constant rhetoric for the past half decade about how Hip-Hop needs saving. Everyone is quick to anoint new artists as the next big thing, or the potential saviors of Hip-Hop. The truth of the matter is no one can live up to such initial pressures and in the past few years a number of artists have failed miserably under such conditions. Today I’m taking a look at five of those artists.

Papoose – Despite having a terrible rap name, Papoose burst on to the scene thanks to the backing of DJ Kayslay. The Drama King had Papoose everywhere and even had people convinced that he would be the one to be the next king of New York. A funny thing happened on the way to the throne, though, people stopped listening to the hype and started listening to Papoose’s lyrics and realized he was fairly regular. One verse where he rhymed about the tattoos on his fingers on the “Touch It” remix later and Papoose was nothing more than a memory. He’s still signed to a major, but he’s clearly no savior.

Little Brother – In the past half decade Little Brother is one of the very few groups that have managed to bubble their way up from the underground to the mainstream. Well, they almost made it to the mainstream. The North Carolina trio made a name for itself as being “the next Tribe Called Quest,” but once signed to Atlantic they couldn’t make that buzz work for them as their album flopped and now 9th Wonder won’t even talk about the group. Atlantic did everything they could to try to make Little Brother huge, but in the end it turned out nobody really wanted to hear a Native Tongues cover band.

Lupe Fiasco – I really hate to put Lupe in this mix of artists, but for all the hard work Atlantic did for Little Brother they completely dropped the ball with Lupe Fiasco. Lupe had all the buzz in the world, and not only that it was justifiable buzz. The critics loved him and he seemed perfect for the role “quiet guy but dope MC.” “Kick, Push” was a monstrous hit, but Atlantic held the album, waiting to put out a second single. The second single didn’t hit, they released the album anyways and rather than being a platinum success Lupe fell through the cracks, going from potential top MC to niche artist.

Termanology – After flooding the streets with mix-CDs Termanology became an artist on the tip of a lot of people’s tongues when it came to who was going to be the next great MC. Then he disappeared. Sure he’s still releasing mix-CDs, but his buzz vanished in a matter of seconds. I knew at least one writer who was incredibly hyped about Termanology, but I bet if I asked what he thought of him today his response would either be “I don’t check for him anymore,” or the much simpler one word reply of “who?”

Tru-Life – Honestly, this is one rapper where I have no idea where his buzz came from. Every time I hear him in interviews, or read an article that quotes him, he’s cursing so much I wonder if he can string a sentence together without dropping an F-Bomb or an N-Bomb. He’s signed to Roc-A-Fella, which is probably where most of the hype comes from, but hasn’t put anything out despite being hyped for literally years. He gets into the occasional fight with a rival rapper, but other than that he does nothing. When it comes to Tru-Life I don’t want to hear any more hype until I can hear an official album because as of now he hasn’t shown us he can do anything other than fight and curse.

Let this be a lesson for all of us. Before we call someone the next great MC let’s make sure they’ve actually done something to warrant such a title. Right now nobody seems to be deserving and because of that we’re struggling to stay afloat in a sea of false saviors.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:56 AM  
  • At 8:54 PM, Blogger I Sort Glass said…

    And that's the way the cookie crumbles...

    We put Adam my boy. Well put.

  • At 6:05 AM, Blogger a-one said…

    on point. even though i still like papoose

  • At 2:36 PM, Blogger David B. Dancy said…

    The cultural gulf is widening. The violent street mentality that emerged from the devastated 'crack' generatiopn has effectivly taken over the truest art form.
    Schools contin ue to close the quality of education continues to go down and the seperate and distinct African american experience will alienate even more people as time marches on.
    Look at the outrage over pit-bull fighting.Something considered passe(even to me).
    I am also a freelance entertainment journalist i covered a Godsmack concert and i could not believe what i was seeing. the hatred and negative imagery was the same but the people were white. I was the only brother there.
    The frenzied crowd could have been easily urged to lynch me.
    All the saviors are gone. No more Hendrixes, Marvin Gayes. Just J-Hoods and Papooses, godsmacks and Panteras.

    Heres to the second coming.


  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks for the comments, but David, any kind of animal cruelty is an outrage and should be viewed as such. Killing for food is something completely different than killing for sport and Vick deserves whatever negativity comes his way for his disgusting actions.

    But back on the point, you're completely right when it comes to hatred filling our music. We need some more uplifiting songs that don't involve putting others down.

  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger Dart Adams said…

    Looking for "saviors" in ANY field is going to lead to disappointment when that person doesn't live up to those impossible standards. The money and hype is too much and the labels are getting in their own ways. Since the business wasn't as large when the seminal emcees and that whole first wave of GREAT lyricists in Hip Hop emerged (1986-1991) we got to see these cats develop and change the game. Lupe, Papoose, Tru Life, Termanology, etc. all have A&R's, executives, lawyers and marketing people completely fucking with them and their creative processes. That is why Paposse asked for his release from Jive and why Tru Life doesn't even have a video out.

    It's not these emcees fault. They don't control the machine. Lupe didn't hype HIMSELF up...he didn't leak his own album either. All he did was make consistent classic material...he has NO say at Atlantic Records.

    Most of your points are moot.


  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Dart, I would just like to ask how all my points can be moot when you just agreed with one of the biggest ones laid out in the first paragraph?

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