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August 13, 2002

Can't see it coming down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry

The negro we love to hate, Toure, had a big piece in Sunday's NY times.

So many people bash him I almost feel bad to join in. I think Toure is a really bright guy, and might be a great writer on other topics. But I can't deny his career as a "hip-hop journalist" has yielded some of the worst, most pretentious writing I've ever seen. He really deserves a lot of the hate.

This new piece is actually not too Toure standards. But since someone on okayplayer asked for my opinion...

Here is Toure's article...

And here is my angry rebuttal:

1. First of all I always have questions about a writer who takes a couple of artists that nobody really cares about yet except some critics and industry people (and web nerds like us), lumps them together and tries this hard to hype them up as a "movement", then starts appointing leaders and spokesmen for this "movement" he discovered.

2. Toure is pushing this notion that there is a "movement" to shift from Hip-Hop to Rock, this is obviously the "angle" he used to convince the times the piece was worthwhile. But he does a lousy job of backing up and exploring that premise because none of the people he interviews were ever a part of hip-hop to begin with, and never would have been (except a brief quote from kamaal which did nothing to backup the premise).

He starts out by referencing Mos Def, Goodie Mob and Outkast, why are none of them quoted? If you want to illustrate how and why artists have become alienated from hip-hop, but you only interview artists who never were hip-hop in the first place, this is self-serving and specious.

3. I'm gonna give these artists the benefit of the doubt on the quotes in here, cuz it's quite likely Toure was asking leading questions to elicit quotes that would bolster his premise. BUT, When Toure claims that Rock has more emotional range than Hip-Hop the reasoning he offers to back up is weak as hell.

First he tells us Cody "even mentions that he sometimes cries". Wow, no rapper has ever talked about crying, Right? I can go to OHHLA right now and grab a dozen lyrics to prove this wrong, but I'm sure that's not necessary.

Then he tells us via Martin Luther that "Vulnerability doesn't work at all in hip-hop, You don't want to expose a weakness in that arena." Nobody shows vulnerability in hip-hop? Negro, PLEASE.

Have you ever listened to Will Smith tenderly doting on his child, or Tupac fondly reminiscing about his mother? Heard Puffy or CL or Ice Cube mourning their dead homiez? Heard Ghostface weeping aloud or watched DMX cry onstage in mid-song? Heard Ja Rule asking his girl "what would I be without you"? Heard Eminem admitting all types of emotional problems, just like Bushwick Bill admitted to his suicidal depression ten years before?

I could keep this going all night, without even reaching for any "underground" or "conscious" emcees.

(and I'm not even gonna MENTION anticon.)


The more I think about this piece, the less I like it. He offers a half-baked premise, pads it with quotes that don't really apply, then pulls it all together by peddling antiquated stereotypes. I really dig all the new artists he interviewed here, and it would do them a terrible disservice if the media keeps steering them towards using hip-hop as the reference point for defining themselves and validating their expression.

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