October 7, 2003
Another Angry Rant from Grandpa Simpson
I started writing this as a reply in an earlier post, but it's gotten long enough to require a space of its own. In response to a rather, uhh, colorful denouncement of the anticon scene, 1200th Hobo wrote:
The simple fact that you said "art-fag shit" shows simple-mindedness and the sad state of this bullshit hip hop culture. As long as Nelly is selling albums to third grade girls, hip hop is dead. EL-P is only underground because he saw the direction the movement was taking. He could easily be signed with Rawkus and making a video on an mtv special.
Although I don't support "art-fag" epithets, I must say the noxious elitism emanating from above is exactly what has alienated so many people from anticon and the subculture they have come to represent.
"As long as Nelly is selling albums to third grade girls, hip hop is dead..."
The only thing that should be obvious to "anyone of average intelligence" is that musical taste is entirely subjective, and by definition nobody's taste can be more or less intelligent than anyone else's. A preference for Anticon doesn't make you any smarter than a preference for Nelly.
Personally I am not a big fan of either, and I'd say each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Anticon places much more emphasis on lyrical exploration, to be sure, but to my ears Nelly is more rhythmically and musically compelling (though compared to lots of other hip-hop he may be sub-par on these levels as well). I find most anticon material lacking in musicality and richness of rhythm, missing the vibrant sonic texture that is usually hip-hop's greatest strength. It generally appeals to me more if I think of it as "spoken word" rather than Hip-Hop.
But that is just my opinion. No more or less valid than anyone else's. I don't believe I am right about this music and other people are wrong. The only time anyone can be wrong about their musical taste is in the belief that they are right, in any objective sense.
Just to be clear, I'm certainly not saying that everyone associated with anticon exhibits these traits, nor do all or even most of their fans. That scene has no monopoly on this brand of delusional arrogance, you can find it in every corner of the Hip-Hop nation. And this vibe always saddens me, because I can remember when the lite comedy rap of the Fat Boys, the smooth R&B rap of Whodini, and the straight-up hardcore sound of Run-DMC could all share the same stage and rock the same crowd without anybody worrying about which style was "true" or "real". We were proud of this incredible music we had created, in all its forms, and celebrated its diversity instead of being frightened by it.
Since then Hip-Hop has grown so much, and expanded to embrace so many different styles and sounds, and this is a beautiful thing. But instead of taking pride in this growth we react with fear and segregate ourselves, retreating into separate camps and proclaiming that only those in our little tent represent "real hip-hop", and anyone else is a traitor helping to kill the culture. Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of Hip-Hop's (d)evolution into a billion dollar industry, and its incorporation into the American mainstream. But it really depresses me.