What if I told you Hip Hop is in another golden age? Every generation of music is an answer to the generation before it. The divide between tastes of the young kids coming up and the new old heads is proof a changing of the guard took place. This is Hip Hop’s first true Internet era. I think about how Napster ushered in the 21st Century by obliterating the music industry; more or less giving the world access to every piece of music ever recorded. I think about that and wonder what kind of effect that single event had on the way music in the 21st Century evolved.
Hip Hop just isn’t the same anymore. We can literally all agree on that. And Good Kid M.A.A.D City is one of the most important markers of its evolution. This shit is dope. Years from now we’ll talk about it like a myth. I mean let’s talk about how, before the release, Kendrick shed tears on stage as Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Game passed him the torch. Like a ritual. West Coast alumni of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s all gathered around this kid to to tell the world he’s next. This kid who sat on his father’s shoulders and watched ‘Pac perform on the set of California Love was given the biggest shoes in the world to fill. And he did that thing.
Something really interesting happened to Hip Hop. The death of the CD is part of a ripple effect that started with Napster. This is a playlist world now. And the artistry changed with that. Our era is one of blurred lines. This is the “get you a _____ that can do both” era. There’s no such thing as genres. There’s no such thing as regions. There’s no such thing as rules or labels basically. We don’t know who’s rapping, we don’t know who’s singing, we can’t tell who’s from where, and stylistically just about anything goes. And as the young artists break every traditional convention of Hip Hop and the old heads reminisce about what things used to be, we got us a rapper that does both. Good Kid M.A.A.D City was the start of the masterful tightrope act that is Kendrick Lamar’s career. How can one rapper sound like an East Coast artist like Nas, a West Coast artist like Ice Cube, a Midwest artist like Eminem, or down South artists like Outkast? How is it that he has the message 80’s Hip Hop fans felt the genre lost, the grit 90’s Hip Hop fans feel is missing, and the flash of 00’s Hip Hop? All of that and he speaks the language of the youth today.
The industry isn’t the same. It broke apart and right this moment we are witnessing it come back together as something new entirely. And I look at Dr. Dre as almost a Steve Jobs figure in Hip Hop in that he comes out every few years to reveal his latest product; one that goes on to revolutionize the industry. And Kendrick Lamar is like the latest iPhone.
Happy Birthday to Good Kidd M.A.A.D City!
It’s hot out.
I mean that less in the sense of this October heat our Indian summers provide us and more in the sense of the general spirit felt. They found gold here. And from then on it’s as if this was a place one could always find gold in. “Staying true to yourself,” I told a customer when she asked what True means. I was only a couple of days into the job and unsure if that was actually the right answer. But, given the shop’s 21 year-run in a city being gutted of everything true to it, whether or not that was the intended meaning,
it is a meaning so rightfully earned.
The city not being what it was is a song we all sing in tandem. For those that used to be young and those that currently are, the shop retains a rare familiar feeling. There was gold out here and the natives could tell you just how dug up and excavated the city feels as a result. I could tell you where to find some if I wanted to, though. When I say it’s hot out, I mean in the sense that there’s a fire under so many of us. I believe every action we take echoes through time and there’s a certain do-it-yourself spirit out here that hums through every body. It’s damn near a prerequisite to have a hustle not unlike those pans in the river sifting through rocks, is all I’m saying. And the city is scattered with creatives: all with the common goal of making something out of nothing.
Gold doesn’t rust nor does it tarnish. And there are certain characteristics of where we live that, even among this rapid change, just can’t be shaken. I think about the ground we walk on and who populated it. It was Too $hort selling cassettes out of his trunk in the 80’s because he wanted to do it himself. It was Allen Ginsberg howling from his typewriter in the 50’s, daring to think for himself. It was Harvey Milk daring to be himself in the 70’s and Tupac Shakur daring to risk himself, just him against the world, in the 90’s. It was James Baldwin touching down to meet with Huey Newton in the 60’s, daring to free themselves while just a few neighborhoods over, artists like Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia dared to express themselves. Why so much gold here of all places? That I don’t know. But I do know I see a certain glow in the generation walking that same ground today.
True birthed a culture in 1996.
Streetwear didn’t exist in the Haight until then. We just took matters into our own hands, per tradition I guess. Making something where there was nothing, today the neighborhood is home to a prominent streetwear scene and a handful of shops both national and international that got their start on True shelves. As any young knucklehead that wants to make something for himself and of himself would feel, I am honored to play a role in this. While navigating, documenting, and taking part in the creative scene, I often find myself searching for gold. And the shop is proof that there’s still some scattered about if you’re looking for it. Stay true to yourself.
That’s an idea that just won’t tarnish.
My name’s T and I’ll be blogging for True from now on, stay tuned!
Amazing new music out these days from Bay Area legend Prozack Turner, Canada’s rising stars Live Evil, and our fam Eric Boss. Check the vids below, support, & spread that good music around the globe y’all. Enjoy!
Prozack Turner – Obsession
Live Evil – Throw It feat. P-Lo
Eric Boss – Closer To The Spirit
Some dope new joints out these days — support these artists and their music!
Del The Funky Homosapien | Moka Only | The Gaff | Late Night Radio
T3 | Teeko | Ruckazoid
Leon Rockmore | Clenz Roc | P-Trix
Small World Ft. Del The Funky Homosapien, Moka Only, & The Gaff (Produced by Late Night Radio)
Leon Rockmore “One Percent” Feat. Clenz Roc + P-Trix
Amazing new tracks out these days — support these artists and their music!
Thes One & DJ Day – Náufrago EP
Tall Black Guy – There Is No Love Without Love
Shiftee – Boom Bap & Beyond EP
Some great new tunes out these days — support these artists and their music!
Shay Lia – Blue (prod. KAYTRANADA, BADBADNOTGOOD)
BOILER ROOM – Quantic Boiler Room x Budweiser Los Angeles DJ Set
Cutty Ranks – Limb By Limb (Nick Bike x The Stunt Man Remix)