Dallas Penn: Respect The Architects…

 |  January 26, 2010


Print media that relates to Hip-Hop is having a tough go-at-it in the industry right now. Mainly because the record sales that justified the advertising budgets have all but evaporated. Even the advertorial print model (where music companies pay to have their artists featured in magazines as if it where ‘real’ journalism) is taking a beating. With the industry moving in another direction you would have to crazy to start up a magazine. You would be crazy smart if your magazine were crazy fresh. This new magazine Respect is crazy fresh.

The mag is piloted by former XXL honcho Jon Rheingold and edited by another former XXL enigma, kris ex. It’s unlike any Hip-Hop related mag on the newsstands ever. I would liken this mag to a type of National Geographic for Hip-Hop. The first mag features unpublished images of some of the top acts in rap music right now. I recognize some of the costuming from shoots that were previously published in XXL but these images were the ones that didn’t make it to print previously. They are too provacative in some cases and some of them are too revealing.

I had to stare at the image of a young Foxy Brown for an extra minute longer. There is something sweet, innocent and tragic about her face that was a foreboding of how her career was to spiral but no one could read that at the time, or maybe no one really gave a fux? What you learn from seeing the pics in this mag is that these rap dudes we lionize are only human, born to make mistakes. Ha. That was for my peoples that remember the 1980s. Like really, REALLY remember the 80s. Rap music exists in a constant state of forced nostalgia. No one is ever looking forward. Everyone is always looking back. “Bringing New York rap back.” “Bringing real Hip-Hop back.”

How about, I don’t know, we bring Hip-Hop forward? One of the ways we bring Hip-Hop forward is we recognize the need for the female voice. The true female voice, not the caricature of a woman. The game needs another Lauryn Hill or two. Sheeeeeeeeed, Lauryn Hill needs another Lauryn Hill, but that is beside the point. The reason Drake is such a winner right now is because his content voice is authentic. Drake’s singing/rapping voice is made up, but the content he broaches in his music is real. He’s a young dude enjoying new-found fame in the rap game and he is loving the attention. He doesn’t have to act like a disabled gimp anymore. He is having the time of his life.

The game needs more rappers like Drake, not do much for the happy-go-lucky aspect of his music but for the reality contained in the rhymes. Rappers don’t have to be rich. They just need to keep it real. Do you remember that slogan? It turns out that no one was keeping it real when the phrase was popular. Everyone was posing and pimping in front of rented cars, houses and people that were paid to be on the set. Now Hip-Hop and rap have to reset themselves, but not by going backwards. Its time for the culture to move forwards to a better place. Looking backwards now and again is fine, especially when you want to celebrate some of the artists that have made this Hip-Hop movement so powerful and resonant, but honestly, the only thing that we need to ‘bring back’ in Hip-Hop would be the honesty.