Last week, the blog TheLoop21 posted a article that posited that Talib Kweli, and backpack rappers in general, where no longer “conscious” rappers anymore, instead getting down with commercial rappers for bank. The blogger sort of had a point–Talib did just do a track with Gucci Mane–but the offending track is actually a pretty good song. It’s not like Talib sold out for garbage. And using Lauryn Hill as an ideal would have made since 11 years ago, when hip-hop wasn’t pop music.
At any rate, Talib got fired up by the article, sending in the below response:
”I have been working on my new album, Prisoner Of Conscious since the summer began. It is a title I have had floating in my head for quite some time, but it is even more relevant right now. Hip Hop is like bipartisan politics these days. Everyone chooses sides and argues for the sake of the argument, not to actually achieve any clarity.
I am a man and an artist of the people. When I say that, I do not just mean people I agree with, people who understand me or people I can relate to. I mean the people in the truest sense of the term. This philosophy, although professed by many intellectuals, is lost on them. They would rather judge the masses as a foolish body, greatly in need of their intellectual musings. Any public figure who attracts a crowd of people should be examined, and if they are smart about their business they are to be respected. Respect transcends personal taste, you can and often should respect your enemy.
Now I don’t know Mychal Smith, but what I do know is he is a blogger that follows me on Twitter, and I guess my decision to record with Gucci Mane bothered him enough to blog about it, declaring my move a part of the demise of the conscious rapper.
I offer a different take. I say people like Mychal Smith are every bit as caught up in the flashing lights as the “ignorant” masses they like to judge. Instead of celebrating it, they get joy from speaking against it. They truly believe not liking Gucci Mane makes them intellectually superior to say, some chic down south. They pay so much attention to what they perceive to be negative, based on a limited world view, that they miss the positive, even when it’s right in their face.”
It’s an interesting debate that doesn’t get discussed much in hip-hop, as most of the cultural debate is over Drake and whether Jay-Z is still any good. What do you guys think? Has the era of the conscious rapper died?