Will Hip Hop Last another 20 years?
By Shemia, www.innercosmetics.com
Inner Cosmetics: As you know I have had the pleasure of being a listener and a supporter since your album (cd) "The Devil Made Me Do It"...so we are pleased that you are still with us...PARIS. Your political and social analysis through lyrics was looked upon fondly in the 90s...Each artist has a unique style, yet in 2003...ESCAPISM seems to be the main focus, who and what do you attribute this new trend to?
Well thank you for being supportive, and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. Times have changed, and it's too bad that they’ve changed for the worse. Although some would argue that things are better for some artists now because they are currently making more money than they ever have, we have to pause and pose the question "At what cost?" The main difference now is that hip-hop has turned corporate, and with this new-found success companies have come to realize that hip-hop is a culture-defining medium. Not just culture-defining for Black folks, but for all people--and that's why it's content is now strictly regulated by those who call the shots. It's much easier for them to profit from the ongoing degradation of our communities and to adopt a "business-as-usual" outlook on how hip-hop and Black America is presented then it is to attempt to foster change by introducing artists and material that induce thought. Know that labels and most artists are not friends of the Black community.
Inner Cosmetics: We have researched at Inner Cosmetics, and have discovered that in every other genre longevity is a given in the Music Industry, meaning an artist can be 40 and still be successful without such a stereotype that he/she is "played" out...Why do you think urban art such as Hip Hop has an age limit and time table to when the artist can get in the game, and when they should retire? Is there such a thing as CONTEMPORARY rap?
I think most hip-hop artists outgrow hip-hop as it's presented because there's nothing out currently that anyone with sense can relate to. Hip-hop is dumbed-down now on purpose in an obvious attempt to maintain appeal to a demographic whose loyalty is fleeting at best. This has a great deal to do with why the music industry is currently suffering - there's no longer any reason for folks to hang around it as they mature. Also, the industry does little to endear itself to its audience and often treats it like shit. Add this to the fact that it gouges the listeners by charging too much for sub-standard material, and of course, there will be revolt. That's mainly why people have no reservations about file-sharing. My goal is to give folks good music, with a good message, and put in the effort to be sure that the quality is on the one. Most folks recognize sincerity and will support if they feel they’re being catered to and taken seriously.
Inner Cosmetics: PARIS, you were supposed to come out with your CD last year....can you tell me the title of your CD, and why has there been such a long wait for the fans?
The name of the CD is called "Sonic Jihad," and it's due to be released both online at www.guerrillafunk.com and in-stores on September 23rd. It covers such issues as the black-on-black crime, the New World Order, the manmade origins of AIDS, military lies and propaganda, police brutality and the embarrassing state that hip hop is currently in. Everything has been an uphill struggle with its release. All media outlets have been unsupportive and all labels and traditional forms of distribution have shown resistance. Almost all forms of corporate media have a conservative slant, and they are all transparently supportive of the Bush Administration's Agenda, often serving as little more than a public relations arm of the government. And since the government champions the causes of the conservative corporate elite there is very little room to be heard when an artist says something outside of the misinformation box. So I started Guerrilla Funk. And so far the reaction from the singles leaked on it has been overwhelmingly positive. People are hungering for more from their entertainment. Besides, the entire planet hates this administration...along with more than half of the population of the U.S....so the audience is there. You can check out a preview of the project here: http://www.guerrillafunk.com/paris/sonic_jihad/
Inner Cosmetics: California seems to be more of a "reality" rap vocal point, moreover it is also the State with the most independent record labels, is there still in 2003 a Coastal war, why hasn't California been as successful as the Southern region and Eastern Region?
I don't feel that there's a coastal war anymore. I just think a lot of us got lazy. Remember that the white-owned media added fuel to the fire with that whole situation in the first place, and many of us bought into it. But really, as long as the music is good the audience will give it up. It all gets down to how the music's presented. Also, everything is cyclical - one minute the east is on top, then the west, then the mid-west, then the south, etc. Nobody can lay claim to being on top forever. That's just the nature of it.
Inner Cosmetics: The Source, BET, MTV, Vibe Magazine, XXL magazines were all instrumental in breaking new artists and appealing to Underground music at one point, do you think they have changed to become more of a business and marketing agent? If so, what REAL source can rap fans rely on?
All of the above are corporate entities that are naturally going to gravitate toward where the money is. The money is not with indies, it's with majors, so they reflect what the majors want in their respective content.
Inner Cosmetics: Politics as Usual.........We feel that the youth is just not concerned with the political atmosphere - there was no protest with the Hung Jury, it is as though we are dumbed-down and mummified as a collective. Do you think that the music is medicating the Masses? And what do you feel the youth should be involved in?
Music is influential and does have the effect of medicating us if allowed to do so. Remember that labels choose to promote negativity and non-threatening messages to the public instead of thought-provoking ones. People choose to like certain songs that they’re exposed to out of an available pool of choices. If conscious artists are systematically excluded from the pool, the perception among listeners is that we’re no longer around and that our respective causes have faded. The decision to market and exploit the negative elements of black culture through hip-hop is a conscious one on behalf of people other than us who own the companies. I’m going through this exact dilemma now, as censorship of dissent in post-911 American media is at an all-time high. Rap music dictates popular culture right now, and white-owned companies dictate which artists are allowed a voice. So basically white folks are dictating black culture to black people.
The youth should be more involved in the community and should read more. The more you read, the more you know. Everybody can't be a ballplayer or a rap artist, and everybody is not cut out to hustle through life. Understand that there is NOTHING young folks can try that hasn't already been tried when they opt to take the easy way out. Hard work and dedication towards school and a solid career will allow them to do what they love later--without relying on someone else's money to do it.
Inner Cosmetics: Who is the leader of our youth?
Rap music, the media, and popular culture.
Inner Cosmetics: What techniques do you use to give you peace?
Prayer, family, reading, and music!
Inner Cosmetics: I am a new artist, trying to get into the Entertainment Industry. Tell me some key steps that I would need to break into the Industry.
Read books on it. Start with "Confessions of a Record Producer, 2 Ed: How to Survive the Scams and Shams of the Music Business" by Moses Avalon and “This Business of Music" by M. William Krasilovsky, et al. Treat it like a business, not a hobby, never break your word and be fair in your dealings with people. Also, remember to concentrate on the music, because in the end, all that matters is the song, not a gimmick.
Thanks, PARIS, we are set to do an event and we would love to have you come down with us: The Power of Being a Black Woman is the tour...
Hook it up! I’m always down to get down. Thanks for your time, If your readers want to get hooked up with a sneak preview of the banned album, visit and subscribe to www.guerrillafunk.com.