Some Real Hip-Hop For Ya

I'm a firm believer that the antidote for the problems that beset hip-hop lie within hip-hop itself. No bunch of curmudgeonly old heads who don't like hip-hop in the first place has anything constructive to add to the discussion. There's always a place for valid critiques, but if it's all criticism and no analysis of technique, then it's just plain old hate for hate's sake. That's unnecessary. State your beef and widen your focus. If you don't like hip-hop, say so from the beginning and then critique pop culture as a whole. From time to time I will highlight an artist or an album that I think represents what hip-hop can be or should be. This will necessarily entail a rejection of that gangsta-playa-hustler paradigm. (I still like Jigga, though.) Today's entry is J-Live with his 2002 release, All Of The Above. If you need to be reminded that modern-day hip-hop can be everything that we used to like about it, this is a good album for you. Strong lyrics. Thought-out and planned with metaphors that make sense and add to the rhyme. Different rhyme strategies: end rhyme, internal rhyme. This is good stuff. And he sets the baller-player types straight on Do That Shit Now everybody want heaven but nobody want death Shit a lot you kids wouldn't even settle for injured So why you frontin' like you want drama see that shit ain't fly You need to spend a couple nights in a trauma center And did you ever seen a crack baby How bout a 30-year-old woman strung out into a little old lady You see some of these folks that gotta live in these streets today Either shot up, smoked, or sniffed their life away Here you are, talkin' about your triple beam dream It's ironic cause you can't pass eight-grade math You don't know the half, the third, the fourth the fifth Ain't old enough to drive talking about you pushing a six And frontin' like you gotta watch for the narks You gotta watch for your momma when your ass ain't home by dark (c) J-Live Get up on that.