Tag Archives: hip-hop purist

Yeah, I STILL Buy CD’s

I was just reading a post by Manifesto over at Blackvibes.com, lamenting the pace of technology and how fast things change.  As a grownhead, I truly feel him when he says: 

“I didn’t realize I was in the midst of a media medium shift until about a year and a half ago, when I referenced on Facebook the compact disc wallet I keep in my car, and several friends responded, ‘Who the hell still listens to CDs in their car?’ The concept of only listening to my iPod in the whip was foreign to me then, and remains as such now. 

“I suppose I’m turning into my father — the man who only grudgingly embraces new media; I always make fun of him for just graduating from dial-up Internet less than two years ago and still using as his primary television the one that belonged to his mother-in-law who died in 1994. But am I really much different from a man who still speaks fondly of the 8-track player on his old Buick Century?” 

"What you mean cassettes are out?"


My “Nobody Told Me” moment came about 9 years ago, when I was passing out 15-minute mix tapes to showcase my finesse on the two turntables.  I gave it to one club owner and he looked a little funny, then said, “I gotta find a tapedeck to play this in.” 

Manifesto isn’t alone in bemoaning the death of CDs.  A download is convenient, but there just isn’t that sense of permanence that comes from holding the CD of the artist; reading the liner notes, peeping the cover art. MP3s just don’t give you the same level of knowledge of the album.  

Even artists seem to be leaving the format behind.  Talib Kweli only released his new CD Gutter Rainbows in digital format (at least, here in the States).  I was kickin it with our own Hip Hop Purist a while back and he was telling me his misadventures of trying to get an actual hardcopy of Blu & Exile’s debut album “Below the Heavens.” Long story short, he downloaded it.  

Like Manifesto, I just gotta say I’m fighting the good fight–but things aren’t looking so great for our hero. 


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Fly Like Egyptian Musk…

I swear I can’t remember his first name, but I am pretty sure his last name was “X”. I do know that he worked in the cafeteria at Alabama A&M University my freshman year. I do know that he sold me my first vial of Egyptian Musk. And I am pretty sure he did not eat barbecued pork skins.

That was the year that I realized I was not so weird after all. Other people also hated the songs on the radio. Other people could care less about ironing their clothes. Other people scheduled their classes around Rap City. Freshman year felt like home.

If I could only remember his name, I would tell you that this dude looked at me and talked to me and drew some conclusions. Hindsight tells me he was trying to recruit me into selling The Final Call. But my freshman state of mind thought this nameless person thought I was smart enough to take in extra “information”. So one day, he invited me into his dorm room to meet with a discussion group.

Louis Farrakhan
The Honorable Louis Eugene Walcott

I had a few Louis Eugene Walcott tapes that I would play from time to time so I was familiar with the info. Back then, rappers also quoted and sampled Mr. Walcott. Hell, even Chuck D was a follower.

I felt I was armed and ready for this discussion. He who shall remain Nameless got a question from another group member and the conversation turned to “The Mother Plane“. Nameless dude damn near locked his doors and closed his windows and whispered all info dealing with “The Mother Plane”. I felt privileged to hear about it.

The thing I remembered the most was I had to watch my weight because the beam that was gonna lift me up to heaven could only lift 150 lbs.
For a long time after that meeting, I was afraid to speak about what I learned. I thought the S1Ws might come and murder me in my sleep or something.

I was a pantheist back then. I still played around with the concept of God. So I was always searching for better, more logical answers to my God questions. After the secret “Mother Plane” meeting, I knew nameless dude could provide no answers.

Years later, I ordered Freestyle Fellowship’s first tape “To Whom It May Concern” because I was so impressed by their second tape “Innercity Griots”. Two songs stole the show on “To Whom..” On a song called “For No Reason,” P.E.A.C.E. detailed killing people because they provoked him in ways only he could understand:

I’m on the next block, murderin’ nonstop
saw some fools in a flock so I threw a rock
to see if they would move, but they didn’t
BANG! good riddance.


The second song that garnered much accolades from me was Mikah 9’s “7th Seal”.

When I first heard the song, I was transforming into the atheist I am today. I had long abandoned the concepts in the song. I somehow misplaced my Mr. Walcott tapes. I even misplaced the name of the Egyptian Musk seller. But that song was bumped then and still is bumped now because of the subject matter and how it was so artfully handled. Ellay Khule mentioned that song as a turning point.

7th Seal blew everybody’s mind for at least 2 years straight. People studied that shit backwards and forwards — even we don’t know all those words. That made everybody say like ‘I gotta get a tape out’ or ‘I can’t rap like so-and-so no more. I can’t be in 80s, now we movin’ to the 90s.’ That totally transferred our musical thought.”

It is funny how certain songs unintentionally document so many things. That song came out in 91. The secret meeting took place in 93. My memory maps that song to that meeting every time I hear the beat. To this day, I am always tempted to ask the stouter members of the Nation if they are aware of the mother plane’s tractor beam. I never do though, because I’m still afraid of Professor Griff.

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The Hip Hop Purist: In Search of….Music (back in the day)

I was a fiend…

Back in my college days at Alabama A&M University, I became the Internet junkie I am today. I started out chatting on wbs.net. I even battled on thalandz.com and argued in the forums on davyd.com. But the thing I was most interested in was hearing hard-to-find music.

I would scour campus looking for the best computers with the best connections. I hated when my wbs chat sessions were halted because of ram or connectivity issues. Eventually I found some computers that were worthy of my time. They were in one of the chemistry labs and in the physics labs. I knew some people so I would stay in there after hours, continuing my argumentation sessions. These computers were nice and fast. And I soon discovered they had some software installed on them that the other computers did not have. Something called RealPlayer.

During this time of my life, I was a serious Freestyle Fellowship fan. These dudes could do no wrong. Around this time I just got my copy of “All Balls Don’t Bounce.” I remember the excitement of having the cassette tape in my Walkman for the first time. But what was even more exciting was being able to listen to the unreleased stuff that was out there.

The name of my favorite site has escaped my memory, but I had daily sessions with RealPlayer listening to obscure underground music from the West Coast. Every time I saw “buffering” show up on the little interface, I got angry. These computers were fast enough to let me chat freely and they zipped from site to site with lightening speed, but my songs had to pause because of something called buffering.

So one day, I go to this site and it has been updated with a Mikah 9 song. My eyes widened as my mouse clicked — more buffering! I had to have spent an hour listening to “The Fruit Don’t Fall” in bits and pieces. The sound quality was terrible (mad hiss and mad static). All of this did not matter. For the longest, I devoted time to try to listen to it daily.

Mikah impressed me probably more than any other Fellowship member (Mikah and P.E.A.C.E. are probably tied in reality). He was the one always trying to be different. He would sing a song (“Park Bench People”), mix singing and rapping (“Mary” — where Bone Thugs got their style from), then rap fast while still remaining lyrically potent (“Way Cool”).

“Fruit Don’t Fall” had no video, no radio play. It was not for sale. I could not listen to it on my headphones or in my 88 Ford Tempo. My only access to this song was via an Internet-connected computer with RealPlayer software on it. I don’t even think I actually heard “Fruit Don’t Fall” uninterrupted in it’s entirety until I bought the Timetable album years later. Guess what? Worth it.

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Grownhead Convo: Busta Won’t Make Hall of Fame Cut

Yes! Another episode of one our most popular shows (okay are ONLY show) .  Previously we discussed what would be the rules to get into an imaginary Hip Hall of Fame.  The discussion continued and although we went round and and round on a few things one name popped up that got us REALLY talkin.  Resident Alien drops the bomb. Mr. Busta Bus will not make the cut into the imaginary Hip Hop Hall of  Fame.  Check it out

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The Hip Hop Purist: Death To Autotune (My Story)

Dear Grouch and Eligh,

I downloaded your latest album because I liked the song you had with Blu.  I even liked your poppy video with Pigeon John and Gift of Gab.  So I take my burned copy of your cd and gave it a guilt filled listen in my car one morning on the way to work.  All of a sudden, I did not feel guilty anymore.

Why not have T-Pain appear on your album?  You guys are too fresh for that autotune shit!

On a recent trip to ATL, I was at Criminal Records and I saw your album for sale.  I picked it up and that new Brother Ali.  Then I remembered the autotune.  My facial expression morphed into it’s “I smell something that really stinks” version and I placed your cd back on the rack out of alphabetical order (sorry people that work at Criminal).

I still play that track with Blu though.

Better luck next album.


Tha Hip Hop Purist

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The HIP-HOP PURIST: Niggy Tardust—Brother From Another Planet

I am not a fan of slam poetry.
I am not a fan of slam poetry.
I am not a fan… of slam poe-treeeeeee.

What is so funny is that I used to write poetry, before these candle-burning, finger-snapping Love Jones clones decided they could write poetry too.

But I got sick of the sugary drivel used to illicit offers of sex from the audience. A poem is supposed to be about your insides being displayed through your voice. Most of the stuff I heard at readings I used to participate in was trite at best.

The black power “readers of scripts,” vying for who is the “most down” with their weak attempts at writing, were a breath of fresh air compared to the hormonal attempts at defining what love really is from souls indoctrinated by years of R&B.

Needless to say, I stopped writing poetry. I looked at my old stuff as being just as banal as the people I criticized. I was not looking deeply enough into myself. I did not want to be one of “them.” So when Saul Williams was crowned king of the capri pants and sandals subculture, I ignored him. I ignored his albums. I ignored the movie “Slam.” I even ignored when he guest-emceed on other people’s songs.

I now see that was a mistake.

I downloaded “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust” off the recommendation of a coworker. I liked how they were distributing the album (only electronically over the net with a .pdf version of liner notes – similar to Radiohead). Initially, I was not impressed because Saul was associated with it, along with the fact that there is a lot of singing and I would not consider some of the beats “hip hop.” Then I gave him a chance.

The first three tracks were on HEAVY rotation in my car for at least 3 months. “Black History Month” is a fitting intro to the album. The industrial Trent Reznor beat is hypnotic and Saul’s tribute to the muse with his first words – “Can you feel it/ nothing can save ya,” pays respect to hip hop in general. The production and hook (“The banana peels are carefully placed / so keep your shell toes carefully laced”) gets you amped. The beat breaks down to only Saul’s voice saying “Turn up the bay-bass!” towards the end. He then gives his version of the origin of hip hop, ending it with “Let these suckas know the cost of making Harriet run / Let the North Star be your guiding post when turned from the sun / Until knowledge reigns supreme over nearly everyone!”

The production on the second track is friggin’ insane. Saul sings on “Convict Colony” to a beat too beautiful to describe with words. When I say beautiful, I am not talking about pretty. I am talking about vividly and explosively exceptional. You know, the beauty that is the goal of all artistic (and dare I say human) expression. If you know what a convict colony is, the lyrics are easy to understand.

The 3rd track is the stand-out piece to me. What’s so crazy is the beat is just a loop. Well, I shouldn’t say that, because it is a Public Enemy loop (I wonder how much they charged for the sample?). If you don’t know about the song “Welcome to the Terrordome,” you should learn about it. “Tr(n)igga” is the reason I arrive at work sweating, with my voice on the verge of being hoarse. I really should not listen to that song in my car. In the second verse, Saul asks “Would Jesus Christ come back American? / What if he’s Iraqi and here again?”

I instantly think of all the people who ignore all the scriptures of Jesus that emphasize peace and love to memorize the fire and brimstone intolerance of P(S)aul (eerie, ain’t it?). The beat then goes into a muffled bass line and Saul is again interrogative: “What do you teach your children about me? What do you teach your little children about me? Pimp? Thug? Bling druglord of the underground decay? How can you be so sure I won’t call down the rain?”

The beat comes back and Saul gets more forceful with his interrogation. This is where I start screaming the hook along with him. It never fails. I think I am the target audience for this song. Other stand out songs are “WTF” (the beat breaks down nicely), “Raised To Be Lowered,” “Skin Of a Drum,” “Niggy Tardust” and “DNA.” Although he is not “rapping” on most of the songs, the lyrics are on point.

This album is not available in stores, so you have to download it to hear it (it costs 5$). My endorsement of this album means more because I did not want to like it initially. I now have to convince myself not to listen to it.

And oh — one day in Wal-Mart, I saw “Slam” on sale. I bought it. I liked it.

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