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With the current beef over ghostwriting in hip-hop, here are some thoughts that went out earlier as a set of tweets:

  1. I never had a problem with Dr. Dre rapping lyrics that Ice Cube wrote in NWA – *because* everyone knew that Cube wrote them.
  2. When I was a teen with a rhyme book and a graf book, the worst thing you could be was a “biter.” In other words, Be Original.
  3. Adidas built a multi-year campaign on that concept. But before it was marketing, big-“O” Originality was the bedrock of hip-hop culture.
  4. Whether in dance, lyrics, or graf – coming with something new was the point. In fact, one of the first hip-hop films is called Style Wars.
  5. The idea of rapping another person’s lyrics confounds the raison d’ĂȘtre of being a rapper – putting your own voice out. Being heard.
  6. It’s hard enough for black and brown folks to have a voice in this oppressive society. Then we invented hip-hop.
  7. Rap is not perfect. And it has had carpetbaggers and plagiarism from the very beginning.
  8. The beef between Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is just one example.
  9. Yet rap has a bodily aversion to fakers; it’s one reason Drake has always had haters among purists in spite of demonstrable talent.
  10. Like, “is he really tough? Or is he just saying that on a record?”
  11. But people have also confused realness or authenticity with street-cred. Q.E.D. 50 Cent.
  12. 50 Cent and Drake represent opposite poles of the same thing: an in/ability to express a life-force that transcends the self.
  13. That force: I will call ∞, and some might call God. Expressing that force through hip-hop is important because…
  14. Our bodies and intellects have been denigrated, disparaged by a society that hates us. In response we pick up the mic. We say, “I am here.”
  15. The power of an original voice: hearing it makes you feel just as alive, just as present as the human being emitting it.
  16. The power of an original voice: it shoots straight through the drudge of everyday life and explodes in your brain. They call it dope.
  17. As a fan, it is dope I want. It is dope I demand. In the meantime I’m willing to settle for rap beef. Let’s not confuse the two.
  18. Ghostwriting is small beans. Original expression is art. I want art. From rappers, and everyone else. ∞

All that said, here’s a whole bunch of new hip-hop by artists most of us probably haven’t heard, mixed by DJ Wally Wonder.

© 2006 – 2024 Raafi Rivero.