I was trying to get some fiction writing done over the last few days and I actually made some progress for once. So many ideas to express. Science fiction loaded with intellectual analysis that engaged the reader on more than an emotional level. Drama, character arcs… I’ve had all these idea in my head for a while. Getting them on the page is the difficult part. I need some direct motivation to actually force my hands to the keyboard. Sometimes I listen to music. Actually, a lot of time I listen to music. Like many people my tastes are varied but one of those genres that seems to energize me is old style hip hop and gangsta rap. There is something about it… What is it?
Hip hop emerged in the early 80s as an outgrowth of frustration. Like punk music and several experimental art-house styles of music such as techno hip hop grew from a collection of individuals who were at the low end of the social scale. Poorer urban residents combined Latin, funk, bebop and several original styles and found a new sound, or more accurately a new series of sounds. The effort and the novelty was enough to attract attention but there was something more. The pioneers of this new form of musical expression were often the disenfranchised, the poor, and the most likely to have violence subjected to them. Hip hop was there form of poetry. In many cases it was all they had. it was there platform to complain.
Money and popularity were not the object back in the old days. Irreverence for the system that had treated these people horribly was the point. Whether or not anybody listened to them was largely irrelevant. Like most art forms though, the irreverence proved to be attractive and hip hop became mainstream. Every now and then I listen to “A Tribe Called Quest” or another one of those early hip hop acts. I wish I had the energy. I try to capture a bit of that when I write my sci/fi. Hopefully some of it comes through in my writing. I occasionally wish I could go back to the late 90s, listening to Tupac, DMX and Ruff Ryders. They weren’t the earliest examples but they were the last true representatives of the old school. I still remember hanging over at my boy’s house in West Philly, in the middle of the ghetto, down in the basement, spitting rhymes… no bullshit, no pretence, no trying to self promote… just chillin’, fuck everything else….