Knowledge Darts Vol. 28: Every Action Has An Equal And Opposite Reaction

Waka Flocka Flame recently made a statement on ThisIs50 that his failures fall on the shoulders of the Rap generation that came before him for not carving out more of a space and laying a better foundation for those that came afterward. Just one problem, these aren’t the words he used. He pretty much threw shots at “all these old n*ggas that’s poppin’ like they legends.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I remember a saying my elders used that went something to the tune of “speak of the Devil and he shall appear.” What happened next didn’t surprise me in the least, one of those legends Pete Rock aired out Waka Flocka via an Instagram post. It all made for a lot of web content and discourse on social media—but let’s discuss what actually happened here, shall we?

Waka Flocka blamed older artists for not being able to gain more of a foothold in a corporate environment that systematically shut them out from the outset by trapping them in a pattern that closely resembles sharecropping. Waka then essentially blamed his inability to rap with any semblance of skill or proficiency on the older generation of rappers and emcees. This really confounds me because Waka isn’t an 18-year-old kid, he’s actually 31. This man was 10 years old when “Reasonable Doubt” dropped and is the nephew of Bimmy Antney and the son of Debra Antney, both of which had ties to the Rap industry since his birth back in New York so I’m not buying that bullshit. Waka, your uncle Bimmy A&R’d Slick Rick, LL Cool J & Keith Murray albums for Def Jam back when you were a teenager. You were more than exposed to the art of emceeing and Rap to have focused on your craft by now. I’m not buying your bullshit, fam.

I need to address the statement people are throwing around that one generation made “drug dealer music” while the next generation made “drug user music” because it’s an over-simplication of a deeper issue regarding the rapper’s voice/narrative. In previous generations of Rap music, the rapper/emcee was a superhero, larger than life, bragged about everything and rarely explored their feelings for fear of seeming “soft” or “weak.” There were plenty and I mean plenty of rappers that were addicted to and using drugs heavily while on wax claiming to be against it. Rappers would say “crack is wack” in the vocal booth then chill with a gang of crack dealers in a booth at the club later on the same night. It was a natural progression brought around by the advent of social media that broke down the mystique and mystery of the rapper’s voice so rather than mask their many insecurities or hide their flaws from the audience they openly shared their struggles, pain and addictions which endeared them to listeners all the more. Because rappers back in the days hid their drug addiction back in the days rather than be open about it on record is neither here nor there to me. Let’s find some other shit to argue about…

Did the older generation reach out to the younger generation enough? I’ll go with no. But there are reasons why. When the Rap industry divide began back in 1997, the Rap generation gap also widened and widened until it became a chasm by 2002. Also, in 2002 25 million Americans had upgraded from dial up to high speed broadband Internet so they could be online 24/7. With every passing year, that number increased by leaps and bounds until by 2007 over 75% of adults were now regular Internet users and the first wave of smartphones was released. These changes in society and communications technology forever transformed social interaction and adversely affected intergenerational relations since they had so little common ground. The years leading up to this stretch include the Ringtone Rap Era & the Blog Era. Needless to say, the chasm between oldheads and the kids has been broken for well over a decade and it all wasn’t entirely our faults.

Do we both look at the world completely different? Of course we do because the world was completely different then vs. now. Standards that were observed then simply aren’t respected anymore. The rules that were once in place have been long obliterated. So when we say something “isn’t hip hop”… it ISN’T. But the influence of Hip Hop culture has long been removed from the mainstream Rap industry so that’s not much of a surprise. I get that the younger generation would like to be recognized and acknowledged by the generation that came before them and fosters so animosity towards them for not accepting their contributions but it’s not the same game anymore. Also, the older generation was largely removed by corporate interests so what exists now can thrive. Not openly acknowledging that fact adds to the cause of the impasse we’ve now collectively arrived at.

I’m not here for a generational war. Especially one perpetuated by corporations in a space that profits off of Black music and is derived from Hip Hop culture. I wish Waka Flocka was better at being able to vocalize his frustrations with the other generation of rappers/emcees/producers, but by calling older cats out all that was going to happen were responses such as Pete Rock’s. Also, by calling yourself the JAY-Z or Nas of your generation when you aren’t even technically skilled or proficient in your chosen profession is a headscratcher. Please shut the entire fuck up forever. In conclusion, this whole situation could’ve been avoided if these outlets would stop asking the wrong people the wrong damn questions as if anything good will ever come of the answer. Now, let’s all talk about something that actually matters…

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