During this time of hip hop in the late 80s/ early 90s hip hop was at one of its most balanced points in its history. Many MCs during that time were able to talk about a range of different topics and still keep the crowd moving. The posse track was developed around this time. This is where one would get a range of different MCs together on a song. For example De La Soul’s “Buddy”, Marley Marl’s “The Symphony”, and Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta Remix” would be a perfect examples of the a posse track.
During this time the crack epidemic had hit urban communities with ferocity. The problem of gangs and drug dealing was intensified by the introduction of crack to urban communities. Families were being torn apart by addictions to crack cocaine and the territorial pursuits of those trafficking the product. The violence across the country was getting out of hand from New York to Chicago to L.A to Washington D.C. to New Orleans people were living in the middle of turf wars that would rival Beirut.
In 1989 KRS-One‘s crew Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy were having a concert and someone was killed in a fight. Between this incident and the murder of fellow BDP member Scott La Rock KRS-One felt he had to do something about it. He got together a collection of some of the best East Coast Hip-Hop artists at the time and produced the classic track “Self-Destruction”. The track featured Boogie Down Productions, Stetsasonic, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Just Ice, Heavy D, and Public Enemy with all the proceeds going to the National Urban League. The song and music video stayed in heavy rotation and showed that hip hop could come together and make great music with a message for a worthy cause.
The West Coast during the beginning of hip hop was viewed in more of TV viewpoint. People looked at the West coast as beaches, movie stars, Hollywood, and fun. It wasn’t until movies such as Colors and Boyz N the Hood and artists such as NWA, Ice Cube, and Ice-T that people started to see that the West Coast wasn’t about all about the glamorous life and fun in the sun but a place where the gang problem and crack epidemic were big concerns. The West Coast particularly the Los Angeles area had (and still has somewhat) a very bad gang problem. The Crips and Bloods ravaged much of Southern and some parts of Northern California. These gangs in the pursuit of dominating drug territory were not only killing rival gang members but the innocent people of the community as well. In response to this a large collection of West Coast artists came together to make the classic “We All in the Same Gang”. Produced by the Dr. Dre the song featured King Tee, Body & Soul, Def Jef, Michel’le, Tone-Loc, Above the Law, Ice-T, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Young MC, Digital Underground, Oaktown 357, and MC Hammer.
These two songs and videos showed unity among hip hop artists from both coasts. They took out time to speak to their fans and audiences through their music. We would rush home wanting to see these music videos on Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps just like it was like any of our favorite hip hop videos. Will we get a positive posse track anytime now from today’s current artists? There have been a few attempts since these two songs to recreate that feeling but not with much fan fare or promotion behind it.
Has Hip hop out grown its ability to have some form of consciousness and balance?
This is one of the many deep questions that hip hop has to answer as it continues to mature and evolve. Can artists all come together for a track to speak to the youth that they influence through their music? Or has hip hop totally sold out to capitalism and consumerism to its highest degree? Or do the people who consume the music not even have an interest in hearing anything on the positive tip? If people were looking for artists to be more balanced or conscious in their music wouldn’t they be? Damn its one of those deep philosophical questions like which one came first the chicken or the egg? But, in this case the money or the people…
What do you think about the Hip Hop Positive Song? Do You Think Hip Hop is due for another one?
- Dear Hip Hop,…Will You Speak Out for Trayvon? (ashy2classy.net)
- Damn Biggie, Who Shot Ya?? (ashy2classy.net)
- On Eazy E And Hip-Hop’s Masculinity (dayandadream.com)
- Hip Hop Influence Through the Years (altavozdistroco.com)
- 6 Reasons Why I Think Drake Is The Best Rapper In The Game (Right Now) (brotherswithnogame.com)