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Thursday, May 05, 2005 

The Wrong Part About Idolizing Dead Artists

According to Jadakiss, “dead rappers are selling more” than the ones living. True indeed. Listening to “Still Dreaming”, a song that blends old vocals of past gone artists like ODB, 2Pac, B.I.G., Eazy-E, Big L, etc, I’m constantly reminded of the exaggerated relevance of deceased rappers in today’s popular culture. As my interest in the song piques, I observe a baffling source of appeal - it's not Big L’s impetuous flow, not Pac’s incisive lyrics, not Biggie’ s intimidating voice; it’s the common factor that they’ve all kicked the bucket. Imagine the effect an entire album by a deceased artist has on the average music fan.
Eight posthumous ‘Pac albums later, and millions of copies of Biggie’ s classics sold, Hip Hop seems to be enforcing the same advice to the next generation - to forever appreciate those we’ve lost, regardless of quality. Many Rap websites refer to Big Pun as the Greatest of All Time. Pun is definitely a top 10 'lyricist' but I refuse to rank him far above Rakim in any way. Tons of Rap forums have crowned the talented Notorious B.I.G. the King of NY and Hip Hop in general with no respect whatsoever to NaS,Kool G. Rap or KRS-One. Eazy-E is a household name in the U.S and there‘s no arguing that people in Soweto are familiar with Tupac Shakur, but I doubt that many Hip Hop loyalists here in America have even heard of Gift of Gab - who is easily one of the most creative artists that hails from the West Coast. If we toss Lauryn Hill as much props as we do Left-Eye, maybe L’ Boogie will return to the game very soon with some gems for our listening pleasure.
Nay-Sayers will be quick to profess that I’m all for disregarding the significance of our fallen heroes, but, my argument is a very comprehensible one - marketing appeal should be more about recognizing good music , than appreciating the artist behind the music, dead or alive. Paying homage to those we’ve lost in the game will forever be a part of the culture. In fact, it’s an essential part of history meant to enlighten the younger listeners. However , it should never be the sole priority etched in stone, while living and equally proficient artists compete with ready-made material from our deceased soldiers. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing.
“They say they never really miss you till you either dead or you’re gone” -
Jay-Z (December 4th)

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