This blog is inspired by my moms who kept demanding me to get "those boxes" from out of her basement. Upon finally doing this, (after years of procrastination) i discovered all of my old Hip-Hop mags 1995 - 1997.
July 1996, Reasonable Doubt was just released a month ago, June 25th to be exact, UGK just dropped "Ridin Dirty" their third studio album (7-2-2008), the Funk Jazz Kafe (featured in this magazine) was 2 years old (whats up Jason!), & we were becoming aware of the Brown/Black conflict in the West.
It's very interesting to see how Hip-Hop was portrayed over a decade ago vs present. First and foremost, it's great to see that Hip-Hop is no longer a vehicle to sale malt liquor! (those St. Ides commercials were the isht though) The objectification of women was not being used to sale Hip-Hop or validate Hip-Hop artists and Materialism (cars, bling, namebrand clothing) hadn't established it's foothold.
At this point (July 1996) Hip-Hop gladly welcomed 3 Emcees who we(I) believed were coming to save the genre. Enter De La Soul and their fourth studio album, Stakes is High, delivered 7 years after their gallant debut album, "3 ft. High & Rising." This was the anti-Puffy, stop jocking "Only Built for Cuban Links", introducing Mos Def, production by J Dilla, question emcees lyrical ability, no more Prince Paul opus created by three of the decidedly most daring emcees in the game. Unfortunately, they were unable to stop the onslaught of commercialization of the genre that we've come today to know as hip hop(?). At this point, I'd heard P.E. speak on social ills, but I'd never heard emcees critique their own genre so vehemently and confront peers w/o the express purpose of starting beef but to foster a growth for the art that they love...
"I'm sick of b*tches shakin' asses/I'm sick of talkin' about blunts/Sick of Versace glasses/Sick of slang/Sick of half-ass award shoes/sick of name brand clothes/Sick of R&B b*tches over bullisht tracks..."
The Plugs were also dealing with the disollution of The Native Tongues Crew and introduced some of the most talented emcees of today, Common (Sense) and Mos Def.
Hip-Hop was so "real" at the time, that folks were questioning the Plugs intent with "Stakes is High" because they had Zhane guesting on a song, "4 More," which critics said sounded too R&B-ish." It was this type of self-policing that I think many of us appreciated about the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. Now-a-days, everything is feasible as long as it makes money: songs about candy, super heroes, and emcess(scoffs) considered great because they appeared on a record breaking amount of mixtapes. Whatever happened to the Em-Cee...