Pale Wire (Popscene)

Friday, April 16, 2004

The World is Yours

Click here to read today's NYTimes article about hip-hop's foothold in Columbia.

Today rap is produced and heard virtually the world over, as young people nearly everywhere mimic the lyrical styles and fashion of America's hottest selling music. Rap has spread across the Spanish-speaking world, too, but in few other countries are rappers as political in their lyrics as they are in Colombia.

"They've become like poet reporters for their neighborhoods," said Ruth Kathryn Henry, who studied Colombian hip-hop as a Fulbright scholar. "They're speaking for the people around them who don't necessarily have a voice."

Sounds like a wet dream for all those white people who like Jurassic 5 and talk about the mythic, halcyon days of "the old school*."

This is real rap, not fake," said Juan Emilio Rodríguez, Cescru Enlace's 30-something leader, who goes by the name 3X. "It is contrarian. It is political. It is not about cars and women. They do not do this in the U.S. anymore. We are doing it."

Yeah, I hate cars. Girls, too.

"I like the rhythm, the beat, the boom, boom, boom," said Waira Zamora, 19, a university student. "I can listen to rap all night long."

Now, here's somebody I can relate to. I bet this kid is down with Lil' Flip**.

*By this they seem to mean any hip-hop that was popular when they were kids, or music made by black people that they find non-threatening. I'm no expert here, but it's my understanding that the phrase old school refers specifically to early 1980s singles by people like Kurtis Blow, Afrikka Bambaataa, Whodini and Mantronix. News Flash: All those songs were about parties, girls, and breakdancing, not bumrushing The System. If you were a nerd and charted it all out, I think Old School (as hip-hop people ((read: black)) talkk about it) would contain all the stuff from "Rapper's Delight" ---> Def Jam's hit machine & Eric B and Rakim. If you know this stuff better than me, please correct me. Meanwhile, let us all listen to "Back in the Day" by Missy Elliott and Jay-Z. It's awesome.

**Is "Game Over" the single of the year? FLIP FLIP FLIP FLIP GAME OVAH~!