The above Sonali Aggarwal
directed documentary with the self-explanatory title What Ever Happened to Hip Hop?
poses that eternal question among diehard hip-hop followers about however did hip-hop get from point A
(IE the more conscious, thought-provoking and lyrically loaded music of decades bygone) to point B
(today's more hook driven popular rap). Even though the little viewed documentary was made a few years ago and on a limited budget it is well worth watching and raises some important points especially on the topic of the commodification of the music by major corporations. Most intriguing are the revelation about the artist no-play list
that exists at BET
, and the points raised about the consumption of popular rap via exposure to airplay with the theory that what we think we like is what is familiar and recognizable
- something repetitive airplay will result in.
Also impressive with this documentary is its list of interviewees including KRS-One, Jean Grae, MC Lyte, Afrika Bambaataa, Busy Bee, Slick Rick,
and Kool Keith
who jokes about coming up with the basis of a pop rap hit. Although, as with many interviews with well-meaning longtime hip-hop fans on their beloved subject, the conversation sometimes takes on an elitist tone with some old school heads dismissing everything new as "shit-hop" or "hip-pop." I hear where they are coming from but cannot fully agree as the state of hip-hop - now or anytime before in its 40 year history - is not just black and white issue. It's a lot more complex than that with a lot of grey in between with hip-hop continually evolving and incorporating new elements and nuances.