For years, hip hop has gone down hill. Personally, I believe out of all of the genres it has become the worst amongst pop, rock, country, and everything else but has 2018 seen the rise of what hip hop used to be? Back in the 90s and early 2000s names like Ice Cube and Eminem were huge and to this day those names haven’t lost their wow power. Since the end of 2017 Eminem has made a comeback and solidified his position among hip hop royalty, fondly known by his fans as the “Rap God” or the GOAT (greatest of all time). His album like Revival and most recently Kamikaze on top of the very public beef with MGK has put a much needed breath of life into the rap industry. Not only Em but look at Ice Cube. Ice Cube in the past few years has mostly focused his career in the movie industry but as most people know he got his start in what most people know as the most dangerous music group in the world N.W.A and then he moved onto a solo music career. Ice Cube recently dropped a single called “Arrest the President,” which criticizes President Trump. We’re seeing some of these older rappers making a comeback and it’s an exhilarating feeling for hip hop heads who love this industry. I’m excited for hip hop and the potential that it has now to grow.
“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar.”~Katy Perry (Roar)
“I was lightning before the thunder.”~Imagine Dragons (Thunder)
“I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show.”~ Diana Ross (I’m Coming Out)
As I sit hear listening to Katy Perry’s “Roar” I can’t help but feel like I’m a champion. It’s the power of music, man. Thinking about this I thought of other songs that I’ve been listening to lately and those other two came to my mind. Sometimes life gets hard and like most people I tend to doubt myself a lot, but songs like these are meant to remind you that you can do anything and not to worry about what others think about. I love the lyrics to Imagine Dragon’s “Thunder.” I always interpreted that line “I was lightening before the thunder” to mean I was awesome before I was REALLY awesome. I don’t think I could ever fully explain how powerful music and for those artists who make it their mission to make songs like these truly do make a difference.
Diss tracks have a long drawn out history in the hip hop community. Everyone who is a hip hop fan has their favorite. Right now I could name a few diss tracks that are probably in most people’s top 5. Ice Cube (No Vaseline), Tupac (Hit em Up), Nas (Ether), and I could probably name about a dozen Eminem diss tracks. Speaking of Eminem he’s found himself once again in the middle of a hip hop beef with Machine Gun Kelly aka MGK. This has been an intriguing and interesting battle because no one and I mean NO ONE ever chooses to verbally spar with Eminem in a diss track. It just doesn’t happen. The actual diss track’s back and forth started when Eminem released his surprise album Kamikaze. Eminem made one slight reference/diss to MGK in one line but MGK decided to come at Eminem in a whole diss song. I listened to it, amd I can’t lie that it eventually grew on me but I’m also a life long Eminem fan forever and always. As it started to seem that Eminem wasn’t going to fire back after 2 weeks had passed I think everyone started to assume that MGK had won. MGK threw some shots at Em that did question his character. As a fan I started to question his character, but he FINALLY came back with a diss song called Killshot. Eminem basically put MGK in his place. There was a slight satisfaction for me. If you had any doubt that Em had lost his touch then you were greatly mistaken. I read comments online and one thing that I can agree with wholeheartedly is that Em is bringing real music back. I think that’s his main mission. Eminem has made it no secret that he hates these mumble rappers that are getting more clout these days than real artists. Something definitely needs to change within the music industry. I don’t even see how some of these rappers got a record deal but that’s for another discussion. I’m definitely curious to see if MGK fires back with another diss track, but what I get from Em’s diss track and his recent interview with radio personality Sway he’s done with MGK and has no time for little boys.
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Religion is an interesting topic. Religion can be used for good, but it can also be used for evil means. As I finished watching the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale based on the novel by Margaret Atwood this is a thought that kept replaying in my head. These characters in this story are using religion for their twisted and perverse means. The premise of the story is of this dystopian world where women are no longer allowed to read and you have these women that are known as handmaid’s whose main role is to give their bodies over to this couple who can’t have children of their own. They’re not seen as a person, more of a vessel to create life and when they have a child they’re not considered the mom but the leaders of that household are. Now their whole justification for this way of living is based off of the Bible story of Rachel and Leah. Below is an excerpt from Genesis 30:1-3. The people of Gilead, the city in which the story takes place, took this scripture as literally as you can get. The handmaid lays on her back with the wife behind her while her husband has intercourse with her. There’s no intimacy, it’s cold and impersonal. In a way it’s like the handmaid isn’t even there. The thing that stands out to me in the story though is their supposed love for God and his scriptures, but it’s nothing more than mind control. I honestly see it as a reflection of today’s society. People use religion today as a fear tactic or as a form of mind control to get you to do what they want or be who they want you to be.
Another story that I could say that uses religion as mind control is Carrie by Stephen King. More specifically I’m thinking of the character of Carrie’s mother in the story. She was a known religious fanatic in the town, and she made Carrie feel bad about being normal. I remember watching the scene in the original 1976 adaptation when Carrie got her period and she didn’t know what was going on or what was happening to her body. When she got home and talked to her mom, her mom pulled out a Bible and started preaching to her about the sins of women. I’ll post that scene below, but you can’t you see how religion in literature is also a reflection of real life. Carrie’s mom made her feel dirty and wrong even though what her body was doing was perfectly normal and natural, but instead of talking to Carrie about it she hit her with a Bible…literally.
And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
King James Version (KJV)
Now listening to this new album, Kamikaze, it is reminiscent of the old Eminem but I also believe it’s still the mature Eminem, but he’s gone back to his roots. Even looking at the cover of the album you can tell that he’s paying homage to the Beastie Boys first album License to Ill, and Eminem has stated that the Beastie Boys were one of his earliest influences.
Surprise! What a major surprise we have here. I’m going through my day without a care in the world, going about my business and then all of a sudden I see news and Facebook posts about these new songs from Eminem’s NEW album, an album that no one knew was coming. It honestly came like a thief in the night…no promoting, no ads, and apparently no noise whatsoever….out of the blue KABOOM! Em hit us with a bomb, but definitely in a good way. I’ve listened to the album and you can’t help but compare it to Eminem’s previous album, Revival, that came out last December. I love Em but I’m not afraid to say as an Eminem that album was not his greatest. I tried to like a few of those songs, but none of those songs on the Revival album I could really appreciate. I believe as an Eminem fan that I put Em on this pedestal, and I believe other Eminem fans feel the same way. We just expect better from Em, and as one of the YouTube channels that I follow said, “Revival was basically corny pop sh*t.” Now I like pop music don’t get me wrong but when putting it in the same league as Eminem it’s just not right. Now listening to this new album, Kamikaze, it is reminiscent of the old Eminem but I also believe it’s still the mature Eminem, but he’s gone back to his roots. Even looking at the cover of the album you can tell that he’s paying homage to the Beastie Boys first album License to Ill, and Eminem has stated that the Beastie Boys were one of his earliest influences. To me Revival had too many pop artists features. Ok, I love Ed Sheeran and I like Beyoncé but he doesn’t need them on their albums. I wholeheartedly understand that artists need to step out of the norm and experiment with different types of artists, but his last album just didn’t hit the mark. When I look at the track list to Kamikaze versus Revival you can see that there aren’t a lot of features at all. There are a couple like Joyner Lucas and Royce da 5’9, but they’re hip hop artists which is the difference. To me that’s a reflection of the old Eminem as well. When he first came out he didn’t have too many artists featured in his song except for maybe Dr. Dre, Obie Trice, D12 but again ALL HIP HOP ARTISTS. Bottom line is that Eminem did it right this time and the fact that he dropped this album with no notice, no promotions, NOTHING, and yet people are still talking about it that takes talent. That’s why Em is considered the GOAT!
Art is subjective. Remember that.