I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it’s a new genre. Or maybe it means a certain kind of music. I think it’s a genre where they’re basically saying that these songs are cool and hip, but not necessarily rap music.
If you had to define gangsta rap as a genre, what would you define as mainstream?
I think people would be more surprised to see mainstream rap. I guess you could say it’s not hip-hop and not as ghetto or as politically correct. The whole “gangsta rap” thing got kicked off of MTV a while ago. I know that there have been a lot of hip-hop features where people have dropped lines like, “We rap by stealing from other people.”
Why do you think we’re seeing an increase in mainstream hip-hop?
I think it’s because rappers are like, “I’m not as ghetto as other rappers.” I think they’re saying, “We’re different.” For a while rappers did things different, which was cool and hip. They gave some credit. But then they turned their backs on that, and they turned into these people who are completely and utterly uninspired.
You mention that the genre is being criticized for a lack of humor. Why is that?
It’s because it’s not really jokes. It’s really a show that people pay to be bored; they’re watching a show with some people doing something different and I think most of them are bored. They’re not laughing and enjoying themselves. They’re only saying, “I can’t stand this. I want a different show.” It’s not so much about the jokes—it’s more about what it says about the idea of this whole thing called hip-hop. Hip-hop is a huge thing right now. The same thing happened with jazz, and it wasn’t jazz. It was the same with rock. There were rock bands doing great, innovative stuff, but they were still rock musicians. And they never got the attention or the mainstream success that they got because they played in groups.
You mention an early scene in New York City, an area where you had a lot of influences.
I went to the early Black Panther party (in the ’80s). It was crazy, because you’d see these kids in these spaces and they’d be all over the place doing all kinds of crazy shit. People would just gather together, hang out in the parks, make music and all kinds of stuff.
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