Social media: The final nail in the coffin for hip-hop criticism?


In many ways, the internet has democratized both art making and art criticism. While this might have helped independent hip hop artists, it has also helped diminish the effectiveness of traditional music critique.

The internet has been great for independent hip hop artists. In a way, it’s almost like a return to the roots of hip-hop. Part of the beauty of the movement’s early days was that it gave marginalized communities a vehicle through which to express themselves. Many early rappers lacked any sort of formal training in the arts, and part of what hip hop did in the earliest stages was blur any sort of distinction between cultural consumption and cultural production by employing commercially mass-produced objects — records and turntables, etc. — in the way that musicians historically employed traditional instruments. All an aspiring hip hop artist needed were vocal chords, a nimble mind, and, ideally, two-turntables and a crossfader. It was about vehicles of self-expressionism as a source of empowerment and transcending the perceived limitations of what you were born into.

Digital technology has simplified everything even further, and beyond making production tools more accessible to artists, it has also helped create a situation where amateur critics and fans can openly share their ideas with one another and actively participate in the discussion. There is little question that the internet and digital media have made everything simpler for the musical artists themselves, but now the question is whether or not the field of music criticism, particularly criticism of hip hop music, will ever exist in the way it used to.

There are many things that are great about the internet leveling the music industry playing field. As details from Viral Heat illuminate, Twitter reflects a wider spectrum of voices than traditional mass media ever has:

But there does, however, arise some question about what the long term consequences of the internet will be, in terms of both hip hop production and hip hop criticism. Social media has, idealistically speaking at least, legitimized everyone’s voice. But more pragmatically, if not more cynically, the question becomes: Doesn’t social media also reflect, if not help to fuel, a society where everything moves at breakneck speed, and most of our sensory experiences and intellectual pursuits are consumed in bit-sized doses? Everything is ephemeral and flashy now. Can it ever allow for the same contemplative space as traditional print journalism, where writers didn’t quite have the constant rolling deadline that they do in the present age with things like Twitter?
Jay-Z doesn’t think so. After the release of his twelfth album, entitled Magna Carta: Holy Grail, rapper Jay-Z said that in the dawn of the internet age, professional critics are becoming less and less important. During an interview that the rapper gave with Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club that it used to be that journalists would receive copies of albums months before the music would be made available to the general public.

“I think reviews have lost a lot of importance now because of the internet,” Jay-Z said. He went on to speak about how it used to be that the reviewers would write their review, and the consumer would have nothing to go by but the review for maybe a month prior to even being able to hear the music themselves. “Right now,” Jay-Z said, “People are writing a review in a day. First of all, you can’t listen to an album and rate it in a day. It’s just impossible.”

The internet has made everything more accessible and more instantaneous — But does that have to come at the expense of aesthetic sophistication in the arts, or informed critical discourse? Hip hop did empower marginalized communities, but that’s not tantamount to saying that everyone who ever picked up a mic could stun with their ability. Similarly, a natural by-product of everyone getting to speak their piece on the internet is that some people are going to use that ability in a way that doesn’t serve as a tool for enriching discussion. In other words, with social media, we’ve got a powerful tool. The trick is figuring out how to best use it.

“It’s illmatic”…

20 years later and it still sound fresh…

Papoose spits some “Bars In The Booth”

Via DJ Premier’s official new website.

UN- For The Love

Bonus track off the re-release of “UN Or U Out” album. Classic, ‘Underground Movement’-approved joint.

R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles


Rest In Power to one of the pioneers of House Music…This right here is one of my favorite produced-House joints from the man himself…Tears, indeed


“I’d look at various DJs of that time era, and they were either doing things too slow, or the way that they were transitioning, I found them to be bumpy. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t clean. Eventually I figured out that in order to control the audio source, the vinyl, a lot of these DJs were using the tonearm. I was strongly advised to do it that way. But what was going on inside my head was, “How am I going to control this drum solo and make it seamless?”

Grandmaster Flash
Grandmaster Flash


My first love was the vinyl. My father was a collector of records. He was into jazz. My mother and father broke up, and when I became a teenager, my second love was electronic items. I would open up the stereo in the living room, my sisters’ hairdryer, the iron, the washing machine, and I would try to put it back together. Now I’m getting my butt kicked by my older sisters. I’m just becoming Public Enemy Number One. I went to Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. That’s where I learned how these things worked.

I’d look at various DJs of that time era, and they were either doing things too slow, or the way that they were transitioning, I found them to be bumpy. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t clean. Eventually I figured out that in order to control the audio source, the vinyl, a lot of these DJs were using the tonearm. I was strongly advised to do it that way. But what was going on inside my head was, “How am I going to control this drum solo and make it seamless?”

So now I started studying turntables. How they work. I would lightly rest my hand on the turntable platter to see if the motor had enough muscle to be able to handle me moving my wrist back and forth over the vinyl. Many turntables failed. But there was a little-known company called Technics, and they had this ugly turntable called SL-120, and they were $75 apiece. Then I had to figure out, How can I hear the signal of the source in my ear? So that’s when I created this system that consisted of a single pole-double throw switch in a center position, to split the two signals. So when you click it to the left, I could hear the left turn­table, two clicks to the right, I could hear the right turntable. Once I figured that out, then I had to think about the needles. Needles came in two classifications: They were conical and elliptical. The conical one stayed in the vinyl when I dragged it back and forth.

And after I figured out the turntable, I would mark the record with a grease pencil or a crayon, where the break lived, and all the intersecting points. So when I wanted to repeat a break all I had to do is just watch how many times the intersecting line passed the tone arm.

But then the problem was finding a buffer between the metal platter and the vinyl, so it could keep spinning while I was moving it back and forth. I went to a store, and I touched polyester, I touched silk, I touched cotton, and then I touched felt. And when I touched felt, I thought, “This could possibly work.” But it was flimsy. So I bought two pieces the size of an album, and I turned the iron on all the way, super hot, sprayed these circular felt pieces with spray starch, and I ironed them until they became stiff as a wafer. So now, I could put this wafer on top of the metal platter, the turntable, and put the record on top of the wafer. So now I had the fluidity of the disc moving freely while the turntable spun in a clockwise position.

Back then, the crowning achievement for me was that I had to do what all DJs wouldn’t do: physically put my hand on the record. My theory was everything should be controlled via the vinyl, the fingertips. But at that time, DJs used to treat vinyl like children. They used to carry these real soft brushes, and they would wipe the record down, and they would very carefully slide it back in the jacket. I was just pulling the record out of the jacket. It had crayon marks all over it! But that was a way that I could execute what was going on inside my head.

My first block party was 927 Fox Street, right in front of my building. It was a neighborhood park and people were all over me! It scared me, a little bit. I wasn’t even officially considered a DJ. I was just coming out with my makeshift sound system, it sounded like crap, and playing music. So the observers were like, “What is he doing?” And then as I started becoming more recognized and accepted as a DJ, it’s when I got hired to do parties. And the rest is a little like history, I guess!

I tried to talk on the microphone and play at the same time, but the science being brand-new to me, I found that I couldn’t do both. So I used to put the microphone on the other side of the table, and see if anyone could talk. Many people failed. The first person that was able to do that was Keith Wiggins. He had an aerobic type of style. He would make people do things, throw their hands up in the air! He was a perfect diversionary tactic, because people stopped looking at me. Now they were jamming.

New Mobb Deep…

Apathy, the Grand Leveler?

Apathy taking it there, conspiracy theories be damned… Thoughts?

What inspires Bobbito and Stretch Armstrong (Video)

Interviews from Bee Shine

KRS interview (Video)

Kris on Hip Hop and it’s place in history…