Today I’ll finish up and cover three more trends that annoyed the fuck outta me during the era surrounding the last Golden Age of Hip Hop, these ocurrences were all prevalent between 1991-1997 and if I had a time machine I’d try to save the world from some of these horrors. Well, here goes:
Old Trend #4
Everyone’s Jamaican, mon!
Thanks to the huge crossover success of Shabba Ranks in the early 90’s there was a new upsurge of interest in Reggae artists. Maxi Priest, Mad Cobra, Patra, Super Cat, Tiger, Ninjaman, Red Rat, Buju/Mega/Burro Banton, Bounty Killer, Terror Fabolous, Garnet Silk, Jamal Ski, Red Foxxx, Daddy Freddy and Shaggy songs infiltrate the walkmans of many Hip Hop heads that didn’t originally check for Reggae before. This is further helped by a slew of Hip Hop Reggae tracks made by Kenny Dope and Funkmaster Flex. Before you know it Rayvon, Big Daddy Ricksta, Mad Lion, Snow and Lil’ Vicious are all over the radio.
In no time every new Hip Hop song has a Reggae artist on the hook and kids are coming to school with Jamaican flag medallions and dancing like extras from the movie “Dancehall Queen”. I knew shit was getting weird when even the kids on the Mickey Mouse Club were bustin’ out the Butterfly and Bogle while singing covers of shit like Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away” on the Disney Channel. Some dude showed up chatting on N.W.A’s “Alwayz Into Somethin’”, Ice Cube went and got Don Jagwarr, Heavy D reminded everyone that he was Jamaican on every subsequent album and it just snowballed from there. KRS One and Just-Ice were off to the side observing like “Is this shit somehow our fault?”
Eventually, it just burned itself out and Shabba Ranks career had to fall back due to overexposure. Ini Kamoze celebrated by creating “Here Comes The Hotstepper”...a song that almost became the Jamaican version of “This Is How We Do It”. When I first heard “Welcome To Jamrock” I got scared for a minute but then I looked up in the sky and saw a rainbow which reminded me of the pact God made with Man to never let that ever happen again.
Old Trend #5
Unnecessary accesories galore
Erick Sermon thought it would be a good idea to wear a vest one day. So did Masta Ace. So did Black Moon. When Black Moon did it, they decided to wear hockey jerseys underneath bubble vests and rock some ski goggles with ‘em. Method Man saw that and raised them some Nike armbands and black Nike receivers gloves. Nas decided to wear an Army jacket and BDU’s from the Army/Navy store over some Timbos.
The Jungle Brothers saw Nas, Black Moon and Smif N’ Wessun and raised them Ranger hats and lumberjack gear. Motherfuckers all over the country saw these videos on TV and these pictures in The Source and Rap Pages then took themselves to the mall. By the Winter of 1994 every asshole was wearing a Conart, GAT or Timberland skullie, a Triple Fat Goose or a Helly Hansen coat and looked like they were gonna go climb Mount Everest. In reality, all they were really gonna do was smoke some blunts and freestyle on the corner. I've seen some scary things in my life like dudes rocking doo rags under fitted caps and basketball jerseys over hoodies...what were we thinking?
I have pictures of myself in the 90’s and I look like a fuckin’ hood superhero with all that shit on. What was with all of those pockets on those vests? Even Batman didn’t have enough shit to put in all of those pockets! Grand Puba made me buy (okay...steal) all of those damn Girbaud jeans with those weird ass pockets that went straight across! Thank God I didn’t buy a bunch of Phillie Blunts and White Owl T shirts and those damn tie top A Hats like those other assholes.
Old Trend #6
“Alternative” Rap, it’s 75% less scary than original Rap!
The media was scared of Ice T, Ice Cube, 2Pac, Scarface, Above The Law and Public Enemy but they just LOVED P.M. Dawn and Arrested Development! The media became so enamored with them that it created a level of resentment between both groups and the “Hip Hop Nation” at large. KRS One “tossed” (I read the posts on Unkut.com, dammit!) Prince Be’s chunky beads and flowing robe of many colors rockin’ ass off the stage after some questionable statements he made in several different interviews about not only KRS but Public Enemy as well. Both P.M. Dawn and Arrested Development had big hits on the charts, their albums moved mad units but Hip Hop heads weren’t impressed...Too late! Record labels rushed out to find some “alternative” rap acts.
Labels rushed out to sign Divine Styler (his “Spiral Walls Containing Autumns Of Light” LP failed to make noise...who would’ve guessed?), they signed Kid Rock after he discovered a “new sound” (his “The Polyfuze Method” LP was considered straight up noise), they put out the Stereo MC’s songs in North America (“Elevate My Mind” and “Connected” were minor hits), Dream Warriors were imported from Canada ("My Definition" and "Wash Your Feet In My Sink" went over big on MTV) and Q Tip vocal doppleganger Justin Warfield dropped a full length (his album “My Field Trip To Planet 9”was certified Aluminum Foil by the RIAA a month later).
Labels weren’t discouraged yet, so they signed up The Diposable Heroes Of Hip Hopracy, The Hansoul Project, Urban Dance Squad, Skate Master Tate, Brotherhood Creed, MC 900 Ft Jesus and the super wack “Fraternity Of One” himself (pictured above), Me Phi Me. None of them made much noise and some of them got dropped before their albums ever even came out. By 1995, all of these groups were finished and forgotten about. Quick, name a song off of “Lucacentric” that WASN’T “Lucas With The Lid Off”. Quick!
Everything I didn't mention was already previously covered by my esteemed colleague Animal Mother on his blog And It's Still All Good. Read those classic entries here: