One thing I 've learned during my 33 years on this Earth is that every generation thinks that things were generally better when they were younger. Of course, it's always bullshit. While some things may have been better (in theory) overall there's NO way that could ever really be true. When you tend to get a certain age you get nostalgic for all the things you loved about your childhood or youth and secretly wish that things could go back to the way they were in your younger years. It's a natural occurrence but the truth is that things may have always sucked, it's just that we were too young to realize it. I present to you all a new blog entitled "Dart Adams presents Nostalgia by Veidt*". Enjoy:
I was born in 1975 and as a young child I got to witness the culture of Hip Hop grow by leaps and bounds firsthand. I remember the controversy over the first Rap records like it was yesterday. I remember when the media first got a hold of Rap music and/or became aware of it. I remember people talking about the Funky Four Plus One performing on Saturday Night Live. I remember Sister Sledge performing Run DMC's "It's Like That" when they guest appeared on "The Jeffersons" (it happened, trust me!).
I remember the looks folks used to get when they rocked Hip Hop fashion in public before they knew what it was. I remember reciting routines and battles from crews and emcees I heard on tapes my cousins sent us from New York . I remember when "Right On!" and "Black Beat" barely even acknowledge that Hip Hop or Rap music even existed. I remember that Madison Avenue and Hollywood didn't even know Hip Hop existed until about 1984 after Run DMC got on MTV (even though the films "Wild Style" and "Style Wars" both came out in 1983) . Then all of a sudden weird shit started happening all around me.
Next thing I knew, people were making movies about Hip Hop culture like crazy. I'd see articles about Hip Hop in mainstream magazines. I'd see Hip Hop in commercials everywhere I looked. There were B Boys and B girls poplocking and doing windmills for Hershey's chocolate bars on one channel and the next channel has Fred and Barney bustin' rhymes and scratchin' records about Fruity Pebbles. Then came LL Cool J tearing shit down on American Bandstand. The cat was officially out of the bag now and there was no turning back.
Adult classes started forming across the country and people were trying to learn about this new "breakdancing" craze that was sweeping the nation. Forget that B-Boying had been around since the 70's or that Sally Baines had first written about B-Boying back in a Village Voice article in 1981 ("Physical Graffiti: Breaking Is Hard To Do"), it was now 1984 and it was the new "in" thing. Street fashion was so hot that all of a sudden designers started making their own interpretations of it after Madonna appeared on the scene. The very same Madonna that everyone thought was Black (like Shannon) until they saw her videos for "Burnin' Up" and "Lucky Star" on MTV. There was money to be made and everyone wanted to cash in, as kids we thought that our culture and our art was just finally getting it's due. Not so much.
I remember seeing all of those old "Hip Hop/Rap" films and thinking nothing of it. I remember Kelly Jo Minter being the mysterious masked B-Boy (?) called "The Pilot" in an old TV movie that featured a few notable B-boys and B-girls...and then nothing. I remember watching "Beat Street" and loving it. I remember watching "Body Rock" and hating it. I remember thinking that "Breakin'" was meh but loving "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo". My big brother even said once "that's the fastest I ever saw someone make a sequel!" but I didn't see the big picture because I was just a little kid.
Next came flicks like "Rappin'", "Krush Groove", "Disorderlies", "Tougher Than Leather" and then Hollywood completely lost interest with Hip Hop culture for a while. Anyone born after 1984 wouldn't know what it would be like to live in a world where everyone hadn't always been aware of Hip Hop's existence. The thing about growing up in an earlier time than someone else is that you always think that things were better in your generation regardless of if they actually were or not. Some of the cartoons I used to watch my older cousins used to say sucked at the ones they watched were better. I thought that they were full of shit and there was no way that the "Cattanooga Cats" were better than "Rubik, The Amazing Cube". Get my point?
We always fall into the same nostalgic trap generation after generation. Cartoons were better when we were young. Music was better when we were young. TV shows were better when we were young. Movies were better when we young. We often forget that we didn't even figure out who we were or what we liked or develop taste of any kind until we got older and learned to discriminate or even begin to think critically. I loved "He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe" as a kid but when I watched those episodes I loved as a kid in 1996 I thought to myself "This show sucked! I can't believe I ever liked this shit!" That doesn't change the fact that "Jonny Quest" or "The Herculoids" kick ass regardless of how old I get. Some things will stand the test of time others won't.
Some people fondly remember playing videogames on their Atari 2600's, Colevisions, Intellivision/M Networks but admit it, they sucked in comparison to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES then sucked in comparison to the Sega Genesis and so on and so on. I remember playing games back in the day that looked like absolute crap on all of those systems because while the year may change things always suck overall and some things are good. The only things that change are you and your ability to perceive things around you.
It has NEVER been all good in anything back in the day. Nothing was better all the way across the board in the past. Maybe Hip Hop was more fun and enjoyable because it was exciting and new but there were MORE wack emcees than good ones back in the era that it first broke nationally all the way up to the end of the first Golden Era (1983-1988). There were so many wack records and style biters it was ridiculous. I heard some many fake Crash Crew's, Treacherous 3's, Fearless 4's, Run DMC'S, LL Cool J's, Melle Mel's and T La Rock's that it seems that the "Be original" credo that heads preached back then was completely discarded somewhere along the line.
Just because I experienced some of the greatest eras of growth for several genres of music do I want to fall into the trap of thinking that since music doesn't sound like it did in 1988 that it automatically can't be counted as classic material. If Hip Hop producers had access to the kind of technology we had now 20 years ago do you really think the music would've been the same? They were EXTREMELY LIMITED in what they could do musically in the studio back then and it lead to a bunch of innovations due to that fact. Let's not penalize today's producers merely because they were born too late and didin't have only one to four total seconds of sample time available to them!
With all that said, if we think hard enough things have never always been "better" in the past. Shit was always 50/50. I always see people bitch and complain online about how much better X and Y used to be back in the days and they always discount all of the stuff that sucked. Nickelodeon wasn't necessarily "better" in the 80's and 90's, it's just that you grew up and now it seems suckish to you. Your perception of all things changes with time. Now I watch movies I loved as a kid like "The Last Dragon" and realize that they actually sucked.
I guess one clue would've been the usage of outdated slang like "jive sucker", the horrendous script and terrible acting. Then again, I was 10 when I first saw it. Back then, I also thought that there would never be a better album than Run DMC's "King Of Rock" and that Michael Jackson was better than Prince. There was a show I loved as a kid that was recently put on DVD due to a petition from nostalgic Generation X'ers. I saw it again recently and got flashbacks of Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica..the 80's were truly a bitch, man.
*If you don't get the reference then you really need to read the "Watchmen" graphic novel.