As much as I enjoy riding dirty and being G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, I’m growing tired of all these laughable hip hop songs that seem to come and go faster than a homeless man to a stray dollar bill. I’d call them one-hit wonders, but the sad truth is that most of the time these songs are released by established artists. Yet, they are so overplayed that in a few months time no one ever wants to hear them again. I’m talking of course about songs like Fergie’s “Glamorous,” Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” and other similarly horrible, yet, strangely captivating hits. As fun as these songs might be to dance to at a party, I didn’t enjoy being woken up by Akon’s “Don’t Matter” every single morning for three weeks. I felt like Bill Murray’s character in “Groundhog Day,” except that the girls I would strikeout on still recognized me the next morning.
Even if you don’t listen to the radio, these songs are completely unavoidable. During the day, frat houses blast them on loop, while at night they can be heard at any party you show up to. The latest hit to make its run is Fergie’s “Glamorous,” which hits home with most students at UCSB who have ever dreamt of caviar dreams and boogie scenes. Fergie gets to the point real quick, opening the song with the warning: “If you ain’t got money, take your broke ass home.” Clearly she has long since repressed her illustrious past, where she grew up addicted to crystal meth while doing voice-over work for Charlie Brown specials. Of course, it wouldn’t be very prudent of me to analyze the lyrics of these songs. They tend to be too highbrow for my comprehension. I’ll leave it to the Santa Barbara News-Press writers to figure out the inner meanings.
All this brings me to Extravaganza, where rap/hip hop artists T.I. and Mickey Avalon performed to thousands of fans. The former has an affinity for Chevy Impalas and the latter raps about his dick being able to bench 350 lbs. Avalon falls into the category of music one can dance to but should never pay to see performed, while T.I. is somewhat more respectable in that he’s won a few Grammys and is a stellar actor (see: “ATL”). Bringing both of these artists to UCSB only furthers the notion that unsophisticated, mainstream hip hop is everywhere. One might argue that popular music isn’t supposed to be intelligent, but that couldn’t be more wrong. The Beatles were lyrically brilliant and so was Tupac. There’s something wrong with a society that largely rejects ambitious, nonconformist music.
The question is, why is this happening? Have hip hop artists found the need to dumb down their music for the masses? Are the masses themselves dumb and incapable of handling music with meaning? I think that like most things in life, the problem lies with money. The record labels that sign these hip hop artists know that by pumping out trashy hip hop tracks, that 13-year old white girls are going to buy on mass, they’ve got a business. And until consumers reject this garbage and ask for concerts headlined by real talent, there’s no reason to expect any change.
No, hip hop is not dead. There is plenty of talent left, whether it’s Nas or Lupe Fiasco. Unfortunately, most of it falls on deaf ears. Whereas twenty years ago you could see politically charged music from N.W.A. or Public Enemy being played on MTV, today all we get is R. Kelly and others rapping about shorties and dubs. The times have changed and music fans can either embrace it, or rebel. I just fear the day Fergie appears on Guitar Hero.