Stuck in the Trap (Indiana Jones-ing for the Perfect Beat)
Every morning on the way to work, I find myself going through a ritual of sorts with the radio. The ceremony consists of dancing between the various local stations in an attempt to find something that won’t have me thinking about baking soda, water, birds, keys….etc. In other words, I’m on a mission to avoid trap music. The sad reality is that there aren’t many alternatives on the “Power” and “Vee” stations nowadays, which makes me more determined than ever to find what I like. A few years ago, one of my sons once said to me that I like “Lyrical Hip-Hop.” I almost screeched to a halt in the middle of the intersection and said, “It’s HIP-HOP music, it’s supposed to have lyrics!”
I composed myself and got my slightly shook son back home without any bodily harm to his person. But since then I’ve been acutely aware that YES, I’m older and my generation of Hip-Hop is not coming back. EVER. However, I also noticed that I’m not the only person of my generation who finds themselves on some wild quest to find un-trapped Hip-Hop. One can simply point to the numerous Classic Hip-Hop stations and the monthly Old School Saturday shows that take place in my city. Younglings take note: your dentist, college professor, supervisor, teacher, CPA, or IT tech is probably a die-hard hip-hop head who will quote lyrics from “The Scenario” without warning.
Trap music by itself is just another version of hip-hop. The REAL issue is with the radio station programmers who ONLY provide trap as the go-to genre. Truth be told, not every rap song from the 80s and 90s was a hit. But you had variety. You could go from Biz’s “Picking Boogers” to EPMD’s “You gots to chill” , to OC’s “Time’s Up” and end up at P.E.’s “Black Steele in the Hour of Chaos.” The point is: the radio grocery store didn’t stock the shelves with only one type of musical food for you to eat. I wasn’t always in a P.E. mood; sometimes I needed a lil’ Kid N’ Play (yeah, I said it). There’s no longer a variety.
SO, for the fan who doesn’t have satellite radio and is tired of playing the same old school cuts, there ARE current artists who are still about that ol’ boom bap. This post is merely to scratch the surface and point you in an alternate direction. I was surprised that a number of these artists have been around for years but haven’t received the airplay they deserve. Feel free to click on the names of each artists for links to their individual web sites. But most importantly, buy the music and add these artists to your Pandora, iTunes, Tidal, or Google Music playlists.
From NC, this slept-on MC has been doing her solo thing since 2008. Partnering with producer 9th Wonder, the Kooley High alum has been consistently putting out good music. It was surprising & great to see her at the end of 9th Wonder’s episode of Rhythm Roulette…destroying the mic.
Producer/Rapper Kev Brown first caught my ear with 2007’s “Always.” Since then, the Landover, MD, MC has dropped great music that I keep in rotation. *By the way, just now I lost about 25 minutes listening to Kev Brown instrumentals. #focusfocusfocus. LOL*
Believe it or not, Tanya Morgan isn’t a woman, but 3 guys by the name of Von Pea (out of Brooklyn), Donwill, and Ilyas (both from Cincinnati) who have been doing their thing since 2003. Witty rhymes over great tracks provided by producer Brick Beats are a welcome relief to…anything on popular radio.
Hailing from Southeast D.C., the Atlanta-based artist is another lyricist who takes her craft seriously. Yet another MC who is flying below the radar of mainstream radio, Sa-Roc has the cultural foundation & pride of P.E., the spirituality & confidence of Erykah Badu, and the take-no-prisoners mind-set of Cube. BUT since 2002, it’s her flow that matters and what stands out.
Really needing no intro, I’ve been following Pooh since his time with Little Brother. As much as I’m still hoping for a reunion, Pooh is still doing his thing and more. His last album, Home Sweet Home, has been in rotation for a minute. Like the other artists mentioned here, Pooh is about content and lyricism. There’s actually more to talk about than sex and drugs…(what, REALLY?).
Johnny Venus and Doctor Dot make up Atlanta’s own EarthGang. Meeting at Mays High, the two also attended Hampton U. together, where they formed the group in 2010. How these brothers cruised so long without major station airplay escapes me, but I’ve been listening to them since December 2015.
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what some of us have been missing; but the truth of the matter is that when we need to hear the good stuff, we’re just going to have to look for it. Thankfully, with the help of social media it’s not as hard as it used to be.