Monday, June 02, 2008

Scott on Why Hip-Hop Doesn't Work Live (guest blog)

Hip-Hop may be dominating these days in record sales but, at the end of the day, Rock still rules the road. If you look at any listing of the top grossing live acts, you'll notice that Hip-Hop is conspicuously absent. I've often wondered why it is that Hip-Hop acts just can't bring in the crowds like rock bands and I've come to a few conclusions.

First of all, let me say, I completely respect Rap and Hip-Hop as artforms and this is a discussion of why most (not all) Hip-Hop acts just can't pull off live the same way as rock (or country... or Pop... etc.).

I, myself, have never seen or heard an exceptional live Hip-Hop performance. If you look at the rock canon, there is an endless list of great live albums: Live at Leeds, Cheap Trick At Budokan, Under A Blood Red Sky, Band of Gypsys, Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore East, and dozens of others. Where are the great live Hip-Hop albums?

I think this weakness live can be attributed to two major factors:

1. Hip-Hop/Rap is largely a studio artform. Rather than being organically created by musicians playing in a room, the instrumentals of Hip-Hop are 'assembled' by producers. I'm not slighting this as an artform... but, when it comes time to reproduce the experience in a live environment, what ultimately ends up happening is that the sounds must be reproduced using a tape or a loop of some sort. Granted, there are many acts like The Roots and The Fugees that do use extensive live bands but, in the hip hop world, those acts are few and far between. So, what happens with most Hip-Hop acts is they just become a form of 'Karaoke on Steroids' live. Even the highest grossing live Hip-Hop acts realize the weakness of this and artists like Jay-Z and Kanye place the emphasis on the 'show' rather than the music. It's more about spectacle (MC Hammer would take this to ridiculous extremes in the early 90s). True, there are rock acts that use a great deal of spectacle in their stage shows... but it would be hard to imagine a Hip-Hop act doing what Springsteen does. I just saw him a few weeks back and he basically comes out and its just him and the E Street Band on a Bare stage... and they captivate everyone in the entire coliseum for a full 2 and a half hours. Now, try to imagine Wu Tang Clan doing the same thing. Them on a bare stage with nothing but their DJ. Would this work?

2. At the end of the day, most Hip-Hop and Rap is, in fact, dance music. There is nothing wrong with that but, in terms of a live concert environment, it puts them at a disadvantage. You see, the ideal enviroment to see or hear Hip-Hop is not a packed arena where you are either seated or packed like sardines on the floor but, rather, a club where you can, if you'll pardon a white boy for saying this, "get your groove on."

I realize that this is not a flawless arguement and much of this may be the result of my own personal taste. Still, it stands to reason, if Hip-Hop artists are outselling rock artist when it comes to records, why can't they compete in ticket sales? Thoughts on this?

Rolling Stone has some thoughts on this. CLICK HERE.

35 comments:

Madd_Hadder said...

I have to strongly disagree, at least for me. Hip-Hop works live very well, but it works more so in smaller venues. The single best concert I have ever seen was Talib Kweli in a venue that seated roughly 1,000 people. It was such a strong, intimate show. The energy was crazy and Talib fed off of it to deliver a very strong 90 minute show.

Also, Eminem is better when it is just him and the stage. The songs he does without the show and without a hypeman are often the strongest, so I think a Hip-Hop artist could be on stage, like Springsteen and kill it.

Scene -- said...
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Scene -- said...

Scott -- I won't deny that many rap artists suffer from lazy showmanship when on stage (i.e. bringing up your entire 30-man crew to shout out your rhymes with you), but don't throw the baby out with the bath water here. The problem is artists with a lack of live performance know-how, not necessarily a problem of form.

Here are some of the things I take issue with:

"If you look at any listing of the top grossing live acts, you'll notice that Hip-Hop is conspicuously absent." -- Does class and/or demographic play into this at all?

"I, myself, have never seen or heard an exceptional live Hip-Hop performance." -- You're going to the wrong shows, straight up.

"Where are the great live Hip-Hop albums?" -- I might ask where are the great rock albums over sampled beats. Apples and oranges? And anyways, many great hip-hop albums contain the "rawness" element that live rock albums provide. Check Geoff's fav, Wu Tang's early albums. They're not "live" per se, but they are, aren't they?

"1. Hip-Hop/Rap is largely a studio artform." -- No. You're really missing the improvisational, community aspect of the music. You make it sound souless and canned.

"Rather than being organically created by musicians playing in a room, the instrumentals of Hip-Hop are 'assembled' by producers." -- There is much rock music that I'd argue is just as 'assembled', just as I'd argue there are 'organic' beatmakers. I think you're comparing the best of one genre to the worst of the other.

"I'm not slighting this as an artform... but, when it comes time to reproduce the experience in a live environment, what ultimately ends up happening is that the sounds must be reproduced using a tape or a loop of some sort." -- You've never seen a great DJ tear shit up live, have you? Or if you you have, you didn't "get" it. Also, many hip-hop acts nowadays when touring have a live band play their beats, or a combo of DJ and band (or in Jigga's case, a whole orchestra). Curious: when's the last time you've been to a show?

"So, what happens with most Hip-Hop acts is they just become a form of 'Karaoke on Steroids' live." -- But what makes Karaoke bad is amateur singing and bad beats. Hip-Hop can feature AMAZING emceeing and AMAZING beats. Again, you're reaching here.

"Even the highest grossing live Hip-Hop acts realize the weakness of this and artists like Jay-Z and Kanye place the emphasis on the 'show' rather than the music." -- Do they really recognize anything? You're putting words into their mouths here.

They (Kanye and Jay) do have amazing showmanship. But have you seen Fade to Black (documentary)? Have you been to the Glow in the Dark Tour? I wouldn't say they are ignoring the music for the sake of the show. Kanye's current live show is insanely musical, and it's THAT fact that makes the show's high concept even tolerable.

"It's more about spectacle" -- So a bad hip-hop show is because live hip-hop is inherently flawed. And a good hip-hop show is all about the spectacle?

"True, there are rock acts that use a great deal of spectacle in their stage shows..." -- ...Okay.

"But it would be hard to imagine a Hip-Hop act doing what Springsteen does. I just saw him a few weeks back and he basically comes out and its just him and the E Street Band on a Bare stage... and they captivate everyone in the entire coliseum for a full 2 and a half hours. Now, try to imagine Wu Tang Clan doing the same thing." -- Your argument falls apart here becase Wu Tang DOES do the same thing, they have had that same effect. Just for a different audience.

"2. At the end of the day, most Hip-Hop and Rap is, in fact, dance music." -- You're very wrong. You're reducing the beat and its inherent danceability to something inferior. And you're ignoring ALOT of hip-hop. I don't even know how to go at this one.

"There is nothing wrong with that but," -- I hate these types of "buts".

"...in terms of a live concert environment, it puts them at a disadvantage. You see, the ideal enviroment to see or hear Hip-Hop is not a packed arena where you are either seated or packed like sardines on the floor but" -- Again, wrong. A great live hip-hop show in a regular sized venue where you're packed like sardines...This is exactly what great live hip-hop experiences are made of.

"Rather, a club where you can, if you'll pardon a white boy for saying this, "get your groove on." -- And here's where I realize your view on hip-hop is very incomplete. This is like me saying rock is best with a guitar and a campfire or at a pub on St. Patrick's Day. (Which is when I most prefer my rock songs, btw, but that's my point right there.)

"I realize that this is not a flawless arguement and much of this may be the result of my own personal taste." -- ......

"If Hip-Hop artists are outselling rock artist when it comes to records, why can't they compete in ticket sales? Thoughts on this?" -- Dude, the hip-hop artists ruling the charts are by and large NOT the artists with kickass live shows. That's the real debate, and it's one the hip-hop community has all the time: Why does the ringtone-ready crap sell so well?

I dunno man, but you're right, ringtone rap makes for bad concerts. But we knew that already, right?

p.s. Previously deleted commment was mine, just wanted to edit.

brad said...
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brad said...

Sounds like you don't like hip hop.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4bceu_jurassic-5-live_music
http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=2019017571
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5fdrr_the-roots-live-in-france-1996_music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHWDOJbEhLw
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7825282109790346092&q=Jay+Z+live&ei=4NtESInqI4PoqgPmh-H-CA&hl=en
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrQ7VQIYbkg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoHXzBtVF_0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiZy9pTRp88
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObG12aVKuHk
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x25pip_outkast-beyoncehey-ya-crazy-in-love_music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KQHIH_F0Kg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73RkIMH48-c
http://www.wideo.fr/video/iLyROoaftE7n.html

And one for you Scott,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldgB9NLrcq8

(deleted comment was me... links didn't work)

Paul C said...

I've seen enough good hip-hop (or semi-hip-hop) live to know that it can be done, but I also think that historically most hip-hop artists just don't know how to give a decent live show. There's too many examples of some hooded dude mumbling into a mic while an invisible DJ scuffs beats over an inadequate sound system for me to agree 100% with Scene and Brad's comments.

For what it's worth: hip-hop acts can rip it up in two ways. The first way is when it's stripped down - two turntables and a microphone, in a venue where they can build a connection with the crowd. The second way is when you introduce live musicians which give it that factor x that only live music has. The first nods towards punk, the second nods towards soul/ funk - but both are uniquely hip-hop, and when they're done right they blow anything else out of the water.

Haven't seen the big stadium shows, so I can't really comment, but I'm not sure what I'd be going to see if I did.

brad said...

There's quality live shows in both genres all the time. There's also a lot of shitty live shows in both genres.

That's not the point.

The point is that Rock n' Roll is old and lame and Hip Hop is young and awesome.

Pedro said...

This article feels very naive. It's the lens of hip hop from someone who has been to few if any rap concerts. Your defense is based on live albums but not actual live experiences.

I don't know about large scale concerts in arenas, but I've been to enough hot blazing small scale shows that have been killed.

I've seen Atmosphere and Brother Ali control the crowd in their hand. My hands down favorite experience was watching Blueprint do a set with rjd2.

Rjd2 strapped on his synth to his body and played the song off it while doing the kid and play dance with Blueprint, who rapped along with him.

short answer? you need to go to some good rap shows.

(I still don't think wu-tang is good live, but Ghostface and Slick Rick killed it together once, so maybe it's just the 9 is not great live together.)

Marc Caputo said...

Scene: "Hip-Hop/Rap is largely a studio artform" doesn't strike me as necessarily a negative comment. What with the dense overlaying of samples and other components that make up much of the music for hip-hop along with the reliance (over-reliance, maybe?) on gimmickry like skits, the studio seems like a more natural place to create a hip-hop album. I'm nowhere near the hip-hop junkie I was 15 years ago, and even then not near many others but De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising" is in my top 5 albums of all time and I'd be hard pressed to see that pulled off live. Being a studio creation doesn't make one soulless and canned - usually what's needed for that is to have no soul or purpose for making your music in the first place.

Brad: a few years ago, I noted that hip-hop/rap was at the same age/status that rock was when it needed a kick in the ass. Acts like Gnarls Barkley and the Roots show that there is life beyond (and in spite OF) gangsta rap, just like the punks showed us that Pink Floyd and ELP wasn't the pinnacle rock was leading us to all that time.

Paul said...

I saw De La Soul last year. One hell of a show. Three guys a table and some records. Blew it up on the Louisville waterfront.

scott91777 said...

This is exactly why I wanted to post this, to get the counter-argument. Maybe, at the end, it just comes down to personal taste for me. I guess I have mainly been exposed to 'lazy hip-hop' artist. Again, there are exceptions, some of which are mentioned here, Gnarls Barkley, The Roots, The Fugees.

Scene-

I guess I don't 'get' the DJ thing... I mean I've seen it... it's impressive and obviously takes talent... but, for me, it doesn't hold a candle to a great guitar solo, again, just comes down to personal taste.

Also, see Marc's comment about my comment about "Hip Hop being more of a studio artform" that's what I meant... the best Hip-Hop albums are far from being souless and canned.

Ok, so if you guys feel that Hip-Hop obviously has the chops live
why do you feel it is taking so long to catch up with rock in terms of tours and such?

Is it because, as I think a few of you mentioned, Hip-Hop is at its best in smaller venues and maybe doesn't translate to arenas?

How big a part do you feel the race/class aspect plays into it?
I'm sure it does... especially with smaller acts or more 'controversial' artist like 50 cent... but is it really a factor with the 'Major' artist? (the Rolling Stone article would seem to indicate that it is decreasing as a factor for the best-selling artist).

Keep Commenting Guys! Geoff and I both want to get more stuff about music on here... and, as you can see, my own taste leans toward rock... and then only the more mainstream. So, if anyone is more knowledgable in other genres (Hip-Hop, Underground, Indie, Electronica etc.) feel free to bring that to the table.

Anonymous said...

Brad--I think Nas said it best: Hip Hop is dead. At this stage in the game, the genre is as old and lame as Rock 'n Roll. Perhaps Bad Radio said it best: "I feel sorry for rap: where do you go after the Beverly Hillbillies?"

Scott, you're right on the money here.

scott91777 said...

Brad-

lol! I just looked at the link you left for me... Did I mention that I hate southern rock? I just mentioned that Alman Brothers album as an example of a great live album (I do enjoy "Whipping Post" off of that album though).

... Or was this clip supposed to prove your point that Rock was old and lame?

Anyway, I'm just glad it wasn't "Jessica" ... the most obnoxious rock instrumental ever recorded.

Paul said...

Like rock music, the best hip hop and rap is currently being created on the indie level. But that's a personal opinion.

Marc Caputo said...

I've never seen a rap show/concert live, only awards show performances, and the odd one-off here and there (the LL Cool J UnPlugged comes to mind.) However, I've never been inspired to go see a hip-hop show from any of the albums I've listened to over the last 25 years.

Where (I think) live rock shows have the edge is in the potential for great improvisation in the instruments or for one's favorite song to be sung, with a line or verse phrased in a new way. I can't see and haven't to this point hip-hop being able to do that.

But it's not like there are THAT many great live rock albums. Take your major artists - the Beatles? None. That may have a lot to do with the limits of recording live 40+ years ago; they couldn't surmount the hysteria noise. This is also a reason the Beatles went into the studio for the last 3 years of their career. Also, I can see some performances being exciting and raw, but not transcendent. The Stones? Granted, they've had a lot of live albums, many of them with moments of pure bliss - but no one album stands out. Springsteen? Live 1975-1985 does a man's job of trying to recreate the "Springsteen" experience, but the best ones are still unreleased boots.

Sure, there are great ones - Filmore East from the original post , for sure. But they are few and far between. My favorites?

Hands down, the Bob Marley and the Wailers "Live!" from 1975. One disc, no fat. They could have ruled the world from that stage. By the way, I have a theory - totally personal, mind you - that if Marley hadn't died, the 1980s would not have been the hip-hop decade that it was, if it ascended at all. I believe that world music would have come into its own earlier and stronger. Hip-hop might have morphed with world music to create something bigger and betterthan either by the end, I'm sure, though.

Second, is Rush's "Exit...Stage Left". I have always loved this album , even though I parted from the band 20 years ago. I still love Rush's vision of the live album - to cap off a period and signal a new direction in next. That's respect for your audience.

Third - the two Talking Heads live albums. For the reasons above and because I love the band nearly more than any other.

My fourth is Genesis' "Seconds Out" from 1978, which may make all I've said to this point null and void in the minds of many, but I can defend it.

Number 5 - left open. I'm waiting for someone to release a Prince live album.

neilshyminsky said...

On race, class, and top grossing acts:
Hip-hop doesn't yet have an iconic act (think the Rolling Stones, Dylan, McCartney, Springsteen, Madonna, Mariah) that can command $500-1000 seats in the way that a number of pop and rock acts can, which is why you aren't going to see many hip-hop acts at the top of the tour charts. It's a demographic thing - older, wealthier, whiter people go to see the acts listed above. Kanye is about as close as you can get at this point to someone in hip-hop who is able to attract that crowd.

paul, re: indie level: But I think that's true of every genre. By the time something breaks into the mainstream (that is, gets any play on the radio) it's usually already old and broken.

neilshyminsky said...
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neilshyminsky said...

marc: "Where (I think) live rock shows have the edge is in the potential for great improvisation [...] I can't see and haven't to this point hip-hop being able to do that."

The improvisational element is with respect to the lyrics, first and foremost. Hip-hop songs tend to feature stronger narratives than most rock songs, and so changes in the story and its telling have more of an e/affect (And if the DJ is central to the act, then the performances will still be unalike, even if the narrative is unchanged.)

Marc Caputo said...

Neil: I think you've created a new definition of optimism - "Hip-Hop doesn't YET have an iconic act that can command $500 - $1000 seats..."

I'll agree with you about the lyrical improvisation - as a matter of fact, I was going to allude to that in one of my next comments - but I don't think that would be enough to make hip-hop live shows/albums fall into the "transcendent" category.

And as for the the stronger narrative comment, I'm going to disagree. Once upon a time, yes, but more and more of late, it's just bragging, boasting or the same tired themes of hip-hop rehashed with more offensive language.

Maybe I'm just not listening to the right hip-hop. I've heard Common is a cut above (or to the left) of traditional rap, but I've not listened to him.

Phil said...

Common and K-Os can usually find their way to my stereo. Kanye and Jay-Z have their place. That's about it as far as quality hip hop is concerned, though. Pickin's are slim.

neilshyminsky said...

Marc: "And as for the the stronger narrative comment, I'm going to disagree. Once upon a time, yes, but more and more of late, it's just bragging, boasting or the same tired themes of hip-hop rehashed with more offensive language."

I think you're right to follow this comment with 'maybe i'm just not listening to the right hip-hop'. The worst (and most prevalent) of every musical genre amounts to nothing more than clichés and/or self-indulgence. But I think that, on the whole, pop/rock lyrics are more lyrical (in the Aristotleian sense - about feelings) and hip-hop more narrative. There are plenty of exceptions on both sides, naturally.

brad said...

Truthfully, my ipod's full of both (including Eat a Peach). Neither genre's lame.

I've been to a lot of live rock and hip hop shows. And it all depends on the artist. Some move the crowd. Some don't.

I think the argument doesn't hold a lot of water unless you actually go to shows. Otherwise it's all speculation.

scott91777 said...

Neil-

I think maybe it's that Rap doesn't yet have an 'iconic live act'... I would certainly consider Snoop Dogg an Icon wouldn't you?

Marc-
"Where (I think) live rock shows have the edge is in the potential for great improvisation in the instruments or for one's favorite song to be sung, with a line or verse phrased in a new way. I can't see and haven't to this point hip-hop being able to do that."
most of your comments have done a good job of zeroing in and more eloquently stating certain ideas I had and this is a good example of that... but again this is a point that, I think, comes down to personal taste.

On live albums:

Have you seen/heard Springsteen Live at the Hammersmith Odeon '75?
It was originally included as a DVD with the 30th anniversarry Born To Run release and later released on its own as a CD. Probably my all time favorite live album... or Live at Leeds (the remastered versions where you get the whole concert not just 6 songs)... depending on my mood.

Wilco's Kicking Television is amazing since its the first time we got to hear Nels Cline playing with them and he is just Insane live.

You also don't have to convince me on Genesis... great, great live band... a great blend of theatre and musicianship.

scott91777 said...

You know, maybe I am just getting old, I just picked up the new Weezer album at Target and the kid checking me out said "Oh, I have their first album?" I said "Oh, you mean the Blue Album?" He said, "Is that the one with 'Beverly Hills'?"

So, this kid had no idea Weezer existed before 3 years ago... is this sad or am I just old?

Scene -- said...

A lot of the further responses I would have had have been already made by Neil . . . so I'll just co-sign his thoughts on demographics and lack of an icon at this point.

Right now, Jay-Z is there but he keeps feigning retirement. I've said before about Kanye that the thing preventing him from becoming a pop icon is that he's so concerned with being a pop icon. But he has the potential.

Hip-Hop also works against itself in that it is so youth/new-centric. Jigga will never be Jigga again because he keeps getting older. Now he makes songs about 30 being the new 20 (even though he's damn near 40), and the kids are losing interest.

So nowadays, BELIEVE me, KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane can tear up the damn stage but they can't draw the crowd they deserve because they're seen as outdated.

Hip-Hop doesn't have that "classics" mentality. When the kids say "old school" now they're usually referring to something fairly recent, like Tupac or the Wu or Tribe Called Quest.

And Marc -- I may be unclear about what you mean by improvistion, but lots of hip-hop shows I've been to have featured "new" versions of songs, whether it's delivering lyrics differntly, rhyming over a different beat, or having the beat played and lushed out by a band. Kanye does a lot of this in his new show. Also, lots of freestyling happening at a lot of shows -- crowd goes nuts.

I get a feeling from some of these posts that people view hip-hop as very boxed-in and lacking spontaneity. I don't really see this as being true. That said, I also don't see this would necessarily makes for a bad concert going experience. Part of the kick I get out of great emcees or DJs is their precision. I like seeing that Black Thought can actually rhyme like that, JUST LIKE ON THE RECORD, seemingly without breathing and with perfect enunciation. I don't really have a need for him to interpret or improvise.

scott91777 said...

Scene-

Do you thing the 'youth market' aspect could also be damaging to the Hip-Hop artist in the touring sense? Think about all the veteran acts in other genres who can't top the charts but can sell out arenas.

If Hip-Hop is so quick to dismiss older artists of it's own genre, then it makes it harder to build up an audience over consecutive tours.

I'm sure a lot of the reason that you have Springsteen shows selling out is because you get a lot of families (Mom, Dad and Kids) going to shows together... this would also explain why stuff like High School Musical and Hannah Montana (sic) are so successful live.

Note: when I saw Springsteen this little girl passed the Boss a note that said "I like you way better than Hannah Montana"... I'm pretty sure her parents wrote it... but I thought it was sweet... and she got to get up on stage and sing on "Darlington County" after she gave him the note, also sweet, and something that probably wouldn't have happenned at a Hannah Montana show.

scott91777 said...

I think we can reach a few conclusions based on our discussions:

Hip-Hop's lagging behind other genres in terms of bankable live acts has less to do with the actual music as I had initially indicated (although, for me personally as well as for the more casual Hip-Hop fan, I feel it still plays a factor) than it has to do with a few other factors:

1. I may have been off base when I said Hip-Hop was 'dance' music (my bad) but I think I was closer to the mark with my observation that, currently at least, the ideal environment to hear hip-hop live is not a large arena but a smaller, more intimate venue.

2. There are certain cultural factors that have less to do with race/class issues than they have to do with, as scene pointed out, a certain youth culture that would seem to be inherent in hip-hop that tends to focus on 'the now' which may hinder the growth of an 'iconic live act' (is this also a factor with Hip-Hop in general? In terms of staying power of the artists that is. Thoughts on this?)

3. As Rolling Stone pointed out, the decrease in CD sales has forced Hip-Hop to up their game in terms of big concert tours. In the past, the smash album was enough but, in the digital age, Hip-Hop artists are learning what Rock and other genres have long known that the real money is on the road (in the merchandise really... you sell a lot more T-shirts when you go on the road... and make a lot more profit off of them).

I think that it's perhaps safe to say that, in terms of big time conert tours, Hip-Hop is slowly beginning to grow and learn the trade... not just in terms of performance... but in terms of organization and marketing as well.

I like when I learn from being wrong : )

Thanks Guys! Keep The Comments Coming and maybe Geoff will put this on the Best of the Blog!

neilshyminsky said...

scott: "I think maybe it's that Rap doesn't yet have an 'iconic live act'... I would certainly consider Snoop Dogg an Icon wouldn't you?"

Absolutely. But I qualified 'icon' as someone who could command $1000 sections in an arena. Snoop isn't there.

And about your Weezer story... you're a long time fan and you actually bought the new album? I realize that the expression 'you couldn't pay me to...' is overused, but you couldn't pay me to listen to anything they've released in the past 5 years. The Pitchfork review of Make Believe sums up my feelings perfectly - it was so bad that I had to reconsider whether they were any good in the first place.

James said...

That's so true. The grimy aura of late-Weezer has bled back far enough that I only kept the blue one. Eurgh.

Anyway, good discussion fellas.

Scene -- said...

Scott -- I can roll with those conclusions. Good stuff, and definitely food for further thought.

This talk stayed with me away from the Internet and I stayed up last night watching Fade to Black and Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Good times, haha.

Geoff Klock said...

Brad insisted I weigh in on this; unfortunately I am going to keep it to why I am keeping out.

I hate to admit it, but I am a bit of a philistine on this point – I almost never go to shows. I think this has something to do with the fact that for a long time I had so much free time I just read books and rarely listened to music, unless my roommate had something on. When my life got busy with constant errands – and jogging four days a week -- THEN I began to load up my iPod and listen to music every single day. As a result, though, I get really jittery at concerts, since my music collection is designed almost entirely to move around to.

And yeah, this is going on the Best of the Blog: Conversations.

Julian Lytle said...

I've never really posted on here before but I have the need to chime in. See being 28 I've had Hip Hop around me my whole life, I don't really know what it is not to have it around or hear people just rhyming to rhyme. I think a point missig in this discussion (and I might be wrong) is that Hip Hop in its craetion is a live artform. When started in South Bronx in the late late 70s by DJ Kool Herc it was about Block Parties and MC keeping the people entertained while the DJ was getting ready for a new set. Hip Hop is one few forms of American music to create its own dance form. Now after it was seen that you could make money from Hip Hop or more importantly the rapping aspect of it with the Sugar Hill Gang things started to change. There are different eras so far in terms of concerts for Hip Hop after Def Jam came on the scene and had a lot of big acts they has some big tours featuring RUN DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J and others like Fresh Prince (Will Smith). Over time because of the gangsta rap era and certain violent events at some shows, places stopped booking Hip Hop shows in large venues. Large shows didn't come back into favor until around 1997 when Puff Daddy (now Diddy) decided it was time to get a Big tour again with other acts at teh time like Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z. It was a high grossing Tour, it let people see that a large scale HIp Hop show is safe and viable. And in 1999 Jay-z Headlined the next big tour. So not to go in to a large History lesson but currently one of the main reasons that Hip Hop isn't doing well in terms of tours is that in large part alot of the big acts are not touring or live performing. Eminem had the last big Hip Hop tour and he kinda left the performing, so did Outkast because Andre 3000 has said he doesn't want to tour.

another Factor is age. Rock is pretty old and has alot of old fan who will travel and go see shows of the Rolling Stones or U2. Hip Hop isn't that old yet. Most of Hip Hops earliest stars and fans are just entering their 40s. And they still perfom all over the place. PE still tours when Flav ain't on TV. The Jay-Z tour did very well ad so is the Kanye tour. there alot of hope in terms of Hip Hop's growth it is at a transition period.

Also besides LL Cool J unplugged performance Jay-Z also had one in 2001 and was released as an album, it is live it is his first collaberation with the Roots crew.THey was his backing band, and since every live performance has been led by ?uestlove from the Roots. He also recently did a VH1 storytellers of his recent alum American Gangster. Live Hip Hop is out there you just gotta look.

scott91777 said...

Thanks for contributing Julian.

I would have definitely classified Jaz-Z among my exceptions when I was writing this blog. Your point about Hip-Hop starting as a live artform is totally on the mark but, as I have pointed out, this was on a much smaller scale in smaller venues where Hip-Hop still seems to work best live.

You're also probably right about the 'gangsta rap' image being damaging for a period in the 90's and this may have helped to hinder the growth of live rap at a time when it should have been blossoming.

So, to go back to my revised conclusion, I think it's still developing as a live format... but there are probably a few inherent reasons that, for me at least, will always make it, not unappealing, but less appealing than a live rock band (not the least of which is my own personal outdated white boy tastes)

:)

Hallzie said...

Are you sure you understand hip hop culture?

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