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the beautiful destruction

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

By The Time I Get To Arizona

I'm shipping out this afternoon for Tucson, Arizona. Rumor has it the temperature is around 96 degrees--a little better than the 100-110 degrees I read about last week. I'll be covering a mini baja competition for the magazine I work for.

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Pictured: Glen E. Friedman photography of Chuck D and Flavor Flav for the album "It Takes A Nation Of Millions..."

It seems like it may be somewhat interesting, we'll see. While gathering my things here in Cubesville, the phrase "By the time I get to Arizona" popped into my head. Now, for those who dig Public Enemy, you know that's a track from Fear of a Black Planet. And then I thought, what's going on with Public Enemy? Flavor Flav and his fifteen minutes of reality TV fame are just about up. And Chuck D seems to keep busy with his radio show, speaking engagements, etc. But why don't we hear more from them musically? Who knows, maybe that newer work they've done is good, but what I've heard is kinda mediocre. It seems like they've slipped, lost their edge. I know hip-hop could sure use the prescence of a intelligent and politically-charged emcee like Chuck D.

It would be a fresh change of pace to have controversy in the rap/hip-hop world that was centered around a group (i.e. PE) that was making waves for its subject matter instead of beefs between rappers and everyones' incessant quest for fame and money. Commercial hip-hop is at an all-time low. At its core, hip-hop is more than music, it's culture, and very influential at that. But it seems to have gone astray over the past 5 years. "Concious" hip-hop, like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Pharcyde, etc. used to be a respectable sub-genre. Now, those types of groups are either retired, broken up, or desperately attempting to remain relevant.

I'm not sure where my rant here is headed. Certainly, there is tons of great new music being released, but it has become harder to find the "good stuff." I receive oodles of advance music to review for magazines. Much of which is hip-hop. While there are always the handful of artists doing groundbreaking work (i.e. Madlib, Prefuse 73, MF Doom, Boom Bip, and the like) there is far more crap being shoveled down listeners throats...er, jammed in their ears, whatever fuckin' jumbled metaphor applies.

Maybe my feelings have to do with getting older, feeling farther and farther removed from my younger point-of-view. Recently, I've found myself almost coming full circle. Black Sabbath is in heavy rotation again, I'm fiending for some old Metallica ala Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightning and I've been getting into some post-punk stuff again. Who knows... it's just this whole idea of band/rapper/musician as pre-packaged goods that just keeps becoming more toxic and encroaching on the days when going to a show or concert was fun. But maybe that's life. It always gets harder, never easier. So maybe my suspension of disbelief, my ability to diconnect, is too tarnished to purely enjoy what is offered up as music.

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