Recently Philly musical artist Lil Uzi Vert declined to freestyle over a Dj Premier beat declaring “ he was not into that and he was too young.” My immediate reaction was to scoff at Mr. Uzi Vert, but I looked at responses on Twitter and they ranged from disgust to full endorsements of his decision to fight the “standards” of hip-hop.
Now, I always take into account there are about 305 million active Twitter users so even if 10,000 people agree with something they may still be an extremely small sample of any given group. I’ll be honest. I have heard of Lil Uzi Vert, but intentionally have decided to forgo listening to any of his music because the name is just not my cup of tea. I also suspect he is not familiar with an Uzi, but I could be wrong. More importantly, it got me to thinking why do we (hip hop lovers, mothers, others, sisters and brothers) have such a tug-of- war with the culture specifically regarding young and old?
Yes, our genre is young, but should there be standards for what it means to be a part of the culture? Specifically, if you consider yourself a “rapper”? I understand just because you are a rapper does not mean you can freestyle. That is a specific skill set within the genre. Maybe free styling is not his bag. But to say he’s young and that a beat, a Preemo beat no less, is old fogey shit makes me want to shake my fist and tell these young whippersnappers to get off my lawn. But maybe that is the very reason this is happening.
The culture can be very lion pride. You know, the adult leader male chases or possibly kills off his own male offspring if it means he can continue to reign. Have older generations not nurtured the young to respect the culture to revere their predecessors while still allowing younger generations to lead? Yeah, I can definitely see that. Can we continue to conduct ourselves this way? Nope, we absolutely cannot. Would any other genre balk at a request to show love? I seriously doubt it. We seem to lack respect for one another. That needs to change. Just because a rapper is not for me doesn’t mean their validity in the culture is invalid. Just because you cross 40 years of age doesn’t mean you go to the glue factory. But are there criteria to being in this culture? Are there things you should know? Are there things, or music, or musicians that are considered the Holy Grail and disrespecting them is tantamount to treason? Maybe…
Without question we have to think about the culture long term. How will we allow acts to become our Rolling Stones? It’s less up to the youngins and more on us to uphold the standards, that means spending money and going to concerts marketed to an older demographic, while appreciating what the incoming artists have to offer. And sometimes that means telling a disrespectful muthafucka to get off my damn grass.