The Vision – G.E. Hip Hop Genre


The year 2022 saw Hip Hop officially turn 49 years old, coincidentally matching my own age. Little did Kool Herc know when he hosted the “Back to School Jam” in 1973, he would make history. As a 70s-baby and a child of the 80s, Hip Hop has been an intricate part of my life. Just as I’ve continued to navigate the everchanging seasons that inevitably progress with the passing of time, Hip Hop also grew; from humble East Coast underground beginnings, into a global force now affecting all forms of media throughout countless cultures and countries. Through the decades, Hip Hop has taken on many different shades as it continues to march through history. Today—as an artistic form of musical expression—Hip Hop endures time’s constant tests, and continues to evolve with the fanatical and, sometimes, fickle tastes of public opinion.

While Hip Hop continues to adapt to change, it has yet to reach a state of true maturation. As the children of the 70s and 80s are now entering the years of silver-haired wisdom and patriarchal roles in society, Hip Hop’s source material never truly left adolescence. Some of the Golden Era artists of the 70s and 80s seemed to have faded away from the music they pioneered. The culture has changed, and they simply do not fit into the box created by mainstream media outlets dictating what is popular and possible to generate revenue. Other Golden Era artists have conformed to the model of doing Old School Review concerts, essentially reliving the glory days by revisiting the music that moved our generation. But there is a remnant of the old guard who continue to champion the Golden Era style of Hip Hop, by creating new music yet remaining true to their own style of cadence, story-telling, beat-production, sampling and rhythm.

These Hip Hop purists refuse to go quietly into the night, and fight to keep the legacy of Hip Hop’s roots alive and well. They refuse to use Autotunes. Trap beats and simple three-note basslines are not a part of their arsenal. Cuts and scratches are still woven into tracks as instrumentation. Lyrics are complexly spit without slurs and mumbles; verses are punched perfectly on beat; and though subjects may seem somewhat familiar and relatable to the everyday struggles of the past, the messages are crafty and clever in delivery. These are still the traits of true emcees and DJs from the old school. They live on today, even though their messages are often lost in the shuffle of the present culture’s definition of Hip Hop.

I love Hip Hop. I always have. I always will. Knocking on the door of my 50s, I long to hear new messages, clever stories and even battle raps spit over boom bap and G-Funk beats by not only those Golden Era artists, DJs and producers still around, but from some of the new Thundercats with true lyrical skills who long to revisit the style that birthed the culture we live and breathe. I don’t particularly need to hear another rap about the latest car, the club atmosphere or how many women are in someone’s bed. As I’ve aged, my interests have changed with life’s progression. Hip Hop has experienced the same type of change. Yet, I’m hard-pressed to find any emcees who will talk about life after 30, 40 or even 50. It is as if Hip Hop has a comic book character immortality. While Spiderman may change with the times, his core character will always exist between the ages of 16 and 26. Any older age calls for a revamp and rehashing of the Superhero. That’s the way mainstream music treats Hip Hop. At some point in time, the beat must go on, but traveled in a new direction dictated by the masses. And those emcees of yesteryear are quietly forgotten.

My Hip Hop needs to grow up with me. There is a place in music for the Hip Hop of my 16 year-old son’s culture, and I’m certainly not bashing the young artists who cater to and make a living off of the popular styles today. But, we Golden Era fans long for new music as well; and we shouldn’t have to be forced to pick from what is the current status quo. Our Hip Hop heroes are still alive and still have something to say. And I’d be willing to bet that they would be excited to create new music that pays homage to their early days on the mic, before the fat contracts; before the agents and lawyers; before the glamor outweighed the fun of the music. When I reach 75 years old, I want to still be excited about hearing new music with an old school flare, by artists who walked through every stage of my life with me, musically. This is my dream. It’s my vision. Hip Hop’s Golden Era revisited anew.

In popular music, current artists are making decent livings by creating new music paying homage to the swing-era of classical jazz music. Artists such as Michael Bublé and Frances Madden not only draw crowds for remakes of classic swing tunes, but also for original works of art mimicking the style of the big band tunes of the 40s and 50s. I think it’s cool that these artists are able to revisit a genre of music that has endured the test of time, and still connect with an audience hungry for that music. Closer to home, The Weeknd produced a brilliant body of work in his album, “Dawn FM”, where the artist revisited the 80s style of Pop and R&B music for the majority of the album. It worked beautifully, attracting Millennials and Gen-Z fans toward a genre of music made popular 40 years before them. It’s time Hip Hop did the same, by giving a voice to our pioneers and arming them with the instrumentals, beats and melodies that will inspire them to draw strength from their beginnings to push through the future. It’s time we give Hip Hop a proper category that focuses on the feel, heart and soul of the old school coupled with new lyrics and tales from our heroes.

The Golden Era needs a resurgence. Personally, I think our pioneers still have gas in the tank and are simply waiting for the right time to pull the car back onto the street and light the tires on fire. And I’m not just talking about a cameo verse here or a single there; a few bars spit over a 2:10-minute beat or an ad-lib over a chorus for another artist. No. I think it’s time we give our beloved Hip Hop its own Golden Era genre; call it G.E. Hip Hop if you will. It needs to be strictly dedicated to new music mimicking that unique sound made popular by rap of the late 70s through the mid 90s. It needs to give space for seasoned emcees to bring new material, or even revised classics, to the table. It needs to provide a space for producers to create instrumentals specifically tailored to artists looking for that era-sound. Scratch DJs should find a home here. Lyrical cyphers should be welcomed. Young emcees with a flair for unique story-telling should be invited. In the classic movie, “Brown Sugar” Dre Ellis said it best, “Real emceeing; that’s the hook”.

I realize that not all folks will agree with my vision. There are a lot of great rappers and producers out there making a way for Hip Hop in today’s culture, and I mean them no disrespect. A return to the Golden Era style of Hip Hop is not for everyone, but it is something that is missing in our musical culture today. I believe there is a fanbase out here craving that genre. And I believe this culture we love (so much) owes our pioneers a debt of gratitude. What better way than to give them space inside the very culture they created, to share what they have to say today.

In truth, I have no idea how to bring the vision of the G.E. Hip Hop genre to fruition. I’m a nobody in the grand machine that is Hip Hop; not even a single small cog. My hope is to share this vision with enough people, until the vision reaches the right people who can help to manifest it. My vision sees legendary emcees like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS One and Kool Moe Dee (just to name a few) trading verses over Ennis “Bro. E” Smith produced instrumentals; MC Lyte, Salt-N-Peppa, and Roxanne Shanté representing for the Queens of the Era over some of my minimalist beats; LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Ice-T and Ice Cube representing two Coasts, trading verses over one of my throw-back type tracks. This is the music I want to hear from Hip Hop today. There is a fanbase waiting for this genre to appear. If we build it, they will come. So where are my builders? The vision is here. The pioneers stay ready. How do we pull it all together?  

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Or reach out to me and let’s talk about it.


The Message Is In The Music


Earlier this evening, I had a bible study with my 9 year-old son, Isaiah, and my 12 year-old daughter, Jordynn. Somewhere in the middle of the study, the subject of music was raised. My son Isaiah said, “Daddy, honestly I’ve listened to your song, ‘Judgment Day (Revelation)’ and it creeps me out. The music is sweet. It’s the story that’s scary.”


* SHAMELESS PLUG: If you have no idea of what Isaiah was talking about, look to your left; down a bit, just passed my “” link. You see that music player below? Click on track number 5. If you like it, I sure would appreciate you supporting my music ministry by going to the link and purchasing my digital EP, “The Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing“. I’m spreading the gospel through my music. Thank you friends. *


I responded, “I can dig it, Zeek. It is a scary story to a lot of people, because it describes the vision the Apostle John was given of events yet to come. You have to remember buddy, The book of Revelation is not some fantastic fictional story created to scare people. It’s an account of what John actually saw in the Spirit; an account of things to come in the last days.”

Isaiah thought about that for a moment. Such a thing has to be hard for a kid to comprehend. I turned to Jordynn.

“Honey, that’s not exactly something you would be excited to read about, is it?”

“Not really,” she said. “But, I know I need to know about it because I believe what the bible says.”

“So let me ask you guys this: We’ve read through Revelation before. While listening to the words of the song, did you recognize some of the things we actually read about?”

Jordynn said, “Yeah! I actually found it easier to understand it after listening to your song, daddy. I don’t know; it’s weird how I just kinda learned the words from the song, and it made understanding the book easier.”

“It’s not weird at all. That’s actually how the influence of music works. Do you guys want to know why listening to certain music is dangerous for young minds like yours?”

“Yeah,” Jordynn said.

“Why?” Isaiah asked.

“It’s because you’re lured into the content by the rhythm of the beat and the sounds of the melody and harmony. 8 times out of 10, kids will follow the instrumental portion of a song, before they even understand the message behind the vocals.”

They both looked at each other inquisitively.

“The fact is, a lot of music on pop and R&B stations today glamorizes and glorifies some of society’s worse behavior. Kids your age don’t even realize what they’re talking about when they go around shouting, ‘Let me see you twerk it, girl,’ or ‘Bend over and touch your toes,’ and ‘Ride it ’til the sun comes up’. Jordynn honey, those types of songs are actually degrading to women! The sad part is, kids sing the lyrics as if they are proud to spout them.”

Isaiah asked, “Daddy, what exactly is ‘twerkin’? A lot of kids at school say that.”

“That’s a conversation for when you’re older, son. But believe me when I tell you, it makes women look like harlots. When a man is telling a woman to twerk it, he’s looking at her as an object, not as a virtuous woman. Some of these men have daughters. If a young boy yelled at their daughters to ‘twerk it’ there would be a serious problem.”

“Sometimes, I just listen to songs for the music,” Jordynn said.

“You still have to be careful, honey. The message is always in the music. Watch this for example. I’m gonna give you guys a few famous bars, from my time.”

I took a deep breath, and prepared to sensor myself at the right moments.

“F(bleep) the po-lice, comin’ straight from the underground.

A young N(bleep) got it bad, ’cause I’m brown.

And not the other color so police think,

they have the authority to kill a minority.

F(bleep) that s(bleep), ’cause I ain’t the one,

for a punk motherf(bleep) with a badge and a gun to be beatin’ on,

and thrown in jail, we can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell.

F(bleep) with me ’cause I’m a teenager,

with a little bit of gold and a pager,

searchin’ my car, lookin’ for the product,

thinkin’ every n(bleep) is selling narcotics.”

Jordynn’s mouth hung wide open. Isaiah clasped his hands over his ears and scrunched his nose.

“Who in the world would listen to that stuff?” Jordynn asked.

“Daddy did, faithfully,” I answered.

“What?!” Isaiah yelled. “Daddy! Not cool, man. Not cool.”

“Actually, it was very cool back in my day, because it was rapped over a tight beat and dope music. At least, back then, I thought it was cool. Imagine an entire neighborhood of kids your age, going around shouting, ‘Bleep the po-lice’. That was my generation. And you know what? Today, not only are some of the old guys my age still listening to it and emulating the music’s message, but so are their kids. We now have two generations of people behaving disrespectfully toward good cops, out there risking their lives to protect people. Folks like an old friend of mine, named Officer Johnson; and another good friend, named Officer Parks.”

“Wow. I never really thought about that,” Jordynn said.

“Now watch this.”

I took another deep breath, preparing to spit holy fire at the top of my lungs.

“Christian! I’ve got my faith on high.

Small stature in the world, but I keep my eyes to the sky.

I’ve got the heart of a lion, at 5-7, 153;

Protected by the Lord partna’, ain’t nobody touchin’ me.

Reclaiming everything he’s stolen from us,

The victory’s already won because in God I trust.

You can keep your agitations; forget your frustrations;

raise my hands up the heaven and commence the celebration.

Phony riches in the air they flaunt,

but the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want.

I’ve got no need to roll with a crew to know I prevail,”

Isaiah chimed in, falling right in place alongside me.

“I stand alone,” we shouted, “I…do…not fail!”

“That’s sweet, Daddy,” my son said.

“Even without music?” I asked.

“Yup, even without music.”

“So let me ask you, how does that verse make you feel inside?” I asked.

“Like I can do anything, because God is with me,” Jordynn said.

“Like a superdude,” Isaiah said.

“That’s the power of the message in the music, guys. We can be tricked into receiving terrible messages that cause us to feel a certain way about people, or we can be encouraged to love others, push harder, run faster, or be better than we were before by the message in positive music. Garbage in, garbage out. Goodness in, goodness out.”

“Daddy, does anybody buy your music?” Isaiah asked.

“Nope. But that’s not really the point, Zeek. My music is for spreading God’s truth. If someone pays me for it, then that’s great. But the real purpose is to share the gospel through nice beats and sweet melodies. If I can get someone hooked onto the beat and have them begin to listen…I mean really listen…to the words I speak, then just maybe someone will begin to think about the truth of the Lord’s word. That’s the whole point of daddy’s music, buddy. That’s the message in my music.”