"Too often, hip hop still lacks deep vision and analysis. It's morally underdeveloped and spiritually immature." - Cornel West
Most people would be surprised to know how much I enjoy hip hop. At least, my guess is most would be surprised. I really love hip hop, but I am incredibly picky as to what hip hop I will endure.
Dr. West's thoughts above get to the heart of my picky-ness as it relates to the hip hop I enjoy. There are a few criteria an artist has to meet for me to enjoy them.
- Is it well-written? I care too much about the beauty and art of written and spoken word to waste time with "artists" who pay no mind or effort to the craft.
- Is it thoughtful? I am no longer (and never was) interested in how much more sex, money, or arrogance you have than me. But if you are writing for a purpose outside and beyond yourself, I am all ears.
- Is it redemptive or impactful? Tricia Rose said, "Hip hop has become a primary means by which we talk about race in the United States." I not only agree but would say that, as any artistic expression, hip hop has the capacity to be dramatically redemptive and impacting in endless issues.
One artist in the last few years has surfaced for me as one fulfills all of these criteria as well as many others. Shad is out of Canada and still has a swagger you do not expect from mounty country. He is uber-creative, thoughtful, and well-thought. It is evident in his work. Get all three albums and thank me later.