Words By Marky Mark
Truth hurts right? No, not this one, but the actual truth. Big Daddy Kane went on a bit of a rant about on Instagram when he shouted out Macklemore for showing love to cats like Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel in his video for “Downtown,” and called out other emcees for not doing the same in a now deleted Instagram post:
“REAL TALK!!! I don’t see one artist in the game that put Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee or Grandmaster Caz on their new song or let them perform on the VMA’s (Including Me) but people wanna have a problem with @macklemore for paying homage to them?”
Now we can do the back and forth all day on Macklemore’s intentions and whether or not this was a true move of sincerity or his version of a Hail Mary to gain favor with the Hip-Hop gods and acceptance by the fans, but the fact is, he did it and other cats aren’t. So why is that?
The love-hate relationship the game has with its past is bugged out in the sense that everything builds off of something else. Without Kane and Rakim, no Jay and Nas. Without Jay and Nas, no Drake and Kendrick, but we seem to always want to look to the new dopeness rather than realizing that just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s not dope anymore.
For the past few years we’ve celebrated a few 20th anniversaries and next year we’ve got even more to celebrate from that ’90s era, but in some cases, these anniversary celebrations are the equivalent of dragging a grandparent out of the retirement home for their birthday. They get all the attention for a few hours over the course of a few days but once that last candle is blown out (with a little help of course) we trot them back into the old-folks home and tell them to wait there until next year, when we’ll remember they’re important again.
It’s hard to think of another genre that has this issue with its pioneers. Keith Richards just did an interview calling out hip-hop and rock, Paul McCartney is still Paul McCartney, and U2 continues to defy the laws of logic and nature with their relevancy and refusal to age. The point is, rarely do we see any type of shots thrown their way and they seem to be greeted with open arms by new generations. Genres like rock, jazz, blues, R&B (remember R&B?) have been around long enough where every opinion can be heard from any age group and it doesn’t pay to forget the past.
On the other hand, hip-hop is the real life version of Logan’s Run and once you hit a certain age, that expiration date on your forehead shows up and it’s time to move on. It’s a young man’s game so why bother listening to cats old enough to be on AARP or who are only “hating”? But let’s say you’re not a fan of an old-school cat. You respect their legacy and you’re fully aware of said legacy, but their music has never moved you. Do you have to show them the same love Macklemore did? While hip-hop firmly has its roots in the past it has no desire to be anchored to it and maybe, just maybe, to some cats what sounded dope 20 years ago just won’t resonate now.
Then again, maybe it’s not anything that artistic and falls more in line with marketing. Maybe the reason Kool Moe Dee isn’t popping up in Rick Ross’ latest or Sir Mix-A-Lot isn’t performing “Anaconda” with Nikki at the VMAs is because their target audience would have no clue who it is. Artists know exactly whom they’re trying to reach and what it takes to excite them. As fans, we agonize over every line on the latest offering from our favorite rapper but in reality, our favorite rapper is probably just as much of a businessperson as the guy signing their checks. Yeah, they may love Public Enemy, but if it makes no sense to have PE on stage or Biz Markie in their video, why do it?
Which brings us back to Macklemore. On the real, why he did it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the artists he showed love to will now be seen by fans who ordinarily wouldn’t see them and they might become a tad more aware.
And the dopest thing about it? It wasn’t their birthdays, it wasn’t an anniversary, and they didn’t have to die to become relevant again.