The great thing about Hip Hop when I was growing up was the feeling of inclusion, the gut instinct that I could one day participate in the fine art of decapitating fellow MC's in front of a crowd of onlookers regardless what my background was. Sure New York ran Hip Hop during my formidable years, but I never felt that Virginia was excluded, I knew that we hadn't gotten our time to shine yet. I mean, if I grew up to be a criminal who's favorite pastime was throwing dudes out of windows and breaking men's noses with the same casual nature one would exhibit during a handshake, Kool G Rap provided that blueprint for a brother. If I grew up to be a lyrical assassin like Rakim, a class clown like Biz Markie it was OK, the Fat Boys showed me that if I had a problem with my thyroid and all you can eat buffets, that dangerously overweight MC's could rock the house. Public Enemy, Special Ed, Kwame, Kid N Play, artists with different backgrounds showed me that I could be myself and still be accepted in the Hip Hop community whenever I decided to throw my microphone in the ring.
Then, I guess in the mid-90's, it suddenly seemed that you had to have legitimate street cred to be taken seriously in the Hip Hop game. Sure, I understand demanding some sort of credibility from artists who brag about drug deals, busting guns, and the disposal of dead body's in the first person, a lengthy street reputation I guess can help when peddling that sort of fiction. But soon it seemed that you had to have some street credibility, regardless what the style of Hip Hop you were producing. I remember hearing Russel Simmons talk about Hip Hop artists needing a "great back-story", on some professional wrestling shit, to be successful in the rap game. A couple of weeks ago, when Young Jeezy was criticizing Nas' feeling that Hip Hop being dead, he questioned his artistic legitimacy by saying this shit: “Nas ain’t no street n*gga. He ain’t been in no street. So Nas ain’t done anything he talk about … Nas bust his guns? Nas been on the block? Do Nas have street credibility?"
"Bust his guns"? I never knew that wordsmiths with the hopes of seeing their name one day in lights had to be a card carrying member of the N.R.A. to be an MC? Maybe it would make more sense if we had motherfuckers go through some sort of Navy Seal training, so when they talk about giving a guy an emergency tracheotomy with sharpie he sounds more believable. Hey, I've seen enough "hood movies" and gang related documentaries ala "Bangin' in Little Rock", lets make it so any rapper who wants to talk about the ills of the ghetto has to be jumped in, being on the business end of many shell-toe Adidas, Nike's, and a slew of other brands. Listen, we're all grown-ups here and know that the man behind the curtain is the fact that many of these guys never did the things that they rap about, just stop acting like any sort of criminal history makes it cool for you to wax poetic about it and not others. Finally, getting shot doesn't give you a bigger soap-box to spew your lies either, it just proves that you are a slow draw and a quick healer.