Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Leeds Festivities

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I have just returned from a superb weekend at the Leeds Carling Weekend 2007. In the past three to four days I've seen about 20 great bands and I've enjoyed every minute of it, with absolutely no hint of hip-hop in sight. I know this blog and its friends are strictly hip-hop, and it will stay that way, but I will set out my musical taste here.

I am, of course, primarily a hip-hip head, but I spend only say 50% of my music-listening time with hip-hop on. I listen to metal, indie, soul, rock, funk, dance, all of it. But rock/metal is my second love. And I must say, it was nice to get away from hip-hop for a few days and just be a rock fan for once instead of just towing the line.

I hope that everyone that visits this site loves rock and many other genres as well as hip-hop, because if you just seclude yourself and commit to one genre you're missing out on thousands upon thousands of superb other artists that could change your life. Right about now, I have to bring up a more serious point.

Hip-hop, RIGHT NOW, is not as creative as it used to be (what an understatement that is...). OK, thats no problem, as the creative output from times gone by was at such a high level it would have been impossible for fans to expect our beloved genre to keep on developing and bettering itself at such a high pace. But the problem does not lie within itself. Hip-hop, RIGHT NOW, is nowhere near as creative as many other genres. Rock, indie and metal are flourishing right about now, and even older bands in those genres such as Nine Inch Nails and the like are experiencing a rebirth of sorts, by tapping into new sounds and changing their own perception on what music should sound like. I just feel like hip-hop is stuck in a rut at this moment.

When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing the festival out as the headliners on Sunday night, and had well over 100,000 people all singing along and appreciating their artistry I wondered to myself, could this ever happen in hip-hop?

I just don't think hip-hop at the moment is as good a live spectacle as a) it once was, and b) other genres are. I seriously cannot imagine even the best hip-hop artist in the world (whoever that may be depending on your opinion) being able to both draw a crowd that big into a muddy field and support them and have them hypnotised for the whole time they're on stage.

I've been to some great hip-hop gigs. I saw The Roots at Rock City in Nottingham and was almost drooling when Black Thought was rapping constantly for what seemed like 20 minutes. I saw Nas in the Manchester Apollo and sang along with every song he did and felt like I was part of something special when the first few bars of 'It Ain't Hard To Tell' came out of Nasir's mouth. But these are exceptions. Most hip-hop gigs I go to comprise of just the group members or rappers all walking about the stage going through the motions, shouting at the crowd and generally just looking like they cobbled together the set minutes before. I saw Enter Shikari, a trance/metal british group at Leeds Festival and they had an entire light show going on while managing to persuade the crowd to start pit circles and chant choruses and the lead singer got his whole band to stage dive into the crowd and dance like ravers when the trance came in. It was a sight to behold. Most rappers these days just stand and, well, rap.

I would be interested to see a hip-hop festival, because none have ever been staged as far as I know in my region, and none in our country have been staged on a truly huge scale. But one factor remians, both on creative and performance levels, hip-hop as a genre in this day and age is slipping, and needs to step up. It's falling behind other genres so much at the moment due to its insistence to be monotonous to irritating levels in its commercial circles.

A weekend listening to some great guitar music amongst other things has made me truly see hip-hop as a genre that is in a state of crisis at the moment. Granted, this year has been much better than previous years for material so far, but I'm talking interms of commercial artists. Someone spectacular needs to breakthrough. If Kanye West, 50 Cent and Cam'Ron is the best we can do to represent our culture on a major scale then we aren't doing ourselves justice.

Music update coming tomorrow. Hip-hop needs to wake up.


Ass Hat said...

true enough. rock festivals would do well to book more hip hop acts, too. glastonbury used to do an all hip hop day in its dance tent, years ago. these days, if all reading & leeds does is wheel out g-unit, of course the rock kids are going to start throwing bottles....

Luis said...

yeah man, hip hop is stuck, it needs a fresh airs, but i think that theres many people triyng to break the boundaries mixing and doing great stuff and theres a lot of people in the other side that say that hiphop must be pure, thats the reason that the hip hop dont moves on. SOrry for my english Im from Mty Mexico. big ups man! I like dub, reggae, dnb, jazz and other music too like rock

SniperInTheMist said...

@ ass hat, totally agree. A few years back I thought things were looking up as Reading?leeds had Jurassic 5, The Roots and a few others all on their bill, but I don't think they will do that again for a long time.

@ Luis, again totally agree, things are getting better but there are those stuck-in-the-muds that don't want to move on. They think that they're keeping us pure but they hold us back. And another thing, don't worry at all about your english, because put it one way - you're english is a hell of a lot better than my mexican!!!

doomedgeneration said...

i have to agree with you about hip hop being stagnant but i went to the paid dues festival and had a blast the most boring act was Sage Francis. living legends rocked the show and went on at least a hour past the closing time. Also many of the artist (LL and hangar 18 come to mind) where full of energy running around jumping on top of speakers going through the crowd, had supersoakers full of beer spraying the crowd even a few b-boy s showed off during the hangar set .10+ artist and 8 hrs of music it was a great night and with only 1500 people in the amphitheater it mas more of a personal show. just leaving my experience. i suggest everyone goes and checks out the Paid Dues Tour.also i know about large rock shows and they just don't suit me. ive seen the Rolling stones numerous times they jam the fuck out for old men but with 50,000+ people all around it just seems crowded, not to mention hard to get a good seat. I love going to punk rock shows because of the small venues and the energy. now im rambling but all in all i prefer small shows with independent acts over large venues with big names.

Aidan said...

Yo bwoys. Gotta say my bit here too! I too am a lover of all kinds of music from dad rock to grandad classical to well...you get the picture.

I've never been to a festival but I have seen RHCP live at the Manc City Stadium which was awesome! The energy, tightness and creativity that night was mind blowing. I've seen Green Day at the NEC who are so entertaining and actually give you goose pimples as they enter the arena. At the sem venue I saw Justin Timberlake and man, that boy puts on the best show you will ever see.

Same scene, i saw 50 Cent, yup Fidders, live on stage. And this is where my respect for him comes: He puts on a full on variety show. If festivals had him then they would rock ten times harder. In my defence, I'm not big on 50s music (I mostly like the pre-bullet-in-mouth material) but i do respect his papes (as Nas says about Bill Gates in New World). That Night I saw MOP do Cold as Ice and Ante up, I saw Mobb Deep do Shook Ones pt2 and quiet Storm, I saw Ma$e do Mo Money Mo Problems, I saw the Mitchell Brothers blaze their entire first (banging on an arena sound system) album as well as see 50 and the boys do their thing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree that at the moment Hip Hop is not creative and that there are other musical genres ripping apart the boundaries right now. Hip Hop will be revived, I have faith in some of the more backward looking people who are analysing why Hip Hop used to be good and using their findings to create freshness. Everyone would do well to leave mainstream Hip Hop alone, it's not truly representative.

What I'm also saying is that sometimes things aint all they seem to be...

SniperInTheMist said...

@doomedgeneration, those underground shows are always the best for hip-hop in my experience. I do love going to hip-hop gigs, but what i was trying to say in the main article is that most of the time they don't really put on a 'spectacle'. Its more of just a gig, an intimate performance full of energy as far as hip-hop is concerned, rather than an 'event' if you know what i mean.

@Aiden - I've seen mitchell brothers play their stuff live too. They were warm-up for someone else and they came out on scooters holding pints of lager. It was well funny! They were good live, british to the core, very endearing. I agree with what you're saying in that some hip-hop acts do put on shows, 50 is in a position to do that and to be honest, if he and his labelmates couldn't put on a show they would be doing a MASSIVE disservice to their fans (i still wouldn't see the ugly untalented shite idiot live though). Its just that its very uncommon. Its true that everyone should leave the mainstream alone due to its lack of quality, but that wouldn't solve anything. Instead, we as fans need to really push artists INTO the mainstream that are creative to replace these poor ones. Then we'll be able to see more huge rap concerts in bigger venues, which is better for all.

And I totally recommend leeds/reading festival to anyone that wants to go. One of the best weekends I've had for years.

Aidan said...

Yes! True that! (I didn't pay for the ticket to 50, it was free, I wouldn't pay)

But...I do wonder what would happen if we did push underground artists into the mainstream. It seems to be a dangerous route to go (see Pharoahe Monch: Desire for one example). Invariably they get watered down by the label, managers, themselves etc or only gain attention by watering down in the first place. It's a bit of a catch 22 really.

SniperInTheMist said...

aye that it si. Its the record labels fault really. The majors don't seem to give their artists the freedom so an artist who doesn't want to do the same rubbish is stuck. If they stay on an indie they get no coverage to spread their voice (and obviously less money), but when they're on a big label, they get all the coverage they want, BUT CAN'T USE THEIR VOICE! It is absolute madness.

I think we all know that if all major labels allowed thier rap artists to have full creative freedom then the albums by Pharoahe and the like would have been completely different. I don't think the major labels realise that if the artists do get the freedom then we would actually be MORE inclined to listen, not less. They really don't GET hip-hop. Obviously I'm generalising a little, but you get the point.

You are completely right Aid, but I just wish it wasn't the case!

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