Growing up in America during the 90’s was a task, to say the least. By that time, America had reached what many believe to the peak of its power and glory in the eyes of the rest of the world and if one were to take a hard look at America’s current global status, such a theory isn’t so easily discounted. From Rodney King, the L.A. riots, the Gulf War and the first bombing of the World Trade Center to Road Rules and the genesis of the Mainstream Hip-Hop/Reality TV generation, the texture of the identity crisis we now find ourselves in is almost tangible, and for lack of a better word, slimy. What the hell happened to this country? Rap music and Friday the 13th.
Near the end of the 90’s, rap music had begun its vertical ascent in the music industry and mainstream American culture. Many will disagree with the statement, but the exact day when hip-hop took over is as disputable as whether or not killing Osama bin Laden was a good idea. Tupac and Biggie were dead, NWA was no longer fucking the police and Flava Flav was throat deep in whatever the hell he was doing during the time that lead him to get his own, you guessed it, reality show. The point is the birth of rap as a genre, style and art form had already taken place and was seemingly lost in its pre-adolescence. Enter Lil’ John, Puff Daddy and DMX. The last two, as you so rightly guessed, both had reality shows.
America as a society and a culture was founded on superstition. Whether it’s the homicidal belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God or that Kool-Aid gives immortality, we are inherently spiritual in nature. If you look closely at the last 230 years or so, you’ll realize that most of our development and conflict has been conceived out of our misguided attempts to become God-like. Yet, while we claim to be so attuned to the forces of the supernatural, we are really just a dying species of wayward bacteria, desperately clinging to whatever the hell sounds like the best option. How many different denominations of Christianity have sprung up as a result of people not being able to agree on things clearly written down? Mormon, Episcopalian, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Nazarene, Lutheran, Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, etc. Trust me. Google that shit. The list goes on and on and on. Even David Koresh, The Wacko From Waco, and Jim Jones, The Amazonian Jesus, both claimed to be the Second Coming of Christ. What happens to a society so thoroughly obsessed with achieving immortality that it will drink artificially colored sugar water hoping to get it? They start becoming fearful of days of the week. Enter Friday the 13th. And yes, that too wound up on a screen.
When the fear of weekdays becomes a phobia and Puff Daddy becomes Diddy, you know you have a problem on your hands. It is the existential moment when you realize that everything that is, shouldn’t be and everything that should be is pretty much fucking dead. Superglued to glass screens and plastic screens and silver screens and wire screens, there’s no cause left to wonder how it is we wound up afraid of so much irrelevant shit and listening to music that is so mind-blowingly bad it would make Beethoven take Xanax until his heart stopped, or he blacked out and killed someone. Diddy, now among the richest celebrities in the world, has changed his name more times than The Artist Formerly Known As But Is Now Once More Prince. DMX took the road so frequently traveled and became a reverend, after an extensive period actively involved in the study of law from within. Lil’ John continues to make no sense very loudly while carrying around pyrite-plated, Holy-Grail-knockoff sequined cups.
Reality shows have exploded on television. Americans have solidified their ignorance by proving they will watch crabs being dragged from the ocean, men walk around barefoot in sewage drains, models and clothing designers bitch at each other over whether or not someone’s hips thrust too far to the left, women manipulate, connive and betray one another to marry a guy they don’t even know for money he doesn’t even have, asshole foreigners scream profanities at scared young people in an open kitchen, asshole foreigners politely berate scared young people for their musical ineptitude and royal asshole foreigners marry each other.
Once you have destroyed your TV, set fire to your entire CD collection, deleted iTunes, withdrawn your Christian membership, ceased your superstitious charade and realigned your perception to that which more closely reflects reality, allow yourself to be filled with hope; the dream of a better day, a greater beat and a more intelligent show is not dead or even lost. It has simply been suppressed by the Mainstream Miscreants, the Industry Idiots and the Juggernauts of Censorship who have staked their lives, reputations, fortunes and fates on keeping The Movement underground. Courtesy of the agents of chaos and freedom, Brotha Lynch Hung and Strange Music persist despite the shroud of mediocrity and ennui that has been draped over the airwaves. Working together as a brigade of mad soldiers, hell-bent on overthrowing the bourgeois establishment with sinister productions, Lynch and Strange have collectively produced two of the three greatest rap albums of the past two decades: Dinner and a Movie and Coathanga Strangla. The third, Mannibalector, is simply awaiting its release date. Simultaneously, Mr. Mann has also been diligently recording shows via YouTube on his personal channel, SiccTeeVee, a hilarious, raw, mock reality series about whatever the hell Lynch happens to think is funny or ice-cold lyrically on the day he decides to shoot.
It’s Friday the 13th and though the writer of this piece possesses no irrational fears, it’s customary on this day to drink only purified water, watch no television (including the news) and engage solely in intellectually stimulating activities such as listening to Brotha Lynch’s entire discography in chronological order as a way of recalling the unstoppable flow of time and remembering the fact that while America was disintegrating into a paranoid sect of brainwashed zealots capable of naught but monosyllabic answers to grammatically incorrect questions and producing millenniums of useless, asinine programs, Brotha Lynch has been pouring concrete on the dirt roads of the Underground since 1993 and Strange Music, in response to the mushroom cloud of mainstream shit perpetrated by the aforementioned morons, came to being in 1999, ALMOST too late to seize hold of the slipping conviction of The Movement that one day, once again, rap would be something to cherish and enjoy.
~ Stefan Pyles, Strange Music Blog Contributor