Up until now I’ve been making records that kinda fall into the category of what most people call ‘underground hip hop’. Right now I am developing a more mature sound, something I call ‘Adult Contemporary Hip Hop’. Something that I fell is specifically engineered for the people of my generation, who grew up laying the foundation of the hip hop culture and the music game. I think right now, there is nothing that been targeted to us.
This article has been written by Grand Agent, as a follow-up to our recent interview with him.
Up until now I’ve been making records that kinda fall into the category of what most people call ‘underground hip hop’. Right now I am developing a more mature sound, something I call ‘adult contemporary hip hop’, or ‘AC hip hop’.
Something that I fell is specifically engineered for the people of my generation, who grew up laying the foundation of the hip hop culture and the music game. I think right now, there is nothing that been targeted to us in the mainstream. That is where I see myself, fulfilling a need right now.
I understand and respect the title ‘underground hip hop’, but I don’t respect where the title comes from. Or I don’t think, people who just put a title on you, are really able to differentiate what that title might mean. It is like an ‘underground’ mentality as an ‘anti-establishment underground’, and then there is that kind of ‘underground’ that has the connotation you are not on the level of what the mainstream artist talent is. One example of an underground mentality for a poplar artist is like Mobb Deep or Capone-N-Noreaga. Even Gangstarr, D-Block or The LOX. That is an underground anti-establishment street mentality, but they’ve have been marketed in a brought way.
And then you have an underground where right now are two things: It is either people who took up this banner of being ‘anti-commercial’ or people who have been ground into it like Masta Ace or Edo G, who been around so long that they should be beyond any category, but they get lumped into this underground thing. And a lot of that underground for me (‘backpack’) is just littered with artists who don’t really understand that Mobb Deep or even EPMD is an underground act, meaning anti-establishment, but the quality of the music is such that it was marketed on a big scale.
So that is my issue with the term ‘underground’ that generally when it was applied to me, it was from an outsider viewpoint, a person who doesn’t really understand where Grand Agent comes from, what Grand Agent knows about the mechanics and the workings of the rap game and the hip hop culture. People who just think if they’re anti-radio that they are underground and by definition good and that everything on the radio is whack. All of this outside categorization of something that only at this point of few select people who are still involved in the creation of it, really know the difference anymore. That is why I take a vivid issue with that.
And also, when you think about it, the only thing that we put under ground is death, we put dead people under the ground. And I ain’t dead.
‘Adult Contemporary’ hip hop is what I am working on and this is my little project, like establishing an identified genre of this music that is not ‘old school’, ‘underground’ or anything. It is contemporary, meaning it is competing with everything else that is coming out, mainstream, but is honoring the principles of the proper hip hop culture. I mean, in the U.S. they’ve just hijacked the term ‘hip hop’ and got it meaning something totally different for everybody. Coming back to the ‘underground’ topic, I don’t like it too because if we accept that, we accept a smaller role, when they tell everybody the other junk is hip hop. Where I think we shouldn’t accept that, we should go amongst the wolfs and put our flag down, showing what hip hop is.
I know it is a lot of politics and label issues that play into that, them generally wanting to promote a younger artist or they want the ‘new thing’ is. But the truth is, they can’t do what we can do. Because we are the original article. And this has been so long backwards that if they get a real taste of something that has been official, it is going to look like something totally new.
I see Grand Agent objectively. It is not that I am ‘underground’ because of lack of ability, it is just that in a sense of not having come above ground yet, not having broke a certain kind of awareness. But once I do, then all the other work, all the catalog from ‘By Design’ is going to verify that this guy does deserve to be here. He does deserve to be recognized as one of the greats or one of this caliber, not just somebody rapping. That’s why I don’t like this ‘underground’ shit, because the more they put it on us, the more we accept it as all that is left for us. And it is not, that is not all that is left for us.
You go out there and you do whatever you got to do to compete, even if it means to beat up with a synthesizer, then it doesn’t really matter. You are still you, the character that you portray, is still going to represent who you are. And you can do that on any beat. That’s why I think if you look and listen, from one album to the other I am not really staying with the same sound, I am letting myself being more the consistency.
If we really feel that our shit has been hijacked and taking over, then I think we should go into the lion’s den and mix it up with the lions.
If you haven’t already, check out our recent interview with Grand Agent.