Controversial to say the least, the cover of New York Hip Hop veteran DJ Mr President’s latest mixtape Raising the Bar, Raising the Standard: Real MCs features Soulja Boy burning at the stake. In fact, the project is not so much a mixtape, but rather a statement or a proposal for change in an industry dominated far more by ringtone sales than lyrical quality and artistic integrity. Real MCs provides the wealth of wordplay and a plethora of personalities that so many projects have failed to deliver of late. Disheartened with the current state of Hip Hop lyricism, DJ Mr President aims to bring some change to the industry, feeling that improving the standard of hip hop music is his “obligation to the culture.”
“It is very discouraging to hear and see what people are considering Hip Hop today, but I’m here to tell you, 90% of what you hear on commercial radio is not Hip Hop!” he exclaims. Having grown up on Sedgwick Avenue, the birthplace of the genre, he has experienced the growth and evolution of Hip Hop first hand, unlike many DJs and rappers today, who “are not taking the time to master the art of MCing or DJing.” Even more worrying to him is that, “they are not even taking the time to research and learn about the pioneers who started it all and paved the way for them.” No wonder he was inspired to create Real MCs, when lyrically-challenged MCs and DJs “who can’t even blend two beats together” are the “face of Hip Hop.”
Speaking of his frustration, DJ Mr President explained that it was this musical incompetence that influenced him to actually do something about this void in the market, rather than just complain that the genre was deceased. “I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for this mixtape, all one has to do is turn on the radio and you will hear a guaranteed fad artist on the airways; here today, gone tomorrow,” he explains. “Everyone out there that has been failing to do their part in preserving Hip Hop gave me inspiration.”
Despite the decline in the lyrical quality, he believes that the prognosis for hip hop is perhaps not as bleak as it is often made out to be. He explains that, “there is a whole underground movement full of artists that stay true to the essence of Hip Hop,” before adding “the sad part about it is you have to go looking for it.” With a great deal of criticism surrounding the quality of music, people are beginning to turn more to talented independent or unsigned artists, who tend to display more passion and focus. “The MCs on my mixtape can lyrically demolish the so-called rappers that are getting air play on commercial radio,” says DJ Mr President. “If any MC’s deserve fame and fortune it’s the MC that stays true and continuously seeks to master his or her craft, realizing that it is an art form that warrants respect.”
Real MCs is a positive step for lyrical Hip Hop, but until DJs and the media outlets begin to take a stand regarding the quality of the music they promote, it is unlikely that we will see much more improvement. It would be naïve to think otherwise. “We need to continuously push and play artists who tell a story through their lyrics, who are creative with their word play and who relate their passion for the entire Hip Hop culture through words,” he explains, before calling for DJs to lead by example. After all, it is only really the DJs and the media that have the ability to push lyrical quality back into priority status. Supported by some of the hardest-hitting lyricists in the underground scene, DJ Mr President is at the forefront of battling the “hip hop recession.”
Raising the Bar, Raising the Standard: Real MCs is available for free download from www.djmrpresident.com now.
© 2009 Hannah O’Connor (3threat Media)