November 1, 2017 Che Smith

Old School, New School, who has it harder?

Note: All photos by @cristopherschafer on Instagram. Please provide photo credit if the photos are reposted or shared. Thank you!

In Hip-hop it seems, every generation tends to think they have it the hardest.
I’ve seen some younger artist complain about not getting the chances they deserve because they’re overlooked for the less talented.
An oversaturated, commercialized industry that recognizes antics over skills is one of the many complaints I hear regularly.

Rappers from the 90’s era often complain they can’t be heard because its a young persons sport. “If you ain’t Lil this or that, you can’t get no shine”!
There’s 2 other generations of Hip-hop I’d like to acknowledge that I’ve had the privilege to interact with on meaningful levels.
Of course the 70’s to 80’s originators of the Genre like GrandMaster Flash, Treacherous 3, SugarHill Gang etc…
These artists may have the biggest legitamite gripe of any generation. They created Hip Hop!
The innovative Party rocking Djaying of Afrika Bombatta, the Masters of Ceremony Melly MeL, Grandmaster Caz and Kurtis Blow as well as many others who don’t collect pensions or honorable mentions.

Then there’s the maturing and diverse Hip-hop of the 80’s & 90’s crowd that ushered in L.L. Cool J, Rakim, KRS One and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. This generation was special because they began figuring out how to get paid off rap and pivot onto other platforms such as clothing, film, label ownership etc…
Touring with DJ Jazzy Jeff has given me the opportunity to pick his brain about these generational differences and inquire about his secrets to longevity.
Jeff is a Masterful tactitian when it comes to navigating spaces. He’s very frank but not confrontational, if he takes something personal you’d never know it. He enjoys music like most of us enjoy air, but also loves the artists attached to the creation of good music.

The crew on this tour ranks in age like this;
DJ Jazzy Jeff- age 52
DJ Ferno- age 30
(Coordinator) Uncle Steve- age 46
M.C.-Dayne Jordan- age 26
(Camera Guy) Chris- age 37
M.C. RhymeFest- age 40

The album we recently created “M3” also features Jeff’s amazingly talented son Amir- age 19.
In this project Jeff assembled almost every generation of Hip-hop.
Last night he told me “no-one can be everything to everybody, but together we can all make a difference”.
I view him like Proffessor X of the X-men, a true producer, who knows how to bring the best out of everyone and still show us how to work together for a common purpose.

I must admit, I’ve kinda been the Wolverine of the group, a little wild at times and alot of patience on Jeff’s part to deal with me, but I’m becoming civilized over time.
As we tour the world with audiences ranging in age of 17-30yrs old I’m realizing real quick I need to know a few Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T. and Vic Mensa joints in order to be relevant.
I can also throw in some of these “off the top of the dome” freestyles that amaze audiences who aren’t accustomed to that at live shows.
The counsel I give Dayne about how to keep mental stability in this industry and balance family, is just as valuable as him keeping me updated on new lyricists I need to be paying attention to.
Complaining about one another’s generation gets us no where in this $80 billion industry/Culture called hip-hop.
There’s enough for us all to do what we do best forever as long as we work together and continue to evolve as the times change.