I just heard Trip Lee’s new song “The Invasion (Hero)” for the first time on DJ D-Lite’s show on DaSouth.Com. Let me just say apart from the heat he brings lyrically and the great hook from Jai, it yet again allows for a resurfacing of the topic of heroism, the topic that we touched on our first podcast. A great track from a very anticipated album due out on Reach Records in the next couple of months I believe.
Right now though I have to say that I was inspired at least from my side of things to talk about heroes for our first podcast (can’t speak for my man Josh, I’m sure his reasons were much deeper than mine) by a few things I saw in hip hop. Well let me zone in on a couple.
In the podcast we touched on heroes that are heroes because of their abilities in a certain field, and then heroes that are heroes because of a personal encounter with their character. One comment that Josh made, was that a hero at least the way he sees it, should enjoy what the y do with natural ability, and that when it becomes just a business, it is no longer heroic act.
Enter hip hop:
Jay Z is one of the best lyricists in hip hop EVER. No one can argue with this, and I have traced his career since 95 when I copped that vinyl of Reasonable Doubt, only because I saw that he had features with B.I.G., Mary J Blige, and had DJ Premier on the boards for a few tracks. I was blown away after giving the record a few spins, and have admired his capability as a wordsmith ever since. But I do remember a couple of stand out lines from earlier recordings he did:
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”
from “Diamonds are Forever” by Kanye West.
“If skills sold
Truth be told
I’d probably be
I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did five Mil
I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”
from “Moment of Clarity”
For those who may not be aware, Talib Kweli, and Common (Sense) are noted lyricists more from the backpack/conscious rap side of the game. Now I’m not trying to endorse Jay Z’s music which spends most of the lyrics glorifying in worldly possessions (what hip hop on the charts is not self centered?), or to put him on blast, but it seems from these lyrics that the business side of the rap game means a more to him than being artistic. Now we ask the question – is that wrong as far as artistic integrity?
The second example brings it back to the Reach Records camp with the album that is still getting much play on my iPod right now – Sho Baraka’s “Lions and Liars”. Check these lyrics out from the Lion’s Anthem:
“… Let me tell you about some lions who run the streets
Pam is a podiatrist she has beautiful feet/
Raheem is a boxer and he’s beaten the best/
But the hardest fight is when he is daily fighting flesh/
Marco he a trainer he training Raheem/
He teaches him to be a man in and out the rings/
Joy is a young sister, singer by title/
She’s on her Paula Abdul, she left American idols/
Yeah I know a doctor, His names Jason/
He prays the Lord keeps working on his patients (patience)/
Yeah Yeah the saints or in the house/
If your repping in the jungle, give a big lion shout to/
Look Sarah she’s a beast with a comb and Hairbrush/
Yeah she does hair but she really knows heir/
Who makes flattops, wave, and the shiner/
I guess its safe to say she knows a designer/
Carlos sells shoe like nikes, chucks, and timbos/
So in many ways he used to save souls/
Jimmy a fisherman now he got new purpose/
Now he’s fishin for souls yeah hes’ networking/
Paul he trades stocks and he keeps that money coming/
When there’s 99 cents he tries to make it 100/
Don’t get it he’s not defined by the dollar/
He’s clothed in righteousness whether white or blue collar/
Ming works for the law firm out in Las Vegas/
But his favorite thing to do is that cross examination/
Ok, the saints or in the house/
If your repping in the jungle, give a big lion shout to…”
I believe Sho to be right – there are heroes like this out there – and to these people I give much props! I love the fact that there is indeed hope in seeing new heroes rise up who are indeed excellent in their craft, yet at the same time willing to show more depth in heroism beyond being great in their craft, to the deep place of being great in character.
The higher the visibility, the deeper the requirement of a heroic type foundation seems to be the remedy.
Who are your heroes?