lauryn hill

Vince Staples on 1990s Hip Hop: “Fu*k Your Era”

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BY: JAMES DIFIORE

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but until yesterday I had no idea Vince Staples even existed. Many reading this still probably have no idea who he is.

But, while skimming through my news feed yesterday I came across a story where this young rapper said the following in an interview with Time Magazine:
“The 90s get a lot of credit, I don’t really know why. Biggie and 2 Pac, those are the staples of the 90s, I think that’s why they get the Golden Era credit.”

Now, normally we can excuse a youngster for having a stunningly superficial idea of what the 90s provided as far as hip hop music is concerned, but this is an artist who is supposed to be buddies with Snoop and lists Lauryn Hill as one of his all time favourite emcees. How he reconciles his distaste for hip hop in the 90s with these two factoids is a mystery, and leads many to believe Staples is merely trolling for publicity.

But this opinion, apart from being woefully ignorant, seems to be a reaction to modern rappers not feeling they are treated fairly by hip hop heads who are older. There are certainly a ton of older heads who simply won’t give any credit whatsoever to the younger cats trying to make a name, a trend that speaks to the romanticization many have with Golden Era music. This close-mindedness is wrong, but this reaction is just as short-sighted.

I had a mini Twitter war with Staples after watching the Time interview where he doubled down on his displeasure of 90s hip hop.

As far as Staples’ music is concerned, I had a listen to a few tracks before writing this article. It’s not bad. Not great either. But that’s a subjective argument, not a blanket statement on every cat coming out with tracks today.

Because anybody who blankets an entire era with a statement meant to downgrade that era is probably just seeking attention. The only other reason would be a dreadful lack of understanding how movements are made and how paths are paved. Staples would be wise to adjust his mindset before he finds himself at an awards show with Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier or any of the other artists from the era that made his even possible in the first place.

If Wyclef Were President

Haiti is a place where the rule of law is consistently trumped by the rule of foreign economic influence. Even former President Bill Clinton, when pressed to talk about some of his regrets during his time in office, named Haiti policy as his number one regret.

“It was a mistake … I was a party to … I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did – nobody else,” Clinton said to the US Foreign Relations Committee back in April.

While there is nothing too surprising about a former world leader taking some responsibility when it is far too late (still waiting on Bush Jr. to own up for some of his colossal blunders), it would be nice if a leader would take responsibility while still in power. Or better yet, not create detrimental policy to begin with.

So when Wyclef announced his intention to run as President of his native country, many began to question his qualifications as a world leader. His charity’s financial irregularities became the rebuttal to his political aspirations, and this might be the most valuable timing since Laryn Hill’s verse on ‘How Many Mics.’

“If you make a mistake you have to admit that it’s a mistake. The taxes weren’t filed on time, so what do I do? I said, find me the best accountant because this foundation is going to the next level. So we brought in RSM McGladrey, and now everything is being filed on time.” Jean gets to answer for his mistakes before the election, rather than pontificating on them after he leaves office, provided he wins of course.

And if Arnold Schwarzeneggar can be a governor and Al Franken can be a senator, there is no reason why a hip hop icon can’t be President.

If Wyclef was President…..who knows? Is he a socialist? In Haiti, hopefully. The last thing that country needs is a capitalist who panders to the whim of foreign powers. (cue the right wing scoffing).

Let’s hope his track “If I Was President” isn’t prophetic.