Last week I dropped a few things on Malik-16, now he’s gracious enough to be the latest (2)Dope Questions subject, where he talks about the economy, hip-hop’s rapper influx and, or course, Harlem.
1: The American dollar value is down and joblessness is on the rise. stocks are plummeting to near-Depression era levels. The government is considering another stimulus package for taxpayers, and the supposed bailout plan has yet to be put into effect. What do you think the average American should do in order to stay afloat in a drowning economy?
Honestly? Don’t freak out. I think a lot of times, we get caught up in the panic that gets stirred up by the wording and frequency of talk of impending doom, But I represent a section of life where the people are still confused and not seeing the immediate effects of this crisis. We’re on the bottom of the class totem pole out here in the hood, so we know shit is bad when prices of everyday things go up, but without that sense of immediate consequence, folks are still out here doing the same dumb shit. All of the financial experts have been saying the same thing, don’t fall prey to hysterics. Just move along with life as you would under normal circumstances and know that this too will pass and get back to normal, just avoid excess spending. I do hear a lot of people saying that now is the time to capitalize off of some of the falling prices and invest in different things – not stocks of course, but more physical properties. For the everyday person, all I would say is, keep that extra shoe box of money stashed for a rainy day, but handle your business as you would under any circumstance, take advantage of whatever is dropping in price – like gas right now, but prepare now for when the system is back up and running as it was. Once you understand that this is Capitalism, and this is how the game works, then you know the down comes with the up. It’s a system that’s been working for centuries, it’s not the first time it’s teetered, it won’t be the last.
2: Side A of your How To Make A Mixtape series is titled “Who Doesn’t Rap?” Why do you think so many people are trying to be a rapper instead of, say, an executive?
It’s ease. Ease is the Dis-Ease of America. My boy once told me that every invention has contributed to the further laziness of humanity. It’s way easier to stand on a corner around your familiar surroundings and hustle and be able to be yourself than dress up uncomfortably and pretend to be someone else for a set amount of hours and make less money. Standing in the cold and being on constant watch is a small price to pay for that fast cash. It’s way easier to say some words over a track and call yourself pursuing a viable career. Paying a little studio dough, or for expensive ass equipment is a small price to pay for That promise. I say it all the time, if I didn’t invest this much time and effort into rapping since I was 16, I wouldn’t be doing it now. I would never pick up a mic and want to rap post 2003. It’s not hot! This is not ’99 where rappers were going platinum just for breathing on a track, making 2 million dollar videos. It’s eye-roll-inspiring to say you rhyme now. Everyone does it because they think it’s a quick way out. A way out of the rut, the monotony, The trap – whatever. There’s a freedom to it, you don’t have to really answer to anyone but your record executive. And then so many people figure they can run they’re own label, so there you have it. 80’s babies grew up on the cusp of hip-hop being a force, the generation now grew up where everything in the world has been touched and influenced by it. They were coming of age at Hip-Hop’s most glamorous era – why wouldn’t they want to be apart of that? This internet culture doesn’t help quell the amount of New rappers coming out everyday either. It’s gift and a curse. Some people are going to read this and say I’m one of those people too – because they never heard of me – Irony huh?
* Bonus: I’ve been to Harlem a few times, and the craziest thing i ever saw were bedazzled Uptowns last year. What the hell is up with the style out there?
Harlem is all about the flash. Always has been. The Drug dealers used to influence the trends when they came through and introduced expensive styles. Nowadays, the kids dictate the fashions. Everything gets detailed and customed, from laces to bookbag straps. We’re notorious for being about gettin’ fly – sneaker wearin’ chicks and dudes with furs heavy. I don’t really keep up, but I’m definitely apart of it. And for some reason, it’s always been very colorful. if it’s colorful, expensive and it matches – it’s HARLEM.