This week’s album is Grand Puba’s Understand This. But rather than essentially cut and paste what I wrote two weeks about The Foundation, I thought I’d take the time to plead for a sub-genre of hip-hop for grown folks.
Hip-hop needs is own version of adult contemporary. Not for me. I’m fine listening to Beanie Sigel wax violent every album. I’ve got no problem with Ghostface spitting insanity while pushing 40. I wouldn’t mind hearing Jay-Z’s boasts when he’s on the wrong side of 40.
But by the same token I’d like for Grand Puba to have a viable career and not just as a guest star for nostalgia. I don’t want to hear Large Professor trying to keep up with the young’uns, nor do I have any desire to see Guru embarrass himself any more than he already has.
There are probably some grandparents who have memories with a hip-hop soundtrack. And if the fans can gray, why can’t the content? We tolerate emcees to rhyme about their kids, and that’s a rather adult topic. So why do emcees always have to stick to the youthful boasts?
If there can be an “indie” sub-genre and a “Southern” sub-genre, then why can’t grown folks have their own?
I really loved the maturity of De La Soul’s The Grind Date; I appreciated their role as elder statesmen as well as the adult sound of the album. In fact, it ranked in my Top Ten of 2004, and there was even a controversy because BET refused to air a video from the album, saying that it didn’t appeal to the target audience. It was a kind of a big deal at the time.
But now I’m thinking that The Grind Date should be a template for future albums from artists of that generation. There’s nothing wrong with not appealing to kids. Hip-hop is old enough to have built an audience of middle-aged people who will purchase albums.
Of course, the problem with my wish is that there really isn’t an outlet for such music. There’s no radio format for it. And there’s really not a video channel devoted to it (though BET Jazz would probably be a good place to start things off.)
Anyway, listening to Understand This made me feel strongly enough to write this down, because the album made me that sad.