2010 was a low-key year for hip-hop. It will be remembered most for the loss of two great underground icons Nujabes and Guru. Nujabes was a genre defying producer who inspired much of the hip-hop world. His beats fused elements of Jazz and Classical music with hip-hop. Sadly, a car crash cut short his life. Despite his success, not many pictures of Nujabes exist in the pubic eye. The secrecy during his life now adds to his cult-like mystique. As so often happens when hip-hop stars pass away, his music may now reach new heights of exposure.
Guru’s death was shrouded in a little more mystery. Most of it regarding his relationship with MC Solar. Solar was Guru’s manager but often acted more like his spokesperson. He put a block on any friendship with DJ Premier who remained quiet on the issue. Guru will always be loved for his work with Premier as part of the group Gang Starr. He also created the Jazz Matazz series which is a staple in Jazz-Hop. Alongside Run DMC & De La Soul, Guru will be honored as a giant of hip-hop music.
The mainstream got caught up in the arrests of stars like T.I. and Lil Wayne. T.I. was the most shocking of the two as his life-style choices continue to overshadow his talents. Here is a man who participated in hours of community work, involving himself with MTV shows designed to keep kids out of trouble. Yet he jeopardized his own future by being found with drugs whilst on parole. If T.I. Is guilty of stupidity, Lil Wayne going to prison felt more like a stunt to boost his street cred. His live video feeds and send off’s to prison created a circus like reaction to his one year sentence.
Music wise Nas, Panacea, Raashan Ahmad, Soweto Kinch and Aloe Blacc all delivered albums that are modern day classics. These artists keep the core values of hip-hop alive in a world dominated by image. Eminem came back with “Recovery”, it promised so much but in the end it wasn’t so different to Relapse. Two albums that could have easily been merged together to create one solid come back. Em is an artist struggling for direction and purpose but every now and then we see glimpses of his incredible talents and forgive him for it.
Dr. Dre told us Detox was ready but when his first single with Jay-Z was leaked he quickly denied it was done. We’ve yet to here from Dre since except for a single that made little impact called “Kush”. Magazines like XXL pushed a ‘new school’ at us that consisted of mediocre artists at best. The likes of Drake and Asher Roth. These people are now the face of the download culture of hip-hop which spews out throw away music at an increasingly fast pace. Until Raw Poetic graces the cover of XXL there will be a split between fans of underground music and ‘the new school’ who havn’t a clue who he is.
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