(5) Classic artist ≠ Classic Album
The conversation, as presented, was one to fly in the face of the "hip hop is dead" movement from those who look at the current state of hip hop and music in general and look at it as being on a decline.
My response, as a direct quote, was...
I own the last 3 on your 2008 list, and listen to Heltah Skeltah damn near every day still.
Own or downloaded 11 of the 2009 list, but would not call all of them “great,” and only a couple would I even classify as “good” at that.
2010 is only a single download from what was named, that would be Ortiz.
To which he retorted...
The $ykotic Don McCane finished the comments (as of when I type this now) with...
And this is where I will pick this whole thing back up to continue the conversation based on the merits of Curtis and his initial response to my own...
I stopped to think for a moment over my 10am deuce (yes, you can set your watch to my shits), and I came to the question "does having a classic album in your catalog mean that you can be thought of as a classic artist?"
In my mind, a classic artist is one that you can go to for consistency every time... Even their "meh..." product can ride out in the car for a season or so, and they very rarely if ever need a pass in the name of "well, he made [album], so he aight..."
Let us look at the 2009 list, the longest of the 3 in the post in particular...
Masta Ace & Ed OG-Arts&Entertainment
Blaq Poet-The Blaqprint Canibus & Keith Murray-(Undergods) Wu Tang-Chamber Music Dres-From the Black Pool of Genius
Crooked I- Mr.PigfaceWeaponWaist
Raekwon the Chef – OBFCL2 Q-Tip-Kamaal The Abstract
Joell Ortiz-Covers the Classics
Royce Da 5′9″-StreetHop
KRS-ONE & Buckshot-Survival Skills
The Alchemist-Chemical Warfare
Method Man & Redman-Blackout!2
I will step outside of myself for a moment and address the * first... Skyzoo gets rookie of the year to me for Salvation, in fact I will listen to that as I scribe the rest of this post.
Beyond that, I will go in on bolded materials...
Blaq Poet... who?
Canibus and Keith Murray... Both stay catching bricks in spite of their potential... Well hell, potentially, I am a published author with multiple awards and shit... Instead, I work a help desk position and own a 1200ft² house... See the difference? Doesn't make me a failure when considering my position in the world, but unlike them, I do not spend my days pretending to be a rap star.
Wu Tang... I present EVERYTHING released as a collective after Wu-Tang Forever, and leave the argument right there.
Dres... I live in Greensboro NC and I have seen the dude in the mall here more since he last mattered as anything more than an artifact than I have in any medium that might make him some cash... Just sayin'
Raekwon... the good (not great, just good) status of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II does nothing to either excuse or validate the albums coming between it and the first installment.
Q-Tip... I will be honest. I want him to make a good album WAAAAAY more than I want to see him keep catching these bricks. I am not losing any sleep, though. He is but a dude who COULD be as great as he once was, but set his own ceiling too high.
KRS One & Buckshot... Buckshot is excused by virtue of a raw deal... Blastmaster, on the other hand, still has some questions to answer. As of this album, they have not been answered.
Method Man & Redman... Method Man has EVERY release after Tical to answer for, and Redman COULD have been excused if not for their sitcom and now this, the album extension of it.
One really should look and see what just happened... A grouping of individuals who HAVE had classic releases in some way in their lives, yet seem to want to see that fact further their names instead of leaning on the onus to actually CONTINUE making classic material.
The burden of remaining a classic artist falls in the idea of continuing to BE a classic artist. The line between continuing to rap your ass off and being Napoleon Dynamite's uncle Rico, or even Al Bundy talking about his 4 touchdowns is very thin. Only you can prevent the wholly preventable. If I am to continue to believe that you can, will and are making classic material is to CONTINUE FUCKING MAKING IT.
Otherwise, you become an old guy talking about what you were once capable of...
Or you die and no one even has to question it, they just call you the greatest anyway, even if you never did much...
Or you marry Beyonce and it doesn't really matter, but that is not what this particular blog is about.
All jokes aside, one should really spend a minute stopping and looking at this on the grander scale of things.
In the history of hip hop, how many (gimme a number out of, say... 100?) can HONESTLY as an artist say that they have made music that was consistently great from beginning to end? Be honest. There seems to be at every juncture a pause to put down some ol' bullshit in the in-between, followed by what could be seen as a return to the quality, which has been invariably followed by a return to the shit.
I have named possible reasons for this with a prior post in which I might have discussed people and their rush to get the maximum amount of product to the market without care for just how bad it may be.
Quantity over quality is the problem, it seems.
I have said it before, and I hate to admit it as an individual who has been listening to the music for 25ish years now. The pan gets hot and burns out fast, and it seems that everyone with a chance to cook in it knows that and acts accordingly instead of taking necessary steps to address just why careers don't last.
At the end of it all, the argument remains that having made a classic song, or a classic album or dropped a classic deuce in the handicapped stall in the bathroom furthest from your office while you played Mah Jong between 10:01 and 10:13am doesn't make YOU classic if you don't continue such behaviors. Your name is never as good as you might think it is until someone other than you says so and proves it against retort.
And lord knows that there are people who have made classic albums that I would LOVE to see return to greatness, if only for me to not look like an old-ass hater.
... and my 10am deuce is legendary, for the record.