Archive for the ‘80s Babies’ Category

Gerald Walker's new mixtape, "Believers Never Die," gives us a glimpse of what hip-hop's future could be.

Some time during college, I realized that I had pretty much given up on hip-hop. The new-school stuff anyway. Save for pretty much Kanye West’s entire discography, the majority of my iTunes was filled with 80s and 90s R&B and Hip-Hop.It was cool for awhile, you like what you like, right?I mean it’s not like I grew up on rap.

My parents didn’t believe in allowing my brothers and I to listen to music with explicit lyrics as a kid, so most of the hip-hop of the day was off limits. They kinda relaxed the rules once we got to high school. Pretty much as long as they didn’t hear it, we were cool. That’s when I discovered classics like Illmatic, Doggystyle, The Chronic, etc. This was also the time of The Blueprint, College Dropout and Get Rich or Die Trying, Stankonia etc. so at this point I had high expectations for hip-hop. Needless to say watching it devolve into Snap Music and Trendy Dances was a big downer.

Every now and then, though, I find a rapper who resonates with me. In 2009-2010, it was J. Cole. Last year, I came across this kid from Milwaukee named Gerald Walker. His mixtape The Other Half Of Letting Go was engagingly mellow, his flow somewhere between Krazy Bone and a young J. Cole. A few weeks ago I saw he had a new mixtape, Believer’s Never Die. I downloaded it, put a few tracks on my iPod, and let it sit for a few days.

Lot of good joints on this one. I really dig his athletic references (My personal favorites: It’s me hoe/Rap Tim Tebow/In this game full of sheep, I’m a shepard like Lito” and “Trying to ball like Kobe/But you niggas Rodney Stuckey) My favorites include the title track, Zero to Sixty87 Corvette Wishes (featuring a sick guest spot by Phil Ade) and Um, Excuse Me Miss. But Walker really shines on the Some Things Never Wash Out, where he references Boo Radley, Eminem and Michael Jordan in the same song and makes it sound coherent. Here’s a sample:

“Not every nigga smoke weed/Not all niggas are in jail/Not every man has a gun/Not every mother does her job/Not every father is a bum/Not every old man is wise/ Not every foolish nigga’s dude is young/Not every priest is a saint/Not every blonde chick is dumb/ It’s like I’m fighting battles that I’ve already one.”

If a guy as talented as Gerald Walker doesn’t blow up in the next year or so, hip-hop is in more trouble than I thought it was a few years ago. Seriously.


The Old Soul Blues

Posted: November 13, 2011 in 80s Babies, Social Rants
Tags: ,

What defines an old soul?

So the other day I’m driving in my car, listening to the local hip-hop station when some generic-ass, I-got-money-song comes on the radio. Instinctively I clicked over to the old-school/R&B channel and was delighted to hear my favorite New Edition song “Sorry, You’re Not My Kind of Girl.” In the middle of the song, I began to think to myself…Does this make me an “old soul?”

At 26, I’ve been called that dozens of times. And that isn’t just based on my musical tastes. In the last few years, I’ve gone from wearing baggy jeans and jerseys to fitted casual clothes and fedoras. I love retro pieces of art and seem to have more in common intellectually with women in their mid-30s than mid-20s. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a time warp– too mature for the hip-hop club crowd but not ready to be the young guy in the oldies club.

When an older person calls me an old soul, I feel like it’s a compliment. Since they do so much complaining about what’s wrong with the younger crowd, I feel like they’re saying I’m different in a refreshing, positive way. When someone my age or younger says it, I feel like they’re saying it I should be out hanging with the retirement crowd. Can’t I be youthful yet still enjoy music, clothing styles and women who came along before the internet? Just because I prefer music with substance, wear my pants at my waist and sometimes find myself attracted to women who discuss more than just the latest episode of Basketball Wives, does that make me an old soul? What’s your definition? I’d love to hear from everyone, but especially those who also find themselves labeled this way.

When it comes to entertainment,  I’ve always had peculiar tastes. I’ve always been into things that feed my brain. As a kid I spent most of my time reading sports biographies and the encyclopedia. Even as an adult I generally keep my TV on ESPN, CNN, MSNBC or The History Channel and I really love documentaries.

With that being said, I’ll definitely be watching VH1 tonight at 10 p.m. as the network premieres Planet Rock: The Story of Hip-Hop and The Crack Generation. I hadn’t heard about it until today but I’m hopeful that this will be an insightful and entertaining documentary.

I was born at the beginning of the crack epidemic, and although I wasn’t directly effected by it, I know many of my peers who were and still are. Millions of black men were incarcerated, black women exploited and black children left to fend for themselves as a result of this twisted phenomenon.  Listening to today’s music and interacting with people of my generation, it’s clear that the crack era not only had a huge impact on the entertainment world, but also on the children that grew up in it.


Being a reader and a writer  (not to mention a communications major) I take words very seriously.  With that being said, there are certain words and/or phrases that make me cringe every time I hear them. I’m all for the First Amendment, but I would not be upset at all if these words were permanently erased from pop culture language. These words make me re-think the term “Freedom of Speech.”

1 . Haters

Etymology: Late ’90s.

Usage: I love my haters.

Diagnosis: This should have died ten years ago. You aren’t doing anything with your life! What is there to “hate” on?

2. Conversate

Etymology: Mid-’90s.

Usage: Aye, girl. Let me get you number so we can conversate and get to know each other.

Diagnosis: Don’t get me wrong, I love Pac, but this ain’t no kinda English (Pun intended).

3. Swagg

Etymology: Mid-2000s

Usage: You can’t touch my swagg.

Diagnosis:  Gets my vote for the most overused slang phrase of 2008-09. When 65 year-old sports announcers are using the word, it’s time to put it to rest!  I think this one is slowly dying out.

4. Deuces

Etymology: Late-2000s

Example: He said he ain’t wanna be with me anymore, so I told that n*99a, deuces.

Diagnosis: This one is a recent addition to the list, but it’s moving up rather fast. This one seems too dismissive to me, which just might be the point. Remember the good old days, when people just said “peace?”

5. Gucci

Etymology: Late-2000s

Example: Nah, I’m Gucci.

Diagnosis: How was this phrase ever cool?

Remaking a classic is a tough task at best, and most of the time it’s better left as an idea. And in my book, few things are more “classical” than the 1980s cartoon series, Thundercats. The original series debuted the same year I did (1985) and has retained a cult-like following for over 25 years, despite only lasting two full seasons.

In my opinion, it is the greatest action cartoon ever.  A group of half-cat, half-human superheros are forced from their imploding home planet and find there way to an earth-like planet (aptly named “Third Earth”). Led by a young ruler with a knack for getting himself into trouble they attempt to exist in peace while battling a host of formidable villains.

I vaguely remember seeing the reruns of the original series as a kid and my parents renting the seminal “Thundercats-Ho” set on VHS. Many 20-somethings may remember that Cartoon Network also picked the show up in syndication in the late 1990s. My brothers and I watched the show faithfully and were crushed when the network later stopped broadcasting it.

When I found out a few weeks ago that the series was being remade, I was anxious to see the results. After watching on the premiere, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The animation speaks for itself. The characters generally stay true to the original, but not so much that they look outdated. And the storyline on the premier was superb. It even included the reappearance of my favorite villain from the original, Grune The Destroyer. I can’t wait for next week’s episode.