Writing about hip-hop is dangerous buisness.
I'd rather just listen.
For one, writing about hip-hop often means assuming that there's one truth. And in many ways, as a writer, even if you know there are multiple truths out there, you've got to choose one and run with it. But hip-hop is like the soundtrack of the last three decades of world history, and since words can't really capture music anyway since they're different ephemeral emotions, trying to crique a soundtrack is bullshit. Mainly because as a soundtrack, hip-hop encompasses the violence, emotion, good times, energy and innocence of many communities currently under seige. This definitely ain't your average Disney soundtrack.
My ambivalance about the whole thing stems from who owns the right to write in the first place. I've never thought of myself as a "hip hop writer". I grew up with it, but I don't know what it is. The whole beef between hip hop academics and "real" read: grassroots hip hop community has to do with who has the power to document history in the first place. Most folks writing about hip hop nowadays in the academy come from comfortable academic and middle class backgrounds, and that has to do with the fact that the ivy walls of the academy have always been and probably will always be beacons of privieledge, and since hip hop is the new urban chic, it's viewed as being worth scholarly merit. But what about other hip hoppers? Any time you write about a working class history in which the same sorts of social ills that created the "subject" still exist, there's bound to be tension over what is "real" and what is just academic babble.
Consider me the ambivalent writer. Dangling somewhere between viable truths and priviledge. But I'm layin' off writing hip-hop for a minute. Like I said, I'd rather just listen.