Thursday, January 31, 2008

Songs You Should Know: Self Destruction

In the late 80s emcee, philosopher, now elder statesman KRS-One formed the "Stop the Violence" movement. Obviously he wasn't totally successful in accomplishing the stated goal, much like my own personal "Continue the Sex with TAN" movement, but he/they did end up creating one of the classic songs and videos in hip hop history, "Self Destruction." It is mos def a song you should know:

Instead of the usual blessay about the song and its context -- after all, the context, message etc is self-evident -- we'll just fashion a not-really-live blog of the video:

0:00. How come the songs these days don't have Farrakhan and/or Malcolm X being sampled at the beginning anymore? That used to be a can't miss no-brainer move. Always hot! That's why hip hop is dead now. No Farrakhan intros.

0:10. Guest Stars! Lots of them! How come there's no monstrous posse-cuts with like 10 rappers anymore? That used to be a can't miss no-brainer move. Always hot! That's why hip hop is dead now. No Farrakhan/Malcolm intros, no 10-man posse joints.

0:17. Tell me KRS doesn't regret wearing that, um, jacket now.

0:25. How come there aren't as many clips of black people being harassed and such in videos anymore? It used to be it wasn't a hip hop video until you got some footage of us getting hosed or attacked by dogs. That used to be a can't miss no-brainer move...

0:54. Filmed at the Schomburg Center; I just learned that from this not-so-live blog.

1:00. Hey, where did KRS go? He doesn't come back into the shot. What a bastard, he lectures us on not killing ourselves then just leaves when the next guy comes on? How rude!

1:05. Seems like MC Delite got the shaft so we could get to Kool Moe Dee. That was literally like 5 seconds. He did pretty good though for 5 seconds, the "black on black crime was way before our time" is kind of wise. He'd probably make a good blogger. Also, caucasians, when your grandma asks for a dookie rope chain for christmas, she's talking about what Delite is wearing.

1:20. Kool Moe Dee "never ever ran from the Ku Klux Klan," I wonder why.

1:30. Gotta love how Kool is to kool to bop during the chorus or even look at the camera. What is he doing there? Just thinking about what he said?

1:43. MC Lyte's turn. She was possibly the best female emcee of this era. She's reminding me how the whole "posse cut" concept is particular to hip hop. I don't know why it didn't catch on in a big way. Like We Are the World was a hot posse cut. Why don't we have more of those with real songs? Hip hop mastered that, and I'm realizing right now that there's some special magic in those "golden era" posse songs. I have to mull on this more.

1:48. This is apparently the part where the director is asserting his own sense of "artistry." The purpose of "artistry" is to provoke questions, like: Why is everyone facing the wall? Why does it go from black-and-white to color? What is it that prompts everyone to turn around? We'll probably never know these things, and that's how art is sometimes.

2:06. I love how at this time we still didn't know what to tell the hype men and DJ's to do when they were in videos. They just stood there. And never smiled. Who started the whole "don't smile, cause smiles are for pussies" thing anyway? I'm glad we're over that ... kind of.

2:15. How come hip hop duos don't alternate lines like this anymore? That used to be a can't miss no-brainer for hotness. That's why hip hop is dead now, no quick back-and-forth with the rhymes.

2:30. D-Nice should have been bigger. He looks exactly like Bow Wow. And he's probably more talented. I blame that sweater he's wearing. D would have been huge with the teeny-boppers these days. Plus he could DJ? Pfft. Also, I LOVE the person dancing in the back. Is that a sheepskin they're wearing? That back line is like the late 80s hip hop version of TRL.

3:05. OMG there go the TRL people, and it is a sheepskin! Look at that coat, that is awesome. It's like they put a whole sheep on the jacket to serve as a collar. Man, I remember when having a sheepskin was like having an iphone. Those were simpler times.

3:14. Hmm, That guy kind of looks like a young DL Hughley getting arrested.

3:20. Star Jones Miss Melody... ha. I wonder what she's doing these days. We definitely need a Behind the Music on Miss Melody. She is not easily researched. If someone has the album she dropped, please hit me up.

3:42. Doug E. Fresh. The "moment in silence" line in this was classic. But it's pretty damn funny to think about a real funeral where someone says "let's have a moment in silence" and then starts beatboxing during it. That's highly amusing.

4:00. Doug was less rapper and more of a "vocal choreographer." I love the "And" arrangements here. Good stuff.

4:18. Rolling the statistics on black people was a nice touch. How come they don't run a ticker with statistics on black people in videos anymore? I think CNN and FOX and everyone else stole that from this video.

4:35. I almost forgot how dope Heavy D was. If I didn't know hip hop and had to pick a star who could do tv and movies and stuff from this video it would be him. He jumps off the screen! Also, more stats! This video is like a research paper and dope hip hop song in one. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

5:26. PUBLIC ENEMY!!! PE was obviously brought in to bring this song home. They're like the ringers of the socially-conscious hip hop anthem set. Knowing the song, I always get giddy during the chorus waiting for Chuck to come on.... "to revolve, TO EVOLVE to self-respect"!

5:50. Ha, must have been the end of the day cause the whole crowd doesn't seem to be into it for the final shot. Maybe some of them, in fact, don't have a big problem with self-destruction. To each his own I guess...

God, I love this song. And if you made it through this not-so-live blog, you know me, and a classic hip hop song a whole lot better. Yay, you! Now go order that dookie rope chain for your grandma.



  1. yeah this was a good song. too bad there weren't more rappers on this song :: rolls eyes::

  2. One of the first joints I memorized - this, "Girls" by the Beastie Boys and Microphone Fiend, which I still do on the treadmill to get me through the time.

    There are some rappers in the video you wish made it to the song (over, say, Just Ice or Miss Melody). Kane comes to mind...

  3. Anonymous1/31/2008

    Love this. When hip hop really mattered. And that ain't no joke.

  4. word... real hip hop is dead. only thing on hot97 is zombie shit and commercials (and way more of the later than the former)... sigh

  5. Yo!! I remember me and bunch people performing this song at our 6 grade graduation.... the memories good times

  6. Classic stuff right there....

  7. Anonymous2/01/2008

    I grew up in that era - New York F@##$# City - with those hip hop artists (not rappers, HIP HOP ARTISTS - there's a difference), that style...I have this song and many others (The Symphony, Don't Curse anyone?) on my Pod under the playlist title Hip Hop Classics. It is indeed. I am feeling my age (and TAN's I imagine), but he is absolutely correct in everything he has said. All the commentors are on point also. MC Lyte was/is the illest MC (female or otherwise) of that era. She lost it a little shine after "Capuchino", but - I digress. Instead of doing motherf@##$ tributes on motherf@#$#$ VH1, they need to get back to basics - 2 turntables and a motherf@#$# microphone.

  8. This song was kinda dope. Speaking of posse cuts. the best IMO was the last episode of the Arsenio Hall Show.

    I'm not even gonna spoil it by telling you which rappers were in it. But trust me, it's off the hook.

  9. Anonymous2/02/2008

    john black just took this post to a whole other level. kind of like a good posse cut. good work ...

  10. One of my favorite songs of all time. And I was a HUGE D-Nice fan as a kid. Wish he had blown up.

  11. PLEASE do this same treatment for the 'We're All in the Same Gang' video! If only just to comment on Oaktown's 357's too-live outfits or Michel'le's ridiculous speaking voice.


Related Posts with Thumbnails