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This is Paul Hirsch

Paul Hirsch

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Foreign Hip Hop is Lightyears Beyond the U.S.

Anyone who’s known me for a long time knows my two favorite genres of music are Classical and Hip Hop. Before I get to the meat of this post, allow me to put in a quick plug for, the single best resource for classical performances from all periods, of which I am proudly a paying member ($11/mo. for unlimited streaming).

With that out of the way, I’ll turn my attention to Hip Hop. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying this is purely my own opinions. They may look like facts, but this is just my observations and my own feelings on the subject. Hip Hop hit a golden age somewhere around 1995-2000. The 20 years prior, Hip Hop was still defining itself, and struggling to establish its credibility within the music industry. By the early 90s, Hip Hop was fully entrenched in mainstream music, and by the mid-90s, it had grown into a dominant force. More important, because Hip Hop was so new, almost everything artists brought to the table was innovative. Artists like Rakim, Wu Tang Clan group and individual projects (most notably Raekwon, RZA, Ghostface and Genius), CMW, NAS, Outkast, Mobb Deep, the reemergence of early pioneers like EPMD, Black Sheep and Q-Tip/Tribe and a slew of smaller artists (Pharcyde, Camp-Lo, Jeru, Skee-Lo, etc.) made the 90s golden for me.

In 1999, I made a most amazing discovery…Hip Hop was alive and well all over the world! Over the next couple years, my music collection featured artists like Iam, Faf Larage, Articolo, Molesta Ewenement, Muzion, Saian Supa Crew, Sans Pression, Diams, MC Solar, Arsenik, NTM, the list goes on and on. Most of my interest was in the Hip Hop culture of France and French Canada, for no particular reason except that it was most accessible to me.

Here’s the thing. Since the early-mid 2000s, U.S. Hip Hop has stagnated in my eyes. It’s just not all that interesting. Nothing new or interesting comes out of it. But I regularly listen to tracks from 5-10 years ago produced by foreign groups (as well as newer releases) and wish the U.S. scene could take a hint from them. Maybe it’s because foreign groups focus more on the music (which is my first love – lyrics are secondary for me) than U.S. groups do. Maybe it’s because they seem to have a lot more fun with the music and the whole scene in general. Maybe it’s because some of it has a throwback feel to that golden age I remember so fondly.

Whatever the reason, I would be remiss if I didn’t share a few choice tracks with the world, courtesy of my favorite Internet jukebox, YouTube. Enjoy!