Now the winter of our discontent has turned glorious springtime thanks to Barack (still on pins and needles) and Felicia Pride, author and purveyor of TheBackList.
Though The Message, 100 Life Lessons From Hip Hop's Greatest Songs dropped late last year, Spring ushers a timely and welcome return. Boy do we need it, as politics get nastier and the patina of racial harmony's peeled away. As rappers become more nakedly commercial, disgusting, talentless, useless. As R. Kelly finally goes on trial.
The book is not a mere survey of top 100 hits, or a recounting of "Where was I when I heard THAT song." Instead, Pride interweaves personal reflections with the poetry and emotion rife in these, the BEST songs to produce a collection of affirmations that will not just take up permanent residence on your nightstand or coffee table, collecting dust. You'll actually READ this stuff, fanboys and girls. Lest you think I'm channelling Michael Eric Dyson, let me remind you I despise 90% of the Hip Hop so-called "culture" out there--especially in its contemporary face. Of course, the 10% makes the other 90% bearable. Then again, now we have icons like Snoop and Flav as buffoonish self-parodies, and Jay-Z is starting to remind me of the greedy formulaic white moguls he tried to innovate over and bypass as a kid just busting into the sick music biz. So what they're making money? Our souls (and theirs) are being forfeited in trade, and that's what we should be telling our kids. Perhaps they can get those souls back by reading Felicia's book?