Chuck D once famously called hip-hop the CNN of the Black community, the way people got the news. Is it still? If so, what is the news coming across, who is telling it most profoundly?
I feel hip-hop is a mirror of what society and culture is happening, like any other art. I might not call it “news” per se, but if you’re perceptive enough, you can get a glimpse of what’s happening out here. But I feel that now it’s more filtered because the industry kinda gives monetary incentives and fame to artists in exchange for a loss of creative control and freedom. So as far as popular music, it’s watered down, to be honest. I’m not saying that there isn’t artists out there who really put they heart into it and express real feelings with real concerns, but popularity-wise, it’s more about how much can I sell—for both the artists and the labels. It’s more capitalism involved than being artistic. I also feel that’s the reason the general public sorta just lost interest in even really buying it. Sure you can just stream on Spotify, but you can leave it at that. There’s no real investment into it like before because it’s known to be a grift, basically. Of course I’m speaking in generalities.
Fifty years ago, hip-hop started a revolution, not just in music but in fashion, film, TV, art. Is another revolution possible now? Why or why not?
I think shit just takes hella time to develop and catch on. And even more time for corporate forces to believe they can profit off it, making it go mainstream. The focus is just different. Like drill music, trap, those were like little revolutions. I think corporations think they figured out the formula, though, so they have a different process now. They wait and see now when before they just ignored it and declared it garbage. It’s always gonna be stuff just for the people though. Everybody ain’t just in it for profit. Hip-hop, blues, funk, rock, soul—all of that was just part of the culture; it’s just what you do to feel good about yourself. And people get inspired by that.
What’s the most annoying hip-hop trend of the last 50 years, and why?
I’m not too annoyed by anything musical; however, the big headedness and the rampaging ego of some artists be out of this world. I’ll say the abuse of drugs is annoying and sad ‘cause we lost a few promising artists to that. I’m really more annoyed by the grifting of the industry. It’s not productive to stay annoyed, though, without employing some action myself.
Interview with Kyle Eustice