I like k-os. As a musician he is probably one of the best in hip hop. However, he is not a very good emcee. As a matter of fact, he's kind of a one-note joke; the majority of his raps centering around how everyone is wack, and how we need to go back to the way things used to be. I can dig it. In fact there was a time when I felt the exact same way; that's probably how I caught wind of k-os in the first place.
See I'm not a new jack, and regardless of where my musical tastes rest at this moment, I really was raised on this shit. From watching LL's "I'm Bad" and PE's "Fight the Power" on Yo! MTV Raps, to Gangstarr "Mass Appeal" on Rap City, to Nas "Got Urself a Gun" on TRL, roots run deep. So understandably when I turn on the tele and see Souljah boy and Plies prancing around, it's going to strike a nerve with me. Still, this concept of "real" hip hop and "fake" hip hop is a fallacy, and ultimately far more detrimental to the culture at large, than helping.
Truth is, everything has it's place, from the most sugary-watered down-soda pop hip hop you can find, to the most lyrical super-scientifical emcees out there, everyone has an audience. Unfortunately, it is those very "scientifical" emcees that do the most to perpetuate the stigma of "real vs. fake" hip hop. And it's sad to say, but given some thought I believe the reason is obvious; they can not do any better. You see, being a good rapper really doesnt mean anything in the context of making a listenable tune, much less a popular one. Don't get me wrong, I personally place high value on lyrical ability. But let's face it, you can be the rappiest man on the planet and still be unable to write a good song; go ask Eminem.
I don't mean to devalue lyricism, but somewhere along the line emcees forgot that the point was to make good music, and it became a gotdamn spitting competition. The problem is, that very mentality gives way for underdeveloped rappers to take over the market. The guys willing to sacrifice solid lyricism for a catchy chorus (or perhaps a song about a dance) get their music played on the radio, while most other hip hop gets stigmatized and left by the wayside.
Really, despite any misgivings I may have towards either end of the spectrum, the biggest point I would like to make is that hip hop has always put out good product. Judging an entire culture by it's extremes just doesn't work. Regardless of what is popular now or then, you can always find something worth your time. As fans of hip hop I feel it is our responsibility to break down these walls and come to accept each other's ways. Lyricism is important, and pop music isn't evil. A balance of both would really do hip hop good, especially as far as our image is concerned. I hate the fact that hip hop has been around since the late 70's, and yet is still viewed as almost a joke to many people.
I would like to end this dissertation with a quote from Aesop Rock:
"What are you saving, honestly?/ Promise me you gon' shut the fuck up and recognize what you're holdin' ain't really broken."