“I believe greatness is an evolutionary process that changes and evolves era to era.” – Michael Jordan
20 years ago Outkast stood on a stage at Madison Square Garden, and got booed after receiving the Source Award for Best New Rap Group. Being the birthplace of hip-hop, a vast majority of New York City natives were quite territorial back then, and not as open to receiving other areas representing the culture artistically. Plus, the amped-up east coast/west coast feud being elevated throughout the evening’s ceremony didn’t help. But little did we know at the time, that awkward experience ultimately turned into a milestone moment in hip-hop, after ‘Kast member Andre ‘Dre’ Benjamin stepped up to the mic and made it clear that “The South got something to say.” Not only did that rejection fuel the Atlanta duo to work harder to get better at their craft, but it also ignited a movement for every other aspiring rap act outside of New York to not only be themselves but to also be okay with not trying to sound like, be like or be accepted by anyone resistant to the change that was coming.
The cool thing about hip-hop in that era was the fact that it wasn’t cool to sound like someone else. Although it’s natural to be influenced and inspired by heroes and peers, what makes artists great is the ability to master the existing skills that best fit one’s personality, and to creatively make it their own. LBJ started off wanting to be like Mike, but now LeBron James has a great legacy of his own. Somehow we’ve arrived at a place, musically, where a lot of what’s being played on the radio and in the clubs is sounding the same. Based on those existing playlists, it’ll be hard not to credit Future and Mike WiLL Made-It for initiating the current trend. For only the second time ever, the two brilliant minds sat down for an interview together to share their perspective on why they continue to win, and how they’re continuing move the culture forward, which is the centerpiece for this issue’s theme on inspiring greatness.
Within the last 20 years, a lot of the great music that has helped reshape the way that the culture has been received has made it’s way through Patchwerk Recording Studios in Atlanta. From T.I. to Young Jeezy, Missy Elliott to Beyoncé, Nas to Kendrick Lamar, a lot of history has happened inside those walls. Across town, K Camp has quietly been kicking down doors and making a name for himself by being himself. Ice Cube has been relevant since 1987, when his controversial, sociopolitical organization disguised itself as the gangsta rap group N.W.A. The west coast legend’s new biopic Straight Outta Compton exposes a lot of new information regarding the methods behind their madness.
Years ago I had a talent and production deal with Starz, so it’s great to see my former team doing big TV numbers with Power and Survivor’s Remorse. We wish continued success to 50 Cent, Naturi Naughton, LeBron and RonReaco Lee. Not enough can be said to express our appreciation for our outstanding POV line up, Kyle Christy and Todd Spoth. Dig deeper, learn more and please join us at respect-mag.com for more digital coverage on this issue’s participants. Much love goes out to Greg Street, Jason Jeter, A3C, Courtney Lowery, Yvette Gayle, B. Write, Tony Draper, Robert Redd, Talitha Watkins, Joy Phillips, Curtis Daniel, April Love, Zaytoven, and Tony Gervino, our super-dope RESPECT. editor whom I missed in my last letter. Until next time…
Issue Inspiration: Eric Thomas, “The Combat Jack Show,” 1 Goal 1 Passion, and the victims, families and friends of the Charleston shooting for inspiring the #RespectPlanDemand initiative. Stay tuned—more to come.
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