In the wake of the Glaston-berry performance I’ve been having an awful lot of conversations about Jay-Z. Mainly surprise at the way the mainstream press have been lauding the performance a triumph. I’d say the whole fiasco is a triumph for hip hop, but possibly its downfall, but I digress. Part of the reason why Jay-Z could even play Glasto is because he opened up hip hop to the masses – his rhyme style is unencrypted for want of a better word.
On the train journey from Liverpool yesterday I spotted loads of graf, and it got me thinking about Banksy and how he opened up graffiti – an unintelligible language to the uninitiated – to anyone and everyone.
It’s the artists that make this crossover that are the most successful, but where does that leave the scene? Are these mainstream visionaries good or bad for the cultures which they come from? I'm not saying that hip hop/graf should be for heads only, but maybe Nas was right when he proclaimed hip hop dead, as mainstream success seems to come at a price. But on the other hand, are the days of needing an 'underground CNN' unnecessary in a world with the publishing power of the internet?
Plus, some other scene has to come and fill the gap? Or maybe we are past the era of scenes as we know ‘em. Like Matt Mason talks about The Pirate’s Dilemma, when something new comes along it gets assimilated into popular culture so quickly it doesn’t have to time to develop and mature; see grime and even guerrilla gardening. Anyway, it's more pointless stuff to think about.