When music legend Rick Rubin (once dubbed the ‘wizard wolfboy’ by some hack) held a burial ceremony for the word ‘Def’ in 1999, the event was reported by Entertainment Weekly as follows: “On Aug. 27, Rick Rubin, owner of Def American Recordings, marked the passing of Def from his label’s name by burying a coffin filled with Def memorabilia. The fatal blow came when the 10-year-old street term for excellent showed up in the 10th edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary last May.”
Despite the questionable definition of ‘Def’ as ‘excellent’ and the more obvious dilemma as to whether Rubin actually has the right to kill off a word that he didn’t even create in the first cot-damn place (although there’s no denying that the Def Jam label he formed with Russel Simmons was instrumental in popularising the term), I can certainly appreciate the sentiment.
My own personal crusade against the term ‘swagger’ way back in 2008 didn’t prove to be particularly effective outside of the internets, but that hasn’t dampened my resolve to spearhead the movement to provide a permanent dirt nap for another scurge on society: ‘Boom Bap’. Now before you spit your Cheeto’s/Cheezels all over your screen in disgust, hear me out…
Originally introduced into the rap vernacular by KRS-One (who IS hip-hop, apparently) on his Return of the Boom-Bap solo LP in 1993 (which may have been the last record of his that anyone paid any attention to), the Blastmasta used the term to highlight the classic kick and snare sound of ‘original rap’ beats. Released during an era when G-Funk was taking over the rap game, this was a timely statement of intent. Like many other well-meaning causes, however, the expression has become so hackneyed and abused over time that I now find myself throwing-up in my mouth a little bit whenever it gets wheeled out in a shitty record review or press release.
We get it already! The record features half-decent drums and some kid’s third-rate impersonation of a DJ Premier sample chop and raps about how authentically ‘hip-hop’ you are… big effin’ deal! I fux with loud drums and well-chopped loops, but that’s just good rap! As a result of this nonsense, quality, original groups like The Doppelgangaz have to struggle with clueless douche-hammers labelling them as ‘throwback rap’, ‘boom bap backpackers’ or ‘stuck in the ’90s’, when in fact their shit sounds nothing like some Jurassic 5 garbage. Do I have to start a record label called ‘Boom-Bap Recordings’ in order to bury this accursed turn of phrase in front of that guy from the Chilli Peppers? Perhaps, but until that never happens I shall continue to fight the good fight and write angry blog posts about it. That oughta solve the problem, right?
Keep up with Robbie’s ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ column here.