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Weekly updates

Few things can sour an otherwise amusing evening than having the DJ and/or rapper dude that is currently on stage bellowing out instructions involving either throwing your hands in the air if you ‘love that real hip-hop’ or demanding that all in attendance yell something along the lines of ‘I love that real hip-hop!’ While I can appreciate the need to elicit some excitement from the crowd, surely it’s time we move beyond the hackneyed traditions of competing to see which side of the audience is ‘liver’ or chanting ‘Hop!’ when the master of ceremonies says ‘Hip!’ The real issue that’s puzzled me for longer than I care to remember is where can I find this dreaded Fake Hip-Hop character who seems to be causing so much mischief at rap shows across the globe? Surely if he or she could be apprehended and given a stern speaking to then perhaps this whole unpleasant mess could be put behind us?

I recently polled Old Man Rap Twitter on the subject in an attempt to track down where exactly Fake Hip-Hop might be hanging out, plotting his or her next devious move (who am I kidding, according to Common Sense’s ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.‘ stands for ‘Hip-hop in it’s Essence and Real,’ therefore Fake Hip-Hop must surely be a fella). It turns out Fake Hip-Hop is just whatever rap people happen to think is too commercial or just corny – MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch leading the way. There’s no denying that anyone who was subjected to seeing Hammer thrusting his pelvis wildly while clad in only leopard-skin Speedos in the ‘Pumps and A Bump‘ video required years of intensive therapy to recover, but who decides whether the first rapper to ever ship a diamond album (ten million units sold in the USA) is real or fake?

Hammer built up his fan base through his independent first album, tireless promotion and energetic stage show. His third album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em on Capitol, made him an international superstar, but he was never too ‘pop’ to get involved in bitter feuds with other rappers, which included an alleged contract he had put out on 3rd Bass after they went at him on several tracks (almost a case of ‘When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong’). Hammer was a stronger performer than he was a lyricist, but how does that make him fake? While the rap status quo of the day understandably bristled at seeing the ‘Holy Ghost Boy’ dance his way to millions of dollars, he wasn’t the construct of an evil cabal of record industry executives. Vanilla Ice, while not being very good at rapping either, seemed to have been a legitimate rap fan who struck it lucky.

As my polling revealed, an argument for MC Skat Kat being fake certainly holds weight, being that he’s an animated cat voiced by someone else. But even Skat Kat was given an album deal with Virgin Records after his duet with Paula Abdul, which is realer than the careers of a lot of human rappers. At this point in the investigation, I was beginning to suspect that Fake Hip-Hop may never have actually existed after all. Was this poor schmuck just the unfortunate scapegoat in an effort to convince rap fans that they’re having more fun than they’re actually having?

Maybe Fake Hip-Hop is the people who recite other people’s rhymes? The problem with that theory, of course, is that it discounts both ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and Drake, the first hit rap record and the most popular rapper in the world right now, respectively. Is Fake Hip-Hop the guys who rap about street shit but used to work as correctional officers like Rick Ross? Doubtful, since Rawse has received praise for his music from everyone from ‘the workers to the bosses’. Could Fake Hip-Hop be whatever KRS-One and the Temple of Hip-Hop deem it to be this week? Is it whoever Lord Jamar is putting on blast on VLADTV for wearing emasculating jeggings? Or those DJs who were crusading against the evils of CDJs until they figured out that Serato and a laptop is easier on the back than lugging ten crates of records into the club?

Spare a thought for poor, defenseless Fake Hip-Hop, if he’s out there at all. It’s likely that he just went out to grab a few drinks and dance with some vaguely attractive girls and the next thing he knew he was being yelled at by angry, middle-aged rap DJs and sweaty, overweight men in hooded tops and poorly selected jeans. Maybe it’s time to set up a crowdfunding project to have Fake Hip-Hop put into protective custody next door to Henry Hill, where he can start up a Slow Food pop-up show specialising in only serving food name-checked on the Fat Boy’s ‘All You Can Eat.’ Our thoughts are with you, old friend. Keep ya head up.

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.