On the last day of the semester in my "Pass the Peas" Hip Hop class, I request my students Show and Prove. Each student is required to present a song they think will rock the house, score them points and earn them the much coveted "Pass the Peas" award: a physical copy of the legendary ARM 18 mixtape "Version City Vol. 1" Perhaps surprisingly to us cynical older cats, the three top scoring songs a room full of 19 or 20 somethings chose were insightful, inspirational tracks of traditional boom bap.
The "Get By (Remix)" garnered the most votes with its star studded cast and its universal themes of struggle. "Thieves In the Night" is not the first time I have seen this song in this contest, proof that classics have still been made in the last 15 years and that Talib and Mos' literacy is not over the heads of the supposed illiteracy of Generation Text. But its the props "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)" received truly took me back. I am pretty sure some of the students were but in diapers when this song dropped and earned a Grammy. Yes, children, there was a time when uplifting raps could crossover while still booming out of jeeps, shake streets and invite listeners to strike a pose of cool thoughtfulness. Thanks for reminding me.