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Hip-Hop Fridays: E-Letter To and Joe Caramanica Re: "Reflecting Eternal"

Your article, "Reflecting Eternal" charters new territory on the subject of Hip-Hop's evolving view of its own mortality. You should be commended for taking the time to perform the introspection and reflection necessary to pen such a thoughtful piece. The most brilliant part of your work, in essence, is that it depicts Hip-Hop as a human being nearing 30 years of age, maturing over time and realizing that the invincible persona that gained it a reputation and success does not reflect reality. Indeed, you show that an art form and its artists, with each passing year, are getting more acquainted with their own vulnerability and shortcomings.

To me that is the value of your piece. You certainly could have selected a variety of subjects to demonstrate this but none as poignant as death. No other subject or aspect of life hits us any harder.

I can never forget where I was or what I was doing when I learned of the deaths of virtually all of the artists that you refer to.

Most dramatically, I will never forget where I was when I had my first encounter with Hip-Hop mortality- when I learned of the murder of Boogie Down Production's Scott La Rock. I was in 7th grade and a friend of mine came over to my house to tell me that Scott La Rock had been shot. At first I couldn't believe it, dismissing it as only a rumor. And I did not accept it until that night, when the radio station paid a tribute to Scott La Rock. And the effect still lingers. Just ask anyone. As great as KRS-One is, how much better would he and BDP have been with Scott still alive.

I can remember the shock I felt when reading about Eazy-E having full-blown AIDS in a USA Today article in. I still remember being in the Wu-Tang offices when we learned that Tupac had died after a week of just "knowing" he would pull through this latest episode in his controversial life. I can remember the Harlem restaurant where I was in March of 1997 when I looked up at a TV screen playing a video of Biggie and Puffy with the headline " Rapper Killed" sketched across it. It was Biggie. Dead. And I couldn't believe it…

I remember where I was when I first heard of the murders of Big L and the Lost Boyz Freaky Tah. And how could I forget the call I received earlier this year, from a Hip-Hop producer friend of mine, telling me that Big Pun had died?

From Scott La Rock to Big Pun, I and the rest of the Hip-Hop community have gotten a complete course in mortality. And the bravado that we felt in 1987 is a far cry from the humility in 2000 that comes from seeing the industry's giants fall and from realizing that you are closer to dying today than you were the day before. And that is where Hip-Hop is at present - a phone call or newsflash away from learning that an artist of great talent has died, quite possibly from violence.

Your piece, more than any other I have seen does a wonderful job of chronicling this maturation process and the shock, pain and lessons that accompany it.


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, August 4, 2000

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