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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
10/23/2004 10:37:03 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Chuck D, Eminem, DMX and Jay-Z.

 For Matthew Dave, hip-hop is like an old friend -- the fun one, the one you really liked, the one who inspired you. It's also the friend who never grew up, the one with esteem issues, the one who's a bit too flashy, who swears too much, and is still too obsessed with sex. For Dave, hip-hop is the friend you know you've outgrown.

The 36-year-old Dave grew up in New Orleans under the sway of the hip-hop culture born 30 years ago in the Bronx and brought to the mainstream 25 years ago with the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."

"The first party I ever went to was a 'Rapper's Delight' party," said Dave, who now lives in Hicksville, N.Y. "Every time they played it, everyone danced. When they tried to play something else, everyone sat down."


He battled with classmates over whether hip-hop would turn out to be a passing fad. He battled with his mother over the explicit lyrics on Ice-T's gritty "Rhyme Pays" CD. ("I told her, 'If all you hear is the swearing, then you're not really listening,"' Dave recalled.) He battled with friends about the power of the music.

"I remember one night I was working in this small restaurant in New Orleans when this guy with big gold teeth, wearing a big clock around his neck, came in," Dave said. "This girl I worked with came running back and she's like, 'Did you see Flavor Flav?' I'm like, 'Flavor who?' And she hands me this CD that he gave her and says, 'Here, you take this home and listen to it.' That CD was Public Enemy's 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,' and I never was the same again. There was no one else on wax who was saying what I felt until then."

But that was 15 years ago, in the middle of what many call "The Golden Age of Hip-Hop," when the music was at its most unpredictable, when Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J were superstars and groups such as Public Enemy and De La Soul were stretching the genre's borders, while Ice Cube and Ice-T were building scenes on the West Coast.

Since then, Dave has left hip-hop in disgust several times. "Hip-hop has gotten kind of stagnant," he said. "The movement has gone another way. It's frustrating to see the G-Units, the Cash Money, the No Limit all day, every day. That's not about hip-hop. That's not music that has social meaning. That's all about shaking ya -- -- -- .

He is not alone in his protest.

Two of hip-hop's biggest stars -- Jay-Z and DMX -- have announced their retirement from the genre, in part because they have tired of rappers competing over who seems most "street" or extravagant. Rappers such as Will Smith, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs

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