New Videos for Old Songs:
What is the Point, Really?
Well, I’ll be John Brown! Nice and Smooth got a new video out. I am so amped to listen to what fresh new music this old group has in store. Maybe it will mainly be a Greg Nice joint with Smooth B looking cool in the video. Or maybe it will have some old school flavor. Whatever the case may be, I know that it will be ill to see overly grown men show these youngsters how to make real music.
And then I saw the video.
Do not get me wrong, the video was dope. It contained images of regular everyday happenings with street scenes. Not all those shiny suits, jiggly women, expensive cars, and precipitating of dollars from the sky. Instead, we get a throwback jam with new school scenery. Then, like a Tyson punch upside Lil Mac’s head, it hit me: this song is old.
I mean really, really old. Like over twenty years old.
This song is off of the old album with “Funky for You”, which was by far one of my favorite Nice and Smooth songs. Actually the album is self-titled Nice and Smooth. Greg Nice and Smooth B was signed to Sleeping Bag Records, a New York based independent that also housed acts just as Just Ice, EPMD (pre Def Jam), and Mantronix. This was before they moved onto RAL (Rush Associated Labels) and started to become better known hip hop stalwarts with gold sales and movie features. This is a song from the album that practically started their careers. In turn, they made a video for a song from the beginning of their careers.
All of this would be uncanny if they were the only artists partaking in this “old to the new” visual recapturing of the past. Luckily, they are not.
There are more artists taking part in bringing the “old to the new”. RA the Rugged Man created visuals for “A Star is Born”, a song that details his ascension and dissension within the ranks of hip hop lore and major label bliss. Saigon made a video for “Color Purple”, a diatribe that goes against the insanity of gang affiliation and color coordinated thug life. Prince Po made a video for “Right to Know” which questions life, existence, and humanity. Boot Camp Click released the posse cut of sorts “Hate All You Want”, giving people a taste of what was really hot off of their past album together. Queensbridge gives double the love from Cormega on “Rapture” and Prodigy on “Genesis”. Therefore, these new videos for old songs are not a new concept.
Yet, many would question is this something that should be happening? I say “Of course, you idiots!”
First of all, this is a sheer way to decrease and obliterate the “disposable notion” of hip hop music. Too many times, there are instances in which people will reminisce about old artists of the past. Too many times people will question “Remember when this song came on?” Too many times there are situations in which artists are forgotten because we, as hip hop culture enthusiasts, do not make a connection between the past and the present. Too many times, older artists complain about how the newer generation knows nothing, or even cares, about the past. Yet, we all recognize that this aberration of a musical situation has to end. What better way to do this than the reintroduction of music through videos?
This new trend (if it can be called that) is a win-win for three main figures in hip hop: the artists, the fans, and the video producers.
The artists win because it gives their music a breath of new life. So many different songs and hits go undiscovered because people either forgot about them or did not pay attention. However, within today’s computerized, instant-oatmeal news on the hour society, one can find what they want and need at the click of a button. Many artists deserve recognition. They deserve recognition for their music, their work ethic, and their brilliance. Putting out videos for old songs helps them reconnect to a younger audience, helps the older/truer fans revitalize their feelings of nostalgia, and maybe even push up their album/single sales (if/when/how their old music is available). In this digital age, it only makes sense for an older artist to promote older and overlooked music.
Also, the fans get to win out for themselves. The fans win out because they actually get to experience musical situations that their parents/siblings/grandparents (yeah, I know) experienced or what they might have missed out on. As mentioned before, many older artists feel that the younger generation overlook the importance of the old school. However, that is partially due to lack of a connection to the past. Too many times, there are situations where knowledge is not passed down. Many younger listeners don’t understand where samples come from, lyrics are borrowed from, or what influenced this present day of music. Older music can serve as self-serving history lessons that educate. The younger generation can be educated on how music was. Also, they can become educated on how music truly is. Last, they can become educated on how this music can even evolve. In short, fans win out by gaining knowledge of their own ever changing culture.
Video producers can capitalize off of the fact that they are going to get plenty of work. In the past, music videos were quite expensive. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, hip hop videos became quite the expensive affair for some artists, even commanding upward to the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to make. Nowadays, videos are not even close to being as expensive. Quality cameras don’t cost that much. Also, editing software is either inexpensive or people find pirated copies of it. So, many people are either finding cheaper ways to make quality videos or they are doing it themselves. Since it is easier/less time consuming to make a video, more auditory visuals are being made. With this influx of videos being made will only increase the income of those video producers that make quality product with very little turnaround time.
Watching this Nice and Smooth video, I realize that they took a necessary step to solidify their musical reputations. The group did something that all artists (new and especially old) need to do. Nice and Smooth helped pave a way of making the past relevant again. Personally, I think that more artists need to follow suit. They should promote their old music that they know is of august quality, yet still unheard and underrated. Keep the present aware of the past so that the new generation can understand their present and make better decisions for the future. Each one, reach one, teach one.
‘Nuff respect and ‘Nuff said.