If you’ve ever spent more than a few hours on a hip hop message board, you’ve probably fallen into an infuriating debate with some dunderhead incapable of understanding just how wrong he or she is. Yes, everyone is entitled to expressing an opinion — I’m pretty sure there’s an amendment regarding that — but such permission doesn’t mean people should be immune from criticism, especially when they’re arguing some asinine point wholly removed from logic and reason.
To help those fighting the good fight against ignorance, we’ve decided to start a series called the “Hip Hop Debate Dictionary.” The misuse or misunderstanding of definitions can derail a debate, and this guide will help prevent such problems by providing authoritative definitions of the words commonly thrown about in an average hip hop argument.
Today’s word is “classic.”
How someone is probably (and incorrectly) using it: “Outkast’s ATLiens is a classic album. Not only did it achieve both commercial and critical success, but it did so without the group being forced to make artistic compromises regarding lyrical themes and musical composition. It’s an album beloved by hip hop fans of all stripes, and it sounds distinct from the other albums of its era without sounding incongruous. Because of those factors, ATLiens is a classic album.”
How he or she should be using it: “Any album can be a classic!! Any! There are commercial classics, underground classics, personal classics, and classic classics! To say one classic is somehow more of a classic than another classics completely ignores the subjective experience of art. You can’t quantify quality, man! Since coming up with a reasonable way to label an album as ‘classic’ is difficult — requiring patience, open-mindedness, and nuance — why don’t we all just throw in the towel and say any album can be, and probably is to someone, a classic. If I think Chingy has a classic album under his belt, you can’t tell me he doesn’t! Do I need criteria? Hell no! It’s about feeling, you fascist.”
So if you find yourself in a situation where someone starts spewing some of that first-definition garbage, bring out definition number two and watch them weep at your rhetorical prowess.
Join us next week for another installment of “Hip Hop Debate Dictionary.” We’ll be discussing the phrase “rappity rap.”