In October 2009, hip-hop was declared dead yet again by music critic and New Yorker writer Sasha Frere-Jones. (Nas did it first three years earlier.) Whenever something is pronounced to be down for the count, however compelling their technical argument may be, I always find myself asking, "What is this person missing?" By focusing on the likes of Jay-Z, Frere-Jones is missing The Revival.
Also in 2009, while touring Europe as a part of We-B Girlz, Detroit femcee Invincible began filming the performances and backstage conversation of such worldwide musical luminaries as Roxanne Shante, Bahamadia, Stacy Epps, DJ Shortee, and Eternia. The footage was then compiled by Emergence Media into a seventeen-minute documentary about the way women use their various hip-hop skills—from old school to conscious to groundbreaking shit—to put forward a message about radical politics, spirituality, and social justice. It gives a personal glimpse into the motivations of a few women who do their thing outside of the mainstream scene.
Hip-hop isn't dead. It's just that the good stuff doesn't have (or want) the corporate cash necessary to get a write up in The New Yorker.