What made me think about this for the umpteenth time, was last night while listening to one of the all time perfect albums, Jamaica’s A Tribe Called Quest “The Low End Theory” and watching an interview with Q-Tip, one of the smoothest rappers ever on Bloomberg Politics. There are some good albums, some great albums and in the upper echelon of music, masterpieces, albums perfect from beginning to end and “The Low End Theory” ranks up there with Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In the Key of Life”, Steely Dan’s “Aja”, the underrated personal “Here, My Dear” by Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson’s commercial “Thriller”, and Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” to name a few. And while A Tribe Called Quest’s newest and final albums, 18 years from their previous, is a fitting tribute to St. Alban’s Phife Dawg, who died this past March, cannot compare to their masterpiece, they still show 18 years later why they are the most influential rap/hip hop group EVER, bar none and they are from Jamaica. Plus they put today’s and even past hip/hop folks to shame. While I really liked their new double album, “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service“, it does not quite have the flow of Low End Theory and at times seems to be a little all over the map, but even that, it puts today’s folks and folks from the past 20 years to shame.
Which brings me to my major point. Sure, they did a street naming ceremony for Phife here in Jamaica, BUT why did they have to wait till he died. This major influential group who sidestepped the hardcore loud gangsta rap (and so overrated genre) choose to go in the opposite direction with smooth grooves, mellow samplings and intelligent lyrics and with Phife and Q-Tip leading this ship, how could they go wrong. A Tribe Called Quest is PERFECTION. So why didn’t Jamaica showcase not only this amazing homegrown group, but all the other major rap stars from the area and the major iconic jazz legends who lived in the area of St. Albans/Addesleigh Park. I mean, no one in Queens can touch this history and sorry Brooklynites, but as far as rap/hip hop, South Jamaica is royalty (Pharoahe Monch, Onyx, Lost Boyz just to name a few). Toss in the amazing history of Jamaica (Rufus King, Roy Wilkins), the most land marked buildings in all of Queens (20 plus) and you have one hell of a hood, that should be showcased to the max, but is not. And let’s not forget the talented artists in this community. I mean we should have great amazing murals all over instead of decaying buildings and garbage.
In his interview with Bloomberg Politics’ John Heilemann, Q-Tip, talked about the power that people have in communities and how they should be holding our elected officials accountable because “they work for us, we pay their salaries”. (http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/7588906/q-tip-kanye-west-donald-trump-bloomberg-politics). I have said this for years.
You want to talk about attracting tourists, you can start with our amazing history, our major rap/hip folks who came from here and the jazz icons who lived here. Any other city will be playing this up BIG TIME. But as usual Jamaica has dropped that bar. Instead they focus on the ghetto crap third world Jamaica Avenue and all the shitty retail like tons of 99 cent stores, numerous beauty supply shop, nail salons and some of the most awful retail around (although if you look, there are some gems, especially some of the nicer hip/hop clothing stores), but just like the ghetto Jamaica Colosseum Mall, Jamaica Ave is CRAP. How about a Hip/Hop art/museum to showcase folks like A Tribe Called Quest.
Too bad the leadership in Jamaica is like The Ave…………………….FUCKING CRAP.