A Facebook friend of mine posted an interesting video clip this week. It was of DJ Premier creating a hip hop tune with a classical orchestra plus Nas doing his thing over the top of it. Two names right there that are heavy weights in hip hop and have meant a lot to me personally and greatly influenced my own musical and lyrical evolution. I wrote last week of finding hip hop and how I love it to be DJ based well DJ Premier certainly kept me going with the late and sorely missed Guru as Gang Starr. And Nas…well, when he’s on point there’s not many greater.

The clip seems to be part of a documentary looking at combining different forms of music with different artists. Certainly nothing wrong with exploring and stretching art forms. I’d be interested in your take on the piece. After one listen, it didn’t really light me up if I’m honest. The same duo worked wonders on Nas’ Illmatic album sampling classical music on the track Represent. I’ve also seen Tabanka Crew do an amazing piece of African Caribbean dance to Mozart.

Tabanka Crew dance to Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. (c) Sloetry

With Represent, the sample (which I think is Nutcracker Suite but I’m happy to be corrected) is simply a great sample for the tune that Nas is spitting over. With Tabanka Crew’s dance, there are many messages being sent about ‘established’ and perhaps institutionalised forms of dance and music What I’m saying is, that both Represent and Tabanka Crew are using the music to support and convey a message they wish to send…they’re owning the pieces. That ownership is probably there too with DJ Premier’s latest collaboration.

Being a lateral thinker and a bit of an over-ponderer (yeah I knew that was going to fail spell check), this latest ‘Premo’ excursion did make me think of other collaborations and hip hop reworks. One thing I am personally not a fan of, and I want to say this is purely about taste and not a disrespect to some great artists who do or enjoy this but I really find it hard to listen to ‘hip hop’d’ Shakespeare.

My own love of hip hop and what I would term ‘constructive’ poetry, which I personally think falls within hip hop realms, are because they have claimed me where I didn’t like most poetry, and the classics really don’t do it for me. I have always found Shakespeare’s works way over my head, and since I learned on a documentary once that Shakespeare allegedly had investments in plantations in Virginia, I’ve never chosen to revisit his work. I appreciate I’m in a minority here, and I’m not passing judgement (except for strong opinions I may hold on his possibly being complicit in an evil trade). But his writing finds favour with many.

But does hip hop need to revisit it? I guess there’s no harm in it, unless it’s for purposes of validation. Most people who seem to do it seem to be lovers of Shakespeare and want to bring it ‘to the kids’. Fair enough. As I said, it’s purely a personal taste thing.

But while I was on this ponder mode, that word ‘validation’ popped into my head, and made me think about how any of us may seek validation for things we do. I’ve certainly gone to people in the past to seek reassurance that I’m doing something right. Validation is an important part of ensuring things are on the right track.

Sometimes though, do we seek validation from others when we need to do it ourselves? Do we need to have confidence and belief in self to be able to self-validate? What do you think?

There’s an expression, ‘Strong and Wrong!’ Is this where people who don’t seek others’ validation get things wrong? Perhaps. Some of the great leaders of the world, get ‘there’ by being tremendous self-validators often by getting it right. However, after years in power, they often fall from grace because they kept believing in themselves too much and lost touch with reality around them.

So my questions for you to ponder this weekend, and as always would love to hear from you on…

How do you play the balance between the confidence to self-validate and being strong and wrong?

Do we need to self-validate more to increase our own confidence in self?

Did you like the DJ Premier classical piece?

And how on earth did I get from that piece to an article on validation if you know how my head works, my counsellor would love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend.

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