Craig G Wants To Know Who Stole The Soul From Hip-Hop (Video)

With over three decades of rhyming under his belt, Queens, New York’s Craig G has been able to witness Hip-Hop develop from a street sensation to mainstream global culture. In all of that time, the Juice Crew member has never been afraid to speak his mind when it comes to making sure that skills prevail right alongside the revenue. For his latest endeavor, Craig linked with Massachusetts producer/DJ Reel Drama to weigh in on Hip-Hop’s handling, and where the art-form ought to go. The pair have previously collaborated. This time around Craig exposes the hidden agenda of some MCs and the executives that sign their checks by spitting credible lyrics over the Reel Drama champion boom-bap track.

Filmed in nearby Lowell last month by Myster DL, an abandoned bridge underpass filled with graffiti becomes the backdrop for “Who Stole The Soul.” Premiering at Ambrosia For Heads, the visual focuses on the simplicity of matching Craig’s verses with smooth and colorful transitions while Reel Drama picks through his crates. During the hook, Craig asks some very logical questions that may be hard to answer. When did the game lose control? Who stole the soul? He then answers by spitting, “I bet the record companies…they know.

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Craig starts by paying homage to his peers and influences: “I remember when Run-D.M.C., they spoke to me/ Hearing Public Enemy left so many quotes to read / X-Clan pointed me to the East, my brother / Tribe had the night on my mind like no other / Ice Cube also made me wanna kill Sam / While Jeru The Damaja pointed out the scams / Gang Starr was asking who’ll take the weight/ De La Soul wrote a song about ‘buhloone mindstates’ / Goodie Mob told ya to get out and get something / OutKast had us pressing on that elevator button / Boogie Down Productions told us loves gonna get you / Scarface was rhyming about mental health issues / The Jungle Brothers made me wanna know about Africa / N.W.A. talked about cops harassing ya / I hear most Hip-Hop now, and get nothing / The music saved my soul because it used to have substance.

During the second verse, Craig continues his verbal essay: “Money’s more important than art or longevity / Possessions come and go but respect last forever, G / But let me tell you what doesn’t last a lifetime / Fame, so I suggest you stay in your right mind / Attention spans decreased, it’s almost none / That’s why these albums only have a three-month run / I hear a lot of Hip-Hop now, and get nothing / This music saved my soul because it used to have substance.

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The respected freestyle and Battle MC uses the third verse to put all the practitioners of culture appropriation on blast. “Rap about guns and holsters / Testarossas / With nonsenses spilling out ya cup, get ya coasters / We got a different approach to lyrics and beef / Some don’t like what they hear because their spirits are weak / But we represent strength without the steroid enhancements / Possibly thinking about advancing with proper planning.

Craig G has raised the bar of lyrical excellence since the mid-1980s. He wants the culture to do the same, throughout the ages. Previously, Reel Drama has worked with REKS, Tragedy Khadafi, Big Shug, and others.

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Music video directed by Myster DL for Ill Mannered Films.

#BonusBeat: Earlier this month, Craig and Mr. Cheeks released Strike Team, a six-song effort including production by Pete Rock. The release is through Erick Sermon’s Def Squad Studios: