“Oh my God, oh my God. If I die, I’m a legend.” – Drake (“Legend”)
Legend. What makes a legend? Who is a legend? According to Webster, a legend is an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field. So why am I’m asking about defines a legend? Simple. The other day, blogger Lowkey, asked on Twitter if Aaliyah was a legend. I thought about it and honestly, no she’s not. I mean she has a few cute songs and her role in Queen of the Damned was … she’s really pretty. No this isn’t to bag on the deceased, but to make a clear definition of a legend when it comes to Hip-Hop.
So what do I see fit for calling individuals legends? Easy. Someone who had a major impact and is looked at as an inspiration for generations to come. I mean Aaliyah is cool, I get it, but she passed just as soon as her star was rising. I mean we get the occasional Aaliyah sample track, a t-shirt, and that’s it. And that’s why we are left with, what-ifs. Legends would be Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, and Whitney Houston. But we are talking about Hip-Hop, so it’s Jay Z, 2 Pac, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane and a slew of others. Now don’t get it twisted the ‘big’ names aren’t the only ones who should be considered legends. Mac Dre, Pimp C, Little Brother, and Big L are just a few names that influenced a generation and you probably didn’t know it. See their impacts were just as influential as a Kanye or a Nas. Don’t believe me, Google Mac Dre, and then listen to a Freddie Gibbs tape. Go watch a few of Pimp C’s videos and try to convince yourself that he didn’t influence A$AP Rocky. Want to hear some authentic Drake, then go download a Little Brother track. Understand these guys are just as legendary as the Notorious B.I.G.
So what makes a legend? Impact that is felt for generations. Yes, as it has been said time and time again, nothing is new under the sun. But what makes someone a legend is taking that recycled piece, remixing it, and making it their own. Backpack Rap didn’t become popular until Kanye West put on his polo shirt, Louis V backpack, and bragged about dropping out of college. He rapped about the same topics as Mos Def and Talib Kweli, but he made his version stand out and on its own. Everyone isn’t a legend and that’s cool. Some artists were made to be great footnotes. Just a quick mention and nothing else. I know we ‘Stan’ out and swear our favorite is a legend, but stop and think. Do you think generations to come will look up to your favorite artist for influence? For me, yes. However, for the likes of Aaliyah, I don’t think so. Well unless you are currently Ciara. –Pooh Bailey