Sat Aug 18
"Culture is always recreating itself," Abstract Rude says matter-of-factly. "If it didn't recreate itself, it would die." To hear Abstract explain it, you'd never question his logic. But in retrospect, his willingness--as an independent, underground MC--to embrace the imminent change in hiphop is actually surprising. "Right now, hiphop is marketed like it's from the street. But as the superpowers that are marketing it take over, it gets further and further away from the street--removed from the essence of what it once was," he explains.
But his argument goes that, as hiphop blows up in pop culture, it creates unity elsewhere. Take the show he's playing Saturday night with Aceyalone, the Living Legends, and Swollen Members--an all-star cast, and the wet dream of any West Coast hiphop fan. This specific group has never played together before, and Abstract explains their solidarity as a reaction to mainstream hiphop. "I think in the last five years, the communication barriers in the community have really broken down. I mean, everybody just realized that everybody in the West Coast scene is trying to accomplish the same thing here. We're all just trying to promote the same message--we're all just trying to stay true to ourselves, to make music that's inspired, to sound smart. I think that what we're doing now, working together--takes a lot more energy, but makes better music."
Abstract's new challenges are definitely apparent in his music, which more and more, involves collaborating not just with his main crew, Abstract Tribe Unique (A.T.U.), but everyone else. On their recent compilation, Process of Elimination, Living Legends and Abstract perform "You Hear About it," in which the normally lyrical, windy Legends are joined with the unmistakably deep voice of Abstract. It is a wonderfully simple hybrid, and Abstract's voice is filtered into an uncharacteristically funky beat.
Despite his underground sound, Abstract doesn't wax rhetoric. "I'm committed to me and my family," he says sweetly. "I'm not caught up in 'staying independent,' or asking myself, 'Is this raw?', 'Is this commercial?' That'll drive you crazy. What matters is staying true to yourself, making the best music possible, and expressing yourself. That's all that matters."