Today, after much speculation, The Source magazine announced that Houston Rap legend Bun B – one half of UGK – will receive 5 Mics for his latest solo album Trill O.G.. This marks the first album to receive this honor since Lil’ Kim dropped The Naked Truth way back in 2005. With this 5 Mic rating, Bun B joins an elite group of emcees who’ve received this honor, which includes Nas (Illmatic and Stillmatic), Jay-Z (The Blueprint), Scarface (The Fix), The Notorious B.I.G. (Life After Death) and Outkast (Aquemini).
The reaction to Bun’s crowning has been pretty lukewarm, with many viewing it as more of a ‘lifetime achievent award’ for Bun’s career than anything else. As a point of comparison, UGK’s certified classics Ridin’ Dirty and Super Tight recieved, 4.5 and 3.5 mics, respectively. In the midst of all this hoopla the question has to be asked – does anyone really care about 5 mics anymore?
That’s no disrespect to Bun B or The Source, which definitely earned it’s rep as ‘the Bible of Hip-Hop.’ There was a time when Mic-ratings in the Source were the topic of intense debate amongst hip-hop heads, whether it was at the lunch table in school, or at the the barbershop. 5 Mics was something to aspire to, it was the holy grail. Sure, the Source’s ratings were always controversial, and many albums that are now considered obvious classics didn’t get the ‘5 Mic Stamp’ originally, but people actually cared about what they had to say. Nowadays, no one really invests in the Source as a credible ‘source’ of what’s hot. Honestly, when was the last time anyone shouted out 5 mics in a record or complained about a low rating in The Source?
NEXT PAGE: WHY 5 MICS DOESN’T MEAN AS MUCH AS IT ONCE DID…
The fact of the matter is that a 5 Mic rating doesn’t mean nearly as much today as it did in, say, 1992. This is for a number of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with The Source magazine itself, but moreso with the role and importance of music criticism to today’s music fan. Today, everyone is a critic. There really is nothing separating a writer for the Source/any music-related publication from Joe Schmo with a computer. Everyone has an opinion, and blogs, message boards, amazon.com reviews, etc. has given everyone a platform on which they can voice said opinion. With the constant leaking of albums, everyone has the same level of access to the music. Therefore, a ‘5 Mic’ rating from the Source or XXL Rating in XXL doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of prestige or importance that it once did. Sure, it may cause some conversation, and a few more people will check out Bun’s Trill O.G. out of curiousity, but in terms of creating a canon of modern classics, it’s irrelevant.
As is the case with most changes, there is a good and a bad side to this shift. On one hand, the internet has made it a level playing field. On the other, when everyone is a blogger and everyone has a platform to voice their opinions, be they informed or not, things get messy.