I wrote this in 1999...

Hiphop's most important distinction is that it's a purely urban form of music. It has no roots, no connection, no memories of rural culture. Not even jazz, with all its A trains and Parisian thoroughfares, can make this noble claim; its debt to the blues is too profound and unavoidable. With jazz, no matter how glossy, how sophisticated the swing, we can never forget those knee-slapping, corn-whiskey-drinking peasant folk who gave the music its fundamental structure. Ultimately, jazz is nothing more than polished peasant music—polished by the millions who migrated to the industrial North from the rustic South.

But hiphop, my beloved hiphop, is immaculate. At its core there are no shotgun shacks sleeping under weeping willows, but towering Corbusierian housing projects ("islands in the sky"); there are no upheavals caused by tumultuous great rivers (flash floods breaking levees and carrying away helpless cows), but instead upheavals caused by new superhighways, such as the one urban planner Robert Moses forced through the South Bronx in the '70s.

To this day, I still feel strong for and revel in hiphop's urban absolute. Just feel it in these tracks; feel the totality of the urban: London...

NYC...

Paris...