Marcos Thomas, an Augusta hip-hop artist who recently recorded under the moniker Blakfist, hasn't lost interest in the genre, but he is beginning to lose patience.
He said the music has become more about style than substance, a big beat exercise that no longer shines a light on culture but rather exploits its commercialized image.
It's something he refuses to be part of.
Thomas, who also performs with the Augusta group Rebel Lion, recently completed work on a solo Blakfist album, titled The Gun Line. Replete with Augusta-funky grooves, eclectic samples and socially conscious lyrics, it's a throwback that Thomas hopes represents the future of hip-hop.
"Having something to say was high on my priority list," he said. "I mean, the acts that did that, those were my influences -- Public Enemy, (A) Tribe Called Quest, Goodie Mob. I believe that doing this, you have to drop jewels. You have to say something positive and something real. There are just too many important issues out there."
He said hip-hop is a particularly effective means of communicating socially relevant ideas because there's always an element of entertainment. He said in putting Gun Line together, he was careful to give the songs a sense of ebb and flow. While some attack, others are more infectious. He said that while he's serious about his message, he's also not immune to the pleasures of the groove.
"There should be songs on there for every mood," he said. "I mean, I do still want to get played on the radio and in the clubs. I still want people to nod their heads. I want people to dance. I want one of my tracks to be the one the DJ plays at the hottest part of the night."
Although he's ready to have tracks embraced, he willfully avoids themes popular on radio. He said he feels compelled to write something of substance because he sees his children absorbing vapid musical messages all the time.
The by-product, Thomas said, is short careers, reinforcement of false perceptions and, ultimately, harm to the music itself.
"These fly-by-night artists are not contributing anything to the lifespan of hip-hop," he said. "Art is something that will stand the test of time. That's my goal. Longevity is part of it."
Longevity, he said, and honesty. He admitted that there will always be a place for novelty records that focus on flash over substance, but feels cashing in quick on something less than authentic would be insincere.
"Sitting down and writing an intentional club record just isn't honest," he said. "It can be done, but why? Sure, what I'm doing is different from what is popular. It isn't about that flash or big rims. That, for me, just wouldn't be accurate."