Ask any real hip hop head what hip hop means, and they will tell you without hesitation - MCing, DJing, Breaking and Graffiti.

These are the four elements of hip hop, as integral as Earth, Air, Fire and Water are to Magic Users in an RPG.

Without them, there is no culture. Hip hop is all about the four elements. A simple wikipedia search would reveal even this much

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip-hop)

Most of these rappers' 'DJs' wouldn't know a tweak scratch from a crab. Hell, most of them just use CDs or, even worse, a laptop! In my interview with Grandmaster Flash, he continually talked about how the DJ created hip hop, and how 'rap' is losing that fundamental aspect of hip hop, burying it under a sea of bling.

You can't "break" to rap, the beats are too slow and they don't flow. There's no build up or breakdown of the beat anymore. No time to spin on your back, spin on your knee and then Freeze.

None of these rappers have touched a can of spray, except maybe to fix up a chip in their Escalades. None of them are interested in street art, in pieces, and most of them have never ridden the subway. None of them feature Graf on their covers, just themselves and their stinking bling.

And as for MCing, most of these rappers have other people write their rhymes, and would be lost in a proper MC battle. And the lyrical content of the raps often seems like it's written by George Bush!

Use the term Street, Urban, R&B (no, on second thought don't use R&B... BB King is R&B, Usher is just pop). Just don't be suckered into the marketing machine. It's not hip hop.

-Funky J

To the Editor: Greg Costikyan's "Death to the Games Industry: Part 2" practically had me in tears, so inspiring did I find the idea of a world in which games don't suck anymore. The impact was partially dependent on the fact that this brilliant future of gaming is a long way off, if it ever comes at all, and partially because it would put me out of a job.

I work at one of the major retailers, and one of the biggest topics of discussion is the piles of over-marketed, demographic-targeting schlock we receive in boxes every day. The fact that I am expected to stifle my desire to tell customers how truly dreadful some of the games they purchase are, is bad enough. I, and the other hardcore gamer employees, feel even more defeated knowing that 90% of them won't listen to us.

And it is not just those of us at the fringes of the industry who bemoan the situation, but those working much deeper inside it. A day after the release of The Warriors, one of the most heavily marketed games in the past few months, a regular customer who works for Rockstar came in to pick up ... Stubbs the Zombie. Even as he handed us Rockstar logo emblazoned key chains/PSP screen cleaners, he complained about the lack of innovation caused by the pressures put on developers. And then he left, happy to have a quirky title to play, after months of working on a game for the mass-market. And I had a glimmer of hope that one day I might be unemployed.

-Cait O'Connor

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