I grew up on hip hop from New York during the golden era, ya know, those old days. Groups like Wu Tang and A Tribe Called Quest, helped shape my understanding of the music. Hip Hop music wasn’t the only type of sounds I listened to growing up, but it definitely had the strongest impact. You could argue that I grew up on that golden era vibe. Now most people that I know who grew up during that time and considers that era’s music, the cream of the crop, but to me it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong if I had to say what my favorite era of rap is I would claim the early nineties all day long, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t great stuff out there today. You’re a fool if you think that is the case.
Many will argue that if you turn on the radio you will hear nothing but garbage and they would be right. FM radio has left us for dead as far as what they choose to put out goes, and due to this radio is becoming less and less relevant. Just like CD’s, radio is on it’s way out. Streaming music has become king and those who aren’t streaming are downloading torrents illegally. Hip Hop isn’t dead, it’s just different from what it was.
Artists aren’t limited to the scope of the viewer anymore. They aren’t beholden to record label executives. This is a good thing. First of all, artists who make records because of what their fans want never work out well, secondly, without cheesy businessmen rifling through artists pockets, the music can develop the way it chooses to. Studio time isn’t a fortune and marketing can be done simply with a laptop or smartphone.
Def Jam hasn’t been the home of great hip hop music in many a year. Labels as a whole aren’t on the cutting edge of anything, because you have people like Lyor Cohen controlling the status quo.
Old Days and New Ways can Collab
Great hip hop is still being made and lots of it for that matter. Maybe it isn’t what you are used to hearing, but that’s a positive thing. That means that people are still attempting to be creative. Many will argue that those that are coming up don’t respect those that came before them in Hip Hop, and that is simply not true, the artists they are referencing are what would equate to pop acts. They are young kids with hit songs that you can tell don’t really know what their place will be in this thing.
Like most things in the world today, older heads blame the problems of today on the youth, but seem to forget that they are the reason the youth are the way they are today. These kids were raised by the generation before them, so these old heads out here only have themselves to blame.
You got artists like Lord Jamar and Pete Rock who have done so much in the rap game and contributed their lives to Hip Hop culture, but where are they now? Bitching like Donald Trump voters about the current landscape of the thing they claim is a part of them. Personally I’m a fan of both these artists work, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with their claims.
I don’t hear about these older artists reaching out to young talents and helping guide them through the process, school them on the past, or help define them as individuals. They, like most old people, complain and sit in their recliner and wax poetic on the old days and how the love is dead and blah blah blah. God forbid they step up though.
The Best is yet to Come
The best part of it is, they aren’t even correct in their assumptions of the state of hip hop music. They, like most old people out of touch with the now, think that what little they hear on the radio, is all that exists in the spectrum of what kids are listening to. In truth they don’t search out new artists, they don’t go into a listening experience with an open mind they lean on the old days and what crafted the soundtrack to their childhoods. Or else they wouldn’t be able to say the things they say. Chance the Rapper isn’t hip hop? Kendrick ain’t got no bars? Joey Badass doesn’t carry the torch? How many records does Big K.R.I.T. need to make to get the respect of these old bastards?
The list goes on and on. Nowadays you can’t sample. Back in the old days, they could jock any track they please to make a hit record, now producers must rely on their own musical talents to deliver a hit song. Artists are stretching to the far reaches of the galaxy to provide us with enlightened music. With the rise of technology and the internet, the playing field is endless and it’s more difficult for an artist, even a great one, to get heard. There are obviously tons of positives that come with these advances, but record sales isn’t one of them. That’s why you don’t hear artists like RZA or Nas (who actually did write an album call Hip Hop is Dead lol) complaining about the currently state of things, because they are still busy contributing, still pushing the boundaries of their own body of work, collabing with new artists, putting on new artists. These are the acts of people who are happy to see the culture they love so much, grow and be embraced by people from all over the world. Hip Hop isn’t dead, it’s everywhere.