Hip-Hop. Rap. Most of us on this campus can at least write a whole list a of artists and songs that move our body or are always on someone’s personal playlist.
I am no hip-hop aficionado, or even an avid listener of hip-hop, (mostly, my interest are somewhat alternative). But, I do know a problem when I see one (most of the time).
The hip-hop that we remember is not the same from almost a decade ago. Indeed, we started seeing the changes way back in 2007 when – ”You’re A Jerk” by New Boyz dropped in 2009. You all remember everyone went mad over Soulja Boy’s initial singles, all of Tha Carter III album, T-Pain
There are three things that I think should stand out the most in this little essay. One, hip-hop and black culture changes itself to match the sprouting community. Two, black culture has now become popular culture and because of this, it has lost meaning and became a vehicle to push unbridled consumerism. And three, how we as individuals helped, shaped, and changed the community with our choices, and how others outside of black culture respond to these changes.
At one point you could find classics on every DJ playlist at clubs, but the wants and needs of the black community and consumers in general has changed. You can still find some classics being played in the club, but when compared to the newer and more club centric songs, the O.G’s don’t hold a candle to them. What this means is that the taste of people in the black community has shifted from the very roots to something different. We went from ballads and literal poetry, to club bangers and repetitiveness.
Some may argue, ‘B-b-but I only listen to all the greats!’. That is fine and all, but you are not the only person in the world. We all have different tastes in this community called earth. Like tribes from the old days, we segregate ourselves based on how similar our interest are. Yet, because of group dynamics and the marching of time, interest will change.
Many have taken notice of this, especially business people seeking to profit off of these interests. That is right, our own consumption and taste has poisoned us from the inside. Record labels are now more interested in selling a product than creating quality content. Creativity is still present from some artists, however, it does not play the same role as it used to. Now, we want more and more content to satiate our thirst for something new and exciting. Something that will get out hearts racing, or help paint a character for us to play in our head as we perform the most mundane tasks near expertly. From that need, businesses churn out content that will fulfill our needs.
I know some from the old guard may be more inclined to blame all the problems with hip-hop on the new age rappers. I get it, but it is not their fault that people like them and their style of music.
Personally, some of these rappers are really out there with their antics and persona (they still slap though). For example, people like Tekashi69, XXXTentacion, Ugly God, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Lil Peep, and others all came from the online music hosting website called SoundCloud. Literally, almost anyone that came after 2016 came from SoundCloud or had some of their origins rooted in the website (hence why they are called SoundCloud rappers).
Yes, you still have your non-mainstream hip-hop artists that make the charts and club playlists, but that is not really indicative of modern black culture. Black culture is a counter-culture to the system that oppressed us for so long yet this culture is changing and going against its previous ideals.