The Beat Mercenary
*** ill o.g. ***
At least I hope! This won't be a "Hip Hop today sucks, old school is the best" type of article, instead it's about which direction Hip Hop is headed. Some say that everything eventually comes back into style and I strongly believe that the same can hold true for Hip Hop. We've seen it go through many stages over the past few decades, and it's at the point now where a change is greatly needed.
The main problem with today's music is that it's all very similar, with not much variety to speak of. To be honest, I don't listen to much of today's music because nothing really connects with me, unlike the music of years past. I try to listen to as much new stuff as I can but the end result is that I end up not bothering keeping any of it in my collection.
Why it's all so similar is because of a few things, such as the record industry getting involved and making Hip Hop so mainstream that everyone just follows suit. It's also because a lot of today's artists just can't be bothered to think outside the box. I'm not just talking about mainstream artists either because there's lots of underground acts that all sound the same as well. If you listen to the 90's music, the same can be said for them as well. That whole 90's sound caught on really quick with gutter drums, bass, and looping horns. The reason why the 90's stuff was so popular is because it just sounded so good!
Old School Issues
Even back into the 1980's, Hip Hop was dominated by artists that sounded similar. It's actually like that for any genre of music, but in the 80's, the music was the same with not much variety. You had groups like Run DMC and Public Enemy that had their own style, but there were lots of others that followed suit. Take for example, Public Enemy. They brought in the militant style of music, which was then branched off into acts like Professor Griff, Sista Souljah, then onto X-Clan, and many more.
Where the old school groups were very similar had to definitely be the West Coast. Once NWA came out and saw huge success, it seemed like there was a flurry of new acts overnight that started rapping about violence and they followed NWA's formula. Was it a coincidence? Of course not. It's probably human nature to follow others, with only a few of us being real leaders and trendsetters.
Old vs. New
What has to be the main difference between the old school and today's artists is the lyrics. The music is vastly different of course, but I find that the lyrics are where today's music really falls short. Take for example, this track:
Now take a listen to this:
What's the difference? If you don't know then I feel sorry for you! It's a no-brainer because as you can hear, the lyrics simply can't be compared. There are artists today that shine with their lyrics and are definitely on point, but the majority are rapping about nonsense.
I'm a strong believer that Hip Hop's content should be anything related to the streets, not champagne and cars. Hip Hop has to connect with the listener, and when someone is rapping about how much jewellery they have or how they fly from city to city in their private jet - I can't relate. It's purely fantasy Rap that can only be enjoyed by those that don't want to hear about reality. In a sense, it's like checking your favorite news website - would you rather hit up TMZ or CNN? For most, those two can't be compared because TMZ is laughable, whereas CNN is real news.
Hip Hop's message has disappeared over the years but it needs to come back. The underground seems to be the only sub-genre of Hip Hop that can save it, but even then it's highly doubtful. Matter of fact, there shouldn't be underground Hip Hop! There used to be different types of Rap music such as funny, militant, and east/west coasts, but they were all underneath the same banner - Hip Hop.
I say forget the fancy lyrics, forget the champagne, money, and cars, and forget the lyrics that are so cryptic, fans can't decipher them without a degree. Bring back regular music and regular lyrics and just make good music that everyone can enjoy. Break down the barriers between sub-genres and make Hip Hop what it should be again - dope.