I grew up listening to Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Mos Def, Rakim, Slick Rick, Doug-E Fresh – the list goes on.
I was also brought up in a 2Pac & Nas household.
I went ahead and took a listen to Biggy in my adult life, not my personal cup of tea, but I will always acknowledge him as a pioneer. As far as Jay-Z, I wasn’t a huge fan of his flow. When him and Pharell were making tracks, that was the only time I faithfully listened to Jay-Z. “Change Clothes”, “Frontin”, “Excuse Me”.
But I am ALSO a fan of the Fetty Wap, the Lil Yachty, the Desiigner and THAT list could very well go on. OBVIOUSLY not because of content – but their music is very much #MoodMusic
With all that being said, yes, I grew up in a household of quality music. And while yes, my music library consists of Baduizm, “Ms. Fat Booty”, “Loddy Doddy” and “Microphone Fiend”. It ALSO consists of “Trap Queen”, “Panda” and fucking “Cut It”.
But even with all that being said, I was raised to understand that Hip-Hop was a lifestyle that consisted of these core outlets! Breaking, beatboxing, rapping, graffiti and DJ’ing. But they keyword here is “outlet”. These were artistic expressions, that were either utilized to keep our people out of trouble. A constructive way to let out our frustrations, our anger. While still being our therapy without having to sit in front of some white person with a pen and paper trying to diagnose a struggle they don’t fuckin understand. So we danced atop our cardboard boxes and battled friends and peers. We drew on abandoned buildings and trains, for hours! We couldn’t always afford canvases and paint brushes. Home WAS our canvas, this was our peace. And to flawlessly finesse our favorite tracks into a whole set of just #MoodMusic? (loooong before the hashtag. Lmao). Oooooh man! Now THAT, that was a talent. To be able to establish, and maintain a vibe, crowd control is still to this day a legit super power! And to top it all off, we rapped. This was our way of saying what we wanted to say, what we needed to say! ESPECIALLY when nobody else was listening. Even with these being our outlets, it took the best to cross over.
And that brings me to my next point. Back in the day, you couldn’t just BE the next big rap star. The standards were very different. You couldn’t just get the internet poppin, and then one day someone acknowledges you as the next Hip Hop Freshman. Back then, you NEEDED word-of-mouth. You NEEDED that foot hustle. Not at all discrediting the “modern day come-up” – but the criteria has changed almost completely. These young cats can almost completely bypass the business, and go straight for the people. And I think THAT is the biggest reason the Hip-Hop community has become so biased and border-line boujie. On some days, rightfully so. And I genuinely understand the frustration. ESPECIALLY when these new age niggas, disrespect a pioneer.
But please, just hear me out. I need the community to stop categorizing what is NOT Hip-Hop / with Hip-Hop. My friends and I got into a whole little quarrel about this, and I just want to speak my mind on this. I personally find a difference in Rap artists, and Hip-Hop artists. Do you realize the game has completely changed? Have you realized that these cats are singing bars? I STILL don’t know how to categorize Fetty Wap, Desiigner, Future, shit even Drake sometimes. There is a whole new genre of artistry right now. As far as Hip-Hop though, Kendrick is there, J. Cole is there, Gifted Gab is fuckin there, Skeme is there! Battle Rap is STILL active and . Stop calling what is NOT Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop. And stop putting these irrelevant standards on XXL’s Freshman Class – that is for the new cats comin into the game. That shit ain’t for Hip-Hop, that’s a popularity roster.
Keep your judgement in context – and give credit where credit is due. Yes, some of these cats spit ‘ABC’ bars, but I will never knock somebody’s hustle. Nicki Minaj – she used her bars to get acknowledged, utilized the genres to obtain her following and crossover into nearly every aspect of the music game. And once she got in, she’s back to what got our attention in the first place! Not saying, everybody has to do it that way. But invest in your craft!
PAY for your beats, tilize LEGIT studio time, generate a press packet, and deliver QUALITY! Not just the homie with the camera, and my bro with the home studio and the Free trial version of Pro Tools. Some of these new age cats are winning because they are pleasing to the eye. Their music quality sounds crisp as fuck, and they walk into the game like they been there already.
All I am saying is – the game has changed.
The standards are very different. The music is easily accessible, and whether you wanna accept it or not – the people enjoy something melodic that the masses can relate to. You can’t just spit a hot 16 and it be enough anymore. Wrap that shit up in a pretty ass box, with a pretty ass bow and serve it to the people with the best following. Not those purchased followers, but the people with genuine followers. Engage in conversations. Spamming inboxes and walls isn’t gonna get the job done. That’s just gonna piss people off. But that’s a whooooole other post. Believe me! Lmao!
If you don’t walk away with anything else, leave with these things:
Stop categorizing what is not Hop-Hop, as Hip-Hop
Acknowledge the growth in the game and hold on to the gems in it
And ain’t shit in life free
Sue Loves You!