Have Drake and Lil Wayne Destroyed Hip hop
Okay, so my extensions didn’t catch on fire after I wrote that sentence so I guess I’m okay for now. I realize that hip-hop is always going to be a sensitive subject for some people but luckily, I am not one of them so let the carnage begin!
Firstly, using Drake and Lil Wayne does not mean that I feel it is only these guys that are responsible. I’m merely using them to personify the current state of hip-hop music. There are of course other artists who have arguably been just as catastrophic to the genre such as Soulja Boy and Wacka Flocka (the proof is in the name). Recently, I have been out on the town and what is playing in clubs these days have the potential to make my ears bleed. I know that some tunes are made specifically for the club and therefore must have a hint of ratchetry (yes, that’s a word!) about them but some songs don’t know when to draw the line. Listening to recent mainstream rap songs has pushed me to question whether this new generation of hip-hop artists have completely devalued the genre. Have they made it a farce; more concerned with catchy hooks rather than lyrical content?
Let’s say yes first of all, that popular artists like Lil’ Wayne and others in YMCMB have made a mockery of rap. Let’s say they have created a distinct form of hip-hop to the mainstream affectionately named hip pop (I thought of that all by myself) and that this music is creating an assortment of crap rap (and that one). What has happened to the hip-hop where lyrics matter? Where artists speak about real issues and conflicts that don’t always revolve around gang wars and hustling. True, Rick Ross and 2Chains make a few good tracks that are nice to hear and bounce to in
the club but when you really dissect the songs; what are they actually saying? What happened to Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls and Lauryn Hill? Two are dead and one has been locked up and made out to be a lunatic. Where are D Block, Wu Tang and even Dipset? I realize that these artists will always be relevant to us but the point is that it isn’t mainstream enough to create an impact on a lot of impressionable minds. These are not the artists who flood the commercial airwaves, have their bangers in clubs or who make the biggest sales. There are some who have made the cross over like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar but they are a minor few.
With these artists in mind, there are of course people who feel that this is not the case. That hip-hop has not been overshadowed by hip pop and that real hip-hop isn’t dead. Wale and Ab-Soul, Childish Gambino and Don Kennedy are all significant artists flying the flag for real rap music. Homegrown artists like Bashy, Krept and Konan and Black the Ripper continue to make real music that is respected and appreciated by the masses but unfortunately, not the masses that spend money. True hip-hop fans know and respect these artists but don’t necessarily fund these artists, making room for hip pop to creep in and dominate the music scene. Others argue that Drake and Lil Wayne have contributed to rap in their own way and that what they do is just aimed at the situations and culture of today. They say that these guys are at the forefront trying to push the new wave of hip-hop, as they know they hold the keys to its success. People have said to me that hip-hop is probably the realist it’s ever been right now. Drake etc. write simple hooks for teen girls to sing along to but what they are trying to say and achieve is very real.
When asked this question, a friend of mine said that hip-hop is fashion. He said, that although there was a nonsense stage, lyricism is coming back. I both liked and disliked this idea. On the one hand, fashion is the most obvious form of cultural expression and comparing hip-hop to this demonstrates how current and influential it really is. This is great, but on the other hand, to compare it to something so flippant that literally changes every season, doesn’t put much faith in the content. Don’t get me wrong; its more than moving with the times and making what they see as better music. It’s about moving with the times and completely changing the music rather than bettering it.
Hip hop is always going to change, this much is obvious but artists need to make sure that it is changing for the better and not simply to make money. That is easy for me to say because I don’t make money from it, but the people who do need to understand their influence. Hip-hop royalty like Jay Z and Kanye West, eccentric and exclusive as they may be need to up the ante and put talent into the mainstream that is reminiscent of the rap game they come from. Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj etc. are a select few overshadowing the real talent that is out there, relying too heavily on gimmicks and image then the music we originally respected them for making.