So people are surprised that Lupe said 97% of modern rap is terrible. I thought everyone knew. Why else would a site dedicated to rap music average four posts a day when Rick Ross is putting out nearly that many alone. Lupe talks about planned obsolescence on Around My Way and I doubt he was just talking about fashion and technology again. Nowhere are fads more abused and capitalised on than in the music industry.
People who listen to pop music because it’s everywhere aren’t the problem, it’s those who buy the Pit Bull albums and Flo Rida t-shirts. They are feeding the record executives and whilst they continue to get fed so will a bunch of rappers who shouldn’t even be rapping.
Lupe’s grumble isn’t with the quality of production, but with the lack of originality. Albums are no longer bodies of work with a beginning, middle and end, and an intelligent narrative. They are a collection of singles designed to capitalise on the most recent flavor of the month. The raconteurs aren’t invited to the party anymore. Instead the guestlist is filled with copycat rappers all looking for the next stripper anthem.
“For me, technically it’s good, beats are good, everything is good, it’s fresh. But to me, the substance is just terrible. 97% of hip hop is terrible.”
What is really scary is that some people believe what is being pushed by mainstream radio and TV is the best product available. Those who grew up in the information age have never had to go looking for entertainment and it’s made them complacent. This generation was born with blinkers on and without an appreciation of the past they lack a contextual perspective of the present.
A lot of people make the mistake of going overboard when they discuss rap though and they disregard all mainstream music in what they believe to be some kind of heroic pursuit of righteousness, blind to the fact that all they’re really doing is burying their favourite artists further and further underground.
Common said in his afterword for The Anthology of Rap that, whilst not all rap is poetic, it is all poetry. By the same sentiments just because something doesn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t resonate with somebody else. Talib Kweli should be able to coexist alongside Chief Keef, just as Immortal Technique should be able to make a living in the same industry as Soulja Boy. There is a place for everything but whilst fans continue to speak with their fingers and not their wallets the distribution of coverage will remain horribly unbalanced and unjustifiably biased towards a particular style.