Rap music is in a period of transition. Actually it has been since it was all about “throwing your hands in the air” 30 years ago. Rapper’s Delight began life as a 15 minute track until Sugarhill Records realised they could sell more copies of a condensed version. Chuck D once favored party rhymes and remixes used to involve re-mixing. Next time you wanna call something ‘real hip-hop’ just remember that rap fans in the early 90s opposed gangster rap the same way that people criticise anything that makes the radio nowadays. It’s unrealistic to expect a culture that is so closely connected to, and reliant on its people, not to evolve and to continue to reflect the ills of society.
When did music stop being something to enjoy and celebrate and become this ugly game of one-upmanship where righteousness and integrity are the most important assets?
People in this country have an unhealthy obsession with their own unhappiness. We prefer to talk about the things we hate than the things we love. To appreciate the sun you’ve gotta know what rain is but why take your coat in a storm? We’ve become so used to negativity that a Youtube comment section that isn’t filled with hate looks odd. People spend time searching for songs they don’t like in order to tell those who do enjoy it that they music they listen to is better. None of this is new but the more you think about it the more you begin to realise how silly we are.
If the truth is told, the youth can grow
Then learn to survive until they gain control
Nobody says you have to be gangstas, hoes
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MTV and Radio 1 used to be the holy grail but now they sit alongside mainstream as dirty words synonymous with ‘sell-out’. Well guess what, Biggie and Pac were popular before they died, not just after. Doggystyle, The Chronic and All Eyez On Me all went multiplatinum. Just as hip-hop didn’t invent sexism, this form of hatred doesn’t exist exclusively within the music industry.
Brian Scalabrine became a Celtics legend despite contributing very little on the court whilst Lebron James, a once in a generation athlete and the leagues most skillful player, gets booed in every city. This is more than pantomime at work. We are programmed to celebrate mediocrity and reject anything that makes us feel uncomfortable about our own situation. We are threatened by excellence, whether it’s Trey Songz six-pack, Rick Ross’ bank balance or Kanye’s confidence. The sooner people become comfortable with the success of others the sooner they will be able to use it as a template for their own lives.
The most humbling thing you can do is listen to somebody successful talk about their inspirations. If even DJ Premier can admit he owes his success to Marley Marl and Jam Master Jay then surely we can all learn something from Jay-Z.