It is just me or has the current hip hop music scene gone by the wayside? Sure there there still geniuses such as Jay-Z and Kanye (Watch The Throne is a great album) pumping juicy beats and lyrical masters like Lupe Fiasco writing tight rhymes, but there’s a feeling that the urban music world is just not love and hip hop anymore.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if I had to choose between choices of N.W.A and The Game versus Drake and Nicki Minaj, the former wins with an instant knock-out blow. Gone are the days where artists does collaborations with other like-minded stars to give the audience something not just truly memorable, but something that becomes a timeless anthem. Who can deny the musical midas touch of Dr Dre, giving us the gazillion platinum album 2001 and the wordplay mastery of Eminem’s debut album The Slim Shady LP. Even the beef battles from the early 90s gave the scene some ammunition (pun intended) to make itself heard that this is a movement that should be recognised.
Yes, modern musical beats have definitely come a long way with the usage of clever overlays, rhythmic snares, crafty synthesisers and revitalising hook from old classics. But I can’t help having the feeling that hip hop has ventured too far into the creation of beat samples, thereby kicking the lyrical wordsmith to the curb. Hip Hop is now a multi-million dollar business and beat makers such as Storch, Cool and Dre, Bangladesh et al are certainly not complaining. On the other hand, one also has to reminded that the origins of hip hop is about storytelling, letting others know what is going on in the day to day struggles and not about how much Cristal you drink.
Everytime a new hip hop or urban single is released into the market, I’m always listening out for memorable lines comparable to classics such as “”I see no changes, all I see is racist faces / misplaced hate makes disgrace for races” and ”At exactly which point do you start to realise / that life without knowledge is death in disguise”. Just two lyrical bars and already it tells a colourful story. Unfortunately we are now inundated with garbage such as “Kiss my a** and my anus / cause it’s finally famous”…
I don’t believe I am alone in feeling hip hop has lost its ways, as even Chris Rock is tired of defending rap and hip hop:
The industry has gone commercial and so has the music, especially through the over-excessive use of Auto Tune. Don’t get me wrong, Auto Tune does have its place in music and when used correctly, it definitely gives a new dimension to the overall sample of a song. But what was once a vocal correction tool has now turned into a gimmick. A song full of vocal attenuation where the audience can hardly understand the lyrics is, frankly, not music at all. It’ll be no different in downloading the T Pain app from the iTunes store for $0.99, saying a few words into it, selecting the intensity of Auto Tune and then thinking you have created a song worthy of triple-platinum sales in the next Chris Brown’s album.
I guess Jay Z can sum it up better than the rest of us: “I’m not a businessman / Imma business, man”
What are your thoughts on the hip hop scene? Do you think that style has taken over substance? Let us know what you think in the comments area below.
‘Till next time,