Despite what these screw-faced, so-called hip-hop “purists” will try to tell whoever will listen, hip-hop has never died. To me, saying hip-hop is dead based on what you see on the radio and TV is preposterous. Hip-hop didn’t start there, so why would you expect to find it there today. Sure, Yo! MTV Raps was the business back in the day and made history, but it’s a new day and that show is no longer on the air. Too many hip-hop heads are so deeply ensconced in what hip-hop used to be, that they’re not willing to break out of that shell and do the legwork to find what’s being made today that appeals to them. Part of the problem is that too many fans separate the business from the art. Sure, the two can coincide every now and then, but for the most part in today’s game, artists (with the coercion of their major labels) are putting out what the buying audience wants to hear. I emphasize “buying” because if you’re like me, you’re quick on the download. Others are quick to cop a bootleg. The problem is that lyrical prowess and diverse content doesn’t necessarily move units in all cases, so as a record label, it doesn’t make sense fiscally to back a project that may not sell to the masses. As in politics, the majority is usually ill-informed and doesn’t always go beyond the surface.
That being said, I believe there’s a place for everything in hip-hop. I like Talib Kweli, but I don’t necessarily want to throw that on while getting ready to step out to the club. I like Mos Def, but when I feel like puttin’ a Timberland in somebody’s ass, that isn’t what I like to hear. I enjoy Gucci Mane and Rick Ross, but that isn’t the move when I’m in chill-mode or if I’m feeling contemplative. I’m also open to all types of hip-hop, regardless of subgenre or region…I mean how many people would put A Tribe Called Quest and UGK next to one another on their list of favorite hio-hop groups? Understandably, being musically adaptable isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but to say an artist “isn’t hip-hop” because they talk about wood wheels and syrup is silly…it just ain’t for you. Hip-hop is organic in that it reflects on where it originates from. NWA made the west coast a factor not by emulating anything that was going on in NYC at the time, but by going totally against the grain, which opened the door for other regions to shine by just doing them instead of trying to look and sound like New York MCs.
My philosophy is that when I listen to hip-hop tracks, I look for the positive and note the negative as it appears…I don’t go into it arms crossed waiting to hear some bullsh*t…approaching it that way, you’re bound to find something to hate. Listening to the radio for “real” hip-hop is like walking into the food court at the mall looking for good Mexican food. Hip-hop lives online nowadays, so I would suggest doing some blog-crawling, because good music isn’t gonna just fall into your lap. Check out 2dopeboyz.com, which I use. They cater to all different types of hip-hop and provide downloads of songs as well as full mixtapes, not to mention exclusive interviews, trailers, and videos. They also update daily, ensuring that you can find something new there every day. I could wrap this up by saying we all need to work together and speak up to change hip-hop, but I don’t think anything needs changing. Hip-hop’s evolved and grown to cater to a larger demographic. Those that are still yearning for the olden days of hip-hop are thinking about a time when the audience for hip-hop was only so big and not as diverse as it is today.
Below, I posted a few vids that prove that hip-hop is still alive today in multiple forms. Hip-hop knows no location, dialect, or one definitive style and I feel like that’s a beautiful thing. Enjoy…
Murs collaborates with Kurupt & the soon-to-be-legendary 9th Wonder for an LA anthem that I can’t stop playing on my iPod.
This is “Up” by Braille (surprisingly a Christian MC), an artist I was only recently put on to and downloaded this track on a whim. His album Weapon Aid just recently dropped. Shout out to 2dopeboyz.com for always keepin’ me up on the newest & freshest.
“BossCo2” by Blu, a personal favorite of mine from the West. If you ain’t familiar, get with the program.
Hip-hop lives down south too…it just sounds different, ya dig? Check out up-and-coming Carter from Houston, TX.