We are in a time where creating rap music is a firm career path or a way out of poverty. It’s the new symbol of hope for young black and brown men and women who fell short in the departments that make Serena Williams, Steph Curry and Cam Newton a success. On the surface that is great. The first thing we should always encourage is young people doing positive and legal activities to lift themselves out of their undesirable conditions and creating a better life for themselves and the people around them. The only flaw is the vanity allure and the lack of respect for the craft and the culture. It’s why music sounds and feels disposable from well over 80% of the artist that put out music year to year. It’s the death of the rap fan turned artist.
I’ll pinpoint it back to 2004-2005. There was a wave of pretty good to great music that came out in this pocket of time. Trap music was on fire, The G-Unit sounds were at its pinnacle, and every region represented in a significant way. Can’t forget about snap music and how it upset New Yorkers and how Mike Jones created one of the most significant marketing schemes with his phone number.
Side note people used to kill Mike Jones for “taking a bar off” and repeating things twice, and now we live in a time where some rap songs barely have 12 bar verses and are ultra repetitive.
To get back on track, during this period one of the first terrible trends in hip-hop started; The Rappers who didn’t want to be called rappers. We were supposed to call them “Hustlers that know how to rap” or “Real Niggas that’s using this rap shit as a way out.” What followed was “Hip-Hop is Dead.” A viable conversation started by Nas in 2005-2006, because if nobody wants to be an emcee, lyricist or rapper and it’s all about getting money, and that represents none of the core values of hip-hop then how is it alive? Did I ever believe hip-hop was dead? No. I just made it a point to listen to the artist I felt cared about hip-hop and making great music. In my mind, the phrase “Hip-Hop is Dead” was an attack on the mainstream cultureless nonsense that was pushed merely for profit. Not the dope music I listen to.
That’s all bringing us to 2007 till right now. Now we are in space were too many rappers “Don’t listen to nobody.” Rappers go out of their way to say they have no influencers or don’t admire anyone who rapped before them. Now, virtually no one is a fan of rap music. Many of the sounds, cadences, melodies, beats, and vocals are the same, but nobody is listening to nobody. I don’t understand how we the people of the media or fans of the culture let these answers slide and continue to support these artists who don’t even want to say they are fans of anybody before them. The undisputed fact of life is real rap fans makes the best rap music.
When Nas said, he wanted to be like Rakim, or when DMX says Scarface is in his Top 3, it makes you understand and appreciate the perspective better. It means they were inspired to create in their way. Action Bronson loving Kool G Rap and Kanye West loving Ma$e helps you pinpoint style and what they are trying to take to the next level. That adds authenticity to the music. It shows real respect for the craft. It’s no different the Michael Jordan watching Dr. J and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James watching Jordan and Magic Johnson. How can you execute something at a high level consistently that you were never a fan of in the first place? You need to have your own identity, but you also have to have inspiration.
Music can’t be aimless. It can’t be emotionless with no origin. I want all of you artists to remember that when you create. Money grabs or not just know if your joint is not connecting it’s because we the fans and people of the culture don’t feel it. You should want to communicate with the people, so we invest in you. How can you create that feeling if you never had it? As we move forward, it should be no more support from a rapper who doesn’t have a favorite rapper. They’re not worth the listen. We only making room for the people who fell in love with the culture then felt inspired to contribute moving forward. So the artist, the next time you’re asked, “Who inspired you?” “Who are you listening to?” or “Who’s your favorite rapper?” Have something better to say that “Me” or “I don’t listen to nobody” as a response. We’re not honoring that BS from you or anybody else around you. Be a fan or fall back, my G. We’d appreciate it.