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Here to stay like Stairway

[Note: Reading through this, it does sound extra backpacker-ish. My bad. It’s all true though. Mark my word.]

Back in like 1980, when some rock stations begain playing songs like “Stairway to Heaven” and “More than a Feeling” on a constant loop, I doubt very many dudes realized they would be listening to the exact same songs everyday for the the rest of their lives. Fairly recently (like when I was in college) the cut off point for what’s considered classic rock was extended out to about 1986, to include crap like the solo work of Don Henley from the Eagles, and a lot of shit by the Police. But otherwise this has pretty much been the case.

I wonder if hip-hop fans today aren’t finding themselves in a similar situation. For most of our lives, hip-hop has gone through a bunch of different fazes – political rap, jazz rap, gangsta rap, rap rock, and what have you – but I wonder if that’s not all more or less done with. I’m pretty sure that when I’m 40 years old or whatever, I’ll turn on the radio and hear some sort of variation of what I’ve taken to calling lowest common denominator rap. It might be crunk, or trap hop, or hyphy, or reggaeton, but whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be some style of regional hip-hop performed entirely on synthesizer.

I mean, the tempo could very, but otherwise we pretty much know what to expect. The lyrics, such as they are, will deal with either dealing drugs or taking drugs – possibly both. But of course the main aesthetic priority will have to do with something, anything other than deft lyricism – not so much because there’s any real virtue in chanting shit over and over, but because rapping itself is quickly becoming a lost art on the order of, I don’t know, Native American basket weaving or some shit. Sampling will still be an option, technically, but no one will bother because it costs too much money.

In other words, the shit won’t sound especially different than the shit they play on the radio today.

But I doubt this will be the exact same shit they play on the radio today. Because hip-hop is a primarily black art form, there never has been as much of an emphasis on any kind of cultural preservation of its music. What’s new today is considered old school as soon as a few years from now. By the time something’s any more than 10 years old, it’s more or less entirely disposed of in a commercial sense. Now that the music itself has become that much more disposable, I can’t imagine that this won’t continue to be the case.

The great thing about classic rock is that those same 100 songs or whatever that you hear over and over again really are the greatest songs of their type, evar. In that sense, it appeals to basically anyone who would be listening to the radio – the lowest common denominator, if you will. The problem with this shit that’s beginning to become the standard in hip-hop is that so much of it just isn’t any good. If classic rock stations were to start playing shit like Air Supply[1] over and over again, people would probably call the station and complain, and rightfully so.

If hip-hop fans tried any shit like that, they’d probably be branded haters.

[1] I enjoy some Air Supply (seriously); I’m just using them as an example.

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