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Parents just don’t understand

A while back, I wrote that the generation gap is disappearing, as evidenced by the fact that a lot of grown folks don’t look/act/live like grownups. But it looks like I may have spoke too soon. As it turns out, the generation gap within hip-hop is becoming more and more pronounced—in spite of the fact that loads of 40-year-old dudes are running around in the same kicks as their 14-year-old sons.

The thing is, while it may be technically true that for the first time in music history, Pops and Junior are getting down to the same genre of music—in actuality the hip-hop that the young guns worship is a universe away from the hip-hop that the 30-plus crowd revere. [1]

In a Wall Street Journal article this weekend, John Jurgensen argues that a nostalgia movement is taking place in hip-hop [2]—giving birth to a marketing niche called Classic Rap. He points to recent tours from Snoop, Ice Cube, and Public Enemy, and comeback records from the likes of Reverend Run and DMC. Jurgensen interviews the president of Koch Records, who has this to say: “There’s no reason guys like these can’t have careers like rockers from the ’60s. We’re going to tap into this base … a fan base that’s 35 to 40 years old with two kids.” Which is something that the president of Koch would say.

Jurgensen also interviews DMC, who justifies his comeback with this nugget: “I thought about all the people my age who don’t want to hear the rap that’s on the radio. I can relate to John Fogerty more than I can relate to these rap guys now.”

I don’t think DMC is alone on this. [3] The 60s and 70s babies are royally pissed about trap music, snap music, radio hip-pop, and crunk—and they want their damn hip-hop back. [4]

I hate to say it, but this nostalgia “movement” is destined to fail. Let’s be honest. Like it or not, the 80s babies’ tastes are driving the industry right now. As Ed Lover said when he was interviewed for the piece: “Hip-hop is a young man’s game. Kids don’t want to hear a 40-year-old rapper.”

I think this is pretty much true. What do you all think?


[1] With the exception of 20-year-old, holier-than-thou, white suburban backpack rap fans—who rigidly adhere to the Cult of the Old School. But my guess is that their folks aren’t listening to hip-hop anyway.

[2] When he’s not revealing his ignorance of hip-hop, that is. His Hip-Hop 101 list, for starters, has some bizarre choices for Top 10 Records That Define the Genre. Take Missy Elliott. (While she is dope, she certainly doesn’t make the Top 10 cut. Methinks she was included cause someone’s editor noticed that there were no females on the list. This suspicion is confirmed by the fact that she’s described as “one of the genre’s most dominant female artists”). Also, Jurgensen states: “To the urban youths buying up releases from newer artists like 50 Cent and Nelly, the relatively tame music from rap’s golden age can sound positively square.” How is anyone going to describe P.E. and N.W.A. as “relatively tame” and “positively square”?

[3] This doesn’t mean that anyone is going to buy his album, mind you.

[4] I’m not even going to get into how futile it is to judge new hip-hop by old standards. The point has already been made. Well. 

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