Who Killed It?

So according to the dude in the Stop The Violence t-shirt on the G Train (in NYC) early Monday morning, Hip-Hop is dead…again. “It drowned in champagne, gang initiations and skinny jeans three years ago,” he said to me while looking at the huddled mass of Brooklyn hipsters. His boisterous rant against all things of “this generation” was summed up by this umbrella statement: “All they want to do is party, flash their blood diamonds and stack their paper as tall as their tales.” He looked at me awaiting my approval, but I couldn’t nod.

This decree comes around every few years after the prior generation of fans become nostalgic for the sounds of yesteryear or disenfranchised with the talent of today. Somehow, many equate this to death. The rhetoric of fans, and artists alike, has got to change. Hip-Hop has endured because the people have endured. Regardless of how you feel of the climate of the genre, what started in the razed borough of the Bronx has transcended ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, lifestyle and any class distinctions. That is something to truly behold.

I think hip-hop, like all forms of music, is beautiful. The fact that someone is able to translate thoughts onto paper layered over an arranged composition is mind-blowing. That said, it is up to the individual to accept each definition of beauty presented before them. This is where I agree with the gentleman on the subway. I do not embrace the majority of themes presented in today’s music. Most artists come off sounding like facsimiles of the trend-setters at the forefront of the medium. In most cases, creativity is looked down upon until the masses cling to that once discarded niche—in which case the outsider becomes the norm. But for me to say that this generation of rhyme sayers is putting pennies on the metaphorical eyelids of Hip-Hop is foolish.

The real death of Hip-Hop comes in the form of a five letter word—hatin’.

“Stop Hatin’” is as dumb as a phrase as one that riddled my beloved West Baltimore, “Stop Snitchin’.” The aforementioned command is one that is limiting to the scope of critique.

Example: (names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Rapper: “What did you think of my mixtape?”

Consumer: “On 20 of the 22 songs you rhymed the same words 15 times. Not to mention, you sound like a crack-peddling nerd who makes references to obscure Japanese cartoons that get lost in the punch lines you obviously stole from Kurupt, Cassidy, Drake and Ice-T. Not feeling it.”

Rapper: “Man, stop hatin’!”

Hatin’ and giving an actual, constructive opinion are two different things. This pedagogy has become generational. It is the ugly trait we continue to pass down the line that creates a “chain of fools.” Questioning everything from lyrics to production is very healthy not only for the listener and artist, but for hip-hop as well. Independent of the role you’re playing in this covalent bond of the genre’s hot science, you have to be real with yourself. For the fans, what are you willing to embrace and what will you reject?

And for any performer stepping into the arena, I’ll quote the J-Live lyric from his 2001 song “The Best Part”: “So why you in it, for the pocket or the art? Because today’s star got to be tomorrow’s sun, The Best Part.” — Laurence Bass

  • http://www.platinumcatbeats.net Platinumcat Beats

    I think its a combo of the major record labels and the artists. Artists blowin their budgets on b.s (cars, jewelry, videos, ect.)and getting the trendy producers instead of trying to find hottest ones. The major record labels (a.k.a The Machine) signing artist off of one single then releasing them after they flop and promoting the trendy rappers instead of the best ones have seriously damaged the game. We shall see what happens in 2010 and beyond.

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  • Dee-Nyce

    Great Blog..made for a really good read and I cosign what you are saying in this piece…stop hatin is killing the music more than anything else at this time….

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    Thank God for a new blog.

    I think this is a great write on a never can be talked about too much topic. Personally, I plan to write a book about this topic becauee our art needs the attention. Our precious hip hop isn’t dead, it may be looking like precious or her career vs a Halle Berry/beyonce.

    How many of you still love her?

    Hip hop fans are all about that conditional love, they want the art to be one way….there way.

    two points and imma bounce

    1. I was dancing with my kids and my fiance who is five years younger said i looked wack, said i was doing all those old dances. I was just having fun, yet her comment (she was hatin) made me think a little bit. A lot of 30 year old hip hop fans want the same flow, same subject matter, and same hip hop (ny state of mind) on every song. Thas like doing the roger rabbit Today with a gumbi fade. Kids have a new slang, new style and different flavor. Hip hop aint dead.

    2. As i commented, i was watching the boondocks, The “booty warrior” episode. The boondocks is one of my favorite shows and i think its a great example of hip hop. The balance between riley and huey. the contrast of tom and uncle ruckus. Hip hop maybe missing that balance, it needs that balance BUT it isn’t dead.

    A lot of old hip hop fans are dead or turned a def ear to the new school. Instead of talkin trash about the music, contribute because if it does die its gonna create serious mayhem vs the jobs and fun that it creates today.

  • DV8

    “Thats like doing the roger rabbit Today”

    I think the kids refer to that as jerkin nowadays.

    Balance is needed but balance doesnt sale (according to the T.I.’s). Hiphop isnt dead. It just went back to being underground. You can find that “real hiphop” on the net all day.

    REAL HIPHOP IS NOT PLAYED ON THE RADIO!!!!!!!

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    “Stop Hatin’” is the worst thing to happen in a long time in hip-hop. Being able to say you don’t like an artist, song or album for reasons X,Y, and Z is completely different than saying “Dude sucks” or “I hate that type of music.”

    These are generalizations and don’t we all hate generalizations in other forms of our daily lives (such as in regards to race, sex, age, orientation, etc)? It’s no different with music…another form of art.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    cosign to the fullest. hating is conscructive critisim BUT young kids only know half of the meaning. similar to the word Ni**a, stop snitching, swag, autotune and hip hop itself. they only know half of the meaning.

    For example, my kids were listening to the dougie and they have know clue that dougie Fresh coined that dance years ago OR that it had anything to do with a fresh ceaser.

    Hip hop ain’t dead…it just went underground. that has been a statement that i’ve been trying to enforce for years. Ironically, it mirros this new trend of vampires.

    more imporantly, i read an aritcle on Drake sunday in TIME and the writer reffered to him as a POP ICON. NOT ONCE DID HE MENTION HE IS A RAPPER/hip hop artist. This is a good and/or bad thing.

  • The Decatur Dictatur

    Wacka Faker Flame, Gucci Mane,Lil Booty and the like have turned hip hop into a garbage Dump. Dudes need to stop. No style, no point to the lyrics and no substance….Just ” I’m drunk…I’m High….I throw my diamonds in the sky….Get outta here with that gabage.

  • El Tico Loco

    I don’t think anybody wants to go back to the old styles or anything like that, but you gotta admit the standards that rappers are held to have become very laxed, so laxed that the most simple minded material is considered mindblowing and you gotta be like “really?”, Not sayin u gotta be superlyrical but show some range and bring something different to the game don’t another “____meets___ ” because is getting old.

  • Axeo

    I’m one of those people where if i’m not rewinding a track over and over just to fully grasp what has been said then it’s not not great.

    People don’t do their history is mostly the problem. Not fans of hip-hop but whats played on the radio every hour. When i got into hip-hop like 10 years ago I was into Wu-tang found out they had previous albums behold discovered 36 chambers changed my life. Checked out the solo albums became obsessed with lyrics and the art of rhyming.

    We also seem to forget in the 80′s and 90′s the gangsters,drug dealers ect had decent lyrics. In the case of hip-hop the K.I.S.S rule doesn’t apply. Doesn’t need to be blow a head off complex but really step the bars above rhyming skills kill pills thrill and mills.

  • bopteest

    Unfortunately, it’s consumers who have been sedated with this LCD rap for years that has lead to the death of Hip Hop. If we don’t stand up and protest the garbage that these labels spoon feed us, things will never change for the better. Some may argue that lyrics and content aren’t necessary for the craft to move forward but there has to be substance in what artists deliver to their fan base. This get high and blow my entire paycheck at the club mentality does appeal to most of Hip Hop listeners today. I can remember a time when every album coming out had superior lyrics and production which was pushing the envelope of rap music to new leaps and bounds. If we as consumers refused to support LCD rap the labels would be scrambling to cater to our needs and wants. It’s troubling that the youth of today choose to remain in the haze of manufactured nonsense.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    “the prior today generation of fans become became disenfranchised with the talent of today yesteryear”

    ^ there you go. Because…

    “REAL HIPHOP IS NOT PLAYED ON THE RADIO!”

    ^ if gen now did their homework they would know this, which has been repeated over and over in 1000′s of songs.

    And the other fact that the level of intelligence and acceptance is very, very low. Fans wanna be the next Waka instead of the next Russell. WSHH is their source of Hip Hop instead of unkut.com. Kats Stacks is given more attention than Jean Grae will ever be.

    Seriously, what do you expect to get out of those levels?

  • Devi Gargon

    Zulu Nation 101:
    Hip Hop is the Culture,Rap is a facet of the culture!

    (The rules and laws that we built our culture on are dying, while the music is being turned into something else. GET IT STRAIGHT)

    As far as Rap Music goes,
    1.) The bar game has been put in a box. From 79 to the early 00′s, lyrically we grew and had to be better than what came before, this is not the case today.

    2.) With all this technology, people are creating a sonic background that is so simple and uninspiring. Most of these beats I could recreate in 15 minutes. But these repetitive sound is called hot.

    3.) People are buying images, not talent. After 10 years of this, some people arent old enough to have the standards that I have, because I was able to grow up with variety.

    4.) People release too much music that cant be digested before some other shit comes out,ie. the bangers section. We need quality not quantity. Fuck your mix tape, if your worth it put the heart into the album. Jay Z and NAS dont make mixed tapes every six months, they put effort into the product that the label is SELLING, and dont hand us pacified scraps like these newer artists.

    5.) Last, most people my age dont dig much of this new music, because simply, it doesnt speak to the times that we are living in,which are fucked up! I cant relate to jewels,cars, models and the like, most people I know arent living like that. I thought we were the streets CNN!

  • http://screwjams.tumblr.com cramzy

    every argument made to explain hiphop’s “death” could have been and has been made at every era change in the genre. I’m pretty sure the people listening to hip hop prior to NWA and Ice T hated the turn the genre took. Meanwhile the people that grew up in that era look back on it with nostalgia.I grew up in the Nolimit/Cash Money/Ruff Ryder/Rocafella era and can remember being 12 years old, arguing with my uncle about DMX being the hardest thing out and he’s playing me Ice Cube’s “The Predator” album. Its just a new era and the kids growing up in it believe it or not, love this shit. That’s just life. If you saying hip hop is dead maybe you’re era is just done. I had to accept that.Hell, the whole genre wasn’t even considered real music when it first started.That being said, there does seem to be a lack of diversity these days. In my day (lol), even Master P released a song like “If I could Change” as a lead single!

    • El Tico Loco

      You got a point except that in retrospect none of those changes weren’t as bad the shit they got out now, and no we did not hate the changes because in the most part they were improvements on the art, now is watering down the art.

  • Chuck Dane

    Hip Hop is not dead! What are the two albums that have had the biggest first week so far in 2010?

    The fact is OLD people(ie: People who say Hip Hop is dead) are scared of new things, especially younger people and the stuff they like.

    As for Gucci Mane, his shit still hasn’t sold what Drake did first week, so there really isn’t any need to be dropping his name in a conversation about relevant new rappers, lets talk Drake (who i don’t particularly care fore), B.o.B., Nipsey Hu$$le, and actual talented rappers.

    Hip Hop ain’t dead, your just old son.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    I think its a combination of getting old and not being able to listen to new hip hop objectively.

    For example, today i heard this song by a new kid roscoe dash. its called show out. Its a fun song made for kids 16 to 21. You can’t expect his vocab to be talkin some ish abt the dow jones oil spills and/or religious views. dude is just having fun. the song has a lil run it, “gucci louie prada” same run that loyd banks does with “beamer benz bently” same run that Lost boyz did with “lex beamer benz” same run that outkast did with “benz or beamer”. The song doesn’t kill hip hop it just adds a twist and gives you a different vibe.

    As for lyrics, they might not be as deep BUT flows and beats have improved and dancing. All elements of hip hop. In addition, its new cats who got lyrics for days. Wu tang wasn’t apprecaited by a certain group back in the day. Plus, a lot of people didn’t have the mind capacity to appreciate them. its not about dumbing down, its more about respect the artist’s visual.

    For the real hip hop heads, support it. Buy it. Demand it. Teach the youth. Hope for the youth but don’t hate and kill it because we could all be rockin out or singin doo wop.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    Here’s the other excuse besides “hate”:

    “y’all old heads”.

    Look at what y’all are REALLY saying.

    The ones who help create this diverse music, who have recorded examples of originality and styles, spoke up about social messages which are STILL relevant today, and have been blessed with longevity (this sh^t could’ve BEEN died after the deaths & shiny suite era), all of a sudden don’t get it?

    C’mon yo, cut it out. Ya’ll are too happy with skating with a C grade. Go study and get an A, you’ll feel better about yourself.

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    If ya’ll would go out and support the rappers who can actually rap instead of supporting C and D grade artists nowadays, then the good stuff would be played on the radio more. It’s all about who you support; if you go in that direction, I guarantee the record labels will do the same. People stay complaining about the state of hip hop right now, yet ya’ll the same folks going out there buying these cats’ albums (I bet half the dudes in the comment section bought Drake’s, Gucci, or Wacka Flacka’s album, and don’t be saying no BS talking about “I bought it cuz my girl like it” ish either), DJs steady playing that C and D grade hip hop in the clubs, and record labels continue to look for the trendy artists with a hot single, in which that particular rapper don’t even put in the time and effort in the album because the record labels want them to put out their material quick enough to retain that buzz.

    You get what you support, thats all I’m saying…

  • Chuck Dane

    I appreciate the old shit, truly i do. 36 chambers, supreme clientele, the diary, illmatic, reasonable doubt, straight outta compton, the predator, doggystyle. All these albums are classics in my mind, and they, and many more all find their way into my rotation.

    At the same time, i can’t deny that i do enjoy Lil Wayne, and although sometimes he doesn’t make the best decisions (rebirth), he has become a legimate, and undeniable member of rap’s elite. Its my personal opinion that Eminem is the best of all time, but thats just me. Tech N9ne is a personal favorite, and I have been to several of his concerts. Nipsey Hu$$le has me on edge waiting for his debut, and B.o.B. put out a great album, although its got way more singing then i’m generally comfortable with.

    What i’m trying to say is that hip hop is a diverse, and incredible place right now. Theres no denying that there are parts of hip-hop that i really wished didn’t exist, Souljah Boy, OJ Da Juiceman are two. But there is lots of good music being put out, if you haven’t listened to Relief at least twice through, and if your not eagerly anticipating T.I.’s album, or the Carter 4, or even Kanye’s next shit, then maybe you need expand your listening, and see why I would not hesitate to put those guys in the all time greats section of rap history.

    Also, i’m sick and tired about hearing about fucking subject matter, listen to Relief, listen to Paper Trail, theres subject matter there. And maybe take a listen to OBFCL and tell me what why crack rap is acceptable subject matter, but trap rap isn’t.

    • Axeo

      When it comes to OBFCL that album not only brought a bunch of new slang to the masses but inspired definitive classics: Reasonable Doubt, Life after Death, Doe or Die and others. T.I i think is the best trap rapper and it brought a lot of sub par rappers basicly saying the same thing but no where near as skilled with words or natural talent. Thats just imo but the same could be said now these days about crack rap or any type of rap

      I think age makes no difference. I’m only 22 and have heard 13 14 15 year olds who prefer the old school. I like Kanye,Nipsey Hu$$le, B.O.B ect and other new artist because they’re on a whole different level when it comes to not just lyrics but flow, choice of words/content. Even Rick Ro$$ impresses me time to time.

      It really in the end comes down to opinion and taste no matter your age. I could say something is whack and write a thesis on why it’s whack and 5 people could agree but 5 others disagree. In the end I might disagree and argue but i’ll still RESPECT anyones opinion.

  • El Tico Loco

    Trap is always been good, but is the last of the hot styles. Now on the other hand, snap, and that sing songy swag shit is garbage, I don’t care if girls go ham over bacon when they hear it cool, but at the end of the night is the quiet storm joints and they really love that and we love the benefits of it. But trap rap is just that-trap (no Big Boi) “servin J’s makin stacks on deck” type lyrics with no outlet in sight crack rap was on some “staircase to stage/minimum wage/ we soon to get an article in rap page” crack rap was projecting a way out of the current situation or detailing a past life. Trap is more tunnel visioned and it gets old to hear rappers saying that they’re not rappers (add that to the problems) why they gotta be rockstars, hustlers, or whatever what’s wrong with being a rapper? better yet emcee?

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    I myself am getting old. I refuse to hate tho. I can’t even say that its a bad thing for an artist such as soulja boi to drop that “pretty boy swag” song. Dude could have been doing much worse. Hip hop is in everyone’s household. I have never bought a wack album or gone to a wack show. Im in the minority. I enjoy discovering new artist and watching them blow. HIP HOP is growing. its changing the world in ways that we couldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for hip hop. I can remember buying albums and not having videos…so you thought ur favorite mc looked totally different. Now, you can see an artist grow daily on his video blog. I’m encouraging all “real” hip hop fans to grow up and let their precious young hip hop baby grow up. she might go to the club stay out late and get wasted snap lean wit it rock wit and etc BUT she gonna be alright. teach them vs shooting them down.

    • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

      double f I consider my grays as stripes. I have WAAAYYY too many homies that never made it this far and made it from the guv’ment “projects” to see may position now as a loss.

      Yet at the same time 3/4 of my homies are 22-35. I teach, speak to, help and spark them. Even my teenage seeds, I speak to them as beings, not so much children, so they grasp the full weight of my words.

      A lot of my young homies don’t like this rap environment these days. And a lot of them don’t have an OG (parents & family) around to spark that mental, keeping them focused.

      Like I knew Soulja was an 1 hit artist, that would spend numerous years trying to recapture that lightning, but there was/is no one around him to guide him in a direction where he could take that bread and use it to his advantage, like a Tracey Lee, who took that one-hit $ and made himself a LAWYER, instead of a still trying to get it rapper.

      ElzHi should take that trip and go see Tech N9ne IMMEDIATELY. Or he will go down as one of the nicest who never got there, like how Royce was until he banded up with some dudes and got back to that space.

      As an OG I listen to KRIT, Pac Div, Skyzoo, Nipsey, Charlie Ham at the same time I listen to ‘Follow The Leader’. I knew T.I. was gonna get it because I saw and heard the talent. I always liked ‘Here I Am’ from Ross. Game is ill on the mic sans the emotion, but I can see his emotion comes from him just wanting to have fun rapping and chop it up with the other fellow artists, like how it WAS instead of all of this extra sh^t cats do to sell units now.

      I NEVER LIKED 50. But I see what he’s doing in terms of his business, which is a better schematic for success to teach the youngin’s than what a lot of these dudes have to offer and speak upon. I really just started listening to his music last year (I do not own GRODT).

      This game is regressing because we are letting it run rampant with ignorance and nonsense, and won’t speak up because we are scared of the hate, and old head labels.

      If we don’t intervene now, they will cut this off as a venue for the “hoodrat” to get on, because even now, the investment is not justifying the profit margin. The balance and quality that was presented before is needed now, more than ever.

      And keeping it 100, Ross’ music is 90′s.

      Now it’s swisher time.

      • P. Harris

        ^^^^^That

        $yk strikes again

        “And keeping it 100, Ross’ music is 90’s”

        ^^^All this time I’ve been trying to figure out why I like his shit? Like, why does it appeal to me. You just answered my question.

      • DV8

        ^^^^^^^ cosign all that Syk just said.

        Sidenote: I just retired Swishers. The newer White Owl’s are much more enjoyable and burn slower.

  • jayizdrunk

    Honestly, what’s really wrong with hip-hop besides the topics choose to discuss is the excuses we as fans make. Chicks don’t like being called bitches, but every rap song they like is basically calling them cum dumpsters. Young dudes want to be taken seriously in life, but because rappers wear tight jeans that sag down their asses and scarves nobody shold wear unless they are in the Middle East, then the young boys got to do the same exact thing. If one rapper is talking about gun, cars, jewels, and planes waaaaaaaaay before they even see any of that stuff for themselves, and then that song sells….well now everybody else got to to make the same move.

    Hip hop is just like life, a HUGE CONTRADICTION. Of course it doesn’t make sense right now, because we as fans don’t make any damn sense. We don’t know what we want. We say one thing, support another, and disregard something else. It’s not adding up. Even I won’t front…I love undeground artists like Little Brother, Skyzoo, Slaughterhouse etc, but I haven’t bought an album since 2004, and I refuse to. I will buy tickets to shows and so forth but I refuse to invest in music. It’s wrong and I don’t even care to apologize for it. See….that doesn’t make sense does it?

    All I’m saying is, if we really want hip hop to mean something, then we as fans need to get our sh|t straight, because I can’t really take being bombarded with the same 7 tunes on the radio everyday, nor can I stand the good artists constantly complaining about how people don’t pay them any attention. There has to be a medium for all of this to work. Claiming to be thugs one minute and gentleman the next…we’re lying to ourselves. Claiming to be ho’s one minute and real ladies the next…liars. We got to pick a side, and stick with it, otherwise nothing changes.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    $yk, I appreciate everything in your drop. especially the education factor. I kick knowledge everyday all day. That helps a person to understand both sides. Like, no kid should say lil wayne is the illest rapper ever without knowning the history. Know kid should think some lil dudes from cali made up the dougie.

    Jay, i think you took it to another level. Hip Hop maybe going thru a rough spirit. However, i bet all of us did. i bet all of us went thru a growth spurt, or a period when we had to explore. a period when our parents worrried about us. hip hop is going through that period.

    HIP HOP can’t make it if fans are conditional. Hip hop has new fans aka new friends that are just discovering it for the first time. Teens, people in other countries, and adults who are happy to not ask their mother to buy an album becaue of parental advisory.

    HIP HOP is alive, it just went underground. the lyrics are there. flows are better. concepts are better. What’s being played on radio is the pop version of hip hop. it helps support hip hop. its like a trickle down effect. For real hip hop to be played the line has to be removed.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    P. Harris whaddups? All’s well?

    double f that’s why I do what I do. Spark them mentals on the boards. They click the name and flood the email with more questions and praise than anyone knows.

    I’m not trying to Rev. Ike them (‘member him?), just lend a helping hand. I had the OGs pull my coat when I started.

    A lot of these youngin’s don’t see/believe we really wanna help.

  • BIG RICO

    Who killed it? File sharing aka downloading aka stealing, fl studio beat-making software(now errbody is a producer), and finally the south-lowering the bar for talent. IT IS OVER! WHITEY REAL SCARE NOW, IM IN COLLEGE. BOOGA BOOGA BOOO! I t was a good run, on to the next one. Cosby time again!

  • ruivirtual

    j-live is still not makin big money right? but if he had the opportunity would he? he’d rather be an Immortal Tech or a Fiddy. If he decided to be a Fiddy, is that killing it? Because 50 is (currently) wack but is known and rich; While Tech will probably never have a major debut.
    A few of the rap hotshots are lirically so bad that makes people that like lyrics say its dead now, and thats not “hatin”, imo. Is like: your supposed to suckerpunch a sucker – like the example posted. If you dislike something notoriously awfull is that “hatin” not really. And most of the Hiphop artistic scene in the last minute have been notoriously awful.
    Wharever mayne, let me finich my daughter food
    Greeting from Lisboa

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