It’s no secret that I’m a Hip Hop fan and how can I not be? Hip Hop is only six years older than me, so it’s safe to say that I am Generation H instead of Generation X or Y. With Hip Hop being the de facto older brother that I never had (I’m an only child), I tried to follow in its footsteps just like any other younger sibling. Picture me doing the wop, the cabbage patch, or saying words like dope and fresh. I knew I was fresh with my African Medallions, sagging in my Dickies, and wearing Chucks with the fat laces. Whatever the new trend Hip Hop was doing, you can bet I was doing it too..
Even though being an Emcee wasn’t in the cards for me, that didn’t stop me from memorizing songs and lyrics or being fascinated with album covers and producers, much like a student studying for a test.
Being a child of the Golden Era, which IMO was Hip Hop’s best time period, I consider myself to be a Hip Hop snob with very discerning taste. You see, everything was different during the Golden Era. Rappers prized themselves on originality, skills, and lyrical content all the while trying to outdo one other. If you stole another rapper’s lyrics, or your skills were wack, then you would hear about it from everybody. Other rappers on the streets would talk about you, or you would get served from one or both of the only two TV outlets that Hip Hop had at that time, Rap City or Yo MTV Raps.
Rappers were comfortable in their own skin, and didn’t seem to worry about what the next man or publication thought. Acts like Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Def Jef made positivity and uniqueness cool. Acts like X-Clan and Public Enemy made Afrocentricism, knowledge of self, and consciousness something to embrace.
However, as Hip Hop grew and matured (while the latter is debatable nowadays), there was a change in the movement. Everything from production, lyrics, originality and self-identity faded in the background, in favor of style, multi-million dollar contracts, and radio spins. And that’s not even mentioning the level of vulgarity that would probably make AMG, 2 Live Crew and Eazy-E blush. It seems like a lot of today’s rap are soundtracks suited for porn, even the ones that are played on the radio.
While I am against censorship and believe that everyone (including Hip Hop artists) has the right to free speech, I can no longer find the same enjoyment in the brash, explicit, and outrageousness of today’s Hip Hop. Honestly, there are certain songs that I used to listen to that just don’t sit right with me anymore. Nowadays, when I hear songs like B*tches Aint Sh*t, B*tch Betta Have My Money, She Swallowed It, and Just Don’t Bite It, they make me pause for a moment
My likes and dislikes have started to shift because of the shift in quality. It could be that my ears have gotten old, but I find myself starting to sound like my parents, saying things like, “today’s rap isn’t hip hop” and “what is this noise?” I’m not proud of having had said any of these phrases, but I would have never thought that the music I love would evolve into something I don’t recognize. But, I guess that is the circle of life and everything must change, whether we like it or not. We can either change with it, move out the way, or get ran over. No one said we had to like it and that’s okay. It’s this generation’s time to make music as they feel. Besides, other than a handful of today’s artists, I have my artists of the 1988 – 1997 years to hold me down.
What do you think? For those in their mid-thirties and older, what are your thoughts on the changes in Hip Hop? If you even still listen to Hip Hop, then what do you listen to?
Talk to me, I’ll talk back.
Grand Master Breazy.