These are some of my brain musings on the current state of hip-hop. Brothas in the barbershop might disagree with me or not. But I don’t care because this is my blog, and I write what I want to. So, without further ado, here are my top three big thoughts on hip-hop! Shout out to Coon-ye, oops, I mean Ye!
In They Feelings
I think the emo-rap era begun as the late 90s and early 2000s bling-bling era was fading. By 2008, you had Kid Cudi topping the hip-hop charts. But he was soon overtaken by the king of the light-skinned and creepy uncle, Drake. Not to be outdone, a slew of new rappers have matched or surpassed Drake in his emotional rap. But this hip-hop music. You still gotta be fly, ball, make it rain, all while still having a severe case of depression. Check out these lyrics from Lil’ Uzi Vert’s 2017 hit “XO TOUR Llif3”
Push me to the edge
Inside all white
Like something you ride a sled down
Today emo-rap has shown its influence in one of the most controversial and commercially successful forms of hip-hop music: Gangsta Rap. It’s always been some unintentional homoeroticism in gangsta rap. No one comes before yo niggas; not yo mama, yo family, yo babymama, yo sidepieces, or yo kids. Now fast forward to the Post-Drake emo-rap era, and you have songs like “Murder on My Mind” by YNW Melly. It perfectly captures what I’m talking about:
I was locked up on Christmas, ain’t get to see my niggas
Ain’t get to hug my mama, couldn’t even give her no kisses
Can’t even post on my Instagram ’cause these pussy niggas be snitching
Everybody acting suspicious, might prolly say that I’m tripping
When I’m all alone in my jail cell, I tend to get in my feelings
See, these Negroes are emotional, but still gangsta af! So do we consider men talking about their feelings openly progress? Or are we just living in very depressing times? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
The Midwest’s Influence on the Rap Game
When brothas talk about the rap game, It’s always been East Coast or West Coast or the Dirty South! Hell, the golden age of hip-hop was all about the East Coast and the Five Boroughs. NYC created and dominated the game rap during that era. We tend to forget about the Midwest’s impact on hip-hop for better or worse. I’m biased being a Chicago native. But in the late 90s to early 2000s, the world’s most infamous and ratchet singer R. Kelly sang the hook on many rap songs and even did a collaboration album with Jay-Z back in the day. But as the world found out about Kells being a child molester and pervert folks in the game cooled down on him. So the job of singing ratchet hooks went to Usher, Ty Dolla Sign, Future, and Yella Beezy.
Even Chicago’s most famous rap star and harden sunken place Trump supporter; Kanye West changed the game as both a rapper and producer. From producing the classic Dead Prez song, “Hip-Hop” or Talib Kweli’s “Get By” which made him a favorite amongst millennial hipsters. Ironically, despite Kanye’s self-hatred of his own blackness and his current embrace of the Kardashians and Trump’s. He introduced an entire generation to one of the most unforgiving-black and radical singers. The soulful and tragic singer, Nina Simone. Kanye’s talent unquestionable just as his mental state. And I’m sure Jay-Z’s current billionaire status deserves a big assist from Yeezus.
Finally, about the Midwest influence on the game. One of the most popular rap bands of the 1990s was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Known for speed rapping, Bone was also one of the first rap acts to combine song and harmony to their songs. Thus the name of the band. That style has evolved as we see from our current slew of rappers/singers. Hell, most of the cats out nowadays a person can’t tell if they’re R&B singers or rappers. Think I’m wrong? Think about it; Future, Fetty Wap, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Yella Beezy, Donald Glover, and Migos all sing and rap at the same damn time in most their songs. They all can thank BTNH for popularizing that hybrid rap style.
The South Won this War
As much as my 20-year-old self would hate to admit it, the Dirty South has won the rap game hands down. Trap music is the dominant form of hip-hop pumping through the airwaves and charts. Even if the rapper isn’t from ATL or Memphis, they rap like the Southern rappers. Shout out to Desiigner! In the 1990s, it was East vs. West in the rap game. But the South has always been in the background doing their damn thang. First, it was the Geto Boys, then 2 Live Crew, by the mid-90s OutKast and Goodie Mob gave us good ole’ fashion dirty south hip-hop. While Master P and Cash Money Records gave us Southern Ratchet. So, we’re all ratchet now! MCs from all over are biting the Trap style.
Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, are modern-day versions of Trina a.k.a the Baddest Bitch with a little Lil’ Kim mixed in. Think about how many rappers have named themselves Lil’? The most influential and commercially successful rapper of the 2000s was Lil Wayne. After he broke free from “Drop it like it’s hot” fame to become the self-proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive.” A whole generation of rappers took on dreadlocks and added Lil’ to their rap name. So, in the end, the South did rise again. Turn Up!