Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hip-Hop Isn't Dead-But It's Dying-Here's 10 Reasons Why

1. Everybody wants to be a gangsta
There used to be all kinds of MCs rhyming about all aspects of life. Hip-Hop used to be fun. Hip-Hip used to be social conscious. Hip-Hop used to political and militant. Hip-Hop used to be grown and sexy before Jay-Z made the phrase popular on his song, "Excuse me Miss".
Hip-Hop has always been gangsta. Many credit Schoolly D with making the first Gangsta rap record, "P.S.K." Ice-T came out with "6 N in the morning". Boogie Down Productions released "Criminal Minded". And how could anyone fail to mention "the most dangerous group", N.W.A. and their infamous classic record, "Straight Outta Compton".
What I'm saying is that Gangsta rap is not new and most of the so-called gangsta rap acts nowadays all sound the same (regardless of where they're from) and are not nearly as good and cutting edge as the pioneers of that sub-genre within Hip-Hop.
Bottom-line: Hip-Hop needs to diversify by returning to its true tradition of telling stories that reflect a variety of perspectives and not just the same ol', same ol', "shoot 'em up, bang, bang" mentality and lifestyle.
2. Hip-Hop is driven more by commercial success than cultural integrity
Hip-Hop is no longer a culture, it's a business. But the truth is Hip-Hop is indeed a culture that has been commercialized, therefore, compromised. Corporate America, whether you're talking about corporate-owned record labels, magazines or cable channels, are in complete control of Hip-Hop.
Hip-Hop is big business and is making a lot of people a lot of money. But how many of those who profit from Hip-Hop are actually true to the preservation of the culture? And how much of the profits are being recycled back in the communities all over the world that gave birth, raised and praise the culture like a proud parent?
Bottom-line: Hip-Hop, as a culture, needs to be resurrected and moved forward in having an impact on the world socially, politically, religiously, economically and not just exploited to make greedy opportunists rich.
Let me start out by saying that there is a big difference between "beef" and "battling". Beef is what happens on the streets and even in the boardroom. Battling is competition; what happens in sports for example and of course Hip-Hop music. Battling is the foundation of MC'ing.
Battling separates the thorough MCs from the "Sucker MCs". There have been legendary "battles" throughout Hip-Hop history; KRS-ONE & BDP vs. MC Shan & The Juice Crew, L.L. Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee to name a couple.
But beef is another whole can of "words". Beef can (and has) spread outside of records and onto the streets. Beef, real beef, is about more than words. Beef can be dangerous and should be taken serious. Beef is dangerous to Hip-Hop because it damages the culture's credibility and hinders its true intent. Hip-Hop as a culture and rap as a form of music was not founded on "greasy talk" and violence.
Bottom line: Beef may garner some publicity and sometimes, tragically claim lives but it does nothing to uplift Hip-Hop culture and the communities it represents.
4. The most popular MCs are often the most overrated
You can ask today's average fan to list their 10 favorite MC's and at least half of the ones they name are average at best or downright wack. The MCs who get the most attention in radio, print and television are often not MCs at all; they're rappers, or I guess you can say, entertainers that rap. Your favorite rapper may have a hit song getting 100's of spins a day on the radio but that doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is a true MC.
Most rap songs played on the radio are the weakest lyrically. Most of the elements of Hip-Hop are completely absent from the music videos that serve as a visual for the songs. These entertainers benefit from a variety of factors that put them at the forefront of Hip-Hop. But often lyrical prowess is not one of these factors. Meanwhile many of the best MCs that have mastered the art of MC'ing (see #9) receive little to no promotion from corporate America and their great talents are heard and witnessed by few.
Bottom line: True MCs who are in the game for the love of it should be more visible and the more popular MCs who dominate the charts and grace the covers of magazines should challenge themselves and be challenged to step their rhyme game up.
5. Hip-Hop journalism needs to step their game up
I'm a writer. I grew up an avid reader of Hip-Hop themed publications. There was a time when I thoroughly enjoyed reading these publications waiting anxiously for the new issues to hit the newsstand or be delivered in my mailbox.

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