Hip Hop has progressed incredibly from its origins in the 1970s. From finding influence in Delta Blues through watching buildings burn in the inner city of the Bronx, Hip Hop’s message has stayed true – talk about what you know, oppression, personal struggles whether financial or racial, love and loss. Music is for everyone and this genre particularly has shown that.
With everything in life there are critics. In Hip Hop specifically, the controversy surrounding race and which are appropriate within the genre has been in debate for quite sometime. Some rappers believe that whites are Guests in the House of Hip Hop, while others believe everyone has a story to tell no matter race, gender or sexual orientation (yes, I’m talking about Macklemore’s “when I was in the third grade I thought I was gay”).
It is undeniable that all races and genders have made their way through the scene; Eminem debuting in Detroit as a battle rapper, Little Simz gaining recognition in London, Bone Thugs N Harmony filming music videos on my hometown block, Token and Kendrick Lamar discussing life struggles, or Joey Bada$$ calling out Donald Trump.
Before reading, click on the links above and listen to some tunes. When you’re ready, continue reading.
These artists, like countless others are keeping Hip Hop alive. Their messages are important to those who need or choose to listen, and that is what drives a rapper’s success. Culture (no, not the new Migos album) but actual culture, how a rapper is perceived is just as important – their interaction with fans, community or other rappers (aka Soulja Boy vs. Chris Brown).
During the early periods of Hip Hop, a rapper’s notoriety came from their street cred, if they were in a gang, if they won a battle rap, but today rappers gain fandoms based on song plays, video views and subtweets. We see some rappers who are known for their rockstar image (Machine Gun Kelly) who trashes hotel rooms and crowd surfs in between flows about Cleveland streets. But then we see artists like 6LACK (pronounced Black) who has a group chat with a few fans (okay, 40 or more) where he bounces ideas off of them before he produces music.
Rappers are influential in fashion, music and young culture – there is no argument in that. But how you choose to let them influence you… let’s just say we won’t be bleaching our hair anytime soon Kanye.
Below is a Spotify playlist I’ve begun to build for this project. In the coming weeks, look for supporting content dissecting these songs.
Supporting Content: Hip Hop Culture is everywhere.