So my best friend and I were talking the other day about music and we were saying what rap albums we couldn’t wait to drop this year. He was saying how he couldn’t wait for Drake’s new album to come out and I was saying how I’m more excited to see what Kanye West’s album had to offer. Then we started talking about the old rap songs we used to listen to and how rap has changed so much over the years. But the question that I know a lot of hip hop fans ask is “has it changed for the better”?
Me personally, I like a lot of the new school rappers that this generation has to offer such as J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Wale, etc. I’ll admit there are some rappers that I’m not particularly fans of like Young Thug or Chief Keef but they do have a few good songs that make them mainstream. Every time I hear a Young Thug song I actually like I feel like a fat person who is cheating on a diet. I’m not supposed to like it because he is a bad rapper but the beat is so good I just can’t help but listen and jam out to it. And that’s how I think hip hop has changed throughout the years. In this generation of rap, we care so much about hearing a good beat that we could care less about the actual lyrics that we hear. This is a big factor in how hip hop music has changed over the years.
You see hip hop started in the early 80s and the point of hip hop was to tell a message from the people of the streets and the struggles they had to endure. Although there were hip hop songs that you could jam out and dance to, hip hop was supposed to be a way that inner city black people were able to convey their story of struggle in a lyrical fun way.
Around the late 80s and early 90s, that’s when I feel hip hop started to change into rap music. While there were still some songs that told stories about the “black struggle”, a lot of rappers started to incorporate selling drugs, committing crimes and degrading women in those lyrics as well. Even though there were a lot of people that opposed to this new form of rap: there were a lot of other people who praised it so much that this became the new form of what is considered “hip hop”.
Now I know what some people might say, “I only listen to rap music if it’s giving a good message”. Then others might say, “I just want to turn up at a party”. But in my opinion, why can’t we just like both? The way I look at music is it’s all about the time, place, and mood. For example, I love J. Cole as a rapper and I think he is one of the most underrated rappers of our time. But to be honest, I can’t really turn up to him at the club or a party. It’s not because he doesn’t make great music, it’s because in his style of rapping he tries to give a message in a lyrical way that it makes it hard for me to dance to.
When I’m at home or in the car relaxing, I can listen to him because I can sit down and actually analyze what he is saying. When I’m at a party I want to listen to 2 Chainz or jam out to some Future. I listen to rap music with a message when I’m at home. I’ll admit, it does disappoint me that in this generation that rappers don’t even make more meaningful songs like they use too, but it doesn’t make me want to stop listening to rap altogether.
So to answer the question of “has rap music gotten worse”, it’s more of a yes and no answer from me. Yes, because rappers tend to rely on their beats more than their actual lyrics and no because this new form of rapping has opened up the doors to other styles of rap music that we never even thought were possible for the genre. So you hip hop fans can say what you want about rap music, but if you need me I’ll be listening to some Kanye West. Peace!