What's Wrong With Hip Hop?
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Hip Hop’s Greatest Shortcoming

The death of emerging Soundcloud rapper XXXTENTACION is, unfortunately, just one in a long line of losses hip hop has suffered over the years.

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XXXTENTACION

Since its origination in the late 1970s with the Sugarhill Gang's Billboard Hot 100 hit "Rapper's Delight", hip hop has progressed into one of America's most popular music genres. As millennials, my peers and I have grown up listening to hip hop. From an era dominated by the likes of Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Jay Z, to present day Soundcloud rap, we've come to idolize key figures within the rap game for their uniqueness and skill.

Rappers have developed a platform for themselves upon which they have the ability to convey stories in a clever, charismatic fashion. Not all of these stories revolve around serious topics. In fact, most of them don't.

Take Lil Pump, for example. Anyone who has ever listened to Lil Pump knows that he's a talentless troll who's attained wealth by releasing a series of simplistic tracks saturated with production and lacking lyrical value.

Yet, Lil Pump's music still appeals to the masses. Why is this so? I can't explain it. It's just what people are born into. It's all some of these kids know.

Lil Pump

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Regardless of what they rap about and the manner in which they do it, these artists have eclipsed new heights. Hip hop is indisputably the most renowned contemporary music genre, and its future ascension is inevitable. For all that hip hop has achieved during its nearly 40-year existence, it has been plagued by one overwhelming shortcoming: death.

According to Wikipedia, 36 rappers have been murdered in the past 30 years, a majority of whom were African-American and were either in their early 20s or late teens at the time of their death. Furthermore, all but 3 of the aforementioned artists are labeled to have been shot and killed under the "cause of death" column.

While these statistics underscore a larger problem within modern America, they should not be overlooked in relation to hip hop. Rappers hailing from crime-ridden environments tend to sing about explicit subjects, such as drugs, sex, and, perhaps most notably, violence. Lyrics pertaining to violence send a negative message to listeners and may indirectly shed light on controversy present in a rapper's personal life.

On Monday, June 18th, 20-year old rapper XXXtentacion was robbed and fatally shot inside his car in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Later that day, Pittsburgh native and fellow rapper Jimmy Wopo was also shot and killed in his hometown, marking a tragic day in the history of hip hop.

While Wopo was idolized more on a regional level, XXXtentacion had gained traction on a worldwide scale for his songs, including "Look at Me!", "SAD!", and "Changes". XXXtentacion, or simply "X" as many of his fans refer to him as, was a promising young music talent with personal troubles that caught up to him too fast. X had been arrested numerous times over his short career for committing violent acts and was an artist that everyone seemed to either love or hate.

I belong to the latter group.

XXXtentacion

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Not only do I think X was a shitty person for mercilessly beating his pregnant girlfriend, I also think his music is pretty shitty as well. In spite of the bad decisions he made in the past, I do not believe that X deserved to die, especially in that manner.

It may be hard to believe, but people looked up to X. Soundcloud rap-connoisseurs embrace X's music and view his death as wasted potential. As previously mentioned, I didn't like X in the slightest. I will admit, however, that he was a young kid who was raised in a toxic environment. Had he been provided the opportunity to further showcase his skills as a rapper and improve his reputation, there may have been a silver lining.

But he's dead now. It's hard to comprehend, but X will eternally be stigmatized for his actions, and there's nothing anybody can do about it. I'm not trying to establish a Nihilistic sentiment, but that's just the way things panned out.

From rap pioneers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, to modern day revolutionary XXXtentacion, hip hop figures have always been in danger. The rap game is not an easy one, nor is it a fair one. It always depends on what messages you promote, how you promote them, and the individuals you're associated with.

Tupac Shakurc1.staticflickr.com

I've been fascinated by hip hop since adolescence. My older brothers drew me into the genre and I haven't looked back. Hip hop will always have a special place in my heart. It speaks to me on a level that other music does not. I will never abandon hip hop, but I'm tired of hip hop abandoning me.

I hope that someday we will live in a society where artists, regardless of their race, religion, gender, or past history, are able to fulfill their potential by positively influencing the consumers they serve. Following the events that transpired on June 18th, the world of hip hop is bleak. We don't know for sure what comes next, but let's hope it's positive.

Let's hope.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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