Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is Hip-Hop Dead?

As Nas proclaimed in 2006, hip-hop is dead. This may seem like an outrageous statement, but was he right? One could argue that hip-hop is not dead as new albums are being produced, but Nas most likely meant that the quality has become questionable.

Much of the hip-hop from the recent years does not remotely resemble what one would consider noteworthy. An album that exemplifies this is Kanye West's 808 & Heartbreak which was released in 2008. I consider Kanye's pre-2008 albums music that fits the profile of hip-hop, however vocally altered music which consists of more singing than rapping does not deserve the classification of hip-hop.

To further reaffirm Nas's proclaim, most recently a different genre of music is gaining increasing popularity--dance/house music. Where hip-hop dominated hit radio stations, dance music appears to have stolen the spotlight. Additionally, the recent albums of hip-hop resemble R&B more than rap, such as Wale's Ambition and Drake's Take Care.

There has been a serious lack of albums that can boast the plethora of songs consisting of quality hip-hop since the late '90s and early 2000s, such as Jay-Z's The Black Album which was released in 2003. There have been very few, if any, albums released in the recent years that one would call "true" hip-hop.

Moreover, I believe the industry has moved away from the classic sound of hip-hop to a melange of sounds that include rapped lyrics, yet still called hip-hop. In my opinion, cclassic hip-hop is dead.


  1. I agree with you. Hip-hop isn't what it used to be. It has turned into pop music rather than hip-hop. Also, now more artists are using auto-tuned music, which is not real. Real hip-hop and rap is truly spoken, not computer generated or altered. Hip-hop has become more main-stream, which has taken away from the art. The older hip-hop is almost a completely different type of music compared to today's pop-style hip-hop.

  2. I mean, I agree with you on some points. We both may agree that there is LESS pure lyricism out today and it is often muddled by pop. However, I do not feel like "classic" hip-hop is dead or that we can really create a label like "classic" anymore. "Classic" hip-hop was classic because of the events that were going on then; today, hip-hop seems to have picked up new themes (braggadocio an example). I feel that hip-hop has changed but in no way has it become less great over time. There is still great lyricism all over the place: Drake's album "Take Care" was great. He spoke about his life and the events in his songs played out like a story.

    To comment on sohny15's point, there is a lot of hip-hop today that is more main-stream because that is what the superficial, radio hip-hop lovers want to hear. Most hip-hop artists want to appeal to these people to make money. But again, if you really know hip-hop you'll know that Nas, Jay-Z, Kanye, and even this new guy Los (just to name a few), are still releasing great tracks with great lyrics.

    To say hip-hop is dead is incorrect,in my opinion. it has merely changed.

  3. I agree with Mike when he says that Hip Hop is not dead, but it has changed. Hip Hop has merely been revolutionized (whether in a good or a bad way is up for personal interpretation). The music industry as well as Hip Hop will never be dead unless there are no more people left to support and carry it on. Today, Hip Hop is very much alive, and very much promoted by many. In The Social Network (the movie about Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg illustrates the idea that Facebook can never be "done" or "finished" the same way fashion is never "done" or "finished." Hip Hop is the same way. It's a never-ending process and no matter how far it is from the classic (or should I say original) roots of Hip Hop, it will still be undeniably Hip Hop. Keep the old as fond memories as we welcome the new.

  4. I definitely agree with Mike and Eric but I do see where Kelvin and sohny15 are coming from. Like Eric said, "Hip-hop" will never be dead, it merely is being modernized. More and more artists are becoming popular as they find their niche in the rap game. New artists do not simply want to copy their beats and styles from rap legends because they cannot compete. Kid Cudi, for example, raps over spacey beats and other rappers have used auto tune, like Kanye in 808 & Heartbreak. Frat Rap has also become big at colleges around the nation as rappers like Mike Stud, Cal (from Timeflies), and Pj Simas are gaining popularity. But "classic" hip hop is by far not dead, it just doesn't see the uniformity and popularity that it used to.

  5. Hip Hop may not be dead to us, but it certainly is to rappers like Public Enemy, NWA, 2Pac, and Nas. The reason they would say Hip hop is dead is because rappers today tend to not rap about real issues in the world. Instead there is a focus on intangible and unimportant topics. For example, the song Teach me how to Dougie and Cat Daddy deliver no real value to the listener. Rappers today are also criticized for inferior lyricism. I don't necessarily agree with this as I think many rappers today possess the same talent as rappers like Nas. J. Cole's "Lost Ones" is a great example of exceptional Lyricism that also addresses the issue of pregnancy.

  6. I disagree that it is totally dead for them because in 2010 Nas said in an interview that Hip Hop was in fact not dead, but barely alive. Nas is still making music, as well as Black Star (Talib Kweli and Mos Def) and other underground rappers who still appreciate the innovation and art of hip-hop. I definitely agree the quality of mainstream rap lyrics has diminished.

    Here is the article about the Nas interview:

    1. I definitely agree with the assertion that Hip Hop is dead. I would hardly say that hip hop has become revolutionized, and I definitely wouldn't say that the turn that hip hop is taking is for the better. The main concern that Nas brings up in his song "Hip Hop is Dead" is the fact that rap and hip hop have become a business rather than a passion or calling that people can relate to and congregate around. The soul of hip hop and rap stems from rebellion, a clash with mainstream culture that reminds the status quo that they are neglecting a significant portion of America on a day to day basis. Classic hip hop exposes real issues that many people living in the projects or low income communities face on a daily basis, and attempts to justify and humanize their struggles in the form of music. It also exposes the injustice that rappers and their communities have faced during their lives and is a counterculture that dismantles existing power structures. When Nas suggests that hip hop is dead, he is claiming that hip hop has conformed to mainstream culture, and has lost its true, original sentiments. In Nas's song "Hip Hop is Dead" he states "Everybody sound the same, commercialize the game Reminiscin' when it wasn't all business", which alludes to the fact that modern rappers have fallen into the status quo and have taken power away from hip hop. Apart from Kendrick Lamar, Immortal Technique, early Lupe, and a few other rappers, most artists are only concerned with swagger, status and money, and rarely if ever criticize power structures that continue to disenfranchise the communities that created hip hop. The fact that hip hop has gone mainstream is not necessarily an issue, but more so that the content of hip hop has conformed to the desires of the status quo and no longer resembles its formal self.

  7. Unless New York is hot, HipHop is dead. New York rappers, particularly Brooklyn rappers, had the game locked down for years.


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