Hip Hop Is Not Dead…It’s Lazy

Hip Hop Is Not Dead…It’s Lazy

Once upon a time not long ago, where people wore pajamas & lived life slow…there used to exist these elusive human qualities called TALENT & SKILL.  Talent was often easily identified by other people because the person who possessed a talent could usually do something far better than most people could without hardly any effort.  Skill on the other hand, was not so easily identifiable due to skill requiring someone to apply a degree of hard work in order to properly hone into a legit talent.  Once a skill reached a certain level, it often became hard for the average person to detect the difference between natural talent & the hard work molded into skill.  If a person was that “special” as to where their talent & skill were virtually intertwined into one perfect union, usually that person developed by default a sense of “I can really do this” & emerged into the world to “really do this”.  NOT ANYMORE….things have changed & social media is to blame.  Keep reading…

I love hip hop.  I spent my teenage years in the 90s fully immersed into the culture.  I remember the whole East Coast/West Coast rivalry like it was yesterday.  I know exactly where I was when Tupac & Biggie were killed.  I lost my virginity while watching Rap City listening to Busta Rhymes “Woo Hah” song…

 I remember when people used to buy CDs simply because the CD cover artwork was so freaking fly (thanks Master P & Cash Money).  I remember the moment when southern hip hop began its quest to dominate the hip hop culture (thanks Master P & Outkast).  I remember life in the world of hip hop before social media hit the scene.  Life was hard back then.  Life required real talent.  Life required real skill.  Life in the world of hip hop required a whole lot of shit artists in this day & age couldn’t even fathom.

Old School

I am a firm believer that the 90s decade was truly the golden era of hip hop.  If you disagree with me…then to hell with you.  Back then we had the Source Magazine as one of the leading publications in telling the culture who’s hot & who’s not.  Flip to the back of the Source and you would discover a section that was dedicated to rating music.  The standard for rating the music ranged from 1 mic to 5 mics.  During the 90s era, when teens used to get into these deeply heated hip hop debates about the dominant artists of that time period, most used to describe their favorite artists in terms of how many mics they got thanks to the Source or how many mics they should have due to personal preference.  Usually if an artist put out an album that was deemed a hip hop classic, there was usually a consensus amongst the debaters that the album was worthy of having 5 mics.  5 mics was the gold standard back in those days whether the Source agreed with the debaters or not.  Conversations would go as such:  “Biggie’s ‘Ready To Die’ is a classic…that shit deserves 5 mics!”  or something to that effect.

Now what was really going on was this:  the fans of this music were not only applauding the musical masterpiece they had copped for $12.99 at your local record store and then later bootlegged onto a cassette tape; these fans were unknowingly applauding the grind, the struggle, the talent & skill required for a hip hop artist to take a recording, turn it into a project worthy of having a record company invest hundreds of thousands if not millions into, and have this music define a new generation.  These artists were street poets whom believed in their talent so strongly that they convinced countless other people that their talent was worthy of being played on the radio & television, because after all, there really was no other means of getting your music heard by the masses back then.  If an artist wanted massive exposure, which would hopefully translate into large sums of money, these artists needed to have REAL TALENT & SKILL.  There was no way of getting around it.  Now understand, I’m in no way saying every artist that came up in the 90s was worthy.  We all have a general idea (or should) of who made a significant impact on hip hop back then…Dre, Snoop, Jay Z, Outkast, Biggie, Tupac, Wu-Tang, Master P, Cash Money, etc…the list could go on & on as it could for all the wack ass rappers who helped to define the 90s era as well unfortunately.  But regardless if an artist was phenomenal or wack as fuxx, artists back then had to put in real work to be heard, seen, & hopefully discovered because social media didn’t exist back then.  All we had was radio & television.  To get put on the radio or television, you HAD to have talent.  Now if that talent was worth listening to is another thing.

New School

Today, things have changed.  Some say change is good, which I agree with.  But some change just isn’t good if it removes the talent & skill factor.  Rappers of today no longer need to save up money to either start a legit recording studio or pay for studio time.  They no longer need to hit every local club or underground hip hop venue to build up a core fan base.  Rappers of today no longer need to develop a strong street team to help push their brand.  Rappers of today no longer need to have talent or skill.  Rappers of today simply need access to Facebook, YouTube, & some do-it-yourself mixing program they can download to their laptop.  They also need a spare bedroom, closet, or bathroom to turn into a booth.  Once they have all of these elements in place, they need to learn how to upload a file and BOOM….they are in business well on their way down the road to the riches & diamond rings…

I don’t know how many times I’ve logged onto Facebook, YouTube, or any other social networking site and seen countless links of artists posting links to their music begging people to check their work out.  I don’t know how many times I’ve investigated these artists to see if there is anything else out there to back up their claims of being a legit artist instead of someone just spamming my newsfeed with links to their SoundCloud account.  What I mean by investigate is, I’m referring to me googling these artists to see what else may exist.  Are they performing in local venues, do they have their own website up, is there any sign of a movement developing or taking place to support their claims of being a true hip hop artist versus just some guy who quickly recorded their rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse…

Kendrick’s Verse

This Lame Guy’s Version

 9 time out of 10 there is nothing.  So after this initial investigation, it is damn near safe for me say that there is no real concern for talent & skill being emphasized in their pursuit of becoming the next hip hop superstar.  I can also rest assured in knowing that the artists of today will never develop the energy to do what the artists of the 90s had to do to get put on.  Please believe me…that shit is never going to happen again.

Artists of today just want to hit the upload button and sit back and watch the LIKES start pouring in.  They want all the fame, money, & glory but don’t want to do any physical shit to earn it.  They don’t want to save their money & invest it wisely into their craft.  They just want to blow up off of social media.  They see people like Mac Miller who blew up using mainly social media but fail to realize Mac Miller put in some serious ground work similar to that of the 90s era artists before his name started making the rounds through social media.  Most artists of today just don’t want to work & then get pissed when what they are doing doesn’t work for them.  I feel that needs to be repeated in bold letters:

Most artists of today just don’t want to work & then get pissed when what they are doing doesn’t work for them.

Becoming the next superstar in the world of hip hop requires way more talent & skill than rapping over someone else’s beat, then hitting the upload button to your favorite social media site.  There is simply no way of getting around it.  Becoming the next superstar in hip hop requires a lot of time & money invested into the craft that most artists of today simply just don’t have enough faith in themselves to justify pursuing.  Facebook, YouTube, & whatever else is out there has promised these artists the world yet forgetting to mention that the world is not listening to them beyond their immediate circle of friends.  A lot of these artist have some talent, but they lack a lot of skill.  They lack the skill to harness the power of their talent and take it further because developing skill requires REAL WORK.  Today’s artists would rather focus on the talent factor & neglect the skill factor when in reality, they need to develop & eventually master both assets if they ever plan to have any real remote possibility of becoming the next superstar of hip hop.  But as long as YouTube & Facebook promises these artists the illusion of having a fan base of listeners whom are willing to click their links to hear their latest creation….then what incentive do these artists really have to step out of the virtual world & put their talents & skills to the test in the real world?

What are your thoughts on this new generation of recording artists who tend to think that if they can succeed in the online world, they can succeed in the real world?  Could it be that the very few artists who did come up off of social media have helped to create a false illusion of how to make it in the entertainment business?  Or is it that the entertainment business simply doesn’t care how it finds its next superstar & so this thought process is reflected in the minds of todays hip hop musicians?
Light skin dude with an opinion
  • Troy Felton

    Man you brought up some good memories of reading the Source magazine. If an album was under 3.5 mics I really wasn’t checking for it. I also agree with the 90’s being the “Golden Era” of Hip-Hop even though depending on who you talk to most would say the late 80’s but that’s another story. To answer your question I believe social media is a gift and curse at times. You can get more exposure than back in the 90’s but you had to be really special back then to get heard. Now with social media artists in my eyes are more about a gimmick than actual talent but I won’t knock the Soulja Boy’s and Trinidad James even though it’s buffoonery they are doing better than I am at the moment. With the decline of record sales due to piracy major labels will not risk backing a unknown artist in these day so that’s where social media comes in. If they see that you have a million or so views eventually somebody is going to reach out and capitalize on what hot at the moment, instead of looking for true artists or Mc’s. On my behalf I have nobody to blame but myself for not getting heard and I will not make any excuses for that. I also would not like to be a major artist either. If I could get 20,000 fans and be able to pay the bills I would be satisfied because I’m doing something I love. Back to the subject I truly believe that this new era of Hip-Hop or crap as I call it is determined by who the major labels want to promote and majority of the time it’s by social media. So yes I think other artists look at that as the blueprint for success.

    • Gil

      It’s a shame record companies have programmed hip hop fans into thinking having a gimmick is what’s going to get you put on versus having real talent. What’s going on today reminds me of that scene out of the movie “Brown Sugar” staring Taye Diggs & Sanaa Lathan where the black & white guy were going to get signed b/c they were dressed in fur coats that resembled a dalmatian dog.

      Fortunately, there is a lot of real talent left in the hip hop world. Some of it is mainstream while a lot of it is in the underground scene. The underground artists that have yet to be discovered that have real talent usually spend far less time on social media as opposed to living in reality to create & promote their brand as far as I can tell. That right there is what scares most people. The people who think they can blow up strictly off of social media have a deep fear for being exposed for what they really may be…a person who lacks talent & skill. Thereby they hide behind the monitor b/c the only real negativity they can experience is either from someone not LIKING their links or leaving negative comments on their links. Then the person that doesn’t LIKE it is viewed as a hater.

      In real life if they performed that shit in front of an audience, they’d be lucky if they didn’t get bust in the head with a bottle for offending everybody’s ears.

      • Troy Felton

        Lmao…You’re right about that Gil. I myself have been perfecting my craft since I was about 12 I’m 26 now and I feel as if the talent is there but my business awareness is below average. The say the music industry is 90% business and 10% talent I guess so because music nowadays is garbage. I’m not going to lie the money I’ve spent on bullshit I could have had me a studio years ago now since money is so tight my passion has took a backseat to “just tryin to live”. I’m not going to give up though I feel as if I’m better than majority of these artists but without the business side I will get screwed over once again.

        • Gil

          I’ve never rapped with the thoughts of taking it seriously a day in my life. I’ve been around numerous rappers even till this day. I also have a friend I went to college with that had a number hit single in the US back in 2005 I believe. You know him as Rich Boy with his “Throw Some D’s On It” song.

          One thing I’ve learned by being around all of these musicians is that not everyone is made to be in the limelight mainly due to lack of talent. It’s a lot of different roles people can play in the world of hip hop that doesn’t require them to be the one the crowd is cheering for. Successful artists need managers, beat makers, promoters, and all kinds of stuff. I understand the desire to be the one in the limelight but I don’t understand the desire to refuse to recognize that the limelight is not looking for you. But this is where YouTube & Facebook come in…whispering in artist’s ears that “hey, it’s ok….you don’t need talent, we’ll provide you a worldwide audience for free…just create a user account real quick and the world is yours.”

          • Troy Felton

            Yeah you’re right about that as well and with no music on hand there’s no way to determine if I’m any good or not but I will keep in touch and will have something by the end of the month. Once again great article.

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