First, let me start this post by stating that I Love Hip Hop and my generation is the best because we got Hip Hop when it was still cool and innovative.
So what’s about to follow may seem like the hackneyed diatribe of a middle-aged ‘I remember back when’ type of dude. But the reality is that what you’re about to read is the hard honest truth.
Mainstream Hip Hop is Horrible.
It is the worse shit I have ever heard in my entire life.
I will admit that the artists of our era (the Golden Era) spit about guns, drugs, violence and fucking. And honestly that era of Hip Hop is the grandfather of what’s being passed off as hip hop today. However, back during our era (I feel so old when I type “our era”) we offered a variety of lyricists to chose from.
Lyricists. Not rappers.
What’s the difference you ask? Please, keep reading.
Last night I decided to watch the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards. Why did I do it? Mainly because I know I talk a lot of shit about the state of Hip Hop right now and figured that I should at least look at the faces of the new generation before I continue to pass judgment on them.
For me the show was broken down into two different sections; There was the actual “awards” ceremony and the cyphers which began after each commercial break. The cyphers, featuring a mix of mainstream, underground, battle and veteran lyricists, were enjoyable. Some ate beats, some delivered messages, some tried and failed but every last one of them were audible.
The main performances though? I had no idea who some of those mutha fuckas were. I didn’t understand a word they were saying. I shuddered at the clothes they were wearing and couldn’t grasp for the life of me why they were there. Clearly, these were not the cats I want to get my Hip Hop fix from, but I rode it out to see what else this “awards” ceremony had to offer.
Needless to say the next couple of performances featured more people I didn’t recognize inaudibly rapping lyrics I couldn’t understand. What really pissed me off was that most of their songs aren’t even about anything. Just a mashing of words and sounds over music to make people dance. The main issue with Hip Hop now is that it’s being represented by one specific style. All of the songs sound the same, feature the same subject matter and offer little in regards to variety or passion. In my mind Hip Hop will always be the perfect mixture of a hot beat, sick rhymes and the hunger to spit hard.
What am I supposed to do when lazy, mumble mouthed mutha fuckas with huge dollar signs in their eyes and tired lyrics get all the shine?
Luckily there was a brief break in the show’s monotony when Common took to the stage with Vince Staples and Jay Electronica. I can remember at various times during the night when the rappers I didn’t know would come out and slur their songs into the mic, causing many in the audience to leap from their seats and dance like lifeless turnt up zombies. Unfortunately, while Common was performing most of the room was comatose and glued to their seats, probably thinking to themselves ‘When is this old nigga getting’ off the stage?’
It wasn’t until Mike Brown’s parents joined the three emcees onstage at the end of their performance when people finally rose from their seats. And it’s definitely not a bad thing that the audience showed respect to Mike Brown’s family because what happened to him remains a tragedy that we should never forget. My problem was the fact that it took them coming out to remind the audience of his death and get some type of reaction out of them. It just goes to show that songs with messages don’t matter anymore because the audience wasn’t even listening.
A few other enjoyable moments (and there weren’t many) were the throwback ‘I Wanna Be Down’ performance, Doug E Fresh’s speech and the Snoop and Nia Long skits.
And then, to cap off an evening of a thousand eye rolls, some short mutha named Bobby Shmurda came out at the end doing something called the Shmoney dance.
No no youngin’, that’s the Puffy dance from the 90’s. Nice try.
I have to call Shenanigans on the fuckery I witnessed between the hours of 8pm and 10 pm on BET last night because I don’t know what happened to lyrics and rhymes as a part of mainstream Hip Hop.
But despite all of the bad fashion, wack awards and questionable performances at the end of the show I said to myself ‘Hip Hop’s not dead’.
Because honestly it isn’t. Now, is it the same music that I grew up with? Of course not. But then again, none of us are the same as we were back in the 90’s. Hip Hop is evolving and growing just like we all are. But fuck that, I still stand by my original statement; Mainstream Hip Hop is the worse shit I’ve ever heard in my life. But Hip Hop in general isn’t just a one-stop shop anymore. We can’t rely on the radio to dictate to us what our Hip Hop experience is supposed to look like. We have the internet now. We have to dig deeper to find the Hip Hop that speaks to us and not become jaded by the fact that the radio will only play bullshit.
We already know that’s what radio does. It’s a business, and Hip Hop is more marketable now than it ever was before. Hip Hop is a product and just like any other product there’s high end merchandise and low end merchandise. It’s up to us to decide which one we want in our homes so let’s not discount all of the Hip Hop because of the shit they put out for us to listen to. There’s always a choice and after last night’s shit show I choose to never watch that mess again.
I’ll just catch the cyphers the day afterwards and check for some new artists I may be missing out on.