A few days ago, I was browsing http://www.cable-tv.com/, doing some research on the various TV providers my area. I was also listening to Internet radio, jamming out to some 90s hip hop when all the sudden a track by Soulja Boy titled “Doo Doo Head” began playing.
Is this really what hip hop has come to?
In the eyes of many fans and artists, hip-hop music has taken a turn for the worst. I’m not speaking for all rappers – there are definitely some talented and lyrically adept underground emcees – but what happened to mainstream hip hop?
When it first broke ground in the early 1980s and through the “golden age” of the mid 80s and early 90s, hip-hop music actually meant something. It was influential, diverse and most importantly – a unifying force in the African-American community. Artists like Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., Rakim and Big Daddy Kane were some of the most notable pioneers of the “golden age,” giving hip hop a sound and a name. Back then the music was motivated by the passion of the artist, whereas today it’s driven by commercialism and marketability.
Today, when you turn on the radio, every hip-hop song is about drugs, money, expensive cars and material possessions. As legendary rapper Nas so eloquently put it, “hip hop is dead.”
He may be right.
After nearly three decades of growing popularity, hip hop has seen a significant drop-off in sales over the last 10-plus years. According to Billboard Magazine, hip hop/rap sales have dropped 44% and shrunk to 10% of all music sales since 2000.
Needless to say, today’s hip-hop music has also faced tremendous criticism. Many people, both inside and outside the hip-hop community, have denounced it for spreading the wrong values by endorsing using/selling drugs, theft, rape and illegal activity.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
That’s the sound of hip hop on life support. With fewer 2Pac’s and Biggie’s and more Soulja Boy’s and Lil Jon’s, the outlook for this once glorified and unique musical genre gets dimmer and dimmer every day.