It was in 1979 that Rapper’s Delight hit the air marking, what most people call, the beginning of the Rap era. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t born yet, so I have no nostalgic memories of hearing it when it came out. The first time I heard “Rapper’s Delight” was in 1997 and it was sung by Erick Sermon, Keith Murray & Redman. I was about 12 years old and ignorant of the fact that it was not an original song. I remember my older brother calling me a fool for not knowing it was a remake, as if he knew everything in the world … He wasn’t born when it first released either.
Today, Hip-Hop music is criticized time and time again for straying so far from its origins. I have to admit that I have criticized myself a bit, but being part of this generation of hip hop, I feel like I should defend the music in some way.
First of all, Hip-Hop is not dead, it is very much alive. The term Hip-Hop commonly refers to Hip-Hop music. But Hip-Hop itself is not music, it is a culture and Hip-Hop culture is alive all over the world. Rap is the music of Hip-Hop. So when people say, “Hip-Hop is dead” (Nas), they probably mean “Hip-Hop music is dead” or Rap is dead. Whether they’re talking about Hip-Hop or Hip-Hop music, I feel like they’re both alive and well, even though it’s changed since the Sugar Hill Gang days.
Imagine if 2007 rappers sounded like 1987 rappers, that shit would play out. In this type of music you want to hear diversity and witness creativity. That is what we have today. The diversity we have in Rap today is truly remarkable.
In the south you have the crunch of Lil John but you also have the ecliptic sounds of Outkast. Then there is the lyrics of Ludacris and Lil ‘Wayne, who also represent the south. In the west are Snoop Dogg’s soft gangster sounds, E-40’s coldness (going silly with his stunning shadows), and The Game’s gangster rapping. In the Midwest there is the lyrical, conscientious and comedic style of Lupe Fiasco, Common and Kanye West (respectively). In the east you have Jay-Z with his veteran streams, Nas’s intellectual bully, and Fabolus’s smoothness. Of course there are a ton of names and styles that I left out, these are the ones that came to mind first. I also want to add that not everyone at the moment is great or even good, but there is enough diversity where you can choose your favorites.
The point I’m trying to make is that Rap is flourishing. You have all these artists all over the nation doing something to contribute to Hip-Hop music. Even outside of the US, there are artists like Kardinal Offishall, who is starting to draw Toronto’s attention with their flow. Although I can appreciate the old school, I am living in the now and Rap music is definitely showing up now.