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The day music died

By Chris Hess
On February 3, 2010

  • Chris Hess

I recently heard a debate between two students that caught my attention. It also made feel ancient, and I'm just 26. The students were discussing which rapper was better, Soulja Boy or Wacka Flocka.

I thought to myself, "not exactly the Biggie vs. Tupac or Ali vs. Tyson debate. These guys both kind of suck." What has happened to hip-hop over the past decade?

The poets are gone, the lyricists are gone, and the art form as I know it is dead. It seems today's rappers are more concerned with their swag than what actually comes out of their mouth.

A "50" fitted cap, fitted jeans and bright high tops paired with a nice hook and a cute dance are a slap in the face of the rappers I grew up listening to.

New tracks come out all the time, but they all sound the same. It's just the name and the amount of auto tune that changes.

The image of hip-hop has undergone this commercialism in the past decade, where appearance and mass appeal has overshadowed substance and meaning.

The quantity far outweighs the quality as far as I'm concerned. Is there an age limit on rappers? Artists from other genres seemingly perform into their sixties, but why is it rappers have a shelf life, that expires at 30?

Is it that a grown man looks ridiculous doing the "Superman", or that a 45 year old simply cannot rap to the background chorus of "You a jerk"?

In my opinion a song like Tupac's "Dear Mama," could have been performed by him at any age(if he were still alive), without it losing any meaning or appeal.

I still listen to the great rappers, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Big L, Gangstaar and Outkast.         Gone are the days of a menacing, yet melodic East Coast beat slowly dropping in with hints of piano and violin; more suited to the soundtrack of Halloween.

A friend once told me, "If I was to send a CD to aliens who had no concept of hip-hop, I'd blast them a copy of 36 Chambers."

It's a sad state of affairs when the best and truest hip-hop artists are for the most part obscure entities, forced to perform in small venues with little recognition.

I guess it's true that all the good die young, from Marvin Gaye to Kurt Cobain, all the way to Tupac, Biggie and Big L.

I'm a firm believer that the best art comes from the tortured soul, and unfortunately these legends lifestyles too often are their downfall. Whether that be a drug overdose, suicide or murder.

With all the underground rappers out there trying to make a name for themselves, I have a piece of advice. Go back to the roots and stand out from the crowd.

"I bomb atomically/ Socrates philosophies and hypothesis, can't define how I be dropping these/ mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery," said Inspectah Deck in 1996. Alliteration, rhyme scheme and metaphor!

Like I said the poets are gone, and I'm still anxiously awaiting the next great rapper to come out and set the bar, finally putting to rest the ringtone friendly industry puppets out today.

They say every decade music changes with the times, hopefully with this new decade we will see a much needed overhaul in the hip-hop world.

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