Firstly, the answer is yes, it is as clear as “Night and Day” that some Hip-Hop heads prefer listening to more gritty, soul-revealing, technical and undoubtedly lyrical tyrants, whose music never seems too age; whether it be the unapologetic debut album from Nas, ‘Illmatic’ or the smooth instrumentals, but fearless lyricism on the late 2Pac album ‘Me Against The World’, some feel, that that time and general output of Hip-Hop was untouchable.
I had no idea, or concept of ‘Trap’ music until I was in secondary school. All I knew before that was Eminem, 2Pac, Wu-Tang, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G., Tech N9ne, The Game, Lil Wayne, T.I., countless others and as time progressed, established, underground artists such as Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Drake and others began turning up in my vintage iTunes library and from there, a tree blossoming with multiple fruits became available. At first, it was word of mouth around school on what was the most popular songs, or as I would, listen to an album continuously for months until I could hear the song without it even playing.
The point I’ve dryly built up too is that, while we are, the Hip-Hop community, torn between the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, undeniably being the Golden Era, how is it that music, or artists themselves are supposed to progress, develop and provide fans of a culture and in-demand genre of music? Sure, you think to yourself, if you’re a Hip-Hop head, how can I go onto my Spotify or whatever streaming service you use, listen to “Gimme The Loot” by one of the illest MCs too ever lay bars over any instrumental. Then, a few songs down the queue, or straight after, be listening to the banal lyrics and unconsciousness of Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang”? Well, not too be a devil’s advocate, and I really hate being the one too directly quote him, but as DJ Akademiks said, “we’re just going off the energy [of the songs]!”
Yes, one could say; ‘argument over’. No, it really isn’t.
As I have some conversations with people about music, they just want to listen to the most popular Trap records floating and popping off at that present moment time. Whether it be the odd, yet equally satisfying chemistry between Pharrell and Lil Uzi Vert on “Neon Guts”, A$AP Rocky’s star-studded Summer/Winter “RAF” single, Post Malone and 21 Savage’s ridiculously streamed “Rockstar” (which I’m anxiously waiting to hear the original of with T-Pain and Joey Bada$$) and don’t flip, but the simple songwriting yet incredibly catchy melodies and flows Future annually provides; the songs shelf-lives are…short lived.
There’s no doubt about that, however, some of these recent Trap artists have a lot of their predecessors to thank for allowing their adaptation of original Trap and bringing it too the forefront of mainstream music audiences. Artists such as DJ Paul & Juicy J, UGK, 8Ball & MJG, OutKast, Paul Wall, Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy and their producers to some extent; Organized Noise, Zaytoven, Shawty Redd, are all pioneers and craftsman of one of the most in-demand sub-genres today.
Sure, the Lil Yachty’s, Xan’s, Nav’s, and one-time other artists get their quick dose of money from a creative output that helped allow them to portray themselves in a way that allows them too finally be recognized among a larger audience. Juicy J specifically is one of the artists from 90s Hip-Hop who has helped shape a whole wave of Trap and modernised Hip-Hop.
Whether it be the vulgar but insanely comedic affect of “Slob On My Knob”, or his overly generous output of music last year (collaborations with Quavo, Chris Brown and two whole mixtapes alongside $UICIDEBOY$), The Juice Mane is ultimately one of the most timeless Hip-Hop acts of the last 20 years. Yet, poses the question: if Juicy J, who is a largely influential character in the realm of Hip-Hop as a songwriter and producer and helped provide ways for other members of the OG group, Three 6 Mafia, as well as artists like A$AP Rocky, G-Eazy, Danny Brown and handful of others…doesn’t that make him one of the most omnipotent Hip-Hop artists for the last two generations of listeners?
I will not disagree that the Golden Era of Hip-Hop is unimaginably better. However, in a theoretical situation, if you were going to a restaurant for 20 years, you order the same dish every time you went there and nothing ever changed about it: the presentation of the dish, the herbs, ingredients, some people would get, bored. Others may eat that ‘dish’, add an additional ingredient and suddenly, you’ve opened a whole new door too this theoretic food situation. Lets just be clear though, the food is Hip-Hop. If Hip-Hop had stayed the same and was a replica of what it was today, then yes, I will happily admit that I’d be bored. Why? Because how can anyone or anything progress without experimentation? Too quote ScHoolBoy Q on his insane guest verse on “Brand New Guy” featured on A$AP Rocky’s breakout tape, ‘LiveLoveA$AP’;-
“Biggie and Nas put they ass in a blender, Sprinkle some 50 and came out this nigga”
This, clearly points out the development and encouragement for rappers not only to take inspiration from obvious legends of the Hip-Hop game, but show how they maneuvered themselves as people outside of the genre, but their undoubted influence on a new wave of rappers who are adapting the rhyming schemes, gripping storytelling to remember what the Golden Age of Hip-Hop was like. However, the argument’s always subjective, I just thought that that point would be..quite relevant, but if not, sound off in the comments or @ me on Twitter, I’m sure I’ll be able too take the abuse.
But, let’s not forget, there are also extremely diverse artists who associate themselves and are marketed through streaming services as Hip-Hop artists: specifically the Southern trio Migos, DRAM & Kodak Black. Not only did 2017 see Migos excel to a new level of ridiculous iced out chains, but also release a fairly average project, still do guest features and have a ridiculous hype clouding them: especially the front man of the group Quavo, who just released his anticipated collaborative project with Travis Scott.
DRAM & Kodak also have adapted their own methods as Hip-Hop artists. While we may hear and see more of Kodak on articles, like my own here, his most recent musical outputting, ‘Project Baby 2’, was a gripping piece of Southern, modern Hip-Hop. Both Black’s and DRAM’s inspirations are from that Golden Era of Rap, as in, Kodak’s sample for “Transportin” is the same sample we hear in the Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks”! DRAM is a more far-fetched argument, in this instance but, alike fellow newcomer TY Dolla $ign, they incorporate the smoothness of 80s/90s funk and R&B and add their own weird but still very much ear-intriguing sonic exploration of music.
Too finally come to a conclusion, do I think there’s a divide between some Hip-Hop fans? Well, if you read the opening sentence of this post, you’d already know my answer. The real question though I would like too ask, can both sides embrace, understand and appreciate the development of a genre of music?