Hip-Hop: Then Vs. Now

Hip-hop is not just music. It is a culture and a form of expression that started in the late ’70s as a social-political empowerment movement. Hip-hop initially started as a way to give people who grew up in the ghetto a voice: A voice that blacks and Hispanics didn’t have.

Songs in hip-hop were spoken from personal experience and were mixed with other genres of music like rock, and used instruments like piano. Artists also started scratching with record players andother forms of expression tied to hip-hop such as break dancing and graffiti were also a way for people to express their culture while being influenced by it. Freestyling is also a major part of hip-hop along with rap battles. Freestyling is when an individual didn’t made up lyrics on the spot, lyrics that came from the heart and the mind spoken in front of others or recorded on tracks.

Hip-hop used to be creative and raw: Two words that most “hip- hop” and rap today lack.

“Hip-hop is dead,” Tyler Hamilton, a Hampton University senior music production major, said. “I think what a lot of new artists are trying to do is just be more like controversial and have nice beats with sh** lyrics rather than be inspirational and talk about real life things that are messed up in this world.”

He goes on to say that in the past hip-hop was more than just noise.

“When my generation is asked what makes a hip-hop song famous, the first thing that came to their mind was the instrumentals. Yet the lyrics should have been the first answer since that is what an artist is actually expressing about themselves. An artist like lil Uzi is considered a hip-hop artist, yet in all his songs every line has the word “aye” or “yea’ in it. If not several lines would consist of those two words alone.”

People have forgotten what hip-hop is. Originally, artists spoke of unity and empowerment of African-Americans. The main motive of hip-hop back then was to pick up the person next to you.

Nowadays, rappers exist who verbally go at their enemies in every song, and negativity doesn’t really help improve the culture.

“Instead they talk about sex and girls and drugs and money all the time. Not every song has to be about that,” Tyler added. “With a platform that artists like Drake and Chris Brown have, it could have really made it bigger than they are if they didn’t change what hip-hop was really about.”

Artists like Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and A Tribe Called Quest are just examples of artists who used hip hop to create a bigger picture for the world.

Queen Latifah empowered women at the time, and Public Enemy and the others enforced equality for blacks and all. The words used in their lyrics weren’t used to gain “clout,” if anything they weren’t searching for fame, but instead searching to inspire their listeners and that’s what brought them fame. Lyrics matter.

Maybe social media ruined hip-hop because it introduced a world that one could broadcast anything and gain fame from it. Social media brought many hip-hop artists an ego, too. The mystery that surrounded one’s favorite rapper made their music more interesting and made the listener focus that much more on the lyrics. They were rappers, not performance artists. Today, a Riff Raff fan is more likely to quote his Twitter than his music. In hip-hop, less is more.

If today’s hip hop artists were to be more inspired by hip-hop’s roots, they would definitely change today’s youth culture for the better.

A lot of the youth are out of control due to the people they look up to today’s hip-hop culture. With songs revolving around drugs and sex, young kids grow up singing along to these songs at young ages looking up to the wrong images.

Real hip-hop needs to make a comeback.

– by Jaleh Williams 18

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