For years we have been hearing about hip hop is dead. Those who say this don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word death. Death is the complete and total end of life or a permanent cessation of all vital functions. By that very definition Hip Hop is not dead. Well what’s wrong with it? What has happened to it? Like any organism that gets exposed to a toxic substance it mutated into something that most of us who remember real Hip Hop will never recognize. Remember when rappers were called MC’s and would be rappers would gather and have rap battles all taking pride in their lyrical abilities?
Some of us are old enough to remember Rappers Delight, the first real commercial rap song. Those were the days a couple guys called the Sugar Hill Gang got together rapped over a sample of a song called Good times from Chic. Although it took some time a new Genre of music was born. Although that was the first commercial rap hit it was DJ Cool Herc that is given credit for starting HipHop music in the early 70’s. DJ Kool Herc is the originator of break-beat DJing, where the breaks of funk songs being the most danceable part, often featuring percussion were isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties. Hip Hop went through struggles during the early to late eighties but kept to its roots with rappers like Ice T, KRS 1, Grand Master Flash and RUN DMC. It was fun, authentic, original and it grew from the street. Remember LLC Kool J and Kool Mo Dee rap battles? In the late eighties group like NWA and the Ghetto boys started gangsta rap.
The nation was shocked at the harsh lyrics but gangsta rap became very popular because it spoke to the frustration that a lot of you urban men were feeling back then. So what happened? During the 1990’s hip hop experience great success. Dr. Dre kicked it off with The Chronic, there was Tu Pac, B.I.G and JayZ Capped it off after Tu PAC and B.I.G were killed. By that time it had become hopelessly corrupted. Like anything that is exposed to poison it will either die or mutate to survive. So no, Hip Hop is not dead but it has mutated into something that hip hop purest will never be able to recognize. One of the most popular rappers today is Drake. Can you really mention Drake in the same sentence is a B.I.G? Hip Hop went corporate and left its roots. So the business part of Hip Hop is alive and well but the genre has become something quite different. It can longer be classified as hip hop and it is no longer Urban Music. Most commercial hip hop today is consumed by middle class suburban kids not the inner city kids who started the genre.