Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rant: Are Rap/Hip-Hop Fans Ignorant?

This topic has been sitting in the back of my mind for quite some time (and I mean like years of time). I've seen and read many things and this topic has pushed itself to the front of my thoughts more and more, especially for this blog. I'm not sure how many of you listen/enjoy rap/hip-hop music, but I always wanted to express my view on the issue.

I've mentioned a little background with the genre in a post about Korean rap music. My tastes haven't changed much at all. My ears still crave the sounds of talent from the past. I wish it could've remained in this present time, but I'm not optimistic about that ever happening with the way things are now, especially with the current line-up of artists and the fans that enjoy them. Yes, I have given up long time ago. This feeling was sealed and secured in my mind since my senior year of high school when three freshman/sophomore students hanging outside the school were criticizing my music as garbage. I didn't say anything, because I knew if I did I would be wasting my time with their ignorance of the past. To paint a clearer picture of this scenario, I was parking my car and listening to some oldies really loud with my windows down. I figured kids today never look back to see what built the present when it comes to music like when I was a kid. I learned to appreciate and enjoy the oldies like George Clinton, The Temptations, Chaka Khan, and many others that my parents and relatives listened to.

Some time ago (some number of months), my brother shared this video with me on Facebook, I believe, and it brought up a lot of good points that I agreed with along with some points I never thought of. I contemplated doing a video response to it, but I knew what I had to say wouldn't fit in the allotted time. Instead, I let the idea of ranting about it here linger in my mind until I felt the moment was right or until I could wrap everything up nicely for my Cult followers.

The topic of the video was whether hip-hop fans are fickle. In my opinion, I think the answer is no. The reason I say that is because the question is too...general. If you pick an age group or generation, then it's easier to pinpoint what fans have the capacity to be loyal to a certain artist and the ones who just stick with the trend. During high school, I had my close friends that felt the same as I do about older rap being better and then I had younger friends that really pushed what was in at the moment (i.e. chopped and screwed, dance craze songs). A few of them did actually appreciate the older stuff that I liked that wasn't all too popular anymore. I suppose if you look over the timeline of hip-hop and rap, it seems like the fans are fickle as things that got popular over time became more simplified. But honestly, if you ask two different age groups, you get a different conclusions that it's all generational.

Another question was brought up by one of the people in the video, Joe Budden, about whether the fans are ignorant, which creates this rant topic. After re-watching this video one more time before typing and reading a certain book I mentioned in a v-log, I truly believe that fans are ignorant to the past. Let me use some examples from the video. Joe mentioned to his colleagues that what current fans were saying about a past popular rapper Ja Rule, who apparently was being ridiculed when he was going to jail at the time, would come back and new/young fans would be cheering for him or appreciating his music. One person believes that this new generation would welcome artists like Outkast, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, or Ice Cube back like they're brand new or appreciate the path they created for current entertainers, but clearly only fans of that time would appreciate their comeback and probably sing along to their songs like it's brand new all over again. I'm sure if older artists that are still relevant now performed their older material, newer fans would criticize them.

In the video, once the topic of ignorance was brought up, there was a repetitive claim of the fans not having the tools to look back at history, the poets of hip-hop, but fans have tons of sources to check out what was great back in the 80's and 90's. I did! And there was no YouTube and music sharing was in infancy. I picked up this stuff from family members and through the radio, cassettes, and vinyls. Honestly, from experience they quickly dismiss the genre from those decades and ridicule the people who listen to it. Check out the Lil' Kim vs. Nicki Minaj from the same channel and the comments!

I know things can't always stay the same with an artist and I welcome experimentation. I was a big fan of Missy Elliott and she was an innovator for her genre along with producers Pharrell Williams and Timbaland. They combined all sorts of cultural elements into hip-hop and people loved it. But I think nowadays lyrical content has truly become secondary in this genre. It doesn't even have to be deep or poetic like Public Enemy or Tupac just have some sense or relatably.

Lastly, I want to tie in this book I read about southern rap/hip-hop: Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy the genre or simply want to reminisce on the times when everyone was reppin' the ATL, sippin' drank, and had to get their CD chopped and screwed. It starts at the beginning with the Ms. Peachez controversy and even an amusing chat with Luke Campbell of 2 Live Crew. It gives an interesting perspective of how southern rap gradually dominated the charts as well as a general view of how the business works and trending as well as bits and pieces of what other artists in the industry think of the genre currently (especially when you get to Soulja Boy).

In conclusion:

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