Monday, April 16, 2007

Is Hip-Hop Dead? A Eulogy

The death of hip-hop. Ever since rapper Nas released an album entitled Hip-hop Is Dead, many entertainment journalists have been contemplating the alleged death of hip-hop music with a fervor usually set aside for the deaths of major political figures like Anna Nicole Smith. So with somewhat detached amusement, I decided to chime in with my 50 cent.

Is hip-hop dead? I think this question can be best answered with a resounding "Duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh!" I think hip-hop has been dead for a good number of years now, and the rapper thugs are just exploiting a genre in its death throes to satisfy their own self-interest.

Album sales have markedly diminished over the past few years. I think it's a result of an overall lack of creativity in the genre. Back in the day, hip-hop artists had to use actual, real-life instruments such as drum kits and record players and microphones to get their message across. Now, thanks to glorified personal computers loaded with Pro-Tools, they can create mountains and mountains of bland, expressionless, and ultimately uninteresting, synthetic, digitized crap to rap over. Once you get past the scientific fact that listening to any music rigidly timed to mathematically computed algorithms is precisely as exciting and refreshing as an epidural. The only thing they then have going for them is how well they can vocalize, but let's face it, when you take the melody out of musical vocalization, all you're left with is someone talking to you. Basically, you end up listening to a book on tape over completely uninspired background noise.

At that point, the strength of rap music relies on the power of the message. However, many of the quasi-political hip-hop artists have gotten out of the game years ago and went on to spread their messages through a series of interesting writings. We're left with a talent pool so emotionally shallow that a white guy rapping about how much he wants to kill his mother and his ex-girlfriend is considered profound. There's only so many interesting ways you can spin it when the only message in practically the entire genre consists of any combination of illiteracy, stupid gaudy shit to spend money on, killing people remorselessly, and fucking women remorselessly. (Okay, that is a bit of a stereotype, but anymore, it's seriously the message in about 90% of all rap songs.)

Their audience insists that they are telling us how it is on the streets, despite the fact that people who don't live that lifestyle have little desire to listen to people talk about it and the ones who do are generally white suburbanite teenagers who want to shock their parents but wouldn't last two minutes in the inner city after nightfall. The ones who do actually live the lifestyle don't need to be told how it is, and they certainly don't want to be told by some corporate sell-out making millions of dollars off their strife. If hip-hop artists really wanted to make a difference in the impoverished communities, maybe instead of glorifying an ultimately futile lifestyle, they could teach their fans not to speak in a cross between hillbilly, pidgin and retard, and educate them on the benefits of going to school and becoming a productive member of society instead of cashing in their welfare checks to buy beer and crack.

The current hip-hop culture is completely ass-backwards. They take pride in poverty, they teach people to talk and act like they don't have brain one in their fucking heads, and they glorify gang violence. Look, morons, you don't take pride in poverty. You take pride in accomplishment. No, you don't forget your poor upbringing, but you don't revel in it either. You rise above it, and use it as an example that others can achieve their dreams despite their humble beginnings. You never hear an award-winning research scientist proclaiming to the Nobel commission that they're still ghetto at heart. It might be because they've earned their status in life through much harder work than being handed a lot of money every time they say "fuck" on a CD. I don't even have to go into detail about the way that hip-hop artists are destroying the language except to say that I am now able to spot a passionately gullible retard based solely on vocal recognition alone. If the clothes don't give it away before they even open their inbred, bovine mouths and emit the puke that they consider language. As far as glorifying gang violence. . . Yeah, look how far that got Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Morons.

Did hip-hop have a decent go at it? Sure. Early rap and hip-hop, all the way through the late Eighties and early Nineties had some great moments with monumental artists. Then something happened. The artists retired, or died, or got bored, or just stopped caring. Newer artists came along and through sheer laziness, bastardized the genre beyond any point of recognition. Sort of like, to give it a mental image they could relate to, repeatedly capping a thug directly in the face until there's nothing left for the authorities to make a proper identification of the victim. I guess the same could be said for modern pop music and modern rock music. Every once in a while, a new artist comes along who's able to baffle the entertainment industry by somehow getting a major label record deal while actually sounding appealing, but you have to admit that most of what is produced these days is not only shit, but it's the Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe print of shit.

Somehow, and often inexplicably, the rock genre manages to evolve and survive. The pop genre doesn't so much as evolve as it does simply survive. The sound and message has remained essentially unchanged since at least the Sixties, and as long as there is a demand from girls between the ages of eight and fourteen to emulate prostitutes in order to entice closet homosexuals, somehow the entertainment industry will be able to construct an inexhaustible supply of stars for them to idolize. Hip-hop hasn't really died yet, but it's not really rehabilitating either. It's just floundering on the verge of implosion from it's own greed-induced stupidity. It doesn't help that they're breeding a culture of ultra-dependent primates as their target demographic.

Primarily, though, I blame the fact that "hip-hop" is a stupid term to name anything. Seriously, it sounds like something an adult with Downs syndrome would call a bunny rabbit.

np: Days Of The New - "The Down Town"


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