Hip Hop Culture has always been about individuality and in today’s game only individuals can shine. VH1 revived their Hip Hop Honors telecast honoring an all-woman as honorees this year after returning from a six year hiatus. Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and Salt N Pepa all paved the way for women participating on the music and business side of things. Each derived out of their own time in Rap music going all the way back to the beginning of the culture until now. The honorees were able to have such longevity because of their individuality even Salt N Pepa as a group was different from each member’s individual personalities. Each woman was innovative in her own lane and they did not have to borrow, steal, or use anyone else’s style. Even today with J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake all have their own style that no one else can duplicate. This is when I bring up Future vs Desiigner. Is Future that easy to duplicate? I ask that question because a lot of people give him praises for his writing. If an artist can be duplicated that easily how well could you possibly be writing?
The best way to develop your own style is to study the greats and build on that or either take your own lane. From Big Daddy Kane to Jay Z to J. Cole or Rakim to Nas to Kendrick Lamar. Building on the greatest does not equate to using the same flow, delivery, and cadence of another Rapper even if that Rapper isn’t currently putting out music. The only reason The Migos can get away with that Lord Infamous flow is because the Memphis, Tennessee Rapper is no longer with us. There was a bit of resistance when French Montana emerged screaming “Hahn” like the Ying Yang Twins of Atlanta, GA. It’s not that young people don’t care if someone is copying another Rapper it’s because they never knew who that previous Rapper whose style is being bitten was, and who’s fault is that? Ours. We forgot to teach the next generation how to be their own person and now they’re slaves to technology while society calls them “millennials”.
A lot of these newer Rappers are growing up before our very eyes and haven’t reached the stage of self-actualization at this current time in their life. When a person has reached self-actualization they are confident in who they are and don’t feel the need to gain the approval of others. They are living up to their potential and using their talents in the best way possible. I clearly did not describe most mainstream Rappers. A lot of Rappers today are actually talentless and are using Hip Hop and Rap music to simply make a living. They probably hate going to work just as much as you do. Why do you think they use a lot of drugs and alcohol? Self-actualization would allow a lot of Rappers, athletes, and Black entertainers and professionals alike to be more present in the current state of social ills plaguing this nation. Having a strong pride is another part of self-actualization and having pride in oneself results in having pride for others like you allowing us all to get on one accord to effect change. But as a people our heritage and history were stripped away thus some of us may never truly reach self-actualization. If a Rapper doesn’t know who they are how can I expect them to lead the charge when it’s time? If only Rich Homie Quan would have actually took the time to learn or practice Biggie’s verse for the Hip Hop Honors and studied the great Christopher Wallace maybe he wouldn’t have embarrassed him-self.