The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington D.C. recently with thousands of people in attendance. Inside of the museum is a wing dedicated to our contributions in music. With instruments, stage props, and personal belongings from some of Hip Hop’s most revered emcees, dee jays, artists, and dancers. There is a Minimoog Voyager that was owned and used by J Dilla as well as actual poetry written by Tupac Shakur himself. These two and others have left a legacy that changed the culture. Their creativity and artistry made a contribution to not only Rap music but all of music across the globe. There is currently no mainstream Rapper that is worthy of such scholarly treatment. I visited the museum myself and no Rapper that has emerged in the last ten years has one mention in the museum. Jay Z has only a quote on a screen so don’t throw Jay’s name out for this one. There was no Drake, I know he’s Canadian but he is a Black man participating in an art form that was created in the U.S. There was no Kendrick Lamar, no J. Cole, no Nicki Minaj, NOBODY! So don’t look for a Migos, an OT Genesis, a Kodak Black, or even a Young Dolph going into any museum anytime soon.
Hopefully by 2030 we’ll have the Hip Hop Hall of Fame and the National Museum of Hip Hop up and running but even then the aforementioned artists might only be a name on a wall. As “mumble Rap” becomes more intriguing to those with no talent looking for a hustle lyrics are taking a backseat. If most “Rappers” claim to not write any lyrics down what happens to their literary legacy? You want to be classified as one of the greatest emcees of all time but there’s no proof that you write any of your rhymes. Nas has rhyme books and Jay may or may not write rhymes now but I’m sure he has before. Not everyone is going to leave the legacy they believe they are setting themselves up for.
Without artist development young Rappers come into the music industry unpolished with no stage presence, no history, no skillset, and no musicianship so how can you expect them to make heavy contributions to the genre, the culture, or the world like a Tupac or a J Dilla? I don’t even remember seeing anything referencing Christopher Wallace so what does that tell you? You have to make a global impact if you want to leave a true legacy in the Rap game. You can’t just be a Dr. Dre, or a Rakim, or an Eminem you have to be you! If you don’t have any skills or talent to get behind the microphone you can still contribute to the culture behind the scenes or in the community. You can leave a legacy on a small scale and still have the same impact on the people in your life and community. Taking the time to educate a young emcee on the history of Hip Hop Culture or even encouraging a young person to start learning how to play an instrument or two or three. You can be the inspiration for the next Grandmaster Caz, Cold Crush Brothers, or Public Enemy. Even if you can’t do any of those things yourself your legacy is the next generation.