Rap music is an ever changing genre that is grounded in the four elements of Hip Hop Culture. For the purposes of this blog post we will focus on just the music. Rap music as we know it now is not the same as it was when the sound first appeared. The music changed in the 80s, the 90s, and in the new millennium. Even now the music isn’t as it was ten years ago. My question is what will it be ten years from now?
Over the past ten years and still now people complain about the lack of content and quality in the music. I mean there are some radio artists who clearly have some sort of lyrical ability although they don’t use it to the best of their ability. I am just a little concerned because it could go right or all the way left. We went left a little over ten years ago so we need to come back this way. I don’t want my children listening to Rap music that’s worse than what’s out now. I’m sure some Hip Hop head said that ten years ago but what did they do to prevent that from happening?
When I work with the youth in the community we obviously talk about music but I give them my honest opinion. Just yesterday a teenage girl asked me if I liked Drake. For those that have been following me you know I’m NOT a fan however; when you talk to the youth you can’t downplay their interests as it may make them feel they are wrong in some way or lack some level of intelligence. So I had to make sure I phrased my answer appropriately. I gave a neutral answer. In so many words I said no but named a couple of singles that I do like and explained why I’m not a fan and gave an example of what I felt a real MC encompassed. That way the next time she listens to Drake she’ll think more critically about what she’s listening to. We have to remember some youth will take our words for gold and others will rebel completely against what we suggest while others will meet somewhere in the middle.
You have to educate the youth about Hip Hop Culture in order to make a positive change in the musical element. The youth are the future so they take in what they’ve learned growing up and bring it into their music. Rap music is the voice of the youth but we’re not teaching them to articulate so they come out here mumbling. You can tell which radio artists have roots in Rap music that has quality and content because their lyrical ability is above average. Another indicator is the way an artist verbally communicates in general. Joe Budden for example is a great MC and when you see him in interviews discussing the culture or elements of it he has probably some of the best diction I’ve seen from a Rapper.
If you want Rap music to get better over the next ten years than you have to start at the roots with the youth in your community. If you have positive verbal exchanges about the music and its importance to the culture. Educate! We the adults are the only ones complaining about the quality. It’s not that the youth don’t care they can’t miss what they never had. I had another teenage girl tell me yesterday that she likes Prince. Clearly he’s one of the greatest black male artists of our time but somebody had to introduce her to his music. They obviously helped to cultivate an interest in his music by educating her and telling her why he’s great. Keep in mind that some artists ARE so great that the music is the only explanation needed. But the listener still has to know or have some idea of what good music actually is. We can’t tell them who to like but we can educate them and give them the tools to make better choices in their musical tastes.