Respect, Relevance, and Authenticity in Rap Music

With the recent release of Jadakiss’ Top 5 Dead or Alive and other happenings in music such as Erykah Badu’s new mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone. I was listening to Erykah doing a morning show as she was making her promotional rounds in various markets and unbeknownst to the caller she used the word relevant and I jumped back like lady what are you talking about?! It’s no secret that Black Americans never really support Black artists’ careers throughout their life as do White Americans. We have a few such as Frankie Beverly & Maze, Sade’, Patti Labelle, and others but there are no Rappers that we can think of that even get that much love. We can see Jay Z as his trajectory has slowly taken him to that level of success. Jay can sellout any arena anywhere for the rest of his life off of his current catalogue alone. We know who the legends and icons of Rap are but not all of them get that same respect. There are a lot of other variables that contributed to Jay’s longevity, otherwise known as relevance. With Rap music in the current state that it’s in if you don’t already have decades in the game your career will be short-lived.

In Hip Hop, respect is something only given to those who’ve earned it. If you can spit dope bars you can get that respect. Lyricists and emcees are given this respect because they’ve proven themselves in various ways that they have the skill level. That is what emceeing is all about, respect. The only way to get people to respect your bars the words have to be authentic. As Slim Jesus rises on the social media platform due to his level of “honesty” we can’t forget the people who are trying to be in his position but really living in those conditions. Slim Jesus has not been to Chicago and I believe that he would be tried if he did and he is well aware of that as you can see in the DJ Vlad video link. This is why our real musicians cannot have long careers and remain relevant. If lying is the new trend than there is no way an authentic musician or artist can maintain a career if nobody is buying what they’re selling. Not everybody sees it that way because they want to make what little money they can off this person until their 15 minutes of fame are over with. Rappers and the like who are really grounded and have earned their respect because of their authenticity can see the train crash already happening. Maino, said it perfectly in a recent interview on VLADTV.

There is no way that a culture built on respect and realness sustain itself. Just because a few ducks are being fed doesn’t mean they will eat that way forever nor will the rest of the flock. We’ve already lost control of Rap music in several ways due to the advancement in technologies and industry practices. Rap music will always be relevant because White America looks to Black America for new trends and creativity but as White America continues to put their people in controlling interest of our music the culture will go underground and slowly die out over generations in time. We have to continue to cultivate the culture in the old ways using new age techniques. We have to learn how to build bridges between generations and we as the older generation cannot be afraid to hold the youth accountable. The new generation also has to be open to criticism and embrace tradition instead of just blowing it off. There are some of us and some of them who are already taking on that challenge but we have to be more careful as to who we allow to participate in our culture and in what capacity because if not Rap music will be the new Hip Hop.

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