This month hip-hop
once again scored a victory as Drake, Kid Cudi and Wale made GQ Magazines
Men of the Year issue. Quite a considerable feat considering that
all three are freshmen in the game. Referred to as the Gangsta
Killers, the short blurb credits the Fab Three for killing the gangster
persona in rap.
All three are very
deserving of this accomplishment. And all three do avoid street-driven,
crime-related raps. However make no mistake the label of gangsta
killers is yet just another instance of the mainstream medias
misrepresentation of Hip-Hop.
For these MCs to
be unfairly cast the slayers of gangsta rap is a mere over-simplification;
a discredit that pigeon-holes the genre as a whole. You cant
tell me that Young Jeezy, Clipse and Lil Wayne are less relevant in
todays game than say a Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco or Mos Def.
This may be a surprise
to many, especially those in the media, but hip-hop is as versatile
an art form as any other. Rap music is comprised of many styles
and subgenres, all of which can and do complement one another very nicely.
Unfortunately, its also a statement that still evades the minds of
mainstream America, much to the dismay of hip-hop heads everywhere.
Those who refuse
to acknowledge this fact must be reminded. Take a look at Common
and Ice Cube: though lyrically different, both men coexisted in the
same era. While the impact and contributions of groups like A
Tribe Called Quest and NWA were both significant and necessary for moving
the culture forward.
The media has never
done this for Rock n Roll, so why have they done this for Hip-Hop?
Maybe a better question would be, why have they already gotten away
with it so much?
The quality of
music released in 2009 has been good for the most part. Cudis
Man on the Moon and Wales Attention Deficit
were both great albums. Both received warm receptions from the
public and both were deserving of their critical acclaim.
But in the same
breath, Raekwons sequel Only Built 4 Cuban Links Pt II
could easily be considered one of the best rap albums of the year.
In my humble opinion, its harsh content and crime-driven story-telling
catapulted the LP to an instant classic.
There are a lot
of big projects on the horizon set for 2010. From the re-surfacing
of Kanye, to the anticipation of Drakes debut LP Thank Me Later
— the most highly anticipated album in all of music. And with last
weeks news of a potential collaborative effort between Raekwon and
the godfather of gangsta rap, Kool G Rap, fans are frothing in
Catching my drift
Hip-hop heads are
not one dimensional. Gangsta or Conscious, East or West, North
or South, Black or White, Thug or College Degree — we dont discriminate.
Its all hip-hop; no pun intended.
Where GQ failed,
I hope to prevail. I do believe that Drake, Cudi and Wale have
helped usher in a new day. And it starts and ends with the music.
In this era of
internet thuggin and WWE-like beefs, more and more rappers
have shifted their focus from rapping to online buffoonery. All
in the hopes of rescuing and diverting attention away from their slumping
records sales. A definite cry of desperation.
From the ever-popular
YouTube rant to the shenanigans displayed in the Rick Ross/50 Cent fiasco,
many rappers seemed to have lost their ways. What this new breed
of MCs represent is hope. Hope that hip-hop music wont fall
into the trap of self-destruction.
But thats a
discussion for another time.