Everyone needs to calm down. Everything is going to be okay. Hip-Hop is alive and well, and here to stay.
I know I’m not the only one who is tired of people complaining about the "State of Hip-Hop." Hip-Hop is doing just fine. Actually, it’s doing better than just fine.
Why is it that every interview with an artist, in every Hip-Hop publication and every blog, consist of someone crying about the state of this culture?
When asked "How do you feel about the current state of Hip-Hop?" you hear answers like, "White corporate America is destroying Hip-Hop," or "Hot 97 is destroying Hip-Hop," or Jimmy Iovine and the powers that be are destroying Hip-Hop," or "50 Cent is destroying Hip-Hop." Enough already!
No one is destroying Hip-Hop! There is nothing wrong with Hip-Hop’s current status. If you look back at any musical genre or culture you’ll find that the people who were there in the beginning and who have watched it grow will favor the beginning. They’ll say it was more creative and real, and artists just had more passion and love of the art than the artists of today. You know what? They might have a point, but things change. Times change, people change, power changes, taste changes, money changes, and the world changes.
Now that Hip-Hop is a multi-billion dollar business and dominating everything in pop culture, everyone wants to be a critic. What’s funny is I bet the same people who have such a problem with the current state of Hip-Hop would be the first ones crying if rap wasn’t being played on the radio, or on MTV, or BET. You know that would be the case. I could hear it now, "Corporate America and the rich white people in the high rise offices are racist and prejudiced against Hip-Hop not allowing it to grow and succeed in the mainstream."
Come on, this is an art form and a way of life, but above all this is a business. For a business to be successful there has to be people with money and people who are in a position to make big moves. It just so happens that some of the behind-the-scenes guys are white businessmen. I bet if you ask Jay-Z if he would have rather continued to sell crack for the rest of his life or have a white dude that may not be very interested in the music pay him millions to be a rap star, he would choose the latter. People need to understand that if it wasn’t for the higher ups right now Hip-hop would not be where it is today.
If Jimmy Iovine wasn’t in the position he’s in, then Dr. Dre wouldn’t be who he is today. And If Dr. Dre wasn’t as talented he is, Jimmy Iovine wouldn’t be getting paid. They need each other. I don’t think Jimmy Iovine is going to start rapping if he can’t find talented artists. And maybe guys like Jimmy Iovine do like Hip-Hop, and maybe they do truly want it to grow for the love of the culture, but even if they didn’t, would it really matter? People say that it’s guys like Iovine who determine what’s going to be hot. Well like I said, he’s not making the music. I would like to think we as individuals have a mind of our own and won’t just agree with whatever a guy like Iovine likes.
Interscope and companies like them put out what the people want. We buy these albums by the millions. Hip-Hop is fine. No, it’s better than fine, it’s great! We have such a variety to choose from today. It’s like there are different genres within a genre. If you like hardcore street rap there’s some of that. If you like pop-friendly radio songs there’s some of that. If you like conscious, in-depth cultural and political-awareness rap there’s some of that, too. There is something for everyone and it’s all there generating interest and revenue for the culture to grow and expand. And you know what that does? It provides more jobs for the inner-city youth, as well as provide more money and funding for schools in the hood and low poverty areas. Every damn rapper out has some sort of charity that gives to people in need. So why not let it grow and expand?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure that artists making a particular type of music won’t go on to sell multi-million. So when Talib Kweli speaks on socially conscious issues he’s not appealing to the twelve-year-old girl listening to "Country Grammar" in the car pool line. And it’s not that Mos Def, Little Brother, or dead prez, aren’t all amazingly talented artists in their own right, but they can’t complain when they put out an album that doesn’t go platinum because the message doesn’t reach to the masses. And if they want to reach them, then they have to make a club anthem and a song for the ladies. It’s not that the machine necessarily is monopolizing the music industry to be that way, but I don’t think little Susie from Ohio cares to hear about the man holding you down. Some artists don’t want to sacrifice their artistic expression or sell-out, which is highly admirable but don’t complain when your record doesn’t reach platinum status. It’s not 50’s fault, it’s just that he makes music to reach a broader audience.
My whole point is that Hip-Hop is doing very well for itself right now and that shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s so much whining and complaining that I’m afraid that we’re going to overlook a lot of good things. We have to remember that Hip-Hop is now a business. There are going to be things that are shady and unethical, but it doesn’t mean that we’re in any kind of danger. Lets just enjoy what we have and not sweat the small things.