Hip Hop has found the Fountain of Youth and lost all self-control, becoming obnoxiously drunk in its waters. Or maybe there’s a time machine hidden from the masses only made available to the fire spitting, “initiated” elite. Superstition aside, Hip Hop has certainly become stuck in a rut of the juvenile—and it’s stunting the growth of a beautiful genre.
It’s been approximately 40 years since those fateful days in the park in the Bronx. Many of those reared into this art form since their births are well into midlife now, and yet there remains a deficiency of any content not reflective of the mentality of a young adult between the ages of 18-25. Whether it is a new artist displaying the penchant of a late bloomer, or a well-established artist getting drunk at the fountain, Hip Hop has become almost completely alien of maturity. I can’t recall the number of times that my jaw has dropped to the floor when discovering the age of many popular artist. A few of the multitude that were particularly shocking to me were Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, each whose content is certainly not reflective of their near 40 age status.
The youth drive the trends in music and popular culture as a collective, this is understood, but should this be allowed to be a barrier to art that is actually reflective of life. Being a connoisseur of many genres of music I have observed this disturbing trend to be most prominent within Hip Hop. This being just one of the many barriers that confine an already influential genre that would have so much more potential if only allowed to be free. Unfortunately, if you come out with a hot dance when you’re young it may be excessively difficult for you to provide commentary on serious issues as a seasoned adult. Over 35 and not yet established in the industry? Lay the mic down and bow out gracefully. There is no “doing it for the love.”
Truthfully, this is a trend that is quite puzzling to me as to the origin. Is it the artists that are scared to take risks and deviate from the norm or is it the listener that rejects any true growth in the artist’s content? Whatever the case may be the chain needs to be broken. A new artist that breaks on the scene with the classic ‘sex, money, drugs’ mantra, although still detrimental to the culture in many ways is not surprising and understandable for an artist in their early 20s to reflect this mentality. Bobby Shmurda has made waves with his Shmoney Dance as a youth, portraying the grim mentality of many in the inner city over catchy beats, negative of course, but certainly not foreign to his age and lifestyle. Would an artist like this have the capability to evolve and mature and still maintain an audience?
Examples of MCs that have definitely shown growth and maturity over time include Nas and Outkast. In my opinion Nas epitomizes the evolution that we would hope to see from an influential artist, as the contrast between Illmatic and Life is Good is very clear. Outkast certainly has not hesitated to step outside of the box and change up their content as well by dabbling in various styles and more mature content. It would be great to have more artists that you can listen through their discography chronologically and see how they matured throughout their career. It displays a level of authenticity and genuineness that separates the good from the great. Growth and evolution, as Hip Hop should be.