Drake Lives...And So Does Gangster Rap

This month hip-hop

once again scored a victory as Drake, Kid Cudi and Wale made GQ Magazine’s

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 media’s

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 can’t

tell me that Young Jeezy, Clipse and Lil Wayne are less relevant in

today’s 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, it’s 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. Cudi’s

Man on the Moon and Wale’s 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, Raekwon’s 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 Drake’s debut LP Thank Me Later

-- the most highly anticipated album in all of music. And with last

week’s news of a potential collaborative effort between Raekwon and

“the godfather of gangsta rap”, Kool G Rap, fans are frothing in


Catching my drift

here...? Good!

Hip-hop heads are

not one dimensional. Gangsta or Conscious, East or West, North

or South, Black or White, Thug or College Degree -- we don’t discriminate.

It’s 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 won’t fall

into the trap of self-destruction.

But that’s a

discussion for another time.