Hip-hop and rap today is not the same as yesteryear’s. The differences in hip-hop today and hip-hop then, is most discernible in lyrical content, the production of sounds and possibly in the lack of understanding of the culture and its history.
Hip-hop and its five elements are prominent in today’s mainstream media. Emceeing and DJing are the most popular. Graffiti art, B-boying and over-standing or knowledge of the culture is also important to the hip-hop world.
Some of the history and understanding of hip-hop origins have been lost over the years, probably due to changing times and lack of available information. This history should be reintroduced.
According to the PBS show History Detectives, hip-hop is believed to have originated in the Bronx, a neighborhood in New York City, on Aug. 11, 1973, where a Disc Jockey by the name of DJ Kool Herc presumably began scratching records and Emceeing at parties.
The birth of hip-hop gave rise to a cultural revolution.
The music led to an entire cultural movement that has altered generational thinking – from politics and race to art and language, according to PBS’s website.
Though hip-hop was started by an African-American man and made famous by mostly black artists like Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Run DMC and MC Lyte, it was always about overcoming the struggle of everyday life and more importantly giving the people something to take their minds off of those struggles, which white artists like the Beasties Boys gravitated to as well.
With such a prolific start, hip-hop has become a staple in entertainment and has seen major progression since the late ‘70s.
“The hip-hop community has grown almost exponentially it seems. There used to be groups and acts that made it big and found fame, now hip-hop creates millionaires and moguls overnight, and jobs are created to keep the hip-hop machine moving,” said Ethan Perez, Sac State alumnus.
Today, rappers like Lil’ Wayne and Jay-Z seem more focused on building empires. Back in the day, however, artists like Queen Latifah were focused on building unity amongst people and demanding that the voices of the under-represented were heard.
The late ‘80s and early ‘90s fostered artists like Naughty By Nature. The group put out tracks like “Feel me Flow” and “O.P.P.” which people could easily groove to. The songs focused more on lyrical content that made people feel good and were relatable rather than a hard-hitting beat that almost forces listeners to ignore the lyrics.
“Hip-hop has gotten more superficial, rap back then had a message and now it’s blatantly about sex, drugs and money. [Hip-hop] instills the wrong values in today’s youths,” said business major, Jason Lee.
The lyrics in today’s rap songs are highly misogynistic, materialistic and often lacking substance.
“I pulled up to the scene with my ceiling missing,” raps 2 Chainz, in the song I’m Different. “When we meet at the telly I put it straight in her belly.”
Songs like these are constantly on the radio in today’s hip-hop world. Though some lyrics may actually be cleverly delivered and the beat makes people want to dance, the sole-purpose of hip-hop was not to just put out club hits.
The essence of hip-hop has not been lost however, rappers like Talib Kweli, Mos Def and even the controversial Kanye West are politically conscious and driven towards speaking the truth about the hardships in today’s world.
The true nature of hip-hop is making a comeback. More and more rappers are focusing their songs on content as well as beats.
Hopefully, a more evolved form of hip-hop will emerge; a fusion of the past and present that have booty shaking beats as well as lyrical content that makes people think about the world they live in.