Das’ Essay: “Validity of Modern Rap”

Das shared an essay he wrote for an assignment in his English class. I’m incredibly proud of him!

As with everything in this world, emerging Music is one thing that is constantly evolving with new sounds and ideas coming to the forefront fairly often. These evolutions aren’t always openly welcome despite the frequency. The genre in my life that I have not only grown up with has been Hip Hop/Rap. From a young age I was shrouded with many different genres of music by my parents and their respective and distinctive tastes. As I’ve grown to love this genre, it’s grown apparent that a majority of people who were around during the rise of Hip Hop in the early 90s have come to dislike the new sounds and subgenres of Hip Hop/Rap that have emerged in the past two decades. I feel like these new subgenres and sounds of Hip Hop/Rap are just as valid as their predecessors.

Hip Hop hasn’t been changing over night, the position we’re in now is a collective effort of 30 years of this genre’s existence. Many themes and ideals such as lyricism and music theory are still very prevalent and in fact called back by Hip Hop today. Many songs have paid not only their homage but present older sounds take on a fresh new take in some songs, such as Kodak Black’s usage of the 90s Geto Boys “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” in his 2017 single “Transportin’”. Despite this more direct correlation, whether older Hip Hop fans like it or not this genre has changed so drastically that newer subgenres have been introduced to aid the categorization of Hip Hop/Rap.  Atlanta Artist Playboi Carti has pushed the boundary between not only Hip Hop/Rap but also other genres. He has drawn heavy inspiration from the controversial band Slipknot which attempted to merge Hip Hop and Rock in the early 2000s and has further drawn inspiration from the other major Atlanta rappers that predated him to form his own sound that can be described as “Punk-Rap” as told by GQ magazine. Playboi Carti’s style has grown in popularity recently with artists now taking inspiration from his music, fashion, and production. This extends into more subgenres than just Carti’s punk rock. Chicago’s Chief Keef popularized a new form of rap, that came to later be known as Drill music, with the nationwide popularity of his songs “Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa” in 2012. Chief Keef’s conception of drill music was inspired by the heavily disrespectful attitude that was set in the 90s during the East Coast vs West Coast rivalries with artists like Tupac, Biggie, and the group NWA bringing this ill mannered attitude to Hip Hop/Rap for the first time. 

Hip Hop/Rap’s reach has improved immensely over the past three decades due to these new subgenres. The introduction of subgenres that have a more specific appeal have aided the genre’s popularity. Such introductions include subgenres like Drill, Emo Rap, and the most popular: Trap. Drill music has had one of the biggest spikes over the past decades with artists such as Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, and Bobby Shmurda who brought the subgenre about in the early 2010s. Since its inception the sub genre has only grown in popularity due to the new artists who have emerged. Drill’s success can be attributed to its popularity worldwide. Other countries have developed their own Drill culture with the two main countries being the United States and the United Kingdom. This diffusion has contributed to not only the spread but the growth of Hip Hop/Rap as well. Artists like Skepta, the late Pop Smoke, and plenty more have benefit from the expansion of this subgenre of Hip Hop/Rap. The next subgenre is seen as one of the more controversial and disliked subgenres in Emo Rap. Personally it’s far from my favorite but I completely understand the attraction. Emo Rap has not only created a platform for multiple societal and mental health problems but provided an outlet for those who endure these negative emotions or feelings to find situations or ideas they find hard to express themselves in or talk about. Artists like Mac Miller, the late Lil Peep, and Juice Wrld really launched this subgenre of Hip Hop/Rap.

Artists aren’t limited to one subgenre; in fact some artists have a niche for bridging gaps between multiple subgenres sometimes at the same time. The best example of this would be the work of Kanye West. Not only has Kanye bridged gaps multiple times, he can be accounted for a lot of the evolution of Hip Hop/Rap in his almost two decade tenure making music. Kanye has incorporated the work of the gospel in his albums “The College Dropout”, “Late Registration”, and his most recent “Jesus is King”. He can also be credited to the use of autotune and the voice as an instrument, as seen in Trap, which is similar to his albums “808s and Heartbreak”, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, and “Yeezus”. Kanye’s continued work have pushed the boundaries of Hip Hip/Rap multiple times and consequently set the bar for the entirety of the genre. 

These new subgenres are also surpassing their predecessors from a sales and success aspect. In an article published in 2020 Billboard’s top 20 songs consisted of 18 out of 20 songs that fall into the subgenre categories. These subgenres of Hip Hop/Rap have seemingly taken over today’s modern music. In an era of streams opposed to physical sales music tailored to a specific audience can be found at the click of a button. This aspect of streaming has encouraged new and different forms of music coming about. The Top 100 charts that were formerly dominated by traditional Rap music have fallen to predominantly Trap music due to it’s simple nature, improving sound design, and easy accessibility. The Grammy’s have incorporated a “Best Melodic Rap Song” award to adapt to newer styles and forms of rapping and the production of music. The popularity of these new subgenres have allowed artists to really attempt to push the boundaries of what they can or can’t do. 

At the end of the day music taste is dominated by preference. You like what you like for both conscious and subconscious reasons. Music taste can be taken down to the simplicity of the human palate. All of our lives we’ve been eating things and refining our palates to either liking or disliking a food or flavor. The same can be said for Music, with or without knowing music has been a factor in everyone’s life. Granted the significance tends to vary between people. Personally I hold music very close to me due to the significance it means within my family. My father and I took music as something to share and bond over and after losing him it holds more value and significance. Everyone has their own opinions, takes, and significance held to music, it is simply way too important to be a straight and narrow idea. 

With the intricacies of music today it’s very easy to see where some people may begin to have a hard time enthralling themselves in some genres or subgenres as they do others. I personally feel as if with music you’ll never truly know if you like something until you try it and you immerse and lose yourself in it. The choices begin to present themselves as endless with so many artists to choose from. If you’re looking to get into trap, Lil Baby and Future are very good choices. For Emo Rap,  Lil Peep and Juice Wrld, for worldwide Drill Pop Smoke and Skepta, and for more out there forms of Hip Hop/ Rap artists like the aforementioned Playboi Carti and Lancey Foux very different and out there choices. With those choices being said I encourage anyone who is skeptical of today’s Hip Hop/ Rap to try and explore, discover new lyricism, music productions, and styles to potentially expand their taste in music.

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