No, I’m no hater, but, have been listening to Hip Hop since I can remember as a young boy growing up in the Soundview section of The Bronx, across the highway from the famed Bronx River Projects where Hip Hop grew, manifested and sprouted for the world to see and accept. Now, of course, with anything deemed new, there will always be room for change, growth and experimentation. When I was coming up, there was no such thing as gangsta rap, East Coast Hip Hop or party rap, it was just Hip-Hop. There was no clarification because it was all one and the same, simply, Hip Hop. With that, it was natural for people to come with different styles because, as far as we knew, it was only one style. So, of course, before the world caught on to what we deemed Hip Hop, people were trying to distinguish themselves from anyone else, specifically the crews in New York City who battled other crews, whether in the same neighborhood or beyond where they were comfortable being around.
Now, despite the new generation crediting Drake with the singing within Hip Hop songs or the previous one saying it was because of Ja Rule, you would have to know the history to understand that crews like The Force MCs (They later became a singing popular R & B group known as The Force MDs), The Fearless 4 and Crash Crew, back in the late 70s/early 80s, were doing ‘routines’ which incorporated singing within their raps and you probably couldn’t find many ‘crews’ that didn’t incorporate that element back then, but, even then, rappers were finding their own niche and creativity to sound better than others.
Of course, as Hip Hop was growing and being discovered in other places, there had to be creativity because, although Hip Hop and the ‘struggle’ were kinda universal, specifically in the Black communities, there were different TYPE of struggles that were almost separated by borough, state, city and coast. The difference was that it was still the same struggle, whether it was poverty, police brutality, unfair wages, corrupt politicians, crooked law system, well, you know, basically the same struggles we are going through still (But, that’s another CEDitorial).
But, even with the mentioned struggles, it was also a time to enjoy being alive and definitely a time to party and live life well, so, you saw the diversity in the music and the culture that made it the worldwide phenomenon it still is today. The big thing was that you can have 7 different artists/groups and have 7 different sounds/direction/lyrics. And for a long while, you had people coming with different flows and song content. You went from Grandmaster Melle Mel to Run-D.M.C. to Jungle Brothers to Scholly Dee to Ice T to N.W.A. to Uncle Luke to Big Daddy Kane to KRS-One to Das Efx to Will Smith and on and on. Each artist I just mentioned brought something different to the game, whether it was flow, delivery, style, direction, etc.
Sadly, nowadays, where has the creativity and diversity gone, specifically, in the commercial genre? The songs I do happen to catch playing 39 times daily on the radio and being played in the clubs, all border towards one particular sound or ignorance, er, genre, excuse me. I swear to GOD, I can’t tell the difference between songs and artists being played on the radio or even on the streaming services. I kid you not! When you heard a 50 Cent song, you knew it was 50. If a Ma$e record was playing, it was undeniably the Harlem cat with that slick flow. Chuck D? That voice can NEVER be confused with anyone else in this world. Eazy E on the track? Yeh, no one can mistake that high pitched flow and style with anyone else. Those Salt N Pepa routines? I mean, outside of the male counterparts, Kid N Play, who would dare copy that back and forth? Get it?
Who can we place fault with? Well, that’s debatable and I’m sure, will be another It Needs To Be CED article, but, until then, can someone please answer this question for me? IS Hip-Hop Music Stale?