“this is real rap not the SHIT they playing today”
The quote above is the first comment on the YouTube video for Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G..
This YouTube user is not the only person with this opinion. In fact, 1223 other YouTubers have given the comment a thumbs up. If you decided to look for the quote yourself, go ahead and google the first rapper/group you can think of from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s and you will find a quote much like the one above.
“Real rap” can be commonly referred to as, the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. For those new to the hip-hop scene, the Golden Age was when rap acts began to come into the mainstream. Bringing rap (and the other aspects of hip-hop) out of the ghettos and into white suburbia. If you ask someone to name off some of the legendary Golden Age hip-hop acts, their list would likely include many different names like Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Run DMC, Rakim amongst many others. Almost everyday, there is still someone who is listening to these artists for the first time and experiencing what hip-hop used to be like.
Today, hip-hop influences almost all genres from pop to rock to even dance music. In fact, hip-hop has almost, if not already become the “pop” genre. It clearly reflects in the music as well. Popular songs from the 90’s may have described social issues or personal struggles, or simply the rapper, as compared to the popular songs today that almost always have some sort of drug reference. Mainstream artists in the 90’s wrote about struggle, current mainstream artists write about their own net worth, drugs, bitches, etc. Honestly, you could spend the whole day pointing out the differences and that’s not the point.
The common consensus is that the Golden Age ended a long time ago.
I myself used to believe this. I would be listening to albums by the artists listed previously in the article and search for the comment like the opening quote, just to give it a thumbs up. I was an avid believer that the Golden Age had passed, years before I even listened to my first song.
Fortunately for us, that is not true at all. The Golden Age of Hip-Hop is still upon us, just in a whole new way. Get used to it; it is not ending any time soon.
Hip-hop has come a long way from street corners and crammed inner-city night clubs. In 2016, hip-hop itself has developed into different sub-genres and left its influence on so many artists from different genres. Music genres don’t seem survive from generation to generation, but hip-hop certainly has a way to attract and retain fans in every age demographic.
Hip-hop has fully firmed itself as a part of pop, short for popular culture. The fact that you can turn your television on and see a regularly aired show about the hip-hop industry (Empire), is a prime example of the amount of growth hip-hop has made. You think you could turn on a nationally broadcast channel such as Fox, CBS or NBC in 1990 and see a television show like that?
It didn’t take me long to realize that the culture wasn’t the only thing that has continued to progress. If you went on the same video I pulled the quote at the top of this article from, surely, you would find a comment that would slander Lil Wayne, Drake or some of the other mainstream hip-hop acts that are out today.
How is that fair? Lil Wayne himself is almost, if not, as influential on the up-and-coming generation that the 90’s acts were on him. Drake is undoubtedly already influencing some of the hottest acts that are coming out today. J. Cole dropped an album with no advertising or singles that ended up going platinum. As a result, he recently had a mini-series following his journey that was premiered on HBO. Accomplishments like these are reason enough for a Backpacker like myself to believe that the Golden Age never truly ended, but more so evolved into an updated, much more profitable version of itself.
- Future dropping SIX high quality projects in a 12 month span?
- Kanye West recruiting just about every elite in music to work on The Life of Pablo?
- Kendrick Lamar being nominated for 11 awards at the last Grammys?
These are all major events that have occurred just in the past year that show elements of why we are still living in the new Golden Age of Hip-Hop. As cliche as it is, Drake and Future really nailed it with the phrase “What a Time To Be Alive“, because as a hip hop fan, that is EXACTLY what it is.
Now, I am not trying to change music taste, but disliking a rappers catalog is no reason to discredit their accolades. Even today, you can find artists like Joey Badass who make music that resonates with some of the top-tier New York MC’s of the 90’s.
Hip-hop evolves, and as history has shown it becomes more and more popular (and profitable) every single year. Even though some of the legends of the past are gone, the Golden Age that they created is most definitely still alive today. Now, it is only up to us to sit back and enjoy it.