It’s 6:23am and I got a lot on my mind. The show must go on though. Normally I know what I’m going to say on a Sunday Morning as early as a Wednesday night. I just cook the bird slow for y’all; Shout to Jadakiss. As I sit here, it all hit me. Let’s talk about success in rap and what it looks like now, versus yesterday.
When Disco literally died hip-hop begin it’s growth. I honestly believe that there was no real method to the madness. I think hip-hop and specifically rap music was just something that happened and there was no direction for it career wise.
The 80’s were the true foundation of what is our hip-hop culture. The thought was Rap wasn’t real music, so the success was mostly about being heard. It was deeper than sales and even record deals honestly. It was about young black and brown men and women being seen, heard and respected.
The 90’s aka The Golden Era. The foundation was set and you knew you had to be talented, original and everything you said you were to even grab a mic and say a word. I think success in the 90’s was all about the innovation. Many 80’s rap stars had the plaques and the money, so the 90’s was about making even more money and more plaques, but the mindset was “I can’t do it like he did it”. A benchmark was set by RUN DMC, LL Cool J, Eric B and Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, N.W.A, Too Short and others. That mark was extremely high and it appears that many felt, the only way to keep it going was to take it two steps further than what was done before. Duos and groups became “Cliks and Clans”. Drug dealers became rappers instead of just hanging with them. Rappers started taking real roles in movies because of seeing sitcom TV success. All of it to achieve great growth.
The 2000’s I feel were about “The Mogul”. We all survived Y2K and a lot of young hood solider’s became multi-millionaires and were able to afford a lifestyle for their families that they only read about. Master P showed us the “Major Independent Dream” in the 90’s, Puff Daddy showed us how to triumph in business in the midst of tragedy and Jay Z gave us a look at what the new rap star should be doing. Now rappers have clothing lines instead of endorsements. They have stock in liquor companies, they are making their own films. The diversified portfolio is what measured success in the first 10 years of the new millennium. It wasn’t cool to “just rap” anymore. Even if you claimed to “not be a rapper”, which is still the dumbest thing said by everybody who ever said it and got a check for rapping, you still had to wear more than 3 hats to qualify as successful.
2010 till now, I’m having a hard time understanding what success is in rap music. Part of me believes success is not sounding like you do rap music. I’m all up for the genre clashing, but it appears that a lot of people are purposely not trying to make hit rap records. They’d rather sound like any other genre of music and put a rap on that record. Today rappers get praised for being super regular. Jeans, T-shirt and a microphone could honestly be a rapper halloween costume right now. Many say rap success is being measured by who can get the highest off of every legal or illegal drug. If drug tolerance equals success than no wonder nobody’s going platinum. Good cocaine cost way more than a CD or a concert ticket.
I hope it’s not based off how many IG models you can fly out and bang or if you can get TMZ to follow you. I also hope it’s not based on posting all of your high priced possessions on IG and say you’re “providing motivation”. I hope it’s none of these things because if it is, that means rap has plateaued and it is really going nowhere. That’s not saying it’s no good music or dope artist out. That’s simply saying that it appears we have done all we can do or no one is trying to be different and I hope that’s not the case.
Every street and sex subject has been rapped about. Every car has been purchased and rappers have already won Oscars. Where is rap going now that hip-hop is global and some of our pioneers are on the path to becoming billionaires?
I want to hear from the people. What is the defining measure of success in this current decade of rap music? Let me know something.