It’s 2017 and hip-hop culture and rap music are global hot commodities. There are not many sectors of the world where you don’t see any influence of the culture. Especially amongst young people. Because of this fact the music has grown in ways many probably never thought they would see before.
With the creation of the internet and growth of technology, hip-hop has experienced a great number of pros and cons. The ultimate pro is the mixing and meshing of sounds, slang and style across the world. The ultimate con is, we may be on the verge of losing “Regional Sounds” forever.
As a hip-hop head who has technically watched the game change at least 4 times, it’s bittersweet to see one sound unify the states. On one hand you see artist from all coast and all states working together and proving that they are dope regardless or their zip code. That was the literal goal for rap music after the dreaded and overhyped “East Coast vs. West Coast Beef”. That was the hope for the southern hip-hop legends that just wanted New York emcees and fans to respect them. However, it seems the meshing of worlds could be killing the level of innovative creativity that once existed everywhere.
The coolest thing about my collection of CD’s is I have a Common and an Eminem album. With a Redman and a Nas album. Along with an Outkast and a Ludacris album. Beside a Scarface and a Mystikal album. Then a Snoop Dogg and a E-40 album and none of them sound in the same vein and that’s what made them special. Do unique sounds still exist? Yes, they do, but the percentage seems to be smaller. It seems now the influences weigh heavier on “what’s hot” vs “where I’m from”. The internet is home and it appears to be creating “one band and one sound”. Is that truly a good thing for rap music?
In, 2017 a group like The Nappy Roots might put out a song that would be Drake or Future Influenced for their “breakout song” instead of creating their version of “Kentucky Hip-Hop Culture” with “AwwNaw”. I wonder would “Still Tipping” sound the same had Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall released it now verses 13 years ago.
I was always a fan of learning the new slang, style and culture of artist from other regions. I really believe that’s why Houston artist have so many classic records and why 20 years later an E-40 feature is still adds flavor to any track. Present day, we’ve watched the word/phrase “T.H.O.T” originate in Chicago, yet every other region has made a hit record with the use of the word/phrase.
I always wanted the culture education from other regions when it came to music. I love that Nipsey Hussle is like this eras Snoop Dogg because he’s super West Coast in sound and swagger. Wu-Tang albums made me want to visit New York even though it sounded dangerous AF! People got love for Chicago because of the way Common, Twista and Kanye rap about the places and the women from there. When Ahmad made “Back In The Day” he said so many things that related to a midwest kid, but he was on the west coast. I related and not cause he had Twista’s flow, but because his nostalgia was universal and he had a vibe that embodied where he was from.
Don’t misconstrue my words. I think hip-hop is in a great space overall. I think the growth and impact is slowly making the world a better place. I don’t mind that The A$AP Movement was inspired by Wu-Tang and The Screwed Up Clique. I don’t care that Fetty Wap was influence by Gucci Mane all the way from New Jersey. It’s good because new and refreshing sounds were still created. I want more artist to take what inspires them and apply it to where they are from. Not recreate what they’ve taken a liking to. It helps push the culture forward and that should be every artist goal when creating.
Artist! Don’t lose where you’re from chasing what’s hot. The fans need that regional flavor and sound to connect this world. It makes us want to visit and show our appreciation for where you’re from and what you’ve been through.
Be Safe. Be Humble. Live Hip-Hop.