The legacy and change in rap music

Coming from a punk-rock background the last genre of music I would expect to get into is rap. If you had told me when I was 13- rocking a mess of black hair, sloppily put on eyeliner and an MCR t-shirt- that I would, in 6 years time, have a Kanye playlist on Spotify and know who Ice-Cube, Dr-Dre and Eazy-E are…I would have probably said ‘No way I’m always going to listen to MCR and Fall Out Boy, nothing else!’

However, here I am indeed, 6 years later with not just a Kanye playlist, but two ‘I Feel Like Pablo’ t-shirts as well. Oh how times have changed.

I’ve gotten into rap music within the last year and a half, but I’m not gonna lie, I prefer the older style of rap rather than the newer style. By that I mean, not when ALL the rapper has to say is how many girls he’s screwed or the things he’d like to do to them (sometimes wayyy too much information is shared). I watched the film Straight Outta Compton recently and loved it. It was so cool seeing how the group formed, what inspired the lyrics Ice-Cube wrote, how they rose to fame so quickly and of course, the death of Eazy-E.

The lyrics that Ice-Cube wrote were so raw and so personal. The extreme police brutality that was happening against black people in the late 80/90’s in America was genuinely shocking and I feel that N.W.A had every right to make the song, ‘Fuck The Police’. Of course now it has improved somewhat, but this is my point: the origins of rap came from those who had dealt with and seen some tough shit. They used their voices and words to connect with others who could empathise, and to ultimately spread messages in hope that they will create change. Rap was a release. It released their anger and disgust through them telling stories, recalling events, and was non-violent. The rap that N.W.A produced, and that Eminem sometimes wrote- mainly with Dr Dre- was powerful and caught peoples attention.

Fast forward to rap in todays music industry aaaand…things are a little different.

Rap music is just 90% about sex and excess and it’s very rare you’ll come across an artist whose lyrics are about topics that matter or are raw and from the heart. That now kind of comes from the genre grime.

Let me give you a few examples. Take the song ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ by Jason Derulo: when 2Chainz has his little rap solo, his powerful message is ‘Sold out arena’s, you can suck my penis’. I’m not gonna lie mate, I’d rather not. Also in Pitbull’s song ‘Hotel Room Service’, the entire song is a very detailed description of things he wants to do to this girl- ‘She like that freaky stuff, 2 in the O, 1 in the eye, that kinky stuff, you nasty’.
Even Kanye has some questionable lyrics, especially in his new stuff like ‘Highlights’ where he shades his wife Kim Kardashians infamous past boyfriend, Ray J.

It’s gotten to the point where rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent are actually taking the piss out of new rappers, saying how it just sounds like they are making noises in the same tones and pitch- like a constant drone, with nothing real to actually say, and it is so true! Take a look at this video and you’ll know what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMRkxidQO-M 

I just think its a shame that groups like N.W.A had to fight so much for their music to be heard as it was so controversial at the time, yet a rapper today can come out and say how he wants to fuck every girl on the planet and people will shower them with money and turn a blind-eye to the lyrics.
Rap, just like pop music, has become too commercialised and is being controlled too much by the ‘sex sells’ policy that managers force onto their musicians.