Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hip Hop is Dead

In 2006, the internationally renowned rapper Nas released an album entitled Hip Hop is Dead. Seen at the time as a direct attack on the record industry and the fact that the hit parade had apparently become over run with sub-standard hip hop with the only intention being to sell records. Obviously a title meant to inspire controversy and debate, the album was also a comment on how rap music's overall message had cheapened in the years since N.W.A came straight outta Compton, or the days when it took a nation of millions to hold Public Enemy back. The website I have chosen is an online magazine dealing with human rights and liberties and to a lesser extent popular culture. In the article there is a sense that hip-hop has changed not only due to a different selling strategy employed by the record companies, but also due to a change in the people that listen to it, that perhaps the images of 'Diddy, Cam'ron, DMX and others brag[ing] about wealth and throw bills at a camera while bikini-clad women gyrate in the background' is no longer an acceptable or relatable subject. Therefore it can assumed that the once hyper-masculine images presented in videos such as Big Pimpin' by Jay Z or Still D.R.E by Dr. Dre no longer appeal to a set of men all vying to live in a world where the low riders bounce so high and the women wear so little. In the article, it quotes a study from the University of Chicago from 2007 that claims the changing face of rap is due to the young men that listen to it - that many find the violent lyrics and the way that women are shown to be as unacceptable and unwanted. The mystery and seduction of hip-hop lies in a world in which hard, 'true' men could escape, express themselves and write what some would call poetry but with a difference - it wasn't sissy, or melodramatic, is was what real. Therefore, the article I have selected and the Nas album that I have already mentioned might be a comment on what it means to be a man in the modern era - a healthier balance of street wise gruffness, yet happy to express themselves through lyrics and poetic imagery, without the need for bloody lyrics about senseless murders or how many problems one has but thankfully the bitch ain't one.


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