The Hip Hop Renaissance | Guest Blogger Exclusive | Aesthetically Pleasing

The Hip Hop Renaissance | Guest Blogger Exclusive


This has been a big summer for hip hop; epic albums, mixtapes, and news from the genres biggest names and new comers alike. This week specifically we saw California rapper Kendrick Lamar turn heads with his aggressive attack on today's most notable hit makers in his verse on the song "Control" by Big Sean. Many are hailing those few lethal bars as a milestone for the entire genre. Guest blogger Jeremie Mango of ThreePeaceChicken is back to evaluate this claim and bring us his analysis of the hip hop game today.

Enjoy,

-Anna Son

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Ladies and gentlemen...

Boys and girls...

We are currently witnessing the Hip-Hop Renaissance.

August 11 marked the 40th birthday of the culture known as Hip-Hop. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to mix the breaks from old Funk songs birthing a genre and culture which has reached popularity in almost every corner of the world. Hip-Hop has seen nine United States presidents, the formation of around 40 countries, 32 wars involving the United States, and the birth of most of the readers of this article.

How fitting that on Monday, August 12, a song was released featuring a Kendrick Lamar verse which became the subject of countless conversations, debates, and discussions on Twitter and off the internet. For fans of Hip-Hop, opinions about the verse were debated in barber shops, whispered between office cubicles, and posted to almost every online outlet imaginable. Everyone from music critics, to magazines, to fellow artists, to even legends of the art form had something to say about it. This one verse had the entire Hip-Hop community spinning.

It was a beautiful thing.


The quality and skill in the mechanics and metaphors of the verse are unimportant. What is important is the impact of this one verse - a featured verse on a song which didn't make an album, mind you. Quite frankly, it woke Hip-Hop up. It represented a new day in this rich culture, a new level for this art-form.

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

It was just a few years ago, that Hip-Hop existed in the awkward, transitional, middle years between the “Gangster Rap” and current “Trap Music” eras. While artists were certainly skilled and made popular music, there was a shortage of artists who were good enough to even aspire to the standards of Jay, Nas, Em, and Andre. Popular artists simply took themselves far too seriously for their own good.

There have always been multiple sides to Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is wild and fun-loving, featuring mildly to explicitly misogynistic lyrics, sexual under-and-overtones, and absurd ad-libs. Hip-Hop is conscious and revolutionary, with relatable but innovative subjects, thoughtful philosophies, and epic storytelling. Hip-Hop is mechanical and technical, featuring complex metaphors, elaborate wordplay, and rhythmic flow.

Hip-Hop is also competitive and cut-throat: “battling” plays a huge part in almost every element of the culture. But as an artist, it is imperative to have a skill set to validate your claim to greatness. You have to earn your round in the ring.
The popular artists used to be the best in at least one of these aspects. The beauty was in the sheer diversity of Hip-Hop. There was A Tribe Called Quest and Ice Cube, Outkast and Eminem. With the inevitable expansion and corporatization of the genre, the artists who were promoted and popularized started becoming more and more similar.

By the mid-to-late 2000s, mainstream Hip-Hop existed in a bit of an uninspired slump. Half of the music came from one-to-three hit wonders who could be lumped into arbitrary movements (a la “Snap Music”), and the other half came from artists who were decent at everything, but just not that great at anything. They spoke about issues in the hoods, but nothing too inspiring. They had good flow and decent metaphors, but nothing groundbreaking. They were ridiculous and ratchet, but nothing too wild. Just about the only thing they had was the cockiness and bravado of battle rappers, but without enough of the skills to back it up.


Don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted. But in comparison to 5 years before and 5 years after, 2003 through 2009 were just lukewarm, kind of a muddy off-grey, and blah.

Then, the internet came along.

And yes, it’s been here for a while, but technology started to truly influence music around 2009. “Going viral” was becoming a mainstream concept. Twitter and blogs allowed artists to connect with their fans - and potential fans - more easily than ever. YouTube presented fans with unprecedented access to new music. Dat Piff and file-sharing allowed mixtapes to distributed anywhere with internet access for free. Music could reach someone six states over almost as easily as six blocks over. Artists could gain massive, national (and even international) followings off of mixtapes alone.

This meant that record companies did not have to “guess” at which artists would be popular. The artists they sign already had followings in multiple markets. There was simply more accessibility to music.

The most exciting thing about Hip-Hop now is that it is truly evolving and adapting to its environment. With easier accessibility to music, comes easier accessibility to more artists. Ever-increasing competition is forcing artists to carve out more niches than ever before. Clear lines and borders are getting blurred. There is literally a sound for every ear. Artists are experimenting with EDM and Dubstep. There have been forays into Rock, and several popular bands feature MCs, or at least rapping in some form. Pop is all but saturated with Hip-Hop artists.

Nothing sums up the current climate better than a look at two of the most popular rappers today. One is a former teen-show star from Toronto who dives into previously unprecedented levels of emotion and sensitivity for the genre. The other is a young loose cannon from Chicago whose music and antics embody the raw reality, mentality, OR fantasies of a large but specific audience more accurately than ever (for better AND for worse).


Mediocrity is at an all-time-low. Current trap rappers and “ratchet” artists - who are often criticized by fans of the opposite end of the lyrical spectrum - are arguably the best that they've ever been at making the type of music they make. Wild and ridiculous artists are making more-and-more hype, outlandish  party anthems, (while appearing to take themselves less-and-less seriously in the process, which is good). Even artists who choose to work within more “traditional” niches and sounds are pushing the limits of metaphors, wordplay, and sheer mechanics.

Yes, artists who fit these criteria were active during the mid to late 2000s, and a few of them even enjoyed mild success. But they were few and far between. And hardly were at the forefront of the genre.

The current front-line of popular and successful MCs is the best we've had since the late 90s: Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J Cole, Wale, A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Meek Mill, Mac Miller. Whether you like them or not, you have to acknowledge that they are doing something which fits some niche extremely well. The artists currently flying just under the radar are even more exciting: Big KRIT, Joey Bada$$, Schoolboy Q, Logic, Action Bronson, etc, etc, etc... the future is looking bright for Hip-Hop music.


I would even argue that the next few generations of artists will include several of the sickest MCs to ever touch a mic. Potential legends who will be included among names such as Jay, Em, Snoop, Biggie, Pac, and Rakim. We’re witnessing a musical revolution. A second Golden Age. A Hip-Hop Renaissance.

Don’t believe me? Just watch...

“Hip-Hop is dead!”

Well, here’s to the resurrection.  

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Are we witnessing the revival of Hip-Hop? What was your take on Kendrick's Control verse? Who do you think are today's top MCs? 

Comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


Check out more Jeremie Mango at ThreePeaceChicken.com

3 comments:

  1. This is my first time i visit here. I found so much entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.

    Mixtapes

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Please stay tuned and keep in touch!

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