Hip-hop has changed in many ways... developed in some areas such as experimental jazz movement while fallen off in others...ie political based rap. Perhaps people do not listen to hip-hop as subjectively as they used to.
Part of the reason I think that political rap has fallen off is becuase commercial rap is dominated by trends and trends change frequently. Of course there were groups like P.E., and X-Clan and the jUngle Borthers who were genuine in their conscious expression, but a lot of the others just went where the money was. Now the money is in being a studio gangster so that's what we see. These artists say that they are reflecting the reality of the inner city, but I think that they are exploiting people's terrible living conditions for profit. Artists like Snoop, Onyx, Tupac and Biggie glamourize thuggish lifestyles. Back in 1990 when we saw an surge in afrocentric rap, and the people respected and demanded lyrics with a message on conscioussness. The people wanted lyrics with substance. Some of us have become jaded and apolitical and this new brand of rap appeals to our current state of confusion.
Gangster Rap killed the popularity of Political/Concious Rap. While it still exists, when gangster rap appeared Political Rap slowly died as the latest rap 'fad' just like Polka Dot Outfits.
BTW, i was actually up ealry on Sunday & caught your show--cleared up a lot about the 'EastSide' perspective that i never understood before. Anyhow, later.
Political based hip-hop has fallen off, because it supports one working for what they believe in or for what they want. Rap nowadays is based on taking what you can get, as fast as you can, and as easily as you can. Many people would rather take the easy route that yields quick results, instead of the difficult route that yield positive long-term results. Rap today reflects that, and that is what is purchased by people today. I do buy many of those types of records, with those type of views, but in no way do I believe in them. Unfortunately, many people do, and it's reflected in the music today.
I wish people would stop using the word politics (which is about "who should do what"). Its a word that shows like Hard Copy and A current Affair uses. What those groups did was show that it is important to be CONCIOUS of your world. That might mean if your poor you need to steal--has nothing to do with votes and bitch-assed politicans. Listen to "Bird in the Hand." The subject matter was such that it needed to be politically addressed. Concious rap also include stuff like Cypress Hill and songs like Geto Boy's "Mind play'n..."
A reason that the same topics aren't addressed is cause rap gives no place to people over 30. And these people are the ones that lived with MLK, Malcolm X, the Mexico city olympics, etc. (I notice that alot of the real (non-commerical-ass fans) have turned back to more "mature rappers" from the past). If you steer away from the radio and MTV you notice that the real are still listening to it. A lot of the kids are being moved out of the inner city (like me) into track housing communities before high school. I think the mainstream of rap fans come from better standards of living anyways nowadays.
I think political rap has fallen off because many youths of today feel that they have to act as hard as they can be, and they think that in order to do that they must be violent and "gangsta", even though 99% of them aren't really gangstas. What they don't realize, and it's a shame, is that knowledge is really the key to being hard. I think that it's groups like N.W.A, Tha Dogg Pound, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, etc, etc. who are feeding these kids violent thoughts and making them think that killing is cool and violence is cool, whatever. I'm hoping KRS-One'll have another album out near the end of '96, but judging by his pattern I'm guessing we'll have to wait until '97. Chuck D. has his Autobiography of Mista Chuck supposedly coming, but it's been on hold for over three months. I've got no clue when Ice-T's album will be out, but I'm hoping soon. These albums will all be excellent and they should uplift some of the "gangsta rappers" to another level (hopefully). The intellectual rappers have to keep pressing the weak MCs until they cave.. That's the only way to get edutainment back to what it once was.
I believe that this is a result of record labels. All the talk about blunts and 40's is what sells and this is what most labels are looking for. Rap muisic isn't about fun anymore, it's about violence and other negative things. I was taking part in a discussion and a member in the group made an interesting point. She said that once artist had names like Run DMC and the Fat Boys and now they call themselves things like the Group Home and Mobb Deep and The Alkoholiks.
I also think that unfortunately it has just played out. The Black awareness raps came out when Afro-centrism was the style. And when this fad ended so did the music that came with it.
Political-based rap has fallen off because the fad is over. Too many people were willing to talk the talk, but few chose to walk the walk. I truly believe that the hip hop generation has begun to believe it is actually a part of this supposed Generation X, a generation which is considered to be a group of 'slackers.' People of color, who make up the vast majority of hip hop generation, have never had the luxury of being 'slackers.' Slacking has been the sole province and privilege of white folks for a long time. If people of color slacked, they starved. Now that there is some lip service being given to the idea of equality, we think we can just blend in with our generatiopnal counterparts who are white. Sorry to say it, but we can't. With our insistence on trying to do everything white folk get to, like slacking, we have decided to stop fighting for what is important.
We still shake our butts to the PE beats, but we refuse to listen to the political mantra. KRS-One didn't help matters when he came out and said he was a phony.
I also think that part of the problem was that the political messages were the same in album after album. I mean expressing rage the way Chuck D could was great and all, but there were no solutions given. There was no true talk of a better future. No one dared to put optimistism into their music for fear of being called soft. Well, if they don't believe there is hope for the future, what's the use of fighting for the present?
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