You’ve seen the shirts purists wear: “Hip-hop is dead” in all capitals.
That statement is closer to being true than ever nowadays.
Like a tree, when hip-hop is uprooted it loses its sustenance and slowly decays. Right now, this is hip-hop. But this isn’t to say that there aren’t any emcees trying to undo the damage.
Rappers like Kanye West and Ghostface Killah bring soul back into the game. Ex-Rattler Common and North Carolina Central’s Little Brother bring back early-’90s consciousness to hip-hop.
Some, like ex-Rattlers Dead Prez, even try to bring back black nationalism or Panther-style black power to hip-hop.
All of them have been met with varying degrees of success and, with the exception of Common and Kanye West, are essential to hip-hop’s current landscape.
So what does this say about hip-hop?
With stupid snap music, self-destructive, dopeboy trap rap and a hip-hop underground with its scatterbrained head so far up its esoteric a– that it can’t relate itself to a mass audience, it might be said that hip-hop has finally lost its way and perhaps permanently lost its roots.
Russell Simmons, the pioneer of hip-hop as we know it today, certainly thinks so.
Now that there is a hip-hop exhibit at the Smithsonian museum, he said, “the party’s over.”
Hip-hop has been, in three simple words, relegated to relic.
What is there left to do now but exhume its corpse for profit and fame — milk the cash cow for all the capital you can get until there’s nothing left?
After its 30-year anniversary, isn’t it the consensus that hip-hop died, in its purest form at least, with Tupac Shakur and Chris Wallace and buried deeper with the passing of Jam Master Jay?
With the recent and uneventful, but critically mourned, passing of Common and De La Soul producer Jay Dee, doesn’t this just pour the concrete over the casket, making resurrection, and therefore growth, impossible?
Is rap music no longer viable as an art form? Is “hip-hop” now only alive as a marketing tool? If so, when did that happen? Was it really with Tupac and Biggie’s deaths, or when hip-hop heads stopped listening to what Chuck D had to say?
Whatever the case, hip-hop as we used to know it will probably never rise again. No matter how hard some try to resurrect it.
Like Common, an original b-boy, said: “It ain’t ’94, Joe/We can’t go back.”
Paul de Revere is a third-year print journalism student from Tallahassee. He can be reached at email@example.com.