Genre reaches new heights

Hip-hop moguls of the past sketched the blueprint for artists of today to emerge as musical prodigies. Old school hip-hop heads such as Grandmaster Flash, Furious Five, and DJ Jam Master Jay, paved the way, influencing contemporary songs.

However, from Kurtis Blow’s “If I Ruled the World” to Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance,” there has been an evident evolution in style. While some recognize the influence of the past, others denounce today’s music.

DJ Speedracer, 21, a Blazin’ 102.3 disc jockey said Hip Hop is boring.

“Hip Hop is changing from what it used to be,” he said. “There is no originality.”

Kirsten Whiting, a 20-year-old junior, disagreed. She said some hip-hop artists have been critical to keeping the innovative techniques alive.

The rap group Outkast, who recently won a Grammy for the “Album of the Year,” is a prime example. Many attribute their success to the way the duo have reinvented popular music by incorporating the soulful, melodic tunes of the past into contemporary hits.

“Andre captures the elements of past lyricists and still uses creativity and originality and goes back to the storytelling aspect of rap,” said Whiting, a pharmacy student from West Palm Beach.

Speedracer agreed that Outkast members Andre 3000 and Big Boi along with rapper Jay-Z are maintaining their styles while adding different elements to their music.

“There are still originators like Jay-Z and Outkast, who are old artists, that are still doing things the way they should be done and keeping it new,” Speedracer said.

Some who remember artists Kwame, EU, Slick Rick, Salt & Pepper, the Leaders of the New School and Digital Underground see the connection to artists like Tupac Shakur, Common, Mos Def and Lauryn Hill both lyrically and conceptually.

Stephanie Gomez, 21, said she appreciates the way today’s rappers incorporate older artists into their work. She said it shows subtle signs of respect and admiration to the originators.

“I like how artists such as Jay-Z use the lyrics of other artists like Biggie and make references to other artists like KRS 1 in his songs,” said the public relations student from Jacksonville. “Even if the connection is not direct, it is still there.”

But some students believe the genre does not solely influence new artists, but has reached a worldwide stage. Kandra Carlton, a 20-year-old pharmacy student said the impact of Hip Hop is global, regardless of redundancy.

“Hip Hop rules the world,” said the junior from Virginia Beach. “Even though it’s clich, it’s true.”

Although Speedracer does not appreciate the current state of Hip Hop, he does recognize its evolution from a musical genre to a way of life.

“Hip Hop is a lifestyle.”

Contact Chinaka A. Young at