I think the title of this entry pretty much suggests what I'm gonna rant about, but… first off, I just want to say that from a commercial stand-point, I realise that there is a place for hip-pop and that plenty of people seem to really enjoy it. I don't want for there to be any presumption that I'm going to just rip some music to shreds and praise some other (I make no promises, what can I say? I'm passionate!) – I'll attempt to show a bit more depth into the discussion and raise some valid points. So, let's get to it…
In-case some readers aren't quite aware of what my crass label hip-pop means, I will explain; hip-pop is the casual term given to mass produced commercial hip-hop that is released solely for quick sale chart consumption. Bear in mind that this is only an opinion (although plenty share it) and not everybody will agree with my assessment. Many feel that these hip-pop artists are just selling out; using the hip-hop genre to make artistically-limited music that is marketed towards kids, purely in an attempt to make as much money as quickly as possible, without much thought to the actual music itself. I'm sure these artists would (publicly) disagree, but public perception rules all and on this occasion I don't believe that our eyes deceive.
To give you an idea, I'll list a few names that could be considered as hip-pop artists; 50 Cent, basically all of G-Unit, modern day Jay-Z, Ja Rule, modern day Black Eyed Peas, P Diddy, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Nelly, Obie Trice, Akon, Bubba Sparxxx, modern day Busta Rhymes, the list really does go on, but I think you get the idea. It is difficult to know what these artists are thinking, whether they actually care about the music, or do they just want loads of money – to be honest, we'll probably never know, and that is where our perception comes into play. Personally I can only conclude that the aforementioned artists are essentially pop artists after lots of cash, using a watered down version of hip-hop.
Some of these hip-pop artists were once highly respected hip-hop acts, like Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, and Busta Rhymes, for example. Maybe they just lost their desire for the music, maybe they just want to drive nicer cars, who knows? All I do know is that I'm sick of hearing this watered down hip-hop. I don't really listen to commercial radio anymore or watch much TV, so I don't get exposed to this music very often, but what hurts me most is how much people sing the praises of this music. There's no soul to this music – it's just a catchy jingle over a heavy beat and some guy rapping bout shooting someone in the face and f*cking some hoe. I remember a friend of mine saying they don't like hip-hop music cos they don't like the way the songs are all about violence, money, and hoes – I was ready to list of a hundred hip-hop artists that never mention that crap, but this persons mind was already made up. I've even tried to counter suggest artists to people that have been consumed by the devil (listeners of hip-pop), if someone tells me they like 50 Cent, I suggest they try listening to Nas, MF DOOM, or Ghostface, for example. But the devil has them so tightly that they feel if it isn't being rammed down their throats via tv and the radio, then it isn't cool to listen to it.
Regardless, the underground hip-hop scene is still strong. I mean, there are tonnes of fantastic acts still struggling to get record deals, but it is encouraging to see people still putting the effort in to make decent art. I just find it incredibly sad that people rely on the mainstream media to such an extent. Either they cant see that it is ruling their lives, or they just don't care. If these people could just take the time out to discover new things for themselves, with an open mind, maybe they would take their musical enjoyment to the next level.
All said and done, this is a rant coming from someone that does appreciate real hip-hop and does despise hip-pop – I know many will agree with my sentiment, but there are tonnes of fans of hip-pop music and they don't really care what I think, but perhaps this is just the state of things in this day and age. I also realise I have only briefly touched on what is actually quite a heavy debate, but I figured that it wouldn't be wise to send you to sleep with a massive rant, so it's just some food for thought. What would be cool is if anyone reading this would take 30 seconds out to leave a comment that includes the name of a real hip-hop artist, just some recognition and appreciation for the guys striving to keep the scene alive.