When the Money Goes...

Is there anything left in hip-hop other than the chase for money? I mean, I totally understand the fact that a lot of guys have struggled and come up from the projects on something less than glamorous and now have access to all that they dreamed. However, shouldn't there be more to your music than what you can do at the club and how much you floss?

The Bling-Bling era of rap started with the Hot Boys and Cash money records around 2000 and it seemed like it would play out fast. The age of consumption and excess didn't even end with the recession as rappers today flaunt their welath in the ears and faces of their listeners more than ever before. "Pop Champagne" in the club and you see guys who barely make their rent walking around with bottles of ciroc and glasses of Moscato. You have the few females in the game like Nicki Minaj and Trina whose entire repertoire consists of how many different ways they can tell you they are buying bags and new shoes. The name dropping of high fashion labels has gone into overdrive.

Is there anything else left though? Why aren't today's artists actually letting us into the emotional tragedies that led them to work/hustle/grind so hard to make something better for themselves? I understand the myriad of issues dealing with the male psyche and ego but even when they spit their "game" to females it's all about how they can buy them the latest gear and most expensive bottles of alcohol.

I hate the lack of balance because it is sending the wrong message to listeners. You cannot ignore the root of the problems and issues that drive you. It is misleading and ignores the core of why we want to hear rap in the first place: to relate to the overall experiences of our lives. Now some artists do make those attempts and come across as individuals with lives that are not caricatures but reflect the actual experiences of the people. But these tend to be the less successful artists as artists who rehash the same drug dealing experiences and mix them in with how rich these exploits made them "bosses" or "ballers" get all of the exposure.

It would be easy to blame the record labels and radio (and believe me I do, especially at the radio level) but we as consumers and listeners have our own share. How often will we say that a Talib Kweli is cool but he doesn't make "whip" music or that Common, Crooked I, or Little Brother don't make music that could fit into the club. We have to stop pigeon-holing ourselves by looking at certain artists and assuming that because one subset of the hip-hop listeners likes them and believes certain other things that aren't related to music, that we cannot like them as well. For example, you don't have to be a natural hair wearing neo-soul poet to actually listen to The Roots.

It's not that I don't want anyone to get money, but you shouldn't be rapping about it all of the time on all of your songs. It's like a rapper whose every verse is about how nice he is. At some point you have to switch it up and I'm just trying to find out if listeners actually care to hear about things other than money anymore.


Popular Posts