Hip-Hop's evolution...Part 1..I guess

So first things first, sorry for the hiatus but I need to get some more inspiration from hip-hop in general sorry. But I am here now and one thing I want to address now is how hip-hop and rap music has evolved and created sub-genres or niches much like Rock, Blues, and Country have done in the past.

See one of the biggest things in hip-hop (what inspired me right now) when it began was the art of the battle. Especially in NY where to be a true MC you had to have gone through some battles of some sort in order to prove their worthiness. If you could make songs, cool, but if you didn't have some sort of skill to hold your own in battles on the street, no one would respect what you put out. Legendary battles included LL vs damn near everyone, DMX vs Jay-Z, and KRS vs damn near anyone. Those are are the guys who are well-known through battling and being able to make records. Then you have someone like Supernatural who made a name for himself exclusively through freestyles and battling.

Today, there is a bigger divide in hip-hop than ever. You have mainstream artists like Nelly who are considered Pop artists in the vein of MC Hammer because no one really judges their lyrical skill, we just know they can make a hit record. Then there are the 'street' rappers or 'trappers' like Rick Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane, and Styles P, who all have varying degrees of lyricism and skill but in general are able to create enough records to get played on radio, and enough grit to be able to drop mix tapes regularly to keep their street fans satisfied. Next we have the conscious rappers who include Drake, Common, and Kanye, not that they are always community oriented, but their soulful sounds in general keep them seen in a more positive light than their street counterparts. Underground cats include Little Brother, Sheek, and Sean P who all have differing topics and skills but who never get play on normal radio and definately not outside of defined hours for "strict hip-hop'.

The final kind of guy I want to address however, is the new breed of Battle Rapper. These are the guys who you see on Grind Time or whatever other 'battle leagues' they have now. Who knows if they actually make records, i'm assuming most of them gain underground fans through their battling prowess in these dvd/internet televised altercations.

These guys right here are pure hip-hop, raw and unadulterated. You've got written verses, freestyle, hot lyrics, punchlines, and one liners galore along with metaphors that  carry over from bar o bar. I don't normally watch too many of these but you can see how much they have developed in the past few years from just random yelling and screaming and shaky camera work to something that is truly professionally done. Where we once saw Jin jump from 106th and Park to the Ruff Ryders label, instead we now have guys who get there just to further their credibility on the underground battling scene where there are records and titles, and money to be made.

So while someone like myself would love to see/hear more diversity in the mainstream, it is nice to know that thanks to new technology and the growing popularity of hip-hop in general, that I can find whatever type of music it is that I like. However, the old-school dude in me would love to see more well-rounded rappers who can move from each sub-genre with little effort and show the full range of skills.


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