I love Hip-Hop so much from the ingenuity it took to loop break beats to fascinatingly intricate and incredible complex and dense rhymes some rappers use. I appreciate the aesthetic and the ways in which Hip-Hop is perpetually at the vanguard of what is cool from fashion to social media. I have always been enamored by the beats and rhythms Hip-Hop producers use. The skill level it takes for a person to take one complete musical composition and chop it up into little sampled sections and then using these samples to create an entirely new musical work out of it is truly awe-inspiring! I have a deep respect for all the Hip-Hop encompasses. What I do not respect and what I cannot accept is the disposable nature of Hip-Hop! As soon as we create the newest trend and make it acceptable and cool we are on to the next (Jay pun intended.)
We do not sit long enough with anything to really appreciate it and I blame technology and the moneygrubbing corporate backers whose never satiated hunger for money feeds the disposable nature of the culture. As technology made it easier for artists and consumers to create and procure music respectively, the birth of the contemporary mixtape was created. I believe the idea behind the modern mixtape was twofold: it created a way to promote the artists music without having a major retail release aka keep them relevant and to tide fans over until the release of the official LP was in stores. The mixtapes kept artists buzzing in the streets and soon became indistinguishable from the retail LP’s. For the artist it was off the books money and it kept them front and center in the minds of their fans that eagerly awaited the retail releases of their music.
Soon the music that rap artists created couldn’t be produced fast enough even with the mixtapes for the exigencies of their fans. Now couple the constant churning out of music with internet piracy and we have now entered the age of disposable culture! Record companies who control the flow of music invested in having the next flash in the pan to compensate for the monies lost on more reputable and established artists. These newer artists had catchy hooks and production, but lacked the staying power of older more established acts. Soon these more established acts started to follow the trends these newer fly-by-night artists were doing and the devolution of the music soon followed. Now everybody has the same flow and same production to the point where any originality is lost because soon as something catches fire we do it to death and then get rid of it.
There is no appreciation for the elder statesmen in rap. I am by no means saying someone born in the early 2000s should have the same reverence for artists from the 80s, but if these new fans are quick to move onto the next big thing without fully being invested in any artist it creates an aura of disposability around the culture. If those of us who consider themselves as part of Hip-Hop culture don’t take time to appreciate it and not just hop from trend to trend then maybe it won’t feel so fleeting and we could make more informed decisions as to what is quality vs. the quick fix. Everything nowadays sounds microwaved and made for immediate consumption and then fans are left to search for their next fix. I guess that’s why they call it “crack” music.