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Is there a such thing as fake Hip-Hop? Because in my opinion, there’s no such thing as real Hip-Hop. Before you go ahead and close this screen or delete your PANDARADIO bookmark, let me explain. I’m 24 years old, but in 1997 I was 10 years old and I didn’t listen to Hip-Hop. I think the negative media attention and popularity of west coast Gangsta Rap, & east coast Hardcore Hip-Hop made my family decide it best to not let me listen to it. Back in those days, kids weren’t allowed to even buy cassettes/cd’s from anywhere because of the Parental Advisory laws. Forget about mp3 downloading & online streaming pre-2001. So if you’re 21 & under, and u say u grew up on Biggie or Wu-Tang, chances are you’re probably lying. Unless you did what I did. My aunt had boxes filled with cassettes, my mom’s boyfriend was a DJ so he had crates of albums too. I “borrowed” his cassette player, and “borrowed” 1 of her cassettes, which just so happened to be 2Pac Shakur’s “Me Against The World”. Still my favorite album to this day. This was my 1st true Hip-Hop experience, away from the TV channels like The Box or MTV and Radio stations like Hot 97.
Fast forward to the charming Panda that I am today. There’s something about the “real Hip-Hop” label that irks me like scratching your nails against a chalkboard. Music snobs annoy me, which is why it took me so long to sit down and right this. But there’s something that needs to be said. I saw someone scoff at Young Jeezy being labeled as Hip-Hop and it made me think, why? There’s more to rap than just pure lyricism & one-liners. I know hood rappers better than most of those XXL Freshmen.
- Content; not everyone’s a great storyteller.
- Flow; not everyone knows how to use alliteration & proper word placement.
- Stage Presence; not everyone’s a good performer who can engage a crowd of 300, let alone 30,000.
- Star Quality; not everyone is photogenic and can handle fame & fortune.
- Metaphors & witty banter can only get u but so far in this Hip-Hop game, but yet that’s the main criteria when talking about “real Hip-Hop”.
All of this is counter-productive to one’s argument in the sense that you can’t just judge an artist based off of 1 criteria. The best rappers aren’t fit for being mainstream artists. Even if an artist had all of them under his belt except lyricism, is he still a real Hip-Hop artist? What about if he lacked content? That was just something to think about, which brings me to my next point. In my personal opinion, just because you were a rapper from the ‘87-‘97 era DOESN’T MAKE YOU ANY MORE Hip-Hop than Tyler The Creator, Currensy or ASAP Rocky. In the same way that just because you’re a rapper like Cam’ron, Snoop Dogg or Fabolous DOESN’T MAKE YOU ANY LESS Hip-Hop. On the flipside, album sales doesn’t validate your Hip-Hop status either (to some people it does, but those “his album sales were better” arguments just don’t hold up musically). I think if anything, what makes a “rapper” become an “artist” is the overall vision, and how they’re able to
mold themselves with the times, scratch that, REPRESENT the times. For instance, I used to be a hardcore Nas > Jay-Z fan, but the longevity of the latter’s career proved that although he was less favorable of both rappers (as far as “REAL Hip-Hop” was concerned), he succeeded at being an artist and an icon. But, I digress.
All in all, instead of downplaying these rappers like Gucci Mane or Wiz Khalifa, how about you applaud them for getting people to notice their movements, that not even the most genius of Wall Street/Hollywood/or the White House could build. I grew up on Dipset & Ruff Ryders, not Outkast & De La Soul. I’ll always prefer Three-6 Mafia over A Tribe Called Quest. What about Eric B. & Rakim? Personally, I’d rather rock with 8Ball & MJG. That’s what’s “real” to me. Point is, the “real hip-hop” moniker is just another way to segregate a genre, filled with music snobs & fickle fans who love to use the term to differentiate themselves as being adept listeners. The term “real”, is self-serving, and always condescending in the context it’s dished out. All they’re really doing is upholding an old adage, that no longer holds any value (ie: Hip-Hop Is Dead). People will always fear the new, just in the same way people will always piggyback the norm because they don’t know any better. We’re a new generation, stuck in the shadow of our predecessors thoughts on how Hip-Hop SHOULD BE. We now live in the mass media culture with a new breed of artists that are utilizing this current media climate to their advantage; the power of streetwear & the internet. It’s up to the listeners to know their history and to respect the genre as a whole, and to understand who’s abusing the culture without any outside influences. There is no real, and there is no fake. There’s only right, and wrong. Classic, and the new wave. With that said,
FUCK REAL HIP-HOP.