Is Hip Hop Dead, and Has It Ever Been Dead?

Recently in an interview, Michael Dyson asked Queensbridge rapper Nas, "In 2006, you said hip hop is dead. [Currently] is it dead, or has your resurrection made it a living art form?"

Nas, in a rather verbose manner, finished by saying "I think right now it's on a respirator."

So why is it on a respirator instead of being healthy and alive? Well, many have nostalgic answers, pointing to rap music in the 80s and 90s, claiming that back then, we witnessed 'real hip hop'. And rap music right now, the music that promotes violence, sex, drugs and narcissism, is without a question 'fake hip hop'.

What these answers fail to neglect, of course, is that rap at its peak was as much about violence, sex, drugs and narcissism as it is today.

Yet, it's the same people who wistfully wish for the return of real rap on a Kool G Rap video that lament Rick Ross' new music; the same people who vibe to Inspectah Deck's Triumph verse that say Crooked I lacks subject matter, and the same people who love old school, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five rap that say party music is awful.

Going beyond music, many have gone one step further and criticized the entire hip hop culture as a whole. Recently, a skinny jeans trend in the culture became popular, and simultaneously, so did criticism about the anti rap-ness of it. A comment I see on YouTube ever so often is "Support real rap, and not that skinny jeans stuff". This, as I'm sure many can envision, is one of the comments I loathe the most on YouTube as the people making these comments clearly don't know about the origins of skinny jeans in the culture. Street clothing from the days of hip hop's inception included skinny jeans; ever heard of Run-D.M.C?

As can be seen, a lot of the principles of rap in the 80s and 90s are seen today. It's not the exact same, but rap is about evolution. Right now, the game isn't the same as it was a few decades ago. Sample laws have completely changed production, and the accessibility of the genre has increased, and as a result, so has the popularity and lucrativeness. Modern rappers are just adapting to current circumstances, and rap is evolving like it should. I think, soon, with rap losing its commercial appeal, will evolve again. But that doesn't make today's rap 'fake hip hop' or golden age rap 'real hip hop'.

The author is a hip hop fanatic who grew up in New York during the Golden Age era in the early 90s. Since then, he's been fanatically following the genre on all fronts for nearly two decades: old school hip hop, golden age hip hop, underground rap and even new rap music. If you want to learn more about the genre, or disagree with my article and want to debate, follow Rap Music Kings to comply with your needs..