The golden age of hip hop paved the way for a lot of the sounds and styles that we see in today’s culture. Some would argue that mainstream new generation artist are straying away from conventional ways of the sound and focusing less on lyricism while others feel that the artist are evolving with the times and utilizing technology to their full advantage.
Lisa Evers, who reports exclusively for Fox5 and Hot97 with her reputable and straightforward Street Soldiers show discussed “The State Of Hip Hop” with VIP’s in the game which include the editor in chief at Vibe magazine, Datwon Thomas, “Babs Bunny” from MTV’s first all black reality show “Making The Band” with P. Diddy, and Brooklyn’s rising star, PHresher. Lisa and her panel discussed where hip hop stands now as a culture and how it has evolved over the years.
Datwon opened the discussion and mentioned that mainstream music isn’t the “traditional sound of hip hop” and that it has branched off into “subdivisions” of different sounds. Babs on the other hand feels that majority of the music thats out there is “all over the place” and is a disaster. From her perspective, coming from the era of when hip hop was first created, she feels that the songs of today have no substance.
As a new generation artist, PHresher calls himself a “student of the game” and takes pride in paying homage to the great ones before him. The Brooklyn rapper is able to provide a sound that has club bangers and bars that tell a story that the everyday person could relate to.
The panel agreed that when new artist such as Lil Yachty make comments about a hip hop legend like Biggie Smalls being “underrated” has a ripple effect on the culture because he’s inspiring his followers to think the same way. PHresher made a valid point and stated that you wouldn’t hear LeBron James publicly say he’s never heard of Micheal Jordan, even if he wasn’t a fan of the Chicago Bulls GOAT, those words would not come out of his mouth.
During the birth of hip hop, the message in the music had more value whereas now the message is lost in the sauce. Today’s mainstream music is mostly about a fancy lifestyle that the average person doesn’t live, nor do some of the rappers singing about it. Babs believes that the reason behind this is due to the generation’s use of manmade pills and other types of drugs.
PHresher wants to let the world know that he’s here to “restore the field.”. As he quickly rose to fame with his hit single “Wait A Minute” he understands the business side of this culture and if you want to make money from your talent, you have to put out club and radio records. Although music “with the message” does get radio play, it’s not as popular as the songs that people can dance to in the club. PHresher is one of the few new artist who’s able to create music that’ll have you moving on the dance floor and that can have you reflecting on life. He says that he is “big on the message.”
Datwon mentioned that the artist who have substance to their lyrics are the ones who actually sell the most, like J Cole and Kendrick Lamar. There are plenty of other rappers who spit real bars but unfortunately they don’t get the recognition that they deserve.
Another way hip hop has evolved since the golden age is that back then, rappers didn’t express their feelings as much as the ones of today do like Drake. In the past, it wasn’t “cool” for a rapper to sing on their record whereas now, the rappers are singing and the R&B artist are rapping. PHresher says this is because people are more open minded to letting their emotions out.
A major evolution of the culture is the image the artists portray. Back in the 80’s the rappers didn’t have to front, the videos portrayed them doing everyday things like being on the block with their crew versus now, the artist have to have the fastest car, the hottest girls, and the most bling’d out chains. Babs pointed out, “the fans make the artist feel like they gotta front.”
PHresher admits that he “fell for the trap” and wanted to live up to his name so instead of buying his family a house in a better environment, he bought a luxury car instead. Although he feels like he may have done things backwards, at least he caught himself and was smart enough to realize that it may benefit him if he invests in his money before splurging.
One thing that will never change is the value of the DJ’s. They were important back then and they still are today. “They have the power to change and shift the culture” Babs said. Spinning records in the club is more important than radio play because at the venues is where you see the reactions of the people who listen to your music.
A huge turning point in the culture of hip hop is the use of the internet. Even though DJ’s are key players in the game, some of the new artists are able to generate their own fan bases without the help of disk jockeys and can even hold their own concerts. The digital world has helped artist to brand themselves and be their own marketing and promotions team.
Babs mentioned that it “allows the artist to engage with their fans.” Datwon added that we “get to see the real them.”
PHresher said that “It puts more power in the artists’ hands,” which ultimately gives them more creative control. He made an encouraging point that upcoming artist don’t need a lot of money to become successful. Back in the day you had to book studio time and now if you have your own laptop and invest in a music program and some equipment, you can create your own mixtape and put it out there yourself.
When it comes to fashion and hip hop, that will forever be an evolving thing, even though history always repeats itself. When fashion trends come back around the culture will slightly innovate it but a pair of Timbs, jeans and a t-shirt will never go out of style, especially if you’re from NY.
What PHresher loves the most about hip hop’s current state is that artist are no longer just a singer or a rapper, they’re basically a brand. Aside from the music, you’ll see them in movies or commercials which helps them to expand worldwide.
Datwon is amazed at how the times has changed where artists are turning down record deals versus in the past that was the goal. In today’s culture, some independent artist like Chance The Rapper, have fan bases that are so large that they can host their own shows without a corporation behind them.
Moving forward, Babs hopes that women in the industry will get more recognition. Thats the reason she created a lane for female MC’s with her battle rap company, “Queen Of The Ring.”