Many lament what they describe as the decline of hip hop and more specifically it’s being diluted in the interest of broader reach and higher profits.
First off duh. That is what record companies do. They are profit driven and care little, if at all, about the art of music.
Secondly as my wife, Narcisa (The Bronx’a own brilliant legal eagle), points out hip hop will survive no matter what is thrown at it. Additionally I offer that hip hop has grown to the point that it can hardly be contained as one category. For a long time I have contended that what I hear on the radio that is labeled hip hop is in actuality often hip pop. Hip pop is what I have dubbed that which was concocted as a more easily distributed, controlled, less offensive hip hop derivative having been stripped of originality, authenticity, or any semblance of sociopolitical relevancy. Admittedly catchy, but not hip hop. Comparing hip pop to hip hop is like comparing kids bop to pop or icebox banana pudding to oven banana pudding or Golden Corral to home cooking. Those who have not experienced the latter may love the former, but those who have can immediately tell the difference.
Many are going in on a recent hip pop phenomenon, but this was an inevitable outcome. Looking back on music history this is the pattern. Plus anyone paying attention knows that hip pop had displaced hip hop long before it’s latest poster child arrived. I have heard many wax poetic over hip hop’s social and cultural mission and significance but have they really been listening recently? When is the last time anyone heard a song stating anything of any real significance? Those who have carried the banner unwittingly primed the pump for this outcome. Now many want to cry foul. Can we call foul on what we have been hearing on my radio for awhile now? The current roster of artists blasted at us dropped the bar making it easier for anyone to clear. Now that someone has they wish to enlist those old hip hop heads to the cause, but they stopped listening long ago. Many songs cannot even be bothered to have a second or third verse let alone a coherent message. No, my friends. This is now hip pop. There are exceptions of course. Some are truly holding it down in the name of hip hop, but they are seen and heard on the internet mostly, almost never on the radio and very rarely if ever on TV. This is not isolated to hip hop. Other genres have been afflicted by this trend as well.
Now awards shows. Short answer: Who cares? Long winded version: I often rail against artificial constructs of relevance and I cannot think of anything more artificial than awards shows. Two phrases I concocted some time ago are ‘mutual admiration associations’ and ‘self congratulatory societies’. I crafted them as descriptors of any organization seemingly put in place primarily for the purpose of giving out prizes to it’s membership. ‘Enough about me, what do you think of me?’ Relevancy artificial constructs. The grown up variant of middle school prom king and queen. A cute excuse to dress up and applaud each other but little more. The difference being that these are proms that have been going on so long that the participants have long learned how to game the system in the interest of popularity and profit.
Phew. Still here? If so thank you. I know I feel better. Oh yeah. Happy New Year!