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Hip-Hop: Then Vs. Now (#Degradation from #Mainstream #PopCulture)

When hip-hop first originated, everyone thought it was just a “fad.” Nobody believed it would last and nobody really took the genre seriously. Surprisingly, this was the mindset of many people when new genres came out, but most were in for the long run. Not only did hip-hop present a new style, it gave artists a new voice. Politics were already a running theme within rock music, so rappers decided they could voice their opinions too. Originally, artists spoke of unity and empowerment of African American people. Some even incorporated the names of their long-time friends who may not have even been in the music industry. However, the core message was always peace. This lasted until N.W.A brought a completely new, unfiltered voice to the world of hip-hop. You could say they brought some…attitude. N.W.A’s lyrics were more of a response to the oppression facing African Americans rather than comforting hope. Not only did they cause controversy, but adults began to blame the lyrics for their children’s acts of violence. This was because the lyrics of the songs actually meant something…

Nowadays, hip-hop has faded to the underground and rap fills the airwaves. Typically, rap songs consists of three topics: sex, money and drugs. Very rarely is anything uplifting ever discussed, except in the case of songs meant to uplift one’s self.

Another con of modern day rap is the fact that hooks are often repetitive and simple. They usually have no creativity to them and are just simple. A hook should drive a song and add to the importance of the verses. But a listener would have to understand what the artist was saying to notice any of these things in the first place. With so much auto-tune and mumbling nowadays, it’s hard to tell. However, there is hope for the world of mainstream artists. Storytellers like J.Cole may not have the “turn up” qualities of most songs but they do leave you with an impression. They not only reach your ears but, sometimes even your heart. Then there’s the man who some say is the savior of modern rap: Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick’s Grammy-winning album To Pimp A Butterfly discusses problems of today’s society and uplifts African Americans. It gives us a sense of hope that everything will be — as the single says — “Alright.” It mirrors the themes of songs from the hip-hop days of old. Some even consider it the soundtrack of the Black Lives Matter movement. And his latest album untitled. unmastered. only continues this theme. Yes, overall the world of mainstream rap seems headed in a downward spiral but, contrary to popular belief, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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