Hip-Hop began as a respectable movement, but has succumbed into being one of the most sold out and badly misrepresented genres of music. Hip-Hop began as a movement not only to produce heartfelt music, but was meant to be a stand against the corrupt system of society its early MCs grew up in.
New York, the home of hip-hop, was home to terrible slums, gang violence, and a strong feel of hopelessness; this was projected through the music. Many early MCs rapped from their hearts, which incidentally was filled with a brutal depiction of life living in the ghetto. Spitting real/skilled lyrics was a key property for MC survival. Beefs in this era were not meant solely to gain publicity, but had the purpose of “killing” an MCs career through proving their lack of skill, as seen in the beef between KRS-One and Boogey Down Productions.
It is quite obvious this past of hip-hop no longer remains in existence. Unfortunately, hip-hop gained great amounts of exposure, and it was inevitable its market would fall into the hands of capitalists caring about surplus and capital rather than keeping real hip-hop and the movement alive. Being a strong lyricist, having a good flow; these things were no longer required to “go big.” Now, one needed a stronger delivery and a beat able to mesmerize the ignorant masses.
Thus, it becomes quite clear that while hip-hop began as a positive movement fighting what was not right its heavyweights in terms of exposure would soon become a part of this very corrupt system. The label issue with Lupe Fiasco’s most recent album illuminates this; he was not able to put out the album he wanted, and it become the record label rather than the artist deciding the final product.
The future of hip-hop has many questions for me. While there are certain newer MCs I quite like – J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs – I think little will change, and whatever is best at the time for profit will prevail. MCs have always discussed smoking marijuana, but now it has become a strong selling suit for and is a market (Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller). It is things like this that make me fear for the future of my beloved hip-hop, and wish for a return to its past golden age.