“Back in my day Hip Hop actually said something, not like today’s music”. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man you may frequently utter such sentences when comparing today’s Hip Hop to that of the Golden Age. Yeah, the 90’s were a great time for Hip Hop music, but let’s not completely discount today’s artists. Boom bap vs. mumble rap doesn’t have to be so adversarial.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of mumble rap or trap music coming from anywhere but the south, but I’m also not a hater. Mumble rap is a youth movement and if you’re in your 30’s or 40’s then you can’t relate. It’s party music. Let the kids wild out a little before life smacks them in the face with responsibility and adulthood.
If you were born in the 70’s or 80’s then the music from the 90’s was transformative. Going into the 90’s was a time of a lot of experimentation and change in our music. Our culture was evolving and growing. A Tribe Called Quest was experimenting with jazz, DJ Premier was perfecting his drum chops, and storytellers like Rakim and Kool G. Rap were paving the way for Nas. Lyrics had substance and it was entertaining as hell! If you were from the ‘hood you heard stories you could relate to. For suburbanites, these artists lyrically painted vivid pictures that blew your mind. But we need to be honest with ourselves… like every generation before us, don’t we tend to over-romanticize the days of our youth?
We look back and remember all the good times, but the 90’s were also a time that welcomed commercialization in Hip Hop. Not everything had substance. For every KRS-One, we had a Vanilla Ice. Then we had the Jiggy era. The 90’s had plenty of wack Hip Hop music. We tend not to think about that in the debate of boom bap vs. mumble rap.
Mainstream Hip Hop rides the trends that come along, and over time the bullshit never lasts. Mumble rap is the current wave. The good thing is we’re not forced to consume what mainstream media gives us. We have options that are just a Google search away. There are indie artist and underground rappers still spittin’ fire, and boom bap rhythms still bumping subwoofers.
In the grand scheme of things, Hip Hop is fairly young. As we grow older as a culture we need to realize there is more than one lane in Hip Hop. On one side, we have artists creating timeless music. They don’t always get the props they deserve for their contributions but they’re rewarded with longevity in the game. On the other side, we have all that is young and trendy, where those who don’t adapt will come and go as quickly as the trends do. I’m not knocking mumble rap it just isn’t my thing, though I understand its place in our culture.
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