Hopsin is an artist who is no stranger to controversy; with a variety of verbal attacks and public slanders regarding various mainstream artists particularly in Hip-Hop, listeners of his music have become very familiar with his current opinion on the rap game. Openly admitting that he believes rap has gone to a dark, dark place, Hopsin has now gone a step further by releasing a humorous parody skit and video entitled ‘No Words’ through an alter ego named ‘Hash Brown’, in which, you guessed it, has almost no words. If you listen carefully around the plethora of mumbling, you can hear phrases such as “Hakuna Matata”. That’s right, a Lion King reference. Although admittedly hilarious, does Hopsin have a point? Is rap as a genre too simplified? I disagree.
Don’t get me wrong, over the last few years there has been a huge saturation of very poor Hip-Hop, with very familiar lyrics bringing up the usual suspects in content: guns, drugs, women et cetera, et cetera. Combined with countless trap beats and auto-tuned vocals, this sound has become what many consider mainstream Hip-Hop. In terms of sales, this sound has been the most successful for a multitude of reasons, particularly due to a large push from major records and a large amount of airplay on national radio stations. Trinidad James is an artist who is the perfect example of a product of this system: signing to Def Jam in 2012 with one huge hit, ‘All Gold Everything’, he earned a lot of money for the label quickly. He himself has admitted to only rapping for a few months before this became a worldwide favourite, with over 24 million YouTube hits. Once the novelty of this single had worn off, Def Jam axed him, less than two years since his signing; the label has earned their money and the process of creating music, for them, was complete. There is a growing trend of disregard for the quality of the music the labels are putting out to the masses, so long as it sells. So you may ask how can I believe rap is still a genre worth listening to if much of the content is the same? The key is to look past the iTunes Hip-Hop top ten, and find some of the not so hidden gems of Hip-Hop.
“rap now is creating the quality we saw across the so called ‘Golden Era’ of Biggie and Tupac”
Two fantastic examples of “easy to access” conscious rap is coming from two huge artists, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. Both of these artists have both been hugely successful in both critical acclaim, and commercial success worldwide. A huge testament to this was Kendrick’s most recent project, To Pimp A Butterfly, which is arguably one of the most creative Hip-Hop albums since the turn of the century. J. Cole himself has been able to attract a huge fan base from a combination of technical rap talent, along with passionate and heartfelt lyricism. In fact, if you look close enough across the game outside of the mainstream market and past commercial success alone, such attributes can be seen in a huge variety of artists; you just need to look that bit deeper. PRhyme, Slaughterhouse, Logic, Run The Jewels to name but a few, are doing more than enough in my mind, to firmly maintain the standard of ‘real’ Hip-Hop for newcomers to respect and abide to. If such music was somehow much more documented and marketed, whether that be by the labels and radios or by the fans themselves, I am almost sure many would claim rap now is creating the quality we saw across the so called ‘Golden Era’ of Biggie and Tupac.
Although ‘Hash Brown’ may have a very valid point, in my mind, to come outright and claim a whole genre now ‘sucks’, is a huge exaggeration. Even if you are like myself and really are not attracted to such music, I think its time we come together as a Rap community and start disregarding such ‘Hash Brown’ beats as Pop; it is our responsibility as a fan base, to not support music we do not enjoy, and that we believe is not maintaining up to the standards of the genre, set by the greats in the game, past and present. Once we start doing this exactly, such music is no longer a threat to the genre as a whole, and particularly its global reputation. Problem solved. So in the mean time Hopsin, next time you’re on Spotify listening to a Rap playlist, skip that DJ Khaled track you can barely understand to the latest Logic track instead, and you may see that rap, in fact, is not all that bad.
Read the other side to the argument here.