Although there are dozens of different styles of Hip-Hop, few outside of the Hip-Hop culture wouldn’t know it. It’s all “Rap Music” to them. Whatever style of is currently trending at the moment becomes the definition of Hip-Hop for the world.
That makes a lot of Hip-Hop artists angry. But…
Boom-Bap was a product of Evolution itself
I LOVE Boom-Bap. I grew up on it from the late 80’s and especially the 90’s. Boom-Bap was a product of evolution itself. I remember the samples of early hip-hop before the SP-1200’s and MPC 60’s took over. Hip-Hop was a lot more funkadelic to me then. Boom-Bap was a lot sexier. My first true experience with Boom-Bap was MC Shan’s “The Bridge” produced by Marley Marl. I was a shorty then. But, the way that kick and snare dominated the rhythm over MC Shan spittin made me want to put my voice on wax.
Later on in my teen years, it was Nas’ Illmatic that put the nail in the coffin for me. I had a love affair with not only Hip-Hop, but the production behind it. Boom-Bap production made me wanna go crazy on the lyrical tip. Spittin’ bars full of vocabulary, similes, and metaphors was what it was all about for me back then. The day’s of Grandmaster Flash, U.T.F.O., and Kool Moe Dee seemed like eons ago, even though only 10 years had passed.
Hip-Hop had entered one of the most important, and critical stages of its evolution. However, just like the various eras of Earth’s history, there was more to come.
Although, none was as defined as Boom-Bap, or as most heads know it as: Real Hip-Hop.
Every Generation’s Music is a Reflection of Who They Are
I think the main point most of us older heads are missing is, today’s Hip-Hop is not about OUR struggle. Today’s popular Hip-Hop is so hard for us to understand because every generation’s music is a reflection of who they are. The 60’s was peace, love, unity, and Civil Rights. Hence, you had the birth of soul ballads, as well as militants like The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron. In order to be a Hip-Hop artist in the late 80’s and 90’s, you had to be lyrical. Yeah, sure there were a couple of artists who slipped through the cracks and found stardom. But, for the most part, nobody was trying to hear you unless you actually had BARS. That’s not taking anything away from today’s popular artists, because they are great in their own way.
We came up in the Crack Era which to be honest, was a devastating and troubling time for Urban communities. Most of us can’t count how many people we know who were victims of drug addiction and violence in the 90’s. We can’t count how many funerals we went to.
Some of us were victims ourselves.
Hip-Hop was the only outlet and dream for a lot of us trying to avoid being trapped behind those walls. It still is today. We talked about the things that we saw, heard, and experienced because Hip-Hop gave us the voice to do that.
I remember a lot of the older cats in the 90’s who had come up during the Soul and Funk days, the Temptations and O’Jays days, who used to say the exact same thing about our music that we say about today’s Hip-Hop:
“That’s not REAL music.”
“All that ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of noise!”
Hell, I remember a time, at least in Chicagoland, when you didn’t hear rap at all until Saturday nights from 10pm to 12 am when Ramonski Luv hosted the Rapdown on WGCI. Remember when Hip-Hop was still classified as Pop?
Just like today’s music creators, we found ourselves victims of stereotype and generalization. No matter what type of Hip-Hop you performed, we were labeled as thugs and criminals, as opposed to platform-builders or entrepreneurs. Frankly, I still find it hard to understand because these labels came from a generation of music listeners who witnessed the rise and fall of Black pride, the decimation of Urban neighborhoods due to covert government programs like COINTELPRO, and, ironically, the Black Panthers. The street organizations of the 80’s and 90’s began as community organizations to uplift and empower urban youth. I didn’t understand how could they hate Hip-Hop when the subject matter in Hip-Hop was a consequence of the actions of the previous generation.
Now I watch as my generation does the exact same thing to today’s music creators. The question is…