I remember a couple summers ago I was crashin with this shorty in Bed Stuy. Her punkass roommate had just gotten the first Akon record. In effect, every Saturday and Sunday morning I'd wake up to "I wanna love/fuck you." Granted, it's the right idea to start a Sunday with, but I'm not a fan of modern Rn'B or auto-tune. As if hearing it blasting out of every passing car window wasn't enough, my personal time was being invaded as well. Miserable.
Walking down the street, I'd hear kids talking about the "Hip Hop" they were feelin on HOT97. As an independent rapper and musician, and a strong supporter of Hip Hop as a movement, I can't help but cringe when kids defile this sacred community and lifestyle. Most of the time, they don't know any better. They have simply succombed to what I prefer to call "Trap Music."
(Trap Music: Rap related music engineered by the powers that be to keep the masses entertained and complacent, focused on money, material things, and the attributes of wealth rather than the potential paths to better lives.)
Fast forward two years and there's more of this Auto-tune R'n'B B.S. being mis-represented as Hip Hop. Now, I know that there are plenty of opinions on this. A lot of people are quarreling over what's hip hop, and maybe it's different to different people. I'm just feelin' like nobody is really ready to call it like it is.
Most of the crap on the radio that's being marketed as Hip Hop is just Pop music. Face it. It's candy wrapped junk food aimed at kids and adults who would rather act as such. Catchy hooks, flashy clothes, and superstars spouting nonsense: these are the unfortunate heroes of our decade (and future stars of reality TV).
But I harbor a belief that this trend may be quavering on its last rickety legs.
To help defend this point in a manner that I think no one can argue with, I gotta reach back into the 80s to the glam rock era.
Glam rock, also "cock rock" or "hair metal," is exactly to rock music what this Trap music is to Hip Hop. It was the polished and over-produced step-son of Rock n' Roll, birthed from the financial gains that accompanied the artists' superstardom. In a similar way Hip Hop, which developed organically, has been assimilated into popular music and polished up and over-produced into this Glam Rap.
Peep this new joint by Maino and T.I. called "All of the Above.":::
Overall, not a bad track, but I had to laugh the first time I heard it because of how much the hook, particularly the harmonies, reminded me of so many 80s bangers like this Autograph track, "Blondes in Black Cars":::
Pretty amazing similarities, eh? Busta Rhymes "Don't believe 'em" from his new album shares similar qualities. Maybe it's just T.I. to blame, but I doubt it.
More will come I'm sure. Those harmonies drove a whole movement of Cock Rock for about 10 years. Now they've made their way into "Hip Hop." Brace yourself.
But all is not lost. Out of the teased bangs, cans of hair spray, and treacherously revealing spandex arose a great movement of music. From the dank garages of Seattle and the vomit crusted bar basements of L.A. erupted new sounds. A stark rebellion against the make-up laden rockers of the 80s: The Grunge Rock movement screamed onto the scene with bitter disdain and squelched out their sissy predecessors.
Bands like Poison, Warrant, and Skid Row were replaced with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains. Spandex and eye make-up were replaced with ripped jeans and flannels. Hairspray was replaced with, well, completely unwashed and greasy hair. Power ballads were strangled out by the gritty, honest, and often somber anthems shouted, screached, and wailed into microphones.
A couple years back I would have argued that Underground Hip Hop was going vanquish Trap Music in the same way that Grunge music did Cock Rock, but it's a different environment now. The major labels are crumbling, and so are no longer viable options for independent artists. And, for those that chose to move with the flow of the digital revolution as opposed to against it, independent labels managed with forward-thinking methods are flourishing.
So what's going to happen? Are we stuck with the minstrels of Trap Music? I don't think so. It gets a lot of mainstream exposure, but more and more of the youth growing up in the digital realm are becoming more sophisticated consumers from earlier ages. Websites like Reverbnation.com, Pandora.com, and LastFM are breaking new artists all the time, and the internet is a world of musical diversity and options.
The independent artists are out there. They're popping up all the time (no pun intended). The machine doesn't chunk along like it used to, so they're not being snatched up and thrown on MTV with such fiendish relish and the underlying speculation of the next great mu$ical movement. The next generation of artists are recording and mixing their tracks in their closets and basements. They're uploading them to their favorite sites and then it's up to the world to decide if they're going to be spread across the blogosphere and rocketed into some new form of internet superstardom.
The radio still plays what it's paid to play.
The TV still plays more reality shows than music videos, and less of the videos we really want to see.
But real Music was never about the money used to make it or market it.
("broke is okay")
Music is about the feeling in it that hopefully transfers to the listener.
It's this undeniability that will push those diamonds in the rough into your MP3 collections.
"I know we facin a recession, but the music ya'll makin gon' make it the great depression."
"you rappers singin too much, get back to rap, you t-painin too much"
"I don't be in the project hallway, talkin bout how I be in the project all day.
That sound stupid to me, you a gangsta, this is how you prove it to me."
-Jay-Z "The Death of Auto-Tune."
..peace from brokeMC..