The phrase “Hip-Hop is dead” often elicits strong emotion: people either vehemently agree or disagree with the opinion. As a child of the 90’s, for a long time I refused to accept the reality that the music I grew up listening to and loving could somehow be “dying”. Sadly, when I recently perused through Billboard’s chart-topping Hip-Hop/R&B tracks and turned the FM dial to the local Hip-Hop/R&B station, it became obvious that, that may actually be the case. The music styles I long cherished and loved may be on their last breath.
Though there may be some hidden, underground gems in the pile of rubbish that has come to represent the genres, only mainstream tracks receive enough play and make enough money to support artists and their art. When the mainstream begins to wither away, everything else follows suit. For that reason, this list addresses the death of mainstream Hip-Hop and R&B, not the underground where great artists and innovators can still be found.
8 Reasons Why Hip-Hop/ R&B Is Officially Dead.
1. The entire music industry is falling apart, anyways.
As reported by Forbes, last year, five different CDs managed to snag the platinum accolade, but not a single artist has managed to go platinum in 2014. The most popular album thus far this year was the Frozen soundtrack. 2014 seems to be a grim year for artists and the industry, entirely, so it’s no surprise that R&B/Hip-Hop music is also struggling.
2. Both R&B and Hip-Hop have received all-White makeovers, which spells trouble for Black music and artists. Culture maintains its integrity and purpose when it continues to serve, represent and be reinvented by individuals who respect and understand its origin and importance. The music industry has almost never allowed Black cultural contribution to do that. The history of American music has told the same story over and over again: Black people create a musical style or genre, only to later be replaced by white artists with more “mainstream” appeal. This trend can be seen in everything from Ragtime, Rock n Roll, Country music, Pop music more recently to Hip-Hop and R&B where White artists like Iggy Azalea, Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake dominate today’s Hip-Hop/R&B charts. This white dominance of Black music results in the degradation of the style, because it usually bars non-Whites from entry and participation in the sphere for whom it was created. White people may be able to participate in or appropriate “Black” styles, but they very infrequently innovate or enhance them, so the genre slowly withers away.
3. R&B and Hip-Hop have coalesced into a single genre. While the two genres were long independent styles, each with their own unique sound and melody that explored and discussed different subject matters, today’s Hip-Hop and R&B are practically the same genre. Almost every R&B track has a rap verse and many rappers have incorporated singing into their style (for example Drake). The once romantic, sentimental, ballads of yesteryear’s R&B have been replaced by club-styled tracks that are nearly indistinguishable from Hip-hop.
4. Music and lyrical literacy is obviously in decline. To demonstrate this point, some quoted lyrics from the year 2014:
“Get money, get money like an invoice.” — 2 On Tinashe
“These hoes ain’t loyal.” — Loyal Chris Brown Feat. Lil Wayne
“I never fuck a bitch if she don’t do her hair/ No more, you won’t get no dick if there’s a bush down there” T.I. No Mediocre
“I gotta missed call from your bitch/ She been Plotting on me for a cool minute/ She wanna’ suck my dick, and I’m cool with it.” — Jeremih Don’t Tell Em
“I’m up in this bitch like an elevator.” —Beyonce Flawless
While invoices may actually allow an individual access to money and elevators do, indeed, go up (elevators also go down by the way), and pubic hair or poor hygiene may indeed be offensive to some, there is an obvious lack of originality and creativity displayed by these lyrics.
Then there are extra special gems like this verse by Bobby Shmurda which ends in the word “nigga” for 8 lines:
“In Truey, I’m some hot nigga
Like I talk to Shyste when I shot niggas
Like you seen em twirl then he drop, nigga
And We Keep them 9 milli’s on my block, nigga
And Monte Keep it on him, he done dropped niggas
And Trigger he be wilding, he some hot nigga
Tones known to get busy with them Glocks, nigga
Try to run down and you can catch a shot, nigga”
These lyrics are especially depressing when juxtaposed with the lyrical prowess of Hip-Hop/R&B song writers of the past– like Baby Face and L.A. Reid– who penned unforgettable hits for Whitney Houston, Boys II Men, and Toni Braxton and the many performing artists like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Tupac, Outkast, Biggie Smalls, (let me stop because there isn’t enough Zoloft in the world), who often wrote their own, unforgettable hits like “Billie Jean”, “Sweet Love”, “So Many Tears” and many, many more.