GENERATIONAL DISCONNECT: New Age Internet Artists vs. Golden Era Hip-Hop
By Steven X
At this point in its history, Hip-Hop has been a definitive lifestyle; culture and genre of music for over 45 years. In that time there has been a large assortment of diverse sounds and talents that have come from this movement. In each decade since its inception, Hip-Hop artist have consistently been at the forefront of success and innovation within the music industry and were renowned for embodying unique qualities relative to that period of popular music. The definition of success and relevance has changed in Hip-Hop based off the methods of marketing and music distribution and who could take advantage of the outlets that are popular at the time. While the level of talent should play a large factor into determining who does get respect in Hip-Hop, it is often overlooked after a certain period due to the current need for instant results in today’s culture. With the advent of the internet and social media, artists gained the ability to have listeners play their content in a much more direct manner of streaming songs. In most cases today’s artists can gain a large following with a few singles and do not emphasize the completion of full projects with diverse content as much. Due to this shift, the dynamic of what constitutes a popular artist has evolved in a sense because artists have the ability to target a specific audience that is more inclined to support their product. This niche marketing causes some artists to hold themselves in a very high regard as it relates to their placing in the all-time impact their music has on the culture.
In the past few months one example of this heightened opinion can be seen from the dispute that ensued between The Migos; a Hip-Hop group that is among the most notable in today’s landscape and the legendary Hip-Hop group Bone Thugs N Harmony. The root of this conflict stems from comments that were originally made by Migos member Offset where he stated “We (The Migos) are the best group in the world to ever exist”. After this quote was released, Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs used his platform on Instagram to state that his group who had their success in the 90’s was indeed the best group in the history of Hip-Hop and far superior to any current act including The Migos. In a direct quote from Layzie Bone’s account the Ohio native states “Bone Thugs N Harmony is the best group ever!!!! This game ain’t the same without us.... @migos y’all gotta back that sh*t up for 2019 #WE THE ONES FUCK THE TWO’s Three’s and the rest. As a matter of fact name one rapper out here that ain’t step their flow up because we showed them how. I’ll wait“.
As the audience can see, this exchange is a byproduct of the present generation not being fully aware of the history and contributions of past groups and the impact they had to shape the current climate of the culture. While it is an objective argument as to who is the best in any aspect of music especially Hip-Hop; such a discussion cannot be held properly unless people are willing to account for the history of the genre in its entirety. Even after taking all of the artists into consideration over each era of Hip-Hop, it is still difficult to definitively say one group is the best over all others because each set of artists had a different set of circumstances to navigate for them to reach their success relative to the time that they were making their music.
Overall there should be a concerted effort by the current generation of artists to create exceptional talent to place themselves in the conversation among the great artists of all time. However, at the same time there should also be a better understanding of what artist have accomplished in the past as that is a standard of excellence that should be admired and emulated in a sense. Artists of today’s fame and notoriety could not have the platform that they have today without the efforts of artists from earlier eras; so they should be more mindful of the people who made those advances when they stake their claim of being the greatest of all time.
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