DJ Shadow believes the hip-hop he grew up with doesn't exist anymore - and since now is a new day and age, the change is perfectly fine with him.
In a Rolling Stone interview to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of his timeless debut Endtroducing..., Shadow was asked about how hip-hop has evolved over the last two decades. He spoke about hip-hop’s origins in the '70s, then said that it’s something completely different now - and that that is perfectly fine. He holds the five elements of hip-hop close to his heart, but he made the distinction between rap and hip-hop, doing so in a way that doesn’t foster resentment toward either.
“To me, that New York [hip-hop] doesn't exist anymore. That time and place is gone. The music remains, but when I hear contemporary rap music, which I still love and support and listen to, I disassociate it from hip-hop because the cultural context is no longer inherent in the music,” Shadow said. “The music has taken on a life of its own outside of the cultural connotation. I enjoy contemporary rap, but it has very little in common with Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Islam and the roots of the music itself says, which is as it should be.
“...usually anything recent that proclaims itself to be hip-hop means that it's kind of longing for a time that doesn't exist anymore, and as a result, artistically, it's not very compelling to me, whereas rap is still an enduring art form in its own right,” he continued.
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“I also think there's something inherently creatively bankrupt about making any kind of music that seeks to return to an era that doesn't exist anymore. You can celebrate the past, learn from the past, you can long for the past, but then at a certain point you have to merge those sensibilities and those lessons and those ideologies with what's happening right here and now.”
Shadow’s response almost reads as a guide book to moving past any nostalgic hip-hop heads who stay chained to the past while chastising the youth no matter what. But for young people, Shadow still speaks about the value they can learn from the eras that came before them, and the importance of being authentically true to yourself.
If more hip-hop enthusiasts carried the attitude Shadow has toward the past and the present, hip-hop - and online forums - would be a lot better off.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Instagram