As a hip-hop head born in the late 80s, I’ve been afforded a unique perspective. Ten years ago I would’ve throat-punched anyone who tried to turn me on to hip-hop that wasn’t either already regarded as a classic or verbosely representing societal ills ad nauseum. These days, you’re just as likely to find Future on my playlist as you are to find Black Star.
Call it maturity, call it throwing in the towel in a fight against futility, but it has become easier over time to accept that not everyone wants to constantly rewind a record multiple times to hear the dopest, most socially relevant punchline they’ve ever heard. Sometimes, people just want to party. With the rise of Lil Yachty, we’ve quite possibly reached the epitome of the new generation’s ethos, which is, simply put: have fun.
In a recent interview with TIDAL, Yachty urges his detractors to stop taking him so damn seriously:
It’s just fun, it’s not serious. I hate serious rap. It’s boring. Serious rap music puts me to sleep.
My immediate reaction to hearing that line ooze out of Yachty’s mouth was anger. I was angered that an 18-year-old, who’s been rapping for less than a year and is a part of XXL’s 2016 Freshman Class, is shunning the very sounds and well-rounded lyrical content that paved the way for his inexplicable explosion into stardom. That said, the kid has a point.
The more immersed we all become in this new generation of musical stylings, the more difficult it will be for some to vibe to the lyrically-centered, boom-bap driven sounds of Yachty’s alternatives. For better or worse, intelligent, socially conscious hip-hop is having a hard time adapting to the sounds and feelings of today’s youth. Of course there are exceptions, like Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, and Lupe Fiasco, but they are few and far between.
While plenty of newer “turn up” artists have voiced their dismay over the growing racial tension in America, wealth inequality, and other woes plaguing the modern world, their actual music largely ignores those issues, focusing instead on embracing what the moment has to offer in what can be seen as a hedonistic response to decades of mounting discouragement.
A good portion of the youth listening populace caught the tail end of the Golden Era of hip-hop. They watched artists like Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, and others address the failings of society with zeal and excitement. But they also saw that not much changed throughout their teen years and into their early 20s. That’s not to say hip-hop hasn’t and doesn’t continue to have a positive, lasting effect on our society, but it’s not hard to understand why artists like Yachty are basically saying, “fuck it,” and enjoying the successes that are attached to the lighthearted, bass-driven approach to the genre.
By Brent Bradley. Feel free to argue with him about this on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram