Legendary producer Pete Rock has been catching some flak for his recent criticisms of mumble-rap superstar Lil Yachty, after Soul Brother #1 posted a video on his Instagram of a failed freestyle attempt by Yachty.
While many youngsters are dismissing Rock’s cries of “trash” as the curmudgeonly ramblings of an “old head,” Rhymesayers emcee/producer Blueprint thinks they’re a breath of fresh air.
In a series of tweets, the Columbus-based rapper defended Pete Rock, essentially pointing out a very real issue of political correctness in hip-hop today.
Blueprint has a very legitimate point. Hip-hop has a storied past of being a kind of self-regulating art form. Back in the day if you were considered wack, you just didn’t make it and that was that. Now with an ever-expanding musical landscape and the internet having left the floodgates wide open, anyone can hop in and out of the culture as they please.
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Newer artists reap the benefits by assuming the genre's fan base and the aesthetic of hip-hop culture, but then turn around and state that they are not in fact rappers, and are therefore exempt from the same criticisms their predecessors worked so hard to transcend. The truth is, within the core hip-hop culture, quality and authenticity are valued over everything. A dope song is great, but not being able to freestyle is a fucking problem, and rapping over your vocal tracks at a show is sacrilege.
These unwritten rules are all part of a criterion that has been developed and upheld throughout hip-hop culture over multiple decades, yet over the past 10-15 years has started to give way to the sheer output of mediocrity and it’s complete lack of separation from the occasional genius that rises from it. If a veteran artist offers up a legitimate concern over declining lyrical complexity and a general lack of effort showcased by a newcomer, they’re quickly disregarded as a hater or a bitter “old head” by the internet, risking future relevance in the digital age in the process.
While there is absolutely something to be said for the “different strokes” mentality regarding much of the new music being released today, it’s important to remember that even if new school artists don’t regard themselves as rappers, they’re still culturally piggy-backing off of the very real and respected work of hip-hop pioneers, so they might have to deal with the occasional legend calling them trash.
By Brent Bradley. Troll him with Yachty memes on Twitter.