“You Can’t Be Mad at It”: Fabolous on Hip-Hop’s Evolution From Culture to Business

"It's really transformed from this little thing of ours to a thing for everyone."
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"It's really transformed from this little thing of ours to a thing for everyone."

Next year, Fabolous will celebrate two decades of killer punchlines, collaborations with female R&B singers and pre-holiday mixtape releases.

While the veteran Brooklyn MC has never garnered a classic album feather—his debut, Ghetto Fabolous, is as close as Fab ever came to a complete body of work—he has picked up plenty of game over his nearly 20 years of active service in hip-hop, some of which he shared in a new interview with XXL for their own 20th Anniversary issue.  

On hip-hop evolving from a regional culture only seen and heard on the block to a worldwide business bringing in billions:

"Seeing this growth, how it's adapted, how it's evolved...it's not like you doubted it, but its very surprising cause you really never knew at that time how far it would go, how far you would go, how far hip-hop would go. Yet, we here. It's become a business, it's become a brand, it always was a culture, but I think the culture spread it out to the masses more. It's a universal language now. Not just in the Bronx or the ghettos or, you know, even just America. It's worldwide. Who knows, probably some aliens on Mars listening to hip-hop? It's really transformed from this little thing of ours to a thing for everyone. You can't be mad at it, for someone coming across it and loving it and the sense of expression the same way you did. I think it's definitely changed, some would say for the better, some would say it's gotten a little worse, more commercial, but that's a part of the change, the evolution of hip-hop."

Fab's right, hip-hop has simultaneously gotten better and worse at the same time—it all really depends on how you view the position the genre and culture at large currently find itself in.

Earlier this year, for the first time ever, hip-hop became the most popular musical genre in the United States. In order for hip-hop to earn that lofty achievement, however, it had to become completely and totally commercialized. One is just not possible without the other; you can't be the most popular genre if you refuse to leave the street corners, strip clubs and house parties. 

Of course, with commercialization comes cultural whitewashing and reappropriation, which is the reason hip-hop has had such a rocky relationship with brands and products over the years.

At the same time, though, the power that hip-hop now wields over all aspects of life, from social media memes to Hollywood and everything in-between, has given some of the most talented artists in the business a larger platform than they could have ever imagined and provided them with a megaphone to share their creativity, originality, and passion.

Human life is not currently sustainable on Mars, but if it were, it's safe to say hip-hop would most likely be the most popular genre on that planet, too.