2017 birthed more melody-driven rap than ever before, further dissolving the barriers between hip-hop and R&B, but whether purists like it or not, the genre is evolving.
In a newly-published interview by Desire Thompson at VIBE, veteran radio host Ebro “Old Man Ebro” Darden co-signed the genre’s evolution and pushed back against the notion that lyrics are the only thing that matter in hip-hop.
"That’s another thing that I get frustrated about when people talk hip-hop because they are always demanding lyrics, lyrics, lyrics, lyrics, but what about the actual musical components that turn these lyrics into the pictures and the vivid feelings?” Ebro posits. “People be like, ‘But, their lyrics.’ Okay, well what about the music, the concerts, the vibe? There’s a lot more to it than that and in 2018 we’re going to see that."
Before you fire off an angry tweet or purchase a Lil Uzi Vert CD in the name of recreating that one scene from Office Space, it’s important to understand that Ebro is not saying “lyrics don’t matter,” but is instead suggesting that there are several elements that give today’s hip-hop a full feeling.
Music is meant to be an experience, a moment of escapism. Listeners can lose themselves in the poetics of a song just as easily as they can in the way an artist holds a note or layers their instrumental. There is more than one way to communicate an emotion, especially with all of the new production technology and the buzzing creative energy of younger artists.
Think of “the vibe” Ebro mentioned as an extension of a rapper’s delivery. A heart-wrenching written verse cannot move a fan to tears if the artist delivers it without conviction. The same is true of the musical components of a song.
For fans in search of the highest-quality music—the music that will move you the most—resist the urge to limit an artist’s creativity because of what you think hip-hop should sound like.