Every so often, artists use their platforms to bemoan the state of hip-hop. Few offer solutions, but many have complaints. In a new state-of-the-union-like address to UK outlet Double Down News, Run-DMC’s DMC himself sits down to explain exactly how he believes hip-hop can course correct.
“Listen to hip-hop radio,” DMC instructed. “All the fucking records is about codeine and Xanax. There’s not one rapper there rapping: ‘I never got high a day in my life!’ We need dudes in hip-hop that don’t get high. We need dudes in hip-hop that ain’t in the street game, we need to over flood hip-hop with Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rappers.”
Sure, just one problem: both Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper have made songs that detail gang life and substance use and abuse. Chance revealed he almost lost himself to a Xanax addiction on 2016’s “Finish Line.” He has a song with Future entitled “Smoke Break,” the contents of which are exactly as the title suggests. Kendrick Lamar’s music touches on alcoholism, violence, and the possibility that he may have even killed a man.
It is in this moment, DMC lets his passion for hip-hop eclipse his better judgment as this position is nothing if not misinformed.
Yet, it’s not difficult to see how he arrived at this position. Both Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper are openly religious rappers, though they speak to God in different ways through their music. Both artists present as more polished and accessible than any upcoming rapper with a face tattoo. While it may be easy to understand how DMC has come to this conclusion, we also must admit that his take—especially given how unaligned it is with the artists’ content—reeks of respectability politics.
Yes, DMC did offer us a solution to fix hip-hop’s “stagnant” state, but it is one steeped in dangerous ideology that keeps music from being organic and limits expression. A shame, because across his 10-minute address, DMC makes myriad valid points about the failure of hip-hop radio, the importance of rap groups, and the essence of the genre.
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