“Anyone and everyone can rap now. Its not an impressive field to be in anymore. Ima just learn more instruments and plot more symphonies. Of course there are guys that are impressive and found success making rap their own, but how many of those types of artist exist? Not many.
So on the rare occasion I stumble across some new shit thats powerful and has meaning, I become impressed with that artist. Because they could dumb down their music, surely connect to a larger audience and make a shit ton of money, but thats not impressive. Big whoop u sell a shit ton of records, so have many artist before you. What else u got? What u got for mankind? For the human race? Rap music is a hustle I respect, but we need more people approaching it like an artform with some peace of mind.” - Kid Cudi
This piece should’ve been written when Kid Cudi went on Arsenio Hall, the first time he expressed issues with hip-hop’s current state. It happens so often, these opinionated fingers pointing at the problems. The problems are so tiny, only a jaded, out-of-touch fossil would find them worthy of discussion. You’ll have to be a full time activist to fight and debate every half-witted imbecile that only sees the music as curse words and violence. How do you mention the materialism and braggadocio without highlighting the rise of lyricism and consciousness? Are you so blinded that you absolutely refuse to acknowledge hip-hop's beauty in 2014? Nothing is perfect, if you stand before a glass house with a smudge, do you call it a mountain of shit? No! I expect this from old-timers that still believe the East and West Coast are “beefing,” but I never expected Scott Mescudi, such a creative voice, to have such a vacuous mentality.
The usage of the word “artform” in his rant gave me the feeling of an unexpected titty twister. Cudi would have to be a resident of the moon for the last 24 months, without Wi-Fi, to believe that hip-hop isn’t in an artistic state-of-mind. Didn’t Childish Gambino write a screen-play for his album Because Of The Internet? Didn’t Raury have you complete a simple but challenging video game before you could download his long-awaited Indigo Child album? Are we going to pretend that Jaden Smith didn’t drop an album as a smart phone application? Tyler the Creator is throwing hip-hop dominated carnivals, are we overlooking these glorious feats? I haven’t even touched the visuals. Flying Lotus took the entire planet’s breath away with "Never Catch Me," Kendrick’s “i” is unbelievable, YG has turned his acclaim debut “My Krazy Life” into a highly anticipated short-film and Mick Jenkins has dropped nothing but spectacular, cinematic videos to co-exist with his The Water[s] album. All this creative energy, and you want to claim a need for a more “artistic” approach?
Since I can remember, there’s always been this stigma that hip-hop artists sacrifice lyrics for commercial success; the radio stations only play music with ignorance, anything that degrades women... and Drake. I won’t deny that the radio is a tyrant that gives attention to Migos and not Vic Mensa, but why can’t we enjoy both? We still need to work on the “bitches and hoes,” but overall – the scale has never been more balanced. For every Chief Keef there’s a Chance the Rapper. For every Young Thug there’s a Raury. We have more than one poison to choose from. Did you know J. Cole sold 694,000 copies last year of Born Sinner? That’s more than Kanye, A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne. The only artists that sold more albums than Cole are Eminem, Drake, and Jay Z - do we consider these rappers “dumb”? Are they sacrificing their craft for the almighty dollar? I want make sure that good music, that has lyrics, that has a message, isn’t going un-noticed. Let us go to the club and rejoice in the wonderment that is 2 Chainz, and go home and play Joey Bada$$.
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Deep down, what really grinded-my-gears about Cudi’s complaints are the lack of a solution. You can beat that dead horse all day, tweet until your thumbs bleed, create symphonies and learn the xylophone, but what will that do? When I named Gucci Mane “The King Of The South,” I wanted to show how much unknown, young potential he has ushered into the game. Who has Cudi opened a door for? The internet is a playground of creatives, working tirelessly to be seen and heard. If you look at the blogs as an orphanage showcasing all this talent, go adopt a budding game changer, mentor the next mountain pusher and give a voice to the savoir of mankind! You have the key, you have the passion, and the knowledge. Why waste energy on compiling the negatives that plague us, when you could present the antidote that will save this game you find unimpressive?
When I hear music like Mir Fontae’s He So Crazy concept album, an ode to the classic Martin series, I get excited. He took familiar characters and concepts, expanded on them and created a storytelling experience that felt new and nostalgic. He approached it like a screen writer, the sheer amount of thought and detail that went into the album can be heard in every song. Give this kid a louder voice! When I heard the story of how Curbside Jones used KickStarter to fund his animated video "Pink," I got excited. While his peers are renting Canon 5Ds to shoot stoner clips in their mom’s basement, he sought to make his first ever music video an experience. Not only did fans fund a video, but they got a gang of merchandise as incentives. Get this kid a budget! When you have websites like DJBooth picking out Top Prospects, and Pigeons and Planes introducing bubbling stars in a list like, “25 Rappers You Should Get To Know Before They Blow Up”, how can you not find someone inspiring? I can’t fathom discrediting the progress and innovation unfolding before our very eyes.
J. Cole just played his album in the home of a fan, Kendrick is telling us to love ourselves, and good music is being created and discovered every day. Add something positive to this spectrum, or shut the fuck up. That goes for anyone that agrees with his sentiments.
Update : Kid Cudi responded to Yoh's article on Twitter. He wasn't happy.
[By Yoh, aka The Hakuhō Shō of Rap Blogging, aka @Yoh31.]