The “Evolution” of Hip Hop: A Hip Pop Dream
December 9, 2016, J. Cole comes out with his 4th studio album after his last studio album went triple platinum with no features, averaging 20 million to 100 million views on YouTube. Vintage hip hop, the art of recounting the details of your environment in poetic form. This is J. Cole’s lane.
J. Cole fans claim that in order to understand him you have to have a genius intelligence level. Those who don’t believe in his message argue that he’s boring. Intellectuals more concerned with intersectional sociology find Cole’s intelligence to be misogynistic at best.
All those things can be true or false, depending on who you’re talking to. But one thing is for sure, the man has a message, at a time when music is not meant to encourage but rather distract, Cole delivers a message.
Hip hop began as a way for black people to relay to the world their pain, their survival and their victories. Although, I would like to blame millennials for the decline of the art of storytelling, hip hop has long since diverted from that being a required skill.
For quite some time now hip hop has been morphing into party music, almost like the new pop. Hip hop music no longer needs to tell a story, it does not need to encourage, it does not have to be about anything in particular, it doesn’t even need to be clever or true. As long as there is a lively beat and a catchy hook, you can make it in hip hop today.
The genre is so transformed that it’s partner in crime, R&B, is having to morph with it, “Work” by Rihanna won best R&B track this year. Catchy, love to shake my butt to it, but Rhythm and Blues…”Work” is Rhythm and Blues? What was considered R&B, when voices were purer, is now being referred to as neo-soul or alternative R&B.
All the genres for black music are shifting. What is thought of as hip hop today is more like “hip pop,” considering the artists are no longer making hip hop for its original demographic but rather making it for the pop scene.
It’s understandable, getting a pop hit makes a hip hop hit look like child’s play. Pop hits receive hundreds of millions of views. Take Selena Gomez, she averages between 200 million and 500 million views per music video on YouTube. Taylor swift averages between 500 million and 1 billion views per video.
The average hip hop hit, say a Chance the Rapper song, gets between 500 thousand and 17 million views on YouTube. A Jay-Z video averages between 20 million and 100 million YouTube views.
Now for the hip pop artists. Hip pop artist like Silento, with just 2 Vevo videos on YouTube, have between 100 million and 1 billion views. Hip pop artists like Drake have anywhere in between 35 million and 1 billion views on YouTube.
The business of making hip hop into pop music makes clear sense, an unimaginable boost in exposure which brings money that hip hop artists could never dream of seeing.
But what is left for the hip hop fans who just want mainstream hip hop, for the sake of
the people and not the money?
There are some artists left, like Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar who don’t necessarily do it for the money or a record deal. There are some artists left who will follow in J. Cole’s footsteps, rapping for the sake of storytelling.
There is an obscene amount of underground hip hop artists who are incredibly true to the craft, we just have to promote them as much as we promote the hip pop artists.
That being said, those who have shifted the culture for the sake of the money should not be snubbed. Instead vintage hip hop fans should embrace what hip pop brings to the table.
Some of the young artists today are truly opening minds with their more free-spirited approach to hip hop. They are attempting to break down barriers and create lanes of their own.
Most of them are bad, really bad, but hey at least they have good beats!
Want more from Mojo? Follow her on Instagram, @Mojosway