Mainstream Hip Hop Lost Its Flavor

April 13, 2007 § 18 Comments

“I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddlin,’” Public Enemy said in “Don’t Believe The Hype,” from their 1988 hit album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, implying that real hip hop isn’t just about spitting rhymes that flow. A message should drive the lyrics. Almost 20 years later, this philosophy has changed.

Today’s mainstream hip-hop music is like an unruly child whose mother wants to disown him for embarrassing the family name. This may seem harsh and a tad bit hypocritical coming from a hip-hop lover. As I mature, I realize how conflicted I am about the mainstream hip-hop music I am still coddling. Just so we’re on the same page, mainstream hip-hop music is the most popular hip hop music that’s selling big from the inner-city to suburbia. Mainstream hip-hop music has become so popular that even the prestigious Academy Awards decided to cash in, when it gave an Oscar for Best Original Song to rap/crunk group Three 6 Mafia for, It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” See what I mean?

Mainstream hip-hop music is disappointing for many reasons. Yet, millions, myself included, are still listening. Why do we still listen? Who is responsible for the current state of mainstream hip-hop music? The hip-hop artists who breathe life into the music, or the old white men in three-piece suits who sign their checks and market and distribute the music to the media–who in turn tell the naïve public this mainstream hip-hop is truly representative of black culture—which unfortunately somehow turns into the music representing all African Americans.

Let’s look at mainstream hip hop music. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “That song is horrible lyrically, but the beat is hot!” I listen because the beats, rhythm, production, and arrangements are infectious. So infectious that sometimes I forget what the artist is actually spitting.

From boasting about who’s got more street credibility based on the amount of bullets earned, to never deviating from rapping about anything other than material possessions (a.k.a. money, diamonds, grills, rims, etc.), hustling, “bitches,” pimping, and “hoes,” it is clear that hip-hop’s original message of political and social commentary is dead. The kind of hip-hop music that is marketed, sold, and distributed in America is making a mockery of what was once a powerful and pioneering art form because of its political and social message, which helped revolutionize African Americans.

All you have to do is turn on the radio or consult BET or MTV to get my drift. The current state of hip-hop is a mockery because it is no longer diverse in its lyricism (everyone is saying the same thing, but using a different beat) and it perpetuates stereotypes that black people have been trying to get rid of for ages. Intellectual worth is lost and ignorance prevails in mainstream hip-hop music’s current state. Sadly without the black community, this music tells white America that this is how non-white people behave.

Hip hop has went from the socially and politically conscious pioneers like Public Enemy, Run DMC, and KRS-One to one-note minstrel wonders like 50-Cent, Camron, and Lil’ Jon.

I’ll admit there are still some socially conscious hip hop artists out there like Common, The Roots, and Talib Kweli, to only name a few. But, they are not in the mainstream selling millions. They aren’t endorsing Pepsi (Ludacris) or showing the public in more ways than one what hip hop wasn’t born in this world to be—a mockery of something that was once profound.


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§ 18 Responses to Mainstream Hip Hop Lost Its Flavor

  • Lianna says:

    This was an excellent article! and well written too

  • yo says:

    I feel you man, but I just gave up on the mainstream years ago; and after sojah boy hit the radio, I stopped listening completely. I can’t wait until someone mentions some top 40 artist, I don’t have aclue who what they’re talking about

  • makingsofme says:

    lol i feel you TOTALLY…the whole art form has gone downhill : (

  • Churchboi says:

    yea i agree with what you are saying, but I love hip-hop too much to stop listening…there are enough artists out there just doing them and as long as that is the case hip-hop well never die…its just changing yo…

  • makingsofme says:

    churchboi, you know something…you may be right. there are definitely those rappers out there that are still doing their thing and making quality hip hop…the only sad part is they often don’t get the respect they deserve…

  • Underground Poet says:

    Yo, I feel you on so many levels. Hip-Hop was originally ment for the music not all this bullshit thats played now.

    Hip-Hip is changing ? Its been changing forever. From Disco Rap to Jazz Rap to Mainstream Rap etc. Hip-Hop is always gona change once in a while but dont forgot the roots of Hip-Hop which I think started with Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five =].

    The Bronx is where Hip-Hop was made..and it will never los its roots after Mainstream..whats next ?
    Country Rap ?

  • trevor says:

    I agree i find myself listening to mainstream hip-hop because of the “beats.” I hardly ever listen to lyrics anymore 😦

  • thewhiteman says:

    “i’m the plump of the night, let me check your pipes, oh, you’re the healthy type. Well, here goes some egg whites. Now gimme that sweet, that nasty gushy stuff” pitbull hotel room. what is this garbage?? its gross and they play it on the radio! mainstream is not hot anymore. there are some dope underground artists, and its a shame they dont get the money that they deserve for there talents of writing and performing.

  • Muni Sami says:

    i feel you bro. i got into a heated discussion with one of my friends on how mainstream hip hop is just garbage. like u stated, i explained how this mainstream is lacking its once respected intellectual feel. and it was my mentioning of Lil Wayne that got this debate started. Ive studied his lyrics and artists just like him, and i find nothing but record label propoganda and just rhyming for the sake of flow. Of course, my friends disagreed with me. And one factor i think is that people can’t see through this mainstream stuff. Like u said, they are hypnotized by these record labels saying that this is Hip-Hop. He put on me that Hip-Hop died years ago, which is did. But he also said that this mainstream stuff is what Hip-Hop is now. And i of course, completely did not agree. Hip-Hop is still here, u just have to be “educated” enough to go look for it. People that listen to this mainstream stuff are just blind and lazy, and think that this is true Hip-Hop, its all good. No. they got to be willing to expand their music knowledge and dig for what Hip-Hop truly is. Artists like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Common, Zion I, Soulstice, Nas, and many others. Sorry, I got a little heated up. But I totally am down with what u sayin.

  • […] Now, when it comes to hip hop I’m purely on the artsy side of the spectrum. I am not into the mainstream styles unless I’m over caffeinated and need something upbeat to dance to. I Don’t care what […]

  • […] Now, when it comes to hip hop I’m purely on the artsy side of the spectrum. I am not into the mainstream styles unless I’m over caffeinated and need something upbeat to dance to. I Don’t care what […]

  • K.E.I.T.H says:

    Well hip hop has no boundaries, BUT I do too feel like mainstream hip hop music has lost its taste and the feelings it once had. Along time ago, when I was about 6 or 7, I could accept mainstream hip hop, because it had that feeling and to this day, I’m still listening to those old records made during 1990’s-2007.

    Of course I listen to mainstream rap nowadays cause the beats have taken a whole new level and have so much instruments used in them (Kanye West’s H.A.M. for example.). Although, everyone I listen to about says the same thing. Not all records do though.

    Oh yeah, I really liked that new Swizz Beats song btw. Everyday (Coolin), BEAT IS FIRE!

  • Abyss Infinite says:

    You’re on point with this article. Mainstream Hip Hop hasn’t been dope since the days of 1580 KDAY in LA and I don’t really know how ‘mainstream’ that was. That being said, there are so many good artists in probably every city…..even world wide. I’ve moved up to Oregon in the past few years not even knowing if they’d know what Hip Hop is, and there’s really talented artists up here….and not only in Portland, but in the small towns too. It’s crazy. I’ve met cats all from all over that got skills, we just gotta support them, buy a cd and tell a neighbor. They say word of mouth is the best advertising. I think it’s being WAY under utilized.

  • Hassan Abdi says:

    Lil’ Wayne ayne tops that list..

  • Hassan Abdi says:

    Lil’ Wayne ayne tops that list….
    Real Hip-Hip ain’t about the WEED & SEX..

    Great article

  • jay says:

    We now have a new generation that did’nt come up on tru hip hop such as from the 1980’s early 90’s Rakim boogie down productions P.E. EPMD . Juice crew.they have no idea what hip hop is all they know is lil Wayne n swag THAT’S NOT HIP HOP just like Nas said its dead.

  • […] Now, when it comes to hip hop I’m purely on the artsy side of the spectrum. I am not into the mainstream styles unless I’m over caffeinated and need something upbeat to dance to. I Don’t care what […]

  • […] Now, when it comes to hip hop I’m purely on the artsy side of the spectrum. I am not into the mainstream styles unless I’m over caffeinated and need something upbeat to dance to. I Don’t care what […]

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