I have a friend my age who is growing out of hip-hop, but he doesn’t realize it yet. So I’ll play him some Migos or Chance the Rapper or maybe Earl Sweatshirt, and he’ll say “the shit is wack.” He’ll call me a “weirdo” and he’ll say I “lost my ear.”
Nah. My ear is fine. He’s the one with a problem. He’s still judging hip-hop with the ’90s Rap Rulebook. That’s cool. But that is also how you outgrow rap: use the rules that made sense in 1995 to judge music made by someone born in 1996.
I was able to evolve. And I did this by basically not taking rap music as seriously as I used to. And why should I? Rap is now pop and pop is fun. And, for the most part, people younger than me understand this.
But, man, this is definitely not how it used to be: that 1993 to 2003 era of hip-hop was so rigid.
Look at all of the rules a rapper had to follow back in the day: every rapper had to be technically gifted; a rapper couldn’t have an R&B singer on a hook; a rapper couldn’t bite someone else’s style (no “Shark Niggas,” B).
The most important rule, however, was that you had to keep it real. You had to be authentic. And even though there were plenty of rappers that weren’t real “gangstas,” per say, (looking at you, Mobb Deep), he or she did tons of mean-mugging and rolled with a lot of dudes named “Spank” so fans didn’t notice.
Keeping it real, along with most of the other rap rules of the ’90s, died during the 50 Cent and Rick Ross beef in 2009.
Essentially, 50 did everything to tell the world that Rick Ross, a former Corrections Officer, wasn’t really a plugged-in Miami drug kingpin. Rick Ross kinda shrugged, went in the studio and created “B.M.F.,” arguably the best fucking rap song of the last five years.
Ross isn’t the only great character rap has now, of course: there’s Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Riff Raff, A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz. But the best is Kanye West.
The reason why I wrote this blog is I want you to put Kanye’s actions in some kind of perspective: he’s a character, man.
Kanye is the man of the moment right now, again, and he did it simply by speaking (tweeting, really). That’s amazing.
Whether it’s rants, tweets, or interviews, he’s become appointment viewing because he’s played up his character so well. And you folks out there react. It’s shrewd and genius.
Look how Kanye moves: he acts crazed, wearing masks and shit, for months before dropping the most bugged-out album of his career, Yeezus.
Kanye West knows too much about what’s current in hip-hop not to play-up his shtick.
I love it; I hope you don’t take it too seriously.
Kanye’s latest outburst occurred because Jimmy Kimmel made fun of an interview he did with the BBC. An interview where Kanye West, with a half grin on his face, made some of the most outlandish statements he’s ever made.
That’s how you stretch out your moment.