The Generation Gap in Hip-Hop, by Shawn Hudson [Poetic Thoughts #7]

Ah, good ole’ hip-hop, the genre that forever changed my life and is exactly what I eat and breathe each and every day. One thing that I love is the constant evolution and competition that hip-hop brings, but it also highlights the never-ending generational gap. Whenever I listen to emcee’s from the 80’s or 90’s that rhyme over DJ Premier or Pete Rock, they always scream about “Real hip-hop”. For years I wondered what is this genre called “real hip-hop” and what would be considered fake hip-hop?

Many underground hip-hop heads would say that “mumble rap”, and artists such as “Lil Yatchy”, “Lil Uzi Vert”, and “The Migos” are what they consider fake hip-hop or even call it trash music. Now I’m not a fan of any of the three artists that I listed, but this notion that if you’re not listening to Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole or Joey Bada$$ that you don’t know anything about hip-hop and that your taste is trash is just complete elitist bullshit in my personal opinion. I feel like no one has the right to tell anyone that their taste in music determines their knowledge or place in hip-hop culture. Many forget that this genre didn’t start off with lyrical acrobats; Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” record which was the first rap record on the charts wasn’t lyrical. It was nursery rhymes over a disco beat which turned into a party anthem, but if you let many older hip-hop heads tell it, it was a classic song back when hip-hop was fun again or that was when hip-hop was real or some other bullshit cliché.

Now another aspect of this generational divide is that a vast amount of old-school rappers believe that the younger generation doesn’t pay homage and/or respect to them for paving the way for the younger hip-hop generation. In some cases they have a valid point, like when Lil Yatchy made some rather disrespectful comments about Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. which I felt he was way out of line for saying.

While I feel that myself and my peers should pay respect to the elders of this great genre that we love and cherish so much, I do feel like there is a double standard. Respect is a two-way street, not a one-way street. I say that because there are many occasions where older rappers are disrespectful to the younger generation. For example, you have Melle Mel (known for being with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) who has talked disrespectfully about Jay-Z and Eminem. Back in 2017 he called Jay-Z “A white businessman” and claimed that he can beat Eminem in a rap battle. You can’t ask for respect and not give it those that you wish to seek it from. I personally feel that there’s room for the elders to be respected while also allowing the youth to carry the torch and push the genre forward. Peace.

Read Shawn Hudson’s latest poetry collection, Poetic Thoughts of a Rebel, by clicking here.

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