Growing criticism on mainstream rap music

Jaelan Leonard | Contributing Writer

Hip-hop/rap music is a global phenomenon that permeates every facet of our society.

Hip-hop doesn’t just influence the mainstream, it is the mainstream. However, its recent decline in sales and growth in criticism have said otherwise.

In a span of more than 40 years, rap music has evolved to fit the cultural aspects of the changing society.

Many individuals use rap music as a form of expression to explain ongoing problems that they are facing.

The internet has changed the music industry to allow for creative musical expression.

It is also a great tool that allows independent musicians to find a global audience without having to have major labels back them up.

According to RecordingConnection.com, the internet has made music more accessible to the public and has also made it difficult for artists to make money in the process.

Hip-hop began in the 1970s and originated in New York City. Back then, hip-hop gave the black and Latino youth an outlet to express themselves.

The development created a movement that influenced how people dress, speak and socialize with peers. “Gangster rap” quickly followed suit and spread like wildfire in the 1980s.

It was marked as the beginning of a “rough era.”

Kayla Key, a senior from Pittsburgh, said, “In my opinion, I feel like I’ve heard a lot of the same kind of beats, and I feel like there’s not a lot of originality.”

In a poll of African-Americans by The Associated Press and AOL-Black Voices last year, 50 percent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society.
Despite this poll, many young Americans still idolize these upcoming rappers.

Hip-hop/rap music has been blamed for a variety of social injustices.

Studies have shown that there is an attempted link from rap music to teen drug use and increased sexual activity.

Many people believe that the sole purpose of today’s rap music is to make profit, and that the era of lyricism and storytelling is ending.

Also, there’s a criminal aspect that has been related to rap music.

In the ’70s, groups may have rapped about drug-dealing and street violence, but rap stars weren’t the embodiment of criminals themselves.

In today’s era, the most popular and successful rappers boast about murders, dealing drugs and sexualizing women.

“It all depends on the artists that you listen to,” Gabrielle Snipes, a Hampton alumna, said.

“On the trap side, you are definitely going to get rappers who talk about drugs, living in the trap, etc. Other artists discuss awareness on certain [topics] like mental illness.”

Criticism of hip-hop/rap music is nothing new; it has become a part of the culture.

The question is, will society fuel the progression of horrible music or uplift the ones who are trying to make a breakthrough by returning hip-hop to originality?

The Social Experiment’s ‘Surf’ is the New Wave

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Phillip Jackson | Web Editor

With the way that mixtapes have impacted the Hip-Hop industry, when it comes to today’s generation of rappers, the releasing of an artist’s “debut album” isn’t what it used to be. Chancellor Bennett, also known as “Chance the Rapper” released his follow-up mixtape to #10Day, Acid Rap in April of 2013. The Chicago rapper’s mixtape received many positive reviews with production from Hip-Hop producers, Jake One and brandUn DeShay—receiving four stars from XXL magazine.

Although Acid Rap wasn’t a debut album for Chance, it definitely served its purpose,  establishing a distinct sound in Hip-Hop. Chance’s rapid, charismatic, and pellucid rapping style has attributed him to establishing a separate lane for himself in the music industry—differentiating his style from the stigma of Chicago rappers.

Now that he has released a collective project in Surf, with his band, The Social Experiment and the alias of Donnie Trumpet, (or Nico Segal)—Chance the Rapper seems to have perfected the craft of disguising free music releases as albums. The project snuck its way through social media Thursday night. To the surprise of many, unlike Acid Rap, this is not an album that is being led by Chancellor Bennett.

The album is being released after the layover of Kendrick Lamar’s, To Pimp a Butterfly and the releasing of Oddisee’s, The Good Fight. Both albums received positive reviews from critics across the board. Now that Bennett has come to be a part of his second project, it was expected that this LP would hold a similar standard.

Ultimately, Donnie Trumpet serves as the headliner of this album, and as Bennett tried to explain—the project is a Social Experiment release, not an LP from Chance the Rapper. The song, “Miracle” opens with a verse from Bennett, along with a piano melody layering in the background, welcoming bright horns. As the project moves forward to the second track, “Slip Slide”, there is a welcoming feature from Busta Rhymes. The veteran emcee thanks Chance the Rapper for allowing him to be a guest on the project, saying how they will, “Stand-up on my own two,” emphasizing the importance of moral independency.

The album gives a feeling of a trippy illusion and stays consistent with an airy feeling with songs like, “Warm Enough”, featuring J. Cole, “Nothing Came to Me”, and “Rememory” which features a pleasant harmony from Erykah Badu.

In addition the various sounds of the album, there are multiple spots that include spirit lifting sounds that were crafted with the project’s production. “Wanna Be Cool” shows off a vivid, shining track that addresses issues of self-consciousness and love of oneself. The repeating message in the song, “I don’t wanna be cool”, serves as a statement of a person acting as their normal self, raising their confidence and not trying to fit into the stereotypical norms that society tries to provide them.

The second to last track, “Sunday Candy”, is another example of some of the positive, bright moods that can be felt from this LP. The tone in the song, “Windows” that is almost similar to the message that an adolescent would get from a person who is above age saying, “Don’t you look up to me,” encourages people to find their own path in life. The album includes a lot of focus and analysis on morality, materialism, consumerism and conflicts of trying to fit into standards of the world.

There are also evidences of Neo-Soul with the short, but soulful song, “Caretaker”. The project as a whole gives a rich sound that encourages heavy replay value amongst a time where it seems many Hip-Hop heavyweights have been coming out with music that has been so well received. Surf mixes many different styles in its songs. The sounds were intricate, the melodies were catchy, and the lyricism was joyous. If some have not listened yet, it won’t take much to catch Surf’s wave.