The Evolution Of Rap: Is The Hip-Hop Genre Losing It’s Meaning?

By Karina Alves

Today, hip-hop has taken over the music industry with its catchy rhymes and foot-tapping beats. From the dawn of The Sugar Hill Gang, to Biggie of the 90’s and today’s popular artists such as Lil Pump and Lil Uzi Vert, the rap genre continues to evolve with new sounds and lyrical content.

“If you look at rap of the 80’s it may not have been seen as socially acceptable to a lot of people during that time, but that's because it was exposing a lot of uncomfortable truths such as police brutality and poverty. With N.W.A’s ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ Flavor Flav, and other artists like that, you are drifting into social commentary. A lot of it talked about the violence that was going around in African American neighborhoods with white cops,” said substitute teacher Andrew Talbot.

The earlier times of rap touched on sensitive topics while still using clever rhymes to make the song catchy. Artists would voice issues of the minority and focus on the societal issues of that time.  

“When the mid 90’s hit with Biggie, and Nellie in particular, you're getting into the gangster lifestyle being advocated with lots of champagne, diamonds, women, and stuff like that. When it got to that point, it became less about social commentary, and that's when it started to lose its meaning,” added Talbot.

Today’s rap music is less focused on social commentary, and more focused on the materialistic aspects of life that would make one appear rich and socially acceptable. It’s this new concept that has caused the hip-hop genre to drift further from its origins.

Hip-hop today has a diverse audience of various ages, races, ethnicities, etc. However, some rappers advocate for the use of drugs and violence, and it's this support and promotion that causes lots of parents and older people to dislike hip-hop.

“I love rap music and a lot of the songs you can just jam out to with your friends and know all the words but for example one of Lil Pump’s songs talks about using a girl for sex and doing cocaine and spending a bunch of money on jewelry and my little brother knows all the words...he's eleven,” said sophomore Michelle Silver.

Rap continues to evolve throughout the generations as new artists produce songs with different messages. But one can question where the meaning of the hip-hop industry has gone due to the fact that it has become less about social commentary and giving a voice to the minority, and more so another form of entertainment and profit.

Jenna KellyComment