Is Hip Hop really dead or were we just spoilt in the 90’s.

As I listen to Blu’s album “Below Heavens” I begin to ponder whether we as hip hop fans were really spoilt in the 90’s with all the great artists that were around. And not just the fact that there were so many great emcees but the fact that they were all so different. Can the guys around now really compete with that? Off the top of my head in the 90’s we had artists like Kool G Rap, AG, AZ, Nas, KMD, Mobb Deep, Jeru the Damaja, Gangstarr, A Tribe called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Big L, Big Pun, Tupac, Biggie, Ras Kass, De la Soul, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Boot Camp Clik, Outkast, Wu-Tang, Scarface, Jay-Z….etc

Now what do we have? Blu, Jay Electronica, J Cole, Joel Ortiz, Papoose, Saigon, Skyzoo, little Brother, Vado, Torae, Rustee Jux, Ransom…etc

I mean no offense but that list ain’t fucking with the one above.

Plus I feel like alot are just good imitations of artists that came before them. Jay Electronica is good but not compared to Jeru the Damaja. J Cole is ok but can he really fuck with AZ. I know it’s not about comparisons but I just feel that when you do look at who came before them is it no wonder that with hip hop losing its way what with being controlled by big corporations, with the true art form suffering from those consequences, that the emcees that are actually bringing something new to the table, while working just as hard, are just simply not as good as those that came before. It’s not a question of hip hop being dead more than it’s a case of the artists that are out now are just not as good as some of the ones previously stated.

Just like in sports comparisons are made between players from different eras, taking factors into account when assessing their place in history, the players they played with/against and how long they remained great.

When you compare the new artists out now with the rappers we had in the 90’s there is simply no comparison. But back in say 95 and artist like Joel Ortiz may have gotten a deal at some label that was willing to give him some creative control of his music but now that isn’t the case too many good rappers have fallen victim to labels picking them up then not knowing how to market them properly. We have seen it happen to Joel Ortiz with Aftermath, Saigon with Atlantic, Papoose with Jive who signed a $1.5 million deal only to be put on the remix to Busta Rhymes’ “Touch it” given one single that didn’t get pushed very much  (there was the song with Snoop aswell can’t remember the name though) and rather than being shelved he forces his way out of a deal and is back to square, one while at the same time obviously blacklisted by other labels that looked at that situation and decided they don’t want anything to do with him.

Labels now won’t take the risk signing a rapper with skills they would rather put out some gimmicky bullshit they can sell a million copies of ok cool we know that. But unfortunately there don’t seem to be many avenues like there was in the 90’s labels such as Loud with Steve Rifkin and Rawkus where great rappers were signed and made great music. It sold reasonably well some did better than others but the artists were allowed to be themselves at that seems to be the major reason why we are not getting the hip hop we have come to know and love.

The industry ruined hip hop and the sooner rappers forget about getting their single on MTV and putting out some good music independently trying to great as big a movement as you can so that if you are approached by a major label you can say look this is what I am either you sign me as is or there is no deal the better.


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