There’s a question in Hip Hop that needs to be answered, one that Queens icon Nas had seemingly answered a few years ago, but still lingers — is Hip Hop dead? For all intents and purposes, Rap music is a far cry from what “True Hip Hop” heads have come to define the genre as. In its over thirty year history, the culture has seen its fair share of mood swings — one minute it shares the worlds plight combating world issues through recorded form, and the next, well … it should be clearly evident by now.
If there was a strategic road map to answering the pertinent question, it would seem as if Kendrick Lamar found it, studied it for quite sometime and decided to fuse that road map with unmatched word-play. The most obvious showcase of this would be the record setting streaming of his latest studio album “To Pimp A Butterfly”, which achieved an astonishing 9.6 million streams on Spotify. Jay Z couldn’t have put it any better with his famous quote during the 2009 American Music Awards. But numbers don’t tell the full story here, it’s a bit deeper.
Over the course of the past decade, the music industry has shifted in somewhat of an odd direction, with record labels signing an untold amount of what could be considered talentless artist for the sake of sales. We won’t name any names, but we’re pretty sure you’ve got an idea in your head of who these artist could be. The “watered down” version of Hip Hop you might call it if you will, is very much in real — and looks like it’s here to stay — or is it?
Kendrick Lamar has certainly shown and proved that a culture which is so revered in urban landscape and America as whole for that matter, needs him. Can he save Hip Hop on his own? — No. But what he has done is single-handedly merged contemporary Rap with part of the Old-School and a nice chunk of modern music. Hip Hop needs more Kendrick Lamar’s, and for all the obvious reasons — diverse lyricism, less glorified violence and more appreciation of what it takes to be an artist.
He might not have a “Superman” cape on his back, but Kendrick Lamar just might have invisible “S” on his chest he has yet to reveal. All super heroes aside, saving Hip Hop isn’t a one man crusade we all hope for, it’s going to take an unimaginable amount of unbiased cooperation from record companies to take on the challenge of finding and ultimately signing unmeasurable talent to make it happen. And while Lamar looks to be a sure fit blueprint, we can only hope the record companies wake up — and fast.
You can listen & buy Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly now on iTunes.