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Hip-hop is dead

By | September 2nd 2011

We love the beats and get hooked on a catchy chorus, but we must now distinguish between rappers and pop stars, writes DAVID ODONGO

Rapper Nas raised the debate whether hip-hop is dead. I have no answer, maybe hip-hop isn’t dead, I just grew older! Many people, who grew up listening to Ice T, NWA, and Public Enemy, are already feeling let down with the turn hip-hop has taken. Even in the early 1990s hip-hop was not expected to become the commercial it is right now.

Emcees and DJs did their art much more for their own pleasure and for their wide street audience. Emcees like Public Enemy and NWA played the role of social commentators and opposed racial segregation policies against blacks. Their words had some weight and were largely supported by the people.

Nowadays, hip-hop is totally different. Not only has it become commercial but the audience has also changed. I sometimes have the feeling that it has lost its original meaning.

Hip-hop is no longer a culture but business. But the truth is Hip-Hop is indeed a culture that has been commercialised, therefore, compromised.

Most rap songs played on the radio are weak lyrically.

Most of the elements of hip-hop are completely absent from the music videos that serve as a visual for the songs. These entertainers benefit from a variety of factors that put them at the forefront of hip-hop.

You might be a hardcore hip-hop fan but you’ll admit that the live hip-hop performance is awful. It hasn’t always been this way. As a matter of fact, in its short history, hip-hop is known for its performance element.


Too many songs are chorus/hook and basically nothing else. The MC really is the voice of the culture. What is said and how it’s said is important. Emcees should be able to articulate their messages clearly and skillfully. A real MC would not compromise his or her lyrical prowess to make a hit record. Jay-Z, for example, has made many hits and yet he rarely disappoints lyrically.

Nowadays, MCs just don’t have a clue of what it takes to satisfy an audience. The music is too loud. There are way too many people on stage. MCs are too cool or too tough to dance or simply groove with the music. The show lacks excitement and creativity.

However, I believe that hip-hop in its essence is still alive. It will live on as long the likes of Talib Kweli continue giving us intellectual and deep lyrics. It will survive, as long as real people will talk about real things. It will survive, if only unexperienced but nevertheless skilled emcees will accept to learn from their predecessors. Hip-hop will live on if rappers accept to think less about the money and more about their art.

But I can say hip-hop has a future, but not without you, emcees, dancers, graffiti artistes, DJs, listeners and anybody else involved in the rap game. It is all up to you. By the way, rappers, what happened to calling a woman chick or honey?


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