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Back To The Old School: Is Hip Hop Starting To Remember Where It Came From?

We take a look at the current evolution of the genre and ask the question is hip hop harking back to the old school?

Source: Official Facebook Page

Now even if you’re a passing fan of hip hop, who takes a slender interest in it so you can comment on how diverse ‘Watch The Throne’ was when ‘N_ggas In Paris’ comes on at house parties, or if you are a sincere and devoted enthusiast who then tries to change the song to ‘Never Let Me Down’. Whatever level of hip hop fan you are, you may have felt a change in the wind in the last 12 months.

Well do not worry you are not the only one to feel it, hip hop has experienced a recent influx of music which has either brought together some of the original concepts of the genre, or has given a new focus to high production levels, or has just simply attempted to shake off that molly rap. Accordingly, we are going to put you at peace with what is happening and hopefully with what is about to happen.

The last five years saw huge portions of the hip hop collective bend over backwards to accommodate a young audience fuelled by innovative drugs and a passion for EDM, which was spurred on by the music industries lust for cash. Therefore, rap producer Lex Luger’s hard-hitting 808’s, crisp snares, frantic synth keys, and bombastic orchestration of ominous brass, strings and keyboards helped rappers such as Future, Chief Keef and Waka Flocka Flame go viral and maintain strong positions in the Billboard music charts. Though, as expected this as left a somewhat sour taste in many mouths connected with urban music.

Now as much as we all relish the opportunity to express our vision of the Kanye ‘pull up’ dance to ‘H.A.M.’, it would be pleasant to experience some of the hottest talent producing some of the classic concepts. This is exactly what has begun to happen. ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ can be seen as maybe one of the initial releases which made storytelling and original socially conceptual rap a possibility in the mainstream again. Simply it made these perceptions cool again. Since Kendrick’s proclamation artists such as Joey Bada$$, J. Cole, Action Bronson, SchoolBoy Q and many others have come through. Not with just obscure singles and free mixtapes though, but with full fledge studio albums that have completely changed the image of contemporary hip hop.

Some of the true concepts which we have been referring to so freely here may sound humble and a given, but are actually a breath of fresh air. Many artists have been attributing with many different models, for example with sampling. On ‘B4.DA.$$’ the unpretentious Joey Bada$$ dropped ‘No.99’, an underground nightmare which samples A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Scenario’. A definitive track from a group who helped write the rules. Next up are artists like Kendrick Lamar and Action Bronson who are producing lyrical content to die for. Kendrick with his socially mindful rap, numerous personas and community based theories. And Bronson with his verses about food and smoke, both very different but both personal and original to them.

Something that has to evidently match up with these effective and definitive lyrical concepts is the level of production and beat making. Now plenty of the artists and their fellow producers who have already been mentioned would of course bring this to the table, however one who may actually depend on this is SchoolBoy Q. He is harking back to the West Coast G-funk feel with a lot of his tracks and without fresh sounding multi-layered and melodic synthesizers, slow hypnotic grooves and a deep bass, Oxymoron would not stand where it now does.

To be honest, we may have just covered everything you may already know and you may feel like you want the last five minutes your life back, but do not despair. Because if you are that hip hop fan who would change the track to ‘Never Let Me Down’ or any model track from ‘The College Dropout’ you are going to be very excited about what we have to say next. This current evolution of the genre is not going to stop; it’s only going to gain momentum. So if you are enjoying the current state of things and if going back to the roots of what is a folk art excites you, then good. You should be excited.

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