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Decline of hip-hop?

Posted by Richard on March 2, 2007

As regular readers know, I’m not religious. But this is the kind of story that makes even me whisper, "Please, God, let it be true":

Maybe it was the umpteenth coke-dealing anthem or soft-porn music video. Perhaps it was the preening antics that some call reminiscent of Stepin Fetchit.

The turning point is hard to pinpoint. But after 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is now struggling with an alarming sales decline and growing criticism from within about the culture’s negative effect on society.

Rap insider Chuck Creekmur, who runs the leading Web site, says he got a message from a friend recently "asking me to hook her up with some Red Hot Chili Peppers because she said she’s through with rap. A lot of people are sick of rap … the negativity is just over the top now."

The rapper Nas, considered one of the greats, challenged the condition of the art form when he titled his latest album "Hip-Hop is Dead." It’s at least ailing, according to recent statistics: Though music sales are down overall, rap sales slid a whopping 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. A recent study by the Black Youth Project showed a majority of youth think rap has too many violent images. In a poll of black Americans by The Associated Press and AOL-Black Voices last year, 50 percent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society.

Read the whole thing — it’s an interesting and multifaceted story.

For me, it’s not just the misogyny, glorification of violence, thuggishness, and nihilism that turn me off to hip-hop. Over the last 35 or 40 years, I’ve liked plenty of music that had a message I fundamentally disagreed with. But I’ve liked the music. Heck, there are rock and roll songs that I really like even though I have no idea what they’re about. They just sound nice.

I heard someone on the radio once discussing music, and he said music consisted of three elements: melody (which comes from the head), harmony (which comes from the heart), and rhythm (which comes from the groin).

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is, it explains my dislike of hip-hop. Hip-hop discards the first two elements completely and presents only a vile message packaged in rhythm alone. To me, that’s not just anti-intellectual, but anti-human. It’s the glorification and celebration of the animalistic.

Melody matters a lot to me. Melody is what makes music music. The absence of melody — the rejection of melody — turns me off. Heck, it annoys me. Hell, it angers me. If you call yourself a "musician," but you can’t — or won’t — write a melody, I hope you, your do-rag, and your hate-filled doggerel go back to working at the Grease Monkey where you belong.

And did I mention that I have no use for "singers" who can merely chant?

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9 Responses to “Decline of hip-hop?”

  1. manfred said

    Rap is not musik, just hate speech with a little bit noise behind it.

    It’s even dangerous for those who listen to it,while hating everyone they become blind to the world and lose their chances to build a better life.

    While treating women like flesh, they will never find love and they’ll be whining about it for life.

    I hope rap will be soon history.

  2. Dee_m said

    Sample Clearances: Why pay to Play?

    You know, I can see both sides of this

    argument, but since when or why did

    so called “Black Music” become so

    dependent on this “sampling” stuff?

    Black musicians are Proven innovators

    …I say keep the copyright laws, especially for the Ol’school funk musicians who were smart enough to keep some of their Publishing rights to

    the classics that Hip-Hop(rap) artists & producers borrow samples from…it’s a payday for George Clinton, James Brown’s Estate, Roger Troutman’s estate, sly, Rick James, etc….But, if you want to keep more Loot in your pocket down the road, then Just write your own grooves( in the style thereof…) Let somebody pay to Bite off of you for once instead of complaining…this is really a non-issue! Rock, reggae, jazz, Funk, Neo Soul, & Gospel artist write their own music, why can’t Hip Hop artists evolve & do the same thing & expand the Genre?

  3. Baby said

    Hip Hop is …well, stale. One artist makes a groundbreaking record & everyone else copies it. Even down to the messages; who can out-bling who, etc…And it’s Our fault. Black people don’t control their own segment of the music industry…we don’t own radio, major Distribution, marketing, and all the Mom & pop stores in the Hood have been undercut by Wal-mart, Target & the ‘net….couple that with what it costs

    now to break a new record on radio in this “Clear Channel-Radio One” consolidation, Radio consultant

    corporate enviroment and you have what you’ve got…

    Black Art packaged & resold to the white suburban mainstream…Corporate Millions are being made selling “Ghetto culture” by Major Labels…Where’s Berry Gordy now, ’cause we need some True independent

    Labels right now.

  4. BeBop said

    Is it because you don’t dance?

  5. rgcombs said

    ”Is it because you don’t dance?”

    Busted! πŸ™‚

    My idea of a ”’dangerous extrovert”’ is anyone who’ll dance when they haven’t been drinking.

  6. cheech1742 said

    your an ignorant person

  7. rgcombs said

    ”your an ignorant person”

    Well, that should be “You’re,” so guess who’s ignorant?

    But, hey, thanks for stopping by! And brush up on your English grammar, OK? πŸ™‚

  8. Micheal Miranda said

    True hip hop is poetry over music. true hip hop has complex rhyme schemes and beautiful similes and metaphors, painting images through words. the crap that most of you are talking about is NOT HIP HOP. it is a commercial watered-down version, and is simultaneously a cause AND effect of our society. To say that hip hop is not music is ignorant, because i gaurantee you don’t know of lyrical masterminds like the great Rakim, or positive preachers like KRS-one. Beautiful story tellers like Lupe Fiasco and Common. Hip hop aint dead, its reverting back to its glory days…Its the commercial “version” that is dieing off, and rightfully so. Do your homework people. Peace

  9. Michael Miranda said

    Oh, and hip hop DOES have melody harmony and rhythm. get a lupe fiasco album, listen to songs like daydreamin, hurt me soul. you people are so closed minded. I love the beatles AND de la soul. i rock out to the sex pistols AND A Tribe Called Quest. Hip hop is a form of music that evolved out of soul and funk, poetry and storytelling. There is value in the music, and make no mistake it IS MUSIC. And who calls emcees are singers. they are something totally different. Emcee, by the way, is the spelled out form of M.C., stands for master of ceremony. It stems from partys where the djs would say a lil something over the mic to get the crowd pumped. over time they developed a style, and it eventually became its own artform. Hip hop in its purist form has 4 pillars: the rapping itself, dance (breakdancing), art, and turntable-ism. It is just as much a culture as it is a music, and people like you, that dismiss it as talentless noise don’t give it a chance. You don’t come to the table with open minds and open ears. You come in with a preconceived notion of what hip hop is and whether or not you like it and never really listen to its merits. Hip hop can be a positive tool for empowerment and expression, just as any other style of MUSIC. Give it a chance. you’ll be surprised.

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