Rap music is what led to the formation of the Hip-hop culture in the U.S and other parts of the world. Rap music is a genre of music that began very small, and initially it was mainly used to pass messages to the world. It was a style of communicating which at the time was used by poets and artists. It was a form of activism and it was generally identified with the African American community. Over time it was acknowledged as a genre of music, and due to the low coverage it was recognized in various local regions in America. Through the evolution of the world, mostly in terms of communication systems, such as the internet, the genre come to gain international fame and some of the artists got to be recognized all over the world. The rap industry grew to be one of the richest industries in music. The change that was experienced was tremendous, and over time the music transformed. It evolved in a weird way because it became different in so many ways from the artists to the music itself. Most the factors that were used to identify the genre changed over time. The evolution was weird to a point that it was met with various opinions from individuals, in a way the change seemed to be for the better and on the other hand it seemed to have made rap worse than what is was. The following paper will focus on the change and evolution in rap music and what has remained the same.
The change in Rap
Even for a person who does not take much interest in the world of rap and the hip hop culture it is evident that there have been some changes in the industry over the years. The music is not what it used to be and the change can be seen both in the artists and the music. A song that was a hit before the year 2000 can be easily distinguished from a song that is currently a hit and from other hits of this decade (Clara). The beats used; the artist’s lyrics and up to the way the artists were, is different from what the rap industry currently is. The artists who have joined rap in the past decade are very different from what the artists from the 90s were and in terms of similarity, there is very little (Kerr 32).
The tone of rap in the 90s and before was a bit different. The message in the lyrics was also different because it generally consisted of the politics of the environments that the artists came from. The ghetto and hood life was the main theme of the artist’s lyrics and lifestyle (Clara). Some of the artists had lyrics about their gangster lifestyles while others wrote about the hood and the problems that the people in the hood faced. An artist like 2pac Shakur who was one of the artists that introduced rap to the mainstream world wrote some of his lyrics about the issues people in the ghetto faced. He also wrote about the changes the people in the ghettos wanted to see in the world. Therefore, it can be said that the artist was fighting for those people through his lyrics. This is one of the reasons why he was also recognized as an activist for people’s rights.
In the past and since the beginning of rap music the artists posed themselves as gangsters and the personas they possessed during their performances which was mainly marked by their dressing and words represented this gangster personality (Boyer 13). Any person from the 90s who enjoyed rap music recognized the gangster nature of the music and all that it represented. The biggest names in the 90s such as Notorious B.I.G, 2pac and even Jay-Z were well known for their links in drug dealing and gangs. The artists also had a history of being convicted due to various criminal offences. This is what rap was and its part of what made it big. The people who underwent the problems that the artists addressed and those who lived the life the artists lived got a sense of familiarity and recognition from rap and hence identified themselves with the genre. Some of the fans of rap music also loved it at the time because of the poetry that was embedded in the artist’s lyrics. Artists like Nas and 2pac among others were known poets apart from also being rappers and this made their songs more appealing and hence got a broader audience (Forman, Murray, and Mark 8).
Lyrics and Society
The changes that have occurred in rap have occurred in the past decade or so with new artists coming up that bear little resemblance to the 90s artists and before. The hits that are made in today’s rap industry are very different from the hits of before (Mauch et al 7). The lyrics and tone, used in the hits are strange as compared to before and some of the lyrics used today were unheard of in the past. Some of the artists in today’s rap industry come from totally different backgrounds as the artists from the 90s. In the 90s artists condemned an issue like homosexuality and proclaimed how bad it was to society but some of the artists of today recognize and accept the issue of homosexuality and some of them even include this in their lyrics. In today’s world some of the artists themselves are gay which would be a taboo for a rap artist in the 90s (Clara). The artist previously succeeded in the field due to their background in the ghetto and the hood but that is not the same case today as some of the big artists such as drake come from well off backgrounds and hence currently in the rap industry being from the hood is no longer a prerequisite for success in rap (Boyer 38).
Rap music was also identified as a genre for the African Americans. The industry was mainly dominated by African Americans males. Eminem is one of the few white Americans who were accepted by the rap community in the 90s and even so it was not easy but through time the rap industry has grown and currently the identification of both; the white Americans and the African Americans as being part of the genre is common. It is currently a normal issue to find white Americans in the rap genre. The view of the genre being African American genre is long gone and also the view that it is dominated by male artists. The society has also changed in terms of the perspective it had on the genre and the industry. The genre is not just based on violence and gangs but most of the people have taken it as a business just like any other. Through the genre and its influence there have risen various music companies, fashion trends and also foods and drinks companies that have gained market from its foundation. It is important to note that the changes seen in the industry are primarily due to the changes that have occurred in society. The issues that affect society end up affecting the rap industry and the world of music as a whole (Bonnette 16).
The Internet and Social Media
The communication routes have greatly contributed to the changes and developments in the rap industry and now the artists can easily interact with their fans and also from this they may be drawn to produce music that appeals to the fans no matter how different it may be from what it was in the 90s (Clara). This is different because in the 90s the artists relied on record labels as the main avenue to reaching the fans and hence it led to a streamlined message in the artists lyrics. In today’s world artists can write their lyrics with the messages they want and put it out there for the fans to decide (Kerr 23). Also, nowadays, there are a lot of additional tools and opportunities, which musicians can use. With the help of social media people can promote and share their songs, lyrics, musical videos in Internet. Some of the artists even go to such extents as to put their music out there and give fans the right to stream and download the music for free without any copyright issues thus this goes to show that record labels are becoming less and less needed by an artist in order to succeed.
What Has Not Changed
The main reason why some of the artists of today and some of those who began to rise in the 90s remain relevant is because of the hard work they put in and also how real they remain over the years. Artists’ remaining real to what they do is one similarity together with the hard work they put in because most of them continue releasing music even though they have their own record labels (Clara). Their realness to the industry is determined by the artist’s ability to continue telling the stories they tell and the messages they have which in one way or the other affect society. What has not changed in the industry is the artists need to appeal to the fans in order to succeed. The artists have to release their music to the fans and then the fans determine whether the music appeals to them or not (Forman, Murray, and Mark 11).
There are a lot of reasons that contribute to the changes in music and its evolution in general. These processes that lead to the changes are caused by factors, such as time, fashion, beliefs and macroevolution. In consideration of the rap music and all the issues that affect its evolution, the changes that have occurred and all the things that remained constant, it is clear to view the evolution as rap having a more comprehensive acceptance of the world and its changes. This is because the changes in rap music can be directly attributed to the changes that have occurred in the world. This can be analyzed as the world keeps on changes and the rap industry responds to these changes by accommodating some of them. This is why the rap industry continues to grow. It is thus important to view the changes as being best for the world and hence the changes are not bad for rap industry but make it better because the genre is evolving together with the world. The main issue is that rap to remains alive and relevant to the world.