How Real is the Hip Hop Game today?

By Daniel Paiz

Welcome to another edition of Cypher Sessions!

In this post, we’ll be looking into the Hip Hop industry as it is right now, and exploring how real the state of Hip Hop is now and some feelings about it’s current state, as expressed by a few of the South’s realest emcees (as well as yours truly).

In a recent interview on Power 105.1, T.I went on and discussed how things are going for him, and towards the end of the interview, he expressed his stance on where the Hip Hop “game” is going and why it is that he wants out. It was a fairly intriguing stance that one might not expect from an artists that is often considered mainstream. To get a better understanding of his stance, check it out below (starting at the 5:00 minute mark is where is begins his explanation, but the whole interview is a good one):

T.I discusses the state of Hip Hop

This is an interesting take from an artist who, like he states in the interview, has made a “plethora” of songs that range a whole scale of topics and ideas; the fact that someone who has been popular before and still maintains a large following is intriguing to see. When you have an artist who has been a part of the industry so long begin to contemplate leaving it because it’s changed beyond what his original vision is, then you have a dilemma on your hands, and it’s an age old dilemma that plagues not just Hip Hop, but the music industry in general.

How can one find the balance between constantly growing and , while at the same time continuing to stay true to who you are? This dilemma has, as one can see just by looking at Hip Hop, has split the artists’ decisions down the middle, as we see artists with groups such as YMCMB and Maybach Music doing there thing and following their vision, and then we see artists with groups such as It’s a Wonderful World Music Group (IWWMG) and Duck Down Records doing their thing as well.

Now the two examples of groups given above tend to be on separate sides of the spectrum (as far as mainstream to conscious/underground goes), but this is a sliding scale in which many artists seem to have to place themselves for the most part. Even then, you have artists like Odd Future or Killer Mike who don’t fall on the scale so much, mainly because they place themselves off in another category or direction completely.

This kind of ties back to the dilemma that T.I was having, and the fact that he was only still making music because of his passion for music and some “contractual obligations” as well; if it’s solely about placement on a scale, where selling records is what’s most important, and the content doesn’t even matter, then it’s time to bounce. Being truthful about one’s message seems to be on the way out along with the physical form of the newspaper, which is a sad thing to this Hip Hop head.

Without critically analyzing where things currently are and where things are going, one definitely misses out on how things change, and how we are straying more and more from the original purpose and content of the “game”. This is in no means an attempt to get people to agree with the elitist Hip Hop heads around who aren’t always the most open to new sounds or ideas, but rather an attempt to have everyone look at where things are at and why it’s important to realize and understand where Hip Hop’s direction is going. An artist that does a superb job of this would be another artist from the South who packs a lyrical punch, and that would be Killer Mike.

Killer Mike’s newest project with El-P is a perfect example of how important critiquing things are. Without social commentaries like Mike’s, there may not be as much optimism for people on the side of keeping Hip Hop in check. Just listen to this track below to see what I mean:

Reagan -Killer Mike, produced by El-P

Mike’s evaluation of many parallels between Reagan in his day and now provide a great example of an artist still creating something that they live, in terms of how Mike has criticizes a variety of people and situations both past and present.

If it is possible for artists like this to still exist within today’s songs that aren’t always the most authentic, then this Hip Hop head can believe that artists like T.I will still find a reason to stick around and provide some authenticity for those next up.

Look for the next Cypher Sessions coming soon, and if you want to give your take on authenticity and the state of the Hip Hop game today, feel free to below! Definitely appreciate y’all taking the time to read the third installment of Cypher Sessions.






One thought on “How Real is the Hip Hop Game today?

  1. Firstly, just want to comment on the blog you’ve got going on here. Its great. I found it through the RT by Chuck D, so you can thank him for some hits.

    Hip-hop, in my opinion, is becoming much more popular than it ever was before. I didn’t grow up in the 80’s, and I barely grew up in the early 90’s, so I can’t argue for its popularity then- but comparing the late 90’s to now, hip-hop has blown up. Rap has dominated the billboards thanks to YMCMB for example. Thus, there is no doubt that investing in hip-hop today is a great investment. And in a sense this IS a part of what hip-hop is about. And a key point when trying to figure out where it’s going.

    Rakim’s Paid in Full sorta proves this. And Although grandfathers like GM Flash had concientiousness as a defining factor for hip-hop in mind, money was always on the back burner for majority of hip-hop artists since its beginning. And today, people like Jay, Diddy, and Rick Ruben know exactly how to market it. I mean, let’s be honest, there was LL and his hats, Run DMC and their addidas, but nothing compares to the corporate sponsorships seen today… People are racking in huge dough, and their is no reason why they’d change anything.
    Unfortunately, stale rap sells.

    To people who like substance in their music, the surface of hip-hop in the future is obviously out of question. Just look at the angst group OF… How the hell did Goblin sell so many albums???? I’m losing faith in hip-hop fans, and thus hip-hop itself.

    But even though shitty acts are somehow proving to be sustainable investments for the future of hip-hop, there is imo, still a wonderful pool of people trying to push hip-hop in a positive way. El-P is out of hibernation this week, and is just completely proving why hip-hop is still a viable genre of music to listen to.

    There will never be a golden era ever again, but the ‘underground’ seems to remain quite resilient to the shit being piled ontop of it.

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