Hello, and welcome back to the newest issue of Cypher Sessions. Been on a bit of a hiatus due to finishing up the college semester and working quite a bit, but things should be getting back to normal here at Cypher Sessions, with new blogs bringing up different perspectives and ideas for the Hip Hop masses. In this edition, we’ll be looking at who is up and coming and will be making some noise (or already has), and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Yes, there are a multitude of artists to choose from, but Schoolboy Q, Jon Connor, Honors English, and Snow Tha Product were all selected due to the different lanes that each one is appearing to head down right now. Let’s get into it.
We all know the artists that are out there now that are making a lot of noise are going to be here for awhile. However, one thing this Hip Hop enthusiast has been pondering for the past few days is, where are things going in Hip Hop? There’s been so much accomplished, there’s been so many genre crossovers with other genres (most notably EDM as of late, but that follows the trend of Soul, Rock, and Jazz from the past), and there’s been so many directions that the music has been taken. It’s been in commercials for a while now. It even made it into the Olympics this past summer with Dizzee Rascal. This was one of many things that led to the questioning of where is there to go, with so many successes (and failures) throughout the genre’s lifetime. This led me to the artists listed above. The artists listed above embody where things are currently (for those not paying attention to the Top 40 stuff), and where things are going to be going. Schoolboy Q is a very interesting artist to start off with, due to the national attention that Q and his Top Dawg Entertainment cohort are receiving.
It seems that most of the attention is well-deserved, because a major portion of the music they are putting out is but a reflection of where they’ve grown up, but also where many of today’s youth (18-24, let’s say) seem to be: looking for direction. Q exhibits this empathetic sentiment (whether he purposely does it or not is up to debate) with narratives of his area and of what he’s been involved with in the past (mainly drug dealing). While this is not necessarily a new narrative, it is a fresh litmus test of where those from difficult parts of town are going or trying to go with their narratives. While this analysis does not do Q full justice by any means, it’s a start for those unfamiliar with the artist. Another artist that embodies bits of the past while presenting a new picture would be Jon Connor.
Jon Connor is a bit of a renaissance artist, due to his delivery and lyrical choice. The speed is in line with many artists working from the ground up, but his style is like a current version of what emcees from the 90’s may be doing. Couple that together with cosigns from Nas and Scarface, and it’s hard to not see how Connor is building a solid following. This is another direction within Hip Hop that seems to be where a large portion of Old Heads within Hip Hop want things to go (or in some eyes, continue along). There has been a large portion of rappers who seem to be moving away from this style, mainly because the current demographic of listener that’s marketed to is not listening to or purchasing this kind of music as much. This is fairly unfortunate, as those who are building themselves up without the aid of a major city or huge label are going back to this style more and more (often times because those they deeply respect used this style in the 90’s). It’s also interesting to see the consistent use of this style since it was perfected in the 90’s continue today, because it is not one that has been marketed to sell for quite some time. However, as shown with Schoolboy Q, this is an introduction to Jon Connor and if you watch the video above as well as search for more of his music, you will see how effortless this style and Connor’s work ethic comes out. Another artist that continues this trend of a hard work ethic and impressive delivery is Honors English.
Honors is an a class few can match, because of his delivery, his ability to tell a story, and the analysis that’s often behind it. Not wanting to be known as a punchline rapper from when he started, English worked on his skills to create what he now has today. It’s quite intriguing to listen to Honors and hear what he has to say, because other than Lupe Fiasco there are very few who discuss the subject matter that he discusses in the manner in which he informs you of it. There are many artists out there today that one can say are unique or are something no one else is doing, but often times it is negative. In this case, it’s completely the opposite, and it could be where things begin to go within Hip Hop. That is not to say this Honors’ style will be duplicated and followed closely as has been done by Jon Connor of Nas and others, but it is to say that there is a growing number of artists who are listening to others and then creating a style and way of informing that’s rare to see with today’s cookie-cutter industry. Speaking of an artist who has never molded to cookie-cutter tactics, Snow Tha Product is the last but certainly most colorful artist to be reviewed.
Snow Tha Product is not your typical female emcee; female emcees are often not your typical rappers, but Snow is in a niche not seen too much outside of female emcees. Often compared to Kreayshawn and V-Nasty instead of Jean Grae or Rapsody, Snow is an emcee who bodies verses each time she spits. The issue that arises with Snow, and several female emcees that are in the spotlight like Kreayshawn and V-Nasty are that they don’t have any in-depth content. A large part of Hip Hop is about having fun and whatnot, which is fine; a larger part of Hip Hop is saying something meaningful. While Snow certainly has a lot to say, she often doesn’t say much more than her skill level (which is pretty good, but can grow as well). This is a direction that female emcees seem to be going to gain attention, this decision to push themselves more as a hustler and hard rapper, as opposed to another type of rapper; thus far, we’ve only really seen artists in the recent time period who’re similar to Jean Grae, or Nicki Minaj, both of which are also quite aggressive. Time will tell if another version of female emcee emerges that has some form of success in either the mainstream or underground.
To finish, these artists are only a handful of the possible directions that Hip Hop has recently taken and will continue to take for the next few years. Hip Hop can go any direction that the artists within it decide, but these directions seem to be the most likely that we’ll continue to see.
If you have a different idea of where Hip Hop will be going, comment below and let us know what you think. Thank you for reading this issue of Cypher Sessions, and we’ll be back next week with another issue. Until then, Peace.
Cover Photography of Schoolboy Q by: Veronica Jimenez Rael