Hip Hop has not been around for a very long time when compared with other musical styles which means that so far we have only seen a small taste of what evolution looks like. As my good friend and fellow music fan Michael Volitich rightly points out, since the days of Kool Herc where MCs were there to rock the crowd, to the days of Rakim, Afrika Bambaata and Melle Mel who began to use the medium to tell street tales, there has been some evolution in this industry. The largest shift came when gangster rap broke out in the early 90s and groups like N.W.A. brought with them a whole new way to tell stories. Arguably the largest shift in this style however is what we are seeing now, and here is how it is changing.
Style Over Substance
Generally speaking there is far more emphasis on the music and the style of the song than the content of the lyrics amongst rappers these days. Of course there are still people like Kendrick Lamar in the game who look to play with words and use them to deliver a message but the majority are about making music as opposed to spitting smart verses. This is not to say that the industry is wrong or that it has sold out, it is merely transforming.
EMO is something which you would usually here associated with rock music but there is in fact a lot of it creeping in to hip hop. Rap music was almost always about looking to get higher up the food chain and historically rappers would talk about fighting their way out of a situation in order to come up. In the modern era however this is not so much the case with many rappers pouring their heart out in their music about topics like depression and drug addiction. You only need to listen to the like of Lil Skies, Lil Peep and the departed XXXtentacion to hear the struggles that many young artists are facing, and including into their music.
When T-Pain used to sing with autotune it became something which people would instantly recognize when he was on a track, these days however almost everyone is using it. Eminem’s latest album Kamikaze took a swipe at the so called mumble rappers this year, suggesting that they in fact are using the electronic device to cover up the fact that they have no talent. This doesn’t seem to be the case and most look to be following suit from the likes of Migos who heavily rely on autotune when creating music.
Whilst it may not impact the music something else which is now trending in the world of hip-hop are the number of rappers with face tattoos. To name just a few you can see ink on the faces of Tekashi 69, Post Malone, Trippie Red, Lil Xan and ArnoldisDead, a strange trend but one which seems to be taking over.