For the last 25 years, rap music has caught the attention of teenagers and young adults and consumed their life. The introduction of it not only changed music for the next three decades, but also the culture that surrounds it.
Ever since N.W.A., there has been a stigma that has followed the rap game. Rappers wanted to be athletes and athletes wanted to be rappers and that perception created a country-wide culture revolving around being cool. If you weren’t either an athlete or a rapper, you wanted to be one of the two as a kid. Rap simply changed culture and has helped guide it ever since.
The rap game has evolved greatly throughout the last 25 years. We have seen several “shifts” in rapping styles, though, with the dying out (literally and metaphorically) of some greats and the introduction of new greats.
It started with N.W.A. and the east coast vs. west coast battle. Then, there was an explosion and a desire to be a rapper. We went through B.I.G. and Tupac in the 90s. Early in the 2000s, the game had a significant change with the introduction of Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z, Kanye West, etc.
The rap industry slowly evolved into the Lil’ Wayne style of “lets talk about me, and make continuous metaphors” rap. It no longer took any brains to become a rapper. All you needed to know to become famous was “It’s going down…basement” (Thanks to Nicki Minaj). People still listened, though, and people continue to listen to this day. We got used to the very selfish style of rapping that was Weezy and Kanye. There were a lot of changes in the industry throughout this time period but in my opinion, there have only been very few significant changes in the game. By that, I mean that a group of 2, 3, 4 rappers altered the style of the music and inspired the rest of the group that followed behind.
Well, this change is happening again right now in front of our eyes and U.O.E.N.O it.
Today, as I turn on my music I realize that this is the case. I scroll through the new music that I have been acquiring and look for a song to play. The artists that my playlists consist of are not Lil’ Wayne, Birdman, Jay Z, T.I., Ludacris, etc. Instead, I find the playlists consisting of all these new guys on the scene and that is when I realized it:
The culture of rap has changed and it is a change that will create the next rap phase.
The culture has taken on a more relaxing, chill vibe. There is a group of rappers that, in my mind, are slowly taking over the reigns. The group is headlined by veterans like Drake, but really by the emergence of Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky and followed along by many others, including Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper (who I personally have enjoyed listening to as of late).
But it is not just that these new guys are creating their own songs that are changing the culture; all of the other rappers are adapting. Guys like Wiz Khalifa who have been rapping for years at this point, are shining because of their style of music that is becoming popular. It is an epidemic that is starting to form itself in the music industry right now.
The reason that I believe this is the next step in rap music is because of the generation that is growing up with it. Those guys in their late 20s and early 30s are still making music and will always be successful because of their following throughout the years, but the young guys are the ones that are capturing the love of the Millennials and new generation of youth. They are even starting to become cool among the athletes, which in my opinion is how you know the times are changing.
Look at the new Adidas commercial with A$AP, John Wall, Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday; it features the new generation and everything that is becoming cool with it. It will only be a matter of time before this culture spreads, and we start to see this group take over.
The point is that rap has gone through several changes since its introduction in the early 90s, and we are witnessing another right before our eyes. Start to notice these new guys and embrace this type of music because it will be the theme in the near future.