Food For Thought: What is “Real Hip-Hop”?

     Before we delve into the internet underworld of Hip-Hop which consists of, but isn’t limited to Hip-Hop purists, Boom-Bap lovers, and the proverbial “REAL HIP HOP” yapper that’d you find in the nearest Grandmaster Flash Youtube comment section slamming Lil Wayne, I beg you to ask yourself: “What is REAL HIP-HOP?“.

Is “REAL HIP-HOP” that golden era when 2Pac and Biggie were atop the Hip-Hop mountain? Was it when Ice Cube was AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted or when Wu-Tang busted the doors wide open with “Protect Ya Neck?” Or was it a simpler time where Rakim and Big Daddy Kane were the most finesse lyricists around?

The term “REAL HIP-HOP” is a slap in the face to Hip-Hop music and culture itself

     When Hip-Hop first came to fruition, much of the genre had taken from disco music – the leading mainstream music fad at the time. Therefore many of the early Hip-Hop audiences consisted of people who frequented discos clubs. Casual, mainstream folks. So to suggest that mainstream-appealing music like Gucci Mane, Drake, etc automatically isn’t “Real Hip-Hop” is just as asinine as the “Real Hip Hop” term itself.

Surely you’d consider Melle Mel and Busy Bee “Real Hip-Hop”, right? After all, they are key pioneers of Hip-Hop, right? Were they not making braggadocios mainstream music too?

What’s the difference between Flo-Rida rapping about Apple Bottom Jeans in the club versus Big Bank Hank (of the Sugarhill Gang) rapping about his Lincoln Continental and his color TV (the “swag” of those days)?

Even a rapper considered “REAL HIP-HOP” like 2Pac, while very self-aware, also created braggadocio mainstream songs influenced by violence and misogyny:

Bitch niggas get their eyes swoll/
In fly mode/
I’m a homicidal outlaw/
And five-o, get your lights on, fight long/
Tonights gonna be a fuckin’ fight/
So we might roll/
My own homies say I’m heartless/
But I’m a ‘G’ to this ’til the day I’m gone, that’s regardless/” – 2Pac on “Heartz of Men

Is this considered “REAL HIP-HOP”?

     In our next example, ponder on this: what’s the lyrical content of someone not considered “Real Hip Hop”, like Gucci Mane? Yes, Gucci has created violent, womanizing songs but he also has penned intelligent ballads where he shows to be very conscious of his surroundings. What separates Gucci from Pac it terms of content? How do you stamp Gucci Mane as “NOT REAL HIP HOP” but in the same breath label 2Pac (and other similar rappers like Kool G Rap and Snoop Dogg) as “Real Hip-Hop”? Pac, Snoop, and G Rap have a larger range of content than Gucci, but all rappers named vary their topics. They are more similar than different. What separates them is how they rap about these topics and not necessarily the topics themselves.

As a whole, the term “Real Hip-Hop” carries no weight and is a phrase often used by pseudo-intelligent, so-called rap “connoisseurs” creating nostalgia around their favorite rappers attaching a connotation so endearing that the artist cannot be slandered and their music cannot be criticized, thus leaving their legacy untouchable because, after a while, fans will be afraid to criticize said rappers in fear of violating “REAL HIP HOP” codes. That is more detrimental to the art and culture than anything a Gucci Mane or Lil B video has the power to do.


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