Throughout all of time, there has been one genre of music created by the youth for the youth and almost exclusively appreciated by the youth. While old bumbling hip hop purists still obsess over styles forgotten by time and covered in dust, the genre is quickly becoming more and more diverse. Hip Hop is the most diverse and influential genres of music ever. Wiki (of Ratking) once said ‘I make Hip Hop Music because I was born into it. If I had been born 20 years ago I’d be making rock.’ This is an Idea extremely important when you look at the influence hardcore has had on Underground rap music as a whole. This phenomenon is part of the reason for not only Hip Hop’s dominance but also its diversity. Not just in the context of Hardcore but in the melding of ideas that is Hip Hop as a whole. But where does Harcore fit into this? Hardcore Punk music was a style of rock popularized during the era of Reagan–during a time of strife, poverty and oppression. These were the powerful ingredients that collided with rock music to create the bastard child that is Hardcore. Since then, however, traditional Hardcore rock has become somewhat privileged. Since the (embarrassing incredibly cringeworthy) rise of sub-genres like pop punk Hardcore music as an art form has declined. However, there are those like Max P, Craig Xen, $uicideboy$ and even Death Grips that have inherited the true spirit of hardcore and breathed life into a new form of Hip Hop.
Hailing from New Orleans, $uicideboy$ make some of the angriest most intense rap music out right now if you can even call them rap. The duo is one of the biggest names in southern hip hop right now and has been incredibly successful in creating their own lane within Hip Hop. Like traditional Hardcore music, their music and existence stem from the pain and suffering of poverty, through exploration of drug addiction, violence, crime, and depression. The story of The $uicideboy$ begins with one iconic Lil Wayne music video: The Block is Hot. This record for that generation was many’s first experiences with Hip Hop. It was the track that opened the door for hip hop for the two cousins. Later Ruby Tha Cherry would find himself in a dead-end Hardcore band while $lick $loth is inspired by T-Pain to create shitty beats on Garageband while working a nine to five selling furniture. Then $lick lost his job, and Ruby approached him about creating music. They eventually came to an agreement: “If this Rap shit didn’t work we were going to kill ourselves” and thus $uicideboy$ were born.
Ruby Tha Cherry and $lick trade verses over gore-soaked, drugged out track after track, occasionally trading their trademark southern drawl for an eerily melodic flow and the occasional metalcore style scream. Echoes of Bone Thugs n Harmony, Lil Wayne and Three Six Mafia bleed through the production into each rapper’s perspective flow. However where $lick $loth’s flow is more based on haunting melodies, Ruby Tha Cherry’s flow is dark and grimy, covered and caked in dried blood, soaked in angst and bad intentions. Together they come together to create incredibly intense, tracks emblematic of their own lives while still speaking to a greater and maybe universal angst. The angst of a lost generation, the children chose to strike out again, against the vile social systems, designed to oppress and silently drown us in the hopelessness of their imposed mania. Though they may not make traditional Hardcore music, this truly is parabolic of what hardcore is.
Another rapper that’s style is infused with traditional Hardcore values is Craig Xen. Originating from Houston, Craig Xen’s style is somehow reckless while touting the values of discipline and hard work. He is a distinctly counter-culture force in Hip Hop; in that a huge part of Hip Hop culture is indulgence. Instead of rapping about indulging in drugs he degrades those who do, on one song he goes as far to say: “Keep them lazy drank sippers far away from me.” His music is profoundly dark and like the $uicideboy$ addiction and pain are common themes in his music. This is because music is what Xen found after recovering from a suicidal depression and a violently abusive relationship with drugs. Before the music Xen had no outlet to turn to for self-expression, the drugs were the only thing that could help cope with the temptation of suicide. He had fallen in with the wrong crowd, a group of people bundled up in bad energy and drug infatuation. “In my addiction, I would just use people, I was a shitty person, I would just use and use,” says Xen during an episode of No Jumper, As he described the night he decided to quit drugs. He describes the decision he made to “hit a lick” as a turning point. After that, he decided to quit drugs, cold turkey and shut himself out from the outside world. In those weeks is when Xen found music. He describes finding “Bring Me to Life” by Bones and that song being one of the last threads holding his life together, the knowledge that he wasn’t alone.
Soon Xen would find himself in rehab and on a path toward a real sense of self-worth. This enabled him to throw himself into the music the way an addict does drugs and create a style that embodies all the anger and depression he once and still deals with. His music is intense and heavy, with a southern drawl so thick you can feel his lips curling. His flow is as aggressive as a punch to the chest; You can feel the bloody mist flying through the air as he spits. His instrumentals open and spacey leaving more than enough room for his booming voice to fill, his voice often shattering through the beat like a thunderclap. Craig Xen’s sobriety in the face of hip hop draws a significant parallel between Hardcore Straightedge bands like Minor Threat, bands considered classic because of the rebellion against the drug culture that has consumed much of rock at the time.
Hip Hop is a genre that is expanding at an incredible rate, always breaking and rebuilding what it mean to be part of its culture. Even when hip-hop was in its infancy it shared ideas with Hardcore. Ideas of rebellion and challenging oppression. However now there is more of it than ever, with more and more people adopting more than just a mindset, but also letting it influence their music. In the last three years, Hip Hop has grown in countless ways. These are people giving a voice to a new generation of youth, ones born not into rock, but rather Rap music. Hip Hop and rock are potentially the two most progressive forms of art yet to exist, which pushes the question – What’s next? Who or what is going to kill hip hop the way it killed rock? What’s next for the spirit of Hardcore?
(Special shoutout to Adam22 and the No Jumper Podacast #ropegang)