The “Golden Age of Hip-Hop” is said to take place between the late 1980’s up into the mid 1990’s or early 2000’s. This so called golden age was populated by rappers such as De La Soul, Public Enemy, LL Cool J as well as artists like N.W.A, Too Short and Snoop Dogg. Some of the greatest artists to come out of this era and arguably some of the greatest rappers of all time include Tupac and Biggie.
A Golden Age is a period of greatness and extreme accomplishment. It is therefore correct to say that from the mid 80’s to the early 00’s hip hop fans did indeed experience a period that can be referred to as a golden age. But isn’t that the nature of hip-hop?
Fast forward 15 years and the same people who grew up in the “Golden Age” are now hovering over YouTube music videos and Soundcloud songs (those who know what Soundcloud is) telling the current generation that what they listen to isn’t “real hip hop”, that their music isn’t anywhere near as good as the hip hop that was being created during the golden age. Generally these comments turn into hateful threads littered with death threats and overflowing uses of the words, “faggot” or “nigga”. This is simply tradition. Just as people who grew up during the birth and subsequent growth of hip hop protected their favorite artists with their mouths, fists and occasionally guns, the current generation generation protects their Hip Hop/Rap/Trap and bastardized mélange of Hip Hop influenced by punk with their keyboards.
The point that these old guard fans of Hip Hop subconsciously make is that the current hip hop that floods the airwaves sounds nothing like the Hip Hop they’re used to. That’s their argument, they believe Young Thug is nowhere as lyrical as Tupac or that Lil Uzi Vert and Madeintyo are horrible torchbearers of the party rap revolutionized by Kidd and Play.
They’re right, the sound is nowhere near the same, the music has changed and these guardians of yesterday are afraid.
If Hip-Hop never evolved and changed then we’d be stuck with Public Enemy, The Sugarhill gang and Grandmaster Flash. I mean no disrespect to those artists but if Hip-Hop was still saturated with the same scratching and sampling techniques then the art would become less attractive over time. Ultimately change is what makes Hip-Hop stand out, there is always something new or different coming out . Sure, there isn’t an album that is rivaling Into The 36 Chambers or Liquid Swords but that’s simply because that’s been done before. No one is going to try and be Biggie or Tupac because it’s been done before, but also maybe that Hip-Hop just doesn’t appeal. Lil Uzi not rapping over the old Boom Bap beats of Ebro’s youth isn’t necessarily a problem. Sure it’s the origin of the Hip Hop we know today but we all have a right to like what we like. Not liking Boom Bap beats and soul sample heavy beats doesn’t mean that we don’t respect the revolutionary artists of that era. No one should be forced to listen to forgettable trend followers from the 90’s. It’s the trail blazers that we the youth will remember.
Hip Hop is filled with so much variation, that if these old guard fans actually wanted something remotely nostalgic they could simply listen to Action Bronson or Pro Era. However even them with their nostalgia for old New York rap bring something new to the table. They bring a flavor from their experiences. Bronson paints vast dreamy pictures of food and drugs with a Latin girl, whereas Pro Era paints dense pictures of reality through their eyes and consciousnesses.
The best part about the vast expansion of Hip Hop, that has happened since my birth, is that there is something for everyone. The kids who never felt like they fit in have Odd Future, the fashion and artistic Avant Garde have A$AP Mob, the nostalgic fans of yesterday have artists like MF Doom and and Dr. Yen Lo and the dark partying pill poppers have Travis Scott. How can anyone say this isn’t the golden age. There is literally something for everyone. Hip hop is not just surviving it’s thriving and absorbing other genres and parts of pop culture with every passing moment.
Hip-Hop is one of the most vibrant art forms. It’s beauty spans from the dark grimy low down raps of Earl Sweatshirt or Da$h, to the bright rhymes of GoldLink and ILoveMakonnen. Hip-Hop pushes the boundaries with Fathers bizarre drug infested raps of orgies to Playboi Carti’s sedated laid back braggadocio bars. To say that Hip-Hop today isn’t in a golden age or isn’t lyrical is just fundamentally wrong. Hip-Hop is always thriving, it is always evolving into something new and pioneered by the young. It is understandable that for some chosen few older fans this comes as a shock. The beloved music of these nostalgic old guard fans who continuously repeat the same phrases to express their pain has changed into something completely different in such a short span of time. It’s not so much a hate for the art that exists in their hearts but rather a sadness that the music they adored in the youth will never come back. However, these fans, these sentimental homesick defenders of Hip Hop have nothing to fear. Hip hop was and will always be poetry.