Hip Hop is the Best Genre, Here's Why
Hip hop is the only relevant music in America right now. Now, before all the Father John Misty heads start sending me death threats, let me explain. You could look at the data for justification, but I’m talking in terms of cultural impact, which is a bit more alchemical and harder to quantify. It speaks more to the artists driving the conversation, the ones dominating the narrative when it comes to the music industry and consumption.
Hip hop is so dominant because it has the range to be at once insanely catchy (i.e. Drake’s Nice for What) or deeply contemplative: see Kendrick Lamar’s PRIDE. Or you have a song that is both, as in Childish Gambino’s This is America, to name one of many.
In hip hop you have a confluence of social justice, poetry, production, and cinema that is not only unprecedented but also unparalleled in any other current genre. It speaks to young people while demanding the attention of older generations, many of whom were likely puzzled when a rapper’s video was being analyzed as they watched CBS News.
Hip hop is an improvisation on Motown, a call back to America’s truest artform, jazz, providing a through-line from several generations of black artists.
Hip hop is the most relevant genre in terms of using the equipment and resources, to further democratize music.
Take a group like Brockhampton. Their origin story is that they met on a Kanye West chat forum, moved into a house in south Texas, starting making music which resulted in their debut album All American Trash. It’s an American story in the truest sense—14 ambitious young people, some black, some white, some gay, some fat, some migrant, had a goal of making good music. Three albums later, they’ve signed a $15 million deal with RCA Records.
And they did it through hip hop—the only genre that provides the amount of space for all of the producers, songwriters, and rappers in their 14-man group to get paid.
A genre is supposed to be both expansive and hyper-specific and hip hop is providing this space for black artists to have a platform, then for them to pioneer that artform to artists of all kinds. This is what Motown did in its time and jazz in its time.
Let me leave you with a story about a high schooler named Steve Lacy. After not getting a MacBook Pro for Christmas, he resorted to making beats on his iPod Touch … one of which was used on a Grammy nominated track by The Internet. By the way, remember how I mentioned Kendrick’s PRIDE.? Steve Lacy co-wrote and co-produced that. This is the American dream. This is why I love hip hop.