Rap first came upon the scene in the late 80’s with a focus on pure enjoyment of the craft of rhythm and poetry, which is what rap stands for. However, the main push was not global as it was thought to be but it was a form of African American self-expression. This has changed though and throughout the 30 years this craft has been alive there have been many evolutions and transformations to make it into the global phenomenon we all know today. When you think of rap, specifically in the 90s, most think of the legends that sculpted the genre into history. Tupac, Jay Z, and Biggie Smalls to name a few. Hip-hop was given a new style, artists were able to have a new way to express themselves in a way they felt they could get their points across best. They went into issues such as gang violence which was an everyday struggle for some artists, family appreciation like Tupac’s “Dear Mama”, or pure enjoyment of life like Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice”.
Rap was like an artist’s diary, utilizing rhythm and compelling stories to have listeners gravitate to their struggles, successes and outlooks on life. Rap has changed a lot since the 90’s or even its formation prior to this. If you were to listen to ten rap songs from the 90’s and ten from this year you’ll notice a difference in three main components. Lyrics, rhythm, and a difference in audience. Now-a-days rap uses trap drums as a mass appeal to the point where its aligned with the pop genre, and even consisting of more singing. This can be seen through artists using melodies like Drake, people with catchy lyrics Lil’ Pump, or people using lyricism in conjunction with melodies like Kendrick Lamar. More recently rap artists began to compose songs typically containing the subject of: drugs, sex, money, and depression. This has led to rap becoming less about political issues artists believed needed to be addressed and more about everyday concerns.
When talking about lyrics in modern rap we have strayed away from value in compiling verses that can be related to, and are taking the path where artists focus on a catchy beat to follow an abundance of slurs or in some cases made up words in an attempt to continue a rhythm. A large reason for this change in content could be the change in beat selection. Prior to this, hard bass and drums were used to captivate the audience. Now there are introductions of flutes and trap drums giving music an entirely different taste in sound and lyricism. Even though this new age of rap has grabbed the attention of a younger audience the old school side of rap has still survived and artists continue to compile music that relates with an audience that prefers a story between the lines.
There’s no doubt that the rap industry will continue to change and create more genres that more people can relate to and contribute their own taste into the mix.
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