“Fuck a rap beef, and a Top 10 list, none of that’s gon pay a nigga’s rent” – Don Trip (Crown Don’t Make You King)
How important are lists? We read them all the time, and they’ve been the (somewhat credible) resources to determining who the best or worst out is. In Hip Hop, lists have really lost their credibility over time, because the power of careers is really in the hands of the media. Back in the day (before my time), XXL & Vibe magazines were the quintessential materials when it came to telling the people what was good or not, but over the years and crossing into the internet age, the game has softened up, and when it comes to scouting real talent, a majority of the time, it’s not about fundamental artistry, it’s more so who can sell you enough magazine copies or get you a ton of views on YouTube. The music industry is an era lately that has made the ‘one-hit-wonders’ prosper longer than they should (See: Gangnam Style), and the fact that there’s such a broad contrast in mainstream & underground, that’s also where Hip Hop journalism seems to have lost their touch – especially with the known names.
There’s a lot that has changed with the new culture of Hip Hop, but there have always been phases that come and go. A list is something that everyone seems to have, but none of them seem to be any accurate. MTV’s Hottest MC list is the main one that people ‘pay attention’ to, but how credible is it? What is an MC these days? There are many variations to the term that have been constantly rewritten over the course of time, but do we really truly know what it is anymore? Some people have a better knowledge of what it is than others, but one example of what an MC is comes from the words of my friend, Sam:
“To me hip-hop was a bible: Real stories, lyrics that meant something, and poetry that happened to flow to the beat of the drum.” – An Artist
There’s that point, but then again there’s always the scale of justice that comes into play with everything – you have to sustain balance, and in Hip Hop, that’s no exception either. Another writer (friend), Sean, also made good points that correlate to mine when he discussed ‘the common misconception about Hip Hop.’ There are the lyricists and then there are the entertainers – there has to be balance, but in terms of a ‘best MC list’ that keep popping up everywhere, where do you draw the line to determine which one is which? And also, the thing about having a Top 10 (or 25) list, they’re pretty subjective because they focus on the popular and not necessarily the talented – there’s the difference. That’s why I don’t feel as if they serve any purposeful meaning in the culture anymore. Sure, they stir a conversation and they get the people talking about it, whether they choose to agree or disagree, but the truth of the matter is that whose word are you to trust if everyone’s saying the same thing? People say that Hip Hop is on the decline, or it’s ‘dead’, but that’s because on the commercialized platform, there lacks quality, and that lack of quality has an abundance of quantity to saturate the game – that’s the real issue here. Everyone listens to different artists from all walks around the Earth, and there are always going to be disputes as to who’s better than whom or what’s actually good.
The problem that I have with journalists that co-sign media friendly artists is that they like to sugar-coat how they really feel about so and so, just to keep their reputation intact, when truly, it’s only damaging their credibility when they’re not being honest. The people on the forefront are leading people in letting the people know what’s good, when it’s more times than not, the contrary. The ‘holding hands’ and ‘buddy system’ where everyone wants to be cool with everyone is something that wasn’t founded when it comes to Hip Hop, and if Hip Hop is an element of free speech, then why don’t the journalists speak up and tell it how it really is, instead of giving a crown and throne to the latest YouTube sensation that only lasts 1 year and a half? That’s what’ll be the downfall of the genre. Last time I checked, Hip Hop wasn’t a popularity contest, so stop making it one.
That’s My Word & It STiXX