Written by Mass Dosage
Optimism vs. pessimissm. Is Hip-Hop trying to stay alive or is it indestructable? Why is the Hip-hop culture still around today, despite numerous attempts at shutting it down (both by groups within the culture and by outsiders) ?
As we edge closer to the precipice of the 21st century commercial success for Hip-hop artists is once again on the rise. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is a matter of debate. The 'big' names in the Hip-hop industry may be selling their souls to the mainstream public for money, but they also bring attention to the culture and this generates interest in other artists. At the same time, the Hip-hop underground is probably the healthiest it has ever been - in America, New York and Los Angeles are no longer the only urban centres laying territorial claims to the culture. Rappers are rising from the ghettos and suburbia from all over the US, not to mention globally.
This ability for Hip-hop to constantly redefine itself is what has kept it alive through so many controversies and hard times. Right now there are unprecedented levels of experimentation within Rap music. Years ago this was frowned upon, but now being different may be the means of resurrecting Hip-hop as a powerful, positive culture that continues to make noise above and below ground well in to the next century. While many worried that the Hip-hop generation would get left behind in these constantly changing and increasingly technological times, the opposite has in fact occurred. Rap artists have been some of the first to produce enhanced CD's containing not only music, but, when played on a PC also offer interviews, music videos, games etc. Soon artists will be able to bring huge interactive worlds to their fans - no longer will you buy a Wu-Tang Clan CD, you'll buy a Wu-Tang Clan experience where you can enter their creative mindstate via a computer.
The internet has also been good to Hip-hop - Support Online Hip-Hop ( www.sohh.com) is gaining member sites at a rate of a couple of hundred per month. Heads across the globe can easily communicate with one another via e-mail and discussion groups and there is a strong feeling of community and positivity within cyperspace that is often lacking on the streets. Technology is also affecting the way the music is made. Futuristic sounds and beats are taking Hip-hop to a whole new level (overtly by the likes of Dr. Octagon and DJ Krush, and more subtley by groups like O.G.C. and the Artifacts). Production work is becoming more intricate and layered, lyrics are tighter, and artists are branching out by incorporating a variey of influences into their work (who ever thought KRS-One would record a jungle track with Goldie?)
Back in the days KRS-One knew "Rap would never die" and the teacher was certainly correct. But I bet that he didn't know that it would become what it has today - a commercially successful, futuristic culture that is ready and willing to take hold of the 21st cenutry by its throat. Re-evolution is the key to the survival game and the only way for the culture to survive to the year 3000 and beyond is for the fans to open their minds and ears to these new styles. This way Rap's gene pool may be enriched to the point where the rhythmical DNA is too complex to be replicated by the fakers, and too diverse to be tracked down and destroyed by those who do not understand what Hip-hop culture is all about.