What if I told you Hip Hop is in another golden age? Every generation of music is an answer to the generation before it. The divide between tastes of the young kids coming up and the new old heads is proof a changing of the guard took place. This is Hip Hop’s first true Internet era. I think about how Napster ushered in the 21st Century by obliterating the music industry; more or less giving the world access to every piece of music ever recorded. I think about that and wonder what kind of effect that single event had on the way music in the 21st Century evolved.
Hip Hop just isn’t the same anymore. We can literally all agree on that. And Good Kid M.A.A.D City is one of the most important markers of its evolution. This shit is dope. Years from now we’ll talk about it like a myth. I mean let’s talk about how, before the release, Kendrick shed tears on stage as Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Game passed him the torch. Like a ritual. West Coast alumni of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s all gathered around this kid to to tell the world he’s next. This kid who sat on his father’s shoulders and watched ‘Pac perform on the set of California Love was given the biggest shoes in the world to fill. And he did that thing.
Something really interesting happened to Hip Hop. The death of the CD is part of a ripple effect that started with Napster. This is a playlist world now. And the artistry changed with that. Our era is one of blurred lines. This is the “get you a _____ that can do both” era. There’s no such thing as genres. There’s no such thing as regions. There’s no such thing as rules or labels basically. We don’t know who’s rapping, we don’t know who’s singing, we can’t tell who’s from where, and stylistically just about anything goes. And as the young artists break every traditional convention of Hip Hop and the old heads reminisce about what things used to be, we got us a rapper that does both. Good Kid M.A.A.D City was the start of the masterful tightrope act that is Kendrick Lamar’s career. How can one rapper sound like an East Coast artist like Nas, a West Coast artist like Ice Cube, a Midwest artist like Eminem, or down South artists like Outkast? How is it that he has the message 80’s Hip Hop fans felt the genre lost, the grit 90’s Hip Hop fans feel is missing, and the flash of 00’s Hip Hop? All of that and he speaks the language of the youth today.
The industry isn’t the same. It broke apart and right this moment we are witnessing it come back together as something new entirely. And I look at Dr. Dre as almost a Steve Jobs figure in Hip Hop in that he comes out every few years to reveal his latest product; one that goes on to revolutionize the industry. And Kendrick Lamar is like the latest iPhone.
Happy Birthday to Good Kidd M.A.A.D City!