In the 90’s we had unapologetic Gangster rappers, in 2017 we have similar caricatures and they are just as gangster but less apologetic. Instead of being fearful of them, we feel sorry for them.
Oh man, what a time to be alive! Music and Culture. Culture and Music. Two sides of a coin? Competing or congruent energies? Mix in the economics and we’ve got a pretty little 2017 soup.
I love watching worlds revolve around and affect each other. From Donald Trump to Lil Uzi Vert, American culture is moving at rapid speed right now. Every lens is different and the same could be said about any period in American musical history, but right now I feel alive! And on social media it seems that millennials (and younger) have never felt so disenfranchised, depressed, and isolated.
Hip Hop is back and for so many reasons. Hip Hop is lucrative again (from the ground up) for so many reasons. Not since the compact disk era have we seen underground rappers driving Mercedes, but these kids are out here doing it. And go over to Lil Uzi Vert’s Instagram to watch an impromptu choir of pre-teens singing the chorus to his hit “XO TourLlif3”
She Said Baby I am not afraid to die
Push me to the edge
All my friends are dead.
This article is about culture, it’s about money, it’s about you it’s about me. It’s about emotion, what we spend our time and our money on. How music makes us feel and everything in between particularly how it relates to our current cultural boom.
Every few years musical genres shift. For you readers of music I’m sure over the past half decade you’ve heard all about how DJs are the new rockstars. That was a cute storyline but sometimes the room gets filled and the guy at the door asks what your ratio is. The club has never been more welcoming to emotional 20 something’s with colorful dreads, and for good reason, they are out here touching souls, making a living, changing shit.
Every half-decade we are blessed with music moving culture forward and it’s always beautiful to watch. The Ramones and punk rock, NWA and gangster rap, Daft Punk and electronic music – nothing is as exciting or as profitable as coming in with something new and fresh and having a swath of music listeners immediately attach themselves to an artist.
Soundcloud made them, Spotify streams paid them, and the parents are American Expressing the Uber rides to and from the shows.
Right now I’m excited about these mumble rappers. Yeah I said, it, I’m excited about these mumble rappers. Why? Because they (some of them) have so much raw emotion. What they lack in talent they make up for in attitude and brand. I can’t tell you I’m a huge Ramones fan but have you ever listened to XXXTentancion? Me neither, but that dude is a fucking rockstar! Just kidding, I’ve listened, it’s all solid, but whats amazing is the kids. These are their acts.
Lil Yachty has 2 hits, a Sprite commercial, and an album that lacked critical acclaim as well as sales (and in his defense he made it before he got with Quality Control, the management firm that works for him, Migos, Ludacris, etc. and insisted it come out). And he’s making a middle class salary per show right now on every festival you see his name on.
In the 90’s we had unapologetic gangster rappers, in 2017 we have similar caricatures and they are just as gangster but less apologetic. Instead of being fearful of them, we feel sorry for them. In Vert’s own words: “I don’t even have friends, remember that.” Since when did not having friends become cool? I can tell you when… with so much access to their idols, a superstar having a bad day reminds these kids that it’s OK to have a bad day. It’s OK to be a recluse. It’s OK to be … dare I say… “emo.” And that’s where the hooks have been sunk, in the heart and souls of kids who’ve not only locked on their empathy to these superstars but relate to them in a way we hadn’t seen before the internet.
And in doing so, just like the men and women shifting culture before them, these rappers/artists are getting paid hand over fist by brands, labels and festivals. Grab some popcorn, Red wine and your favorite vanilla ice cream because its going to be a cry fest.