Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Evolution of a Genre

I was reflecting on a debate that I was having regarding the credibility of Hip-Hop.  Looking at the 'grandfathers' of the art that spawned all of the current sub-genres I could not help but wonder how did we get here....with this as the public perception of this music.

It may be simple enough to say that the masses do not care about the message, the talent, the intent, etc...of an artist.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  As much as music is a form of art it is also a form of entertainment.  If as a society our most popular forms of entertainment are shallow (insert MTV show reference here) why would we expect music to not follow the same pattern.

Despite this jaded outlook that is probably still lingering from the link above, I do think that Hip-Hop is not lost.  This art form will not continue to be slowly faded out by the overwhelming support of the sub-genre I like to refer to as 'crap rap'. 

Rap is young.  If you think about it we are just coming out of its third decade since its inception, and if you look at other genres during this phase of their life cycle there are parallels that give hope to the current fan base that does not want to see that genre be dominated by artist like T-Pain, Chingy or, dare I say it, lil Wayne.


Looking at the evolution period of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock I feel like there is some relation in this evolution stream (nicely represented by this chart I found online) as the current evolution of Hip-Hop.

I referred to the 'grandfathers' of Hip-Hop early and I want to circle back to that because I initially used it in conversation referring to Metal/Rock.  The inception of Heavy Metal / Hard Rock was influenced by early rock (ex: the Beatles, Elvis) that spawned this new art form in the early 60's.  By the time the mid 70s rolled around the heavy hitters or 'grandfathers' were in full swing (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath).  At this point in time you can make an argument that you could divide them into different genres but ultimately it was Hard Rock and Metal. 

But right around the mid eighties something happened.  The 'grandfathers' had pushed the art form into the mainstream.  New, upcoming artist during that period took the Heavy Metal / Rock that we were accustom to and did what artist do....they began to tweak it. The development of the sub-genres really took off here as artists took their influences to craft a new form of Rock.  Next thing you know you had Hair Metal, Power Metal, Alternative Rock, and so on.

I know there is a drastic difference in the sound of the link above and something like this which is from a late 80's sub-genre of Metal music but is the intent really that different?  Can't we say (1) the point was to appeal to the masses, (2) their goal was to write a party song about what was considered 'cool' and (3) there were people that thought of this music as shallow, pointless garbage compared to the quality music that spawned this new art form.

Sounds pretty similar to what is going on right now with the Hip-Hop genre.  The 'popular' music that is pushed out to everyone by the media places a stereotype on the rest of the artists that perform in a subsection of the Hip-Hop genre.  Everyone now uses 'crap rap' as the representation of Hip-Hop just as everyone used Stadium or Glam Metal/Rock as the representation of Metal/Rock in the 80's. 

My point is despite the art form that most people reject during this development phase there are still sub-genres where artist are creating fucking brilliant music.  Metal and Rock in the 80's still had strait up Rock n Roll (ex: GnR), Thrash Metal (Metallica, Slayer....), Heavy Metal (Black Sabbath was still rolling), Power Metal (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest)...the list goes on and on.  Hip Hop has quality out there: Conscious Rap (Talib, The Roots), Controversy Rap (Eminem, NAS), Metaphoric/Flow Rappers (HOVA), Complex/Lyrical Rap (Andre 3000).....
I guess my point is that Hip-Hop is still in its growing stage.  It had it moment where the 'godfathers' pushed the art form into the limelight and now it is starting to grow in different directions like branches of a tree.  Metal and Rock had the same growth period and despite some of the bumps along the road (let's say....Nickelback for example) the evolution allowed artist to push the envelop creating the new forms of Metal and Rock we have today.  Some drive your mind crazy with passion while others just drive you crazy.  

Hip-Hop will get there too.  It is still young by comparison.  Continue to wade thought the bullshit and hold on to what is still really quality and it will pay off....just let it grow.

1 comment:

  1. Its crazy how well these two genre's parallel so far. I agree that hip-hop gets dismissed based on what is mostly (a term I'll steal from you) "crap rap" It sounds a lot like the earlier post on Metal and how people dismiss it for being about screaming and devil worship.

    I think the parallel goes even further. When our parents were growing up (with the "grandfathers" of rock), our grandparents were strongly opposed to the genre. They said it was about drugs and sex. In time things evolved and that ever present statement proved true "rock and roll is here to stay." Now teenagers can listen to a variety of rock, some has stigma, but a lot has become accepted.

    When we were teenagers (the 90s) those hip-hop 'grandfathers' were in the prime and the same old parental fear of music based on drugs and sex was stronger than ever.

    I'm excited to see how rap branches and grows. I'm looking forward to making future children roll their eyes when I talk of the 'golden era' I grew up in with Tribe and Tupac and how there will never be anything to compare to it (and how I walked to school uphill both ways, without internet)!!!

    I guess thats all. sorry for the long comment. Man, great post though- it makes me want to sit around and talk about it more. (good thing I"m married to you and I can!)