When people think of modern rappers, they often contemplate pink dreads, face tattoos, and wildly multicolored grills that adorn Generation Z’s recent contributions to rap’s ever-growing cast of characters, but what they miss in their complaints about hip-hop’s supposed lack of lyrics and fascination with drug culture is the fact that many of these new rappers are self-made successes.
Twenty years ago, a Lil Yachty, Lil Xan, Lil Pump, Lil Uzi Vert, or Lil Skies would not have been possible, not just because grumpy gangbangers would have booed them out of open mics or because they lacked sufficient respect for the legends of yesteryear, but simply because the infrastructure for creating a rap career didn’t exist. Today, almost anyone can “make it” in the music business because the music business is largely uninvolved with the process of making it.
Because of advancements in technology, including the advent of streaming, social media, and the mainstreaming of digital audio and visual recording devices, the average teenager with dreams of rap stardom can skip the search for a record deal, delivering music straight to fans and monetizing that attention almost overnight.
However, it takes the right kind of savvy to take advantage of that innovation, which is why Generation Z is uniquely suited to building and running their own rap empires from the ground up.