Is Hip-Hop Finally Dead?

10.25.09 8 years ago 84 Comments

^ It is to this guy.

In the latest issue of The New Yorker Sasha Frere-Jones has declared 2009 as the year Hip-Hop died. His main reasons? The Blueprint 3, Raekwon & Freddie Gibbs of course.

If I had to pick a year for hip-hop’s demise, though, I would choose 2009, not 2006. Jay-Z’s new album, “The Blueprint 3,” and some self-released mixtapes by Freddie Gibbs are demonstrating, in almost opposite ways, that hip-hop is no longer the avant-garde, or even the timekeeper, for pop music. Hip-hop has relinquished the controls and splintered into a variety of forms. The top spot is not a particularly safe perch, and every vital genre eventually finds shelter lower down, with an organic audience, or moves horizontally into combination with other, sturdier forms. Disco, it turns out, is always a good default move.

Hip-hop, a spinoff from New York City’s early disco culture, has been a commercial proposition since the release of “Rapper’s Delight,” in 1979. That’s thirty years, a long time for any genre. If you want to be conservative and decide that mainstream cultural relevance kicked in toward the end of the eighties, with New York’s golden age and the quick follow-up of gangsta rap, the wildly popular genre from Los Angeles, that still leaves twenty years of cultural impact. This may be a fine time for hip-hop to atomize. The original form has done an awful lot of work.

Basically, he didn’t like The Blueprint 3.  What he said didn’t really go too far outside of what our own review of the album said: It wasn’t Jay-Z at his best, he tried too hard to hop on the sonic wave CuDi & Kanye were riding & he didn’t really connect subject wise with his fan base.  But he also said that “Death Of Auto-Tune” was the only vital track on the album.  He then calls Raekwon lazy for revisiting old themes on OB4CL… Pt. 2, despite the fact that it’s a sequel.  That’s like lambasting Empire Strikes Back for picking up where Star Wars left off.  He ends the article by praising Freddie Gibbs for eschewing the status quo of a record label and releasing his own mixtapes full of lyrics over original beats.

So because of this Hip-Hop is dead?

On my first read through his article over at KTL, I got mad. I mean who is this guy to say that Hip-Hop is dead? But upon reading his article a few more times and finding an accompanying podcast , I realized that he’s talking about the end of Hip-Hop being at the forefront of Pop music.  Frere-Jones isn’t The New Yorker’s Hip-Hop critic; he’s the Pop critic.  Hip-Hop isn’t dead; Frere-Jones is just bored with it.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Just take a break or find something that you like.  From what was said about Gangsta Gibbs, it sounds likes he already has.  I really don’t have a problem with the article itself, just the fact that he falls short of the mark on making his desired statement.  Hip-Hip is about to be dead to this writer because nothing’s recently had the Pop influence of say “A Milli” or Tha Carter 3 (which he said may be the last “great” Hip-Hop album).  I disagree with that to some degree, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

I imagined this originally being a rallying cry to defend Hip-Hop, but it’s not needed.  The Pop music scene may be growing tired of Hip-Hop…but that’s no concern of ours.

Wrapping Up (Jay-Z, Freddie Gibbs & The End Of Hip-Hop) [The New Yorker]

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