Hip-hop moves fast. Granted, life moves fast and our every increasing quicker access to media has made all entertainment move progressively faster each year, but hip-hop being a youth culture has always seemed to operate as pace that sees the entire game change three times over since you began reading this sentence. While this offers us plenty of new and exciting music on a regular basis, another less-publicized advantage of this is how quickly it means rap fads pass. Granted, we all have our favorite eras that we wish could last forever, it does mean that a lot of trends we don't like often suffer quick deaths, never to be heard from again until the inevitable nostalgia-based thinkpieces 20 years from now. So until then, here's five Hip-Hop Trends That Need to Stop 2015.
Rappers Spamming Everyone They Know on Holidays
Rappers spamming us on social media has never, ever been cool. Ever. In the past year, we've blocked more people than Legos and despite the copy-paste-repeat nature of rap promotion never having worked for absolutely anyone in any capacity, it continues. This year the thirst got exceptionally bad when some of us here found ourselves spammed and tagged by rappers on Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time when wack rappers should really be spamming their families. If you're spamming on a holiday you aren't grinding anything other than the teeth of listeners who will never check for you again on principle.
Skits in the Middle of Songs
We love good rap albums, and there's been quite a few over the last few years. But while last year we were upset with the number of skits tagged on to the end of individual songs we liked, this year we found ourselves saddled with skits in the middle of songs. At a time when the mid-track beat switch-up is an endangered species, the last thing we want is a needless 15-45 seconds of “Acting” when we're trying to groove. In a post-iPod post-smartphone world, rappers who insist on shoving skits wherever they can like unwanted YouTube ads should at least offer their albums in an optional skit-free version.
Technical Problems at Major Battle Events
On one hand, battle rap is bigger business than ever. The art/sport/medium/whatever has found an audience that's growing at an alarming rate, so much so that battle rap has not only in 2014 landed its own weekly half-hour television shows, but boldly entered the world of terrestrial pay-per-view. Despite taking these giant steps into the future into bigger venues than ever, the same problems remain. The same mic problems that plagued URL's Summer Madness 3 in 2013 returned on the major stages of Eminem's Total Slaughter and FilmOn's Ether events. It should be known by now that who you have on-stage isn't as important as whether or not we can hear them. In 2015, let's make Sound Check our Saturday night thing.
Rappers Not Addressing the Crowd at Live Shows
Rakim famously said “MC” means “Move the Crowd.” At that point, an MC rocking the mic at a party to the break-a-break-a-dawn had been the cornerstone of hip-hop for over a decade, and the rules haven't changed. The fact remains, hip-hop is first and foremost a live medium, and if you can't rap in a way that captivates a crowd, you lack a significant component of being considered a great rapper. Take Iggy Azalea who was frequently trashed for her live shows going back to 2011. She had her big breakout year in 2014 and even her most ardent of supporters still struggle to find something complimentary about her live show, including her prop-laden “SNL” performance whose smoke and mirrors failed to connect with a live crowd. The same goes for up-and-comer G-Eazy who spent the first 20 seconds on-stage of his surprise Peterpalooza 3 performance not once saying a word of even acknowledging the crowd, then proceeded to dis the crowd for not being engaged during his second hook. This all came from parties in the '70s, and even then the person who was just there not speaking to anyone didn't make any friends. Work on it, rappers.
Let's Talk and Talk and Talk and Talk About Illmatic
I was going to jokingly begin this by saying “Let me be the first to recommend you check out Nas' album Illmatic,” but I can't even suggest that in jest at this point. Yes, Illmatic is a flawless classic that should be heard in full at least once by everyone with even the most passing of curiosities about hip-hop. Nobody's disputing this. However, believe it or not, other rap albums exist. I know last year was the big Illmatic 20th anniversary and we should expect documentaries/tributes/re-releases/merchandise/etc., but it seemed to come at the expense of how many other rap masterpieces like Biggie's Ready to Die and Scarface's The Diary were overlooked. Don't get us wrong, any time a hip-hop classic is highlighted, we're grateful. But, until 2019 when the inevitable Illmatic: Live on Broadway musical opens, let's try to focus on other outstanding works that hip-hop's given us. Especially in 2016 when we'll eagerly await every last one of your thinkpieces on the 20th anniversary of Nas' It Was Written.