An Open Letter to the Old Heads: Your Hate is Their Guap
Do you find yourself posting words like “I remember when rappers were real”? If so, this message might be for you
“This is total crap!”
“I remember when rappers were real!”
And of course, the classic “this isn’t hip hop!”
Do any of these sound like you? If so you might be an “old head.”
The above is small selection of the torrent of hateful comments flooding the web whenever something new comes out by acts like Migos, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, or basically anyone else under 30 without a backpack grafted to his or her spine. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion to the state of affairs in our beloved hip hop culture. Who doesn’t like barbershop talk? Many older heads seem to hold on to a strange idea though; that the space these newer sounds occupy, somehow detracts from the space for more traditional rap. And that’s utter bullshit.
The endless yammering about what ever happened to “real hip hop?” is as misguided as trying to find the MASS APPEAL offices with satellite navigation that hasn’t been updated since 1993 (for the young’uns who might’ve still been in Pampers around that time: MASS APPEAL was founded in 1996). Aside from the fact that your imaginary era in which all rap was straight up raw and everybody kicked knowledge has never existed —the ’90s golden era was also the time of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, Biz Markie rapped about picking boogers in the iconic ’80s and in the ’70s, The Sugar Hill Gang’s Big Bank Hank was busy talking about busting you up with his super sperm—boom bap and g-funk have never actually disappeared.
The only thing that changed is that they’re not the subgenres currently in vogue. In a few years, hip hop will have caught on to another wave, and a few years after that, you’ll have rap fans looking back teary-eyed at a time in which you still had real trap stars and dope mumble flows.
That new sounds are added to rap’s canon doesn’t mean older sounds automatically die out. DJ Quik and Snoop Dogg both released great new albums full of luscious west coast funk this year, Joey Bada$$ successfully builds on the foundation laid by the times when Afrocentricity and jazz samples ruled the game, Freddie Gibbs is keeping authentic gangsta rap breathing, A Tribe Called Quest released a stellar comeback album last year and Killer Mike and El-P headline festivals internationally. I could go on, but it seems like older heads tend to take these acts for granted. Meanwhile, rap has never seen more relevant older rappers than we have right now.
Both T.I. and Lil Wayne are halfway through their thirties and Jay and Nas are now over forty. They’re all still very much in the forefront of the rap game. Their place hasn’t been taken by modern acts, nor do they encroach on the space that’d belong to new school rappers. Bottom line: Rap is big enough for everyone. In other words, don’t hate on the youth, just listen to what you love and let the young be young.
Yes, I’m generalizing. Of course, there are a few old heads out there who have accepted that new styles might not be their cup of tea, heads that do support their favorite rappers or producers, just as there are old heads who may think these new styles can be inspiring as well. All good. This is not about any of them. This is about the online circle-jerking that goes on all day, the endless rants about how much better rap used to be by people who remain blind and deaf (and dumb) to all the new releases in an increasingly diverse genre they claim to love so much.
What’s more, with their incessant negative comments, they’re actually supporting those acts they deride. The algorithms on social media don’t care much whether a comment is negative or positive; they measure activity. The more something is clicked and commented upon, the bigger the chance the algorithm will decide it’s relevant to other users as well. Simply put: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And you’re giving them loads of it for free.
Take YouTube, for instance. A view is a view. Those couple of cents will be paid out to rights holders, no matter you clicking the downward thumb and leaving a verbal fusillade at the bottom. Instead of putting all that time and effort into something you say you hate, it’d be more productive to just ignore it and support something you do like. Those acts probably can use the support, ‘cause if everybody who claims to hate trap or mumble rap would support current, qualitatively sound sample-based boom bap, a label like (just to mention one) Mello Music Group, would probably go quadruple platinum with every release.
But hey, if you’d rather stay sipping you hatorade 24/7, fine. Do you. It doesn’t bother me, and it definitely doesn’t bother this new generation of rap artists.
Just remember: Your hate is their guap.