You’re Not An Old Head, You’re Just Old
And they said hip hop was dead!
Illustrations: Jenny Scales
You’re now 30 bullets old. Maybe older. You hear all these kids yelling “lit” and repeating a phrase for three minutes and calling it a song. And you’re getting real tight. This is not music. This is clearly a weak-ass generation that has no idea how to make real rap. Or…maybe, just maybe, you are only skimming the surface of what’s out there. You are not actually bothering to listen to these new jacks and the quality music they are putting out. And since you don’t understand it, then it must be shit. Right? Cause that’s how it works. If you can’t understand it then it has to be straight garbage.
1. All these new rappers sound the same.
Pick your favorite era and I can point out five emcees that sound exactly like each other. Old heads are upset because everyone is named Lil Supa Soaka and Murda Mane, but old heads are suspiciously quick to forget that it was once super hot-to-have a 5 Percenter name. Or how Das EFX was basically that generation’s Migos. Once Das EFX blew up, every riggety-real emcee you can think of started to sound like they were Straight Out Da Sewer. Pull up that Big L and Jay Z – Stretch & Bobbito freestyle and tell me who Jay sounds like. Did we forget the super scientifically mathematical flow logical trend? I didn’t. Lots of rappers rhyming about astro physics and the cosmos. That was just a coincidence too, huh? Rappers have always sounded similar. It only bothers you now because they don’t sound the same as your favorite group from high school.
2. None of these rappers have respect for the OGs.
Respect is not easily measured. Expecting a new generation to bow down to an older generation is the opposite of progress. The reason you love Illmatic is because it doesn’t have any Run-DMC features. Imagine bumping “NY State Of Mind” and right after Nas’ verse, DMC starts kicking some bars about shell toes and hanging out with fucking Aerosmith. The current generation, for the most part, goes out of their way to get features from older rappers–even when it costs them their own money. ScHoolboy Q has E-40, Tha Dogg Pound, and Jadakiss features on his new LP. Jadakiss is basically old head royalty. And yet, I would wager you can’t name Kiss’ last album. Q has no obligation or marketing need to have a Kiss feature. It cost ScHoolboy Q more money to get that Jadakiss verse than you have spent on your entire sneaker collection. So who’s really a bigger fan of the previous generation?
3. Kanye has ruined the whole culture.
True, but he also let Madlib produce the beat for his single on his biggest album to date. Let that sink in. The world’s most infamous ego maniac let Madlib (a producer that has never charted, ever) do the beat for “No More Parties In L.A” and he makes it one of the first songs the world hears from his “greatest musical achievement.” I certainly didn’t complain. But I will not deny him for his ability to do amazingly cool shit given his position in music. Things you wouldn’t expect like dropping his entire schedule to go give the eulogy for Phife Dawg’s funeral. For a person who is obsessed with himself, he actually has very, very, very respectable taste in emcees and producers.
4. Young Thug is garbage.
Oh lawd. Trashing Young Thug is like cocaine to old heads. “Jeffrey” makes them so uncomfortable. Young Thug on the exterior looks like a dusted out scarecrow, but he raps extremely well:
“Choppers, AK’s, hand Grenades we take that kill shit no payback
But I’ll kill you and listen close no mistake that
But we don’t play basketball, bitch there’s no take back”
There’s enough in those three lines to validate that he possesses a measurable amount of skill. But the real draw for the listener is not when he flexes complex sets of syllables and sounds in rapid succession. The pay off is when Thug croaks out: “Money stand like 8 feet, just like 2 midgets.”
If DOOM said that shit you’d praise the metal-faced god for his grammatical genius. But he didn’t.
Thugga yelled that absurdly clever shit and it’s all you need to understand that there’s more going on in that prickly-pierced bleached goblin man than meets the eye. Depending on what side of the spectrum you fall. This is probably a good time to use what I call the “Sadat X Factor.” The Sadat X factor is a system I created to tell whether someone hates someone’s voice or hates the way they rap. Think about it. No one is indecisive about Sadat X. Old heads either love Sadat’s voice or they hate it. But, the beauty of the system is that you can’t say he is trash. You are forced to pick one. Does his voice bother the shit out of you or do you have issues with his bars? Cause only one of those things can be trash. Is Young Thug actual trash or do you not like his voice?
5. All these rappers dress the same.
True. So true guys. You got me. These fashion rappers are dressing up exactly the same which means our generation was vastly superior. EXCEPT…this has happened since the beginning of rap and you have the memory capacity of a floppy disk, dawgie. In the early ’80s they were dressing like P Funk. Mid ’80s it was truck jewels, Cazals, track suits. ’90s: military wear, boots, hoodies, Carhartt, then the jiggy era, then the tall tee era and let’s not forget that Dipset, arguably one of the most fashionable groups of all time, wore the shit out of Ed Hardy. Jones even started some diet Affliction t-shirt line that was so bad. Trends are trends. Nothing is new and it wasn’t better back then. You just were younger and didn’t have a credit score to worry about.
6. Everybody just makes mixtapes. They can’t make an actual LP.
First off, music is 100% free. You pay no money. Truly think about that fact before you complain. You never have to pay for an album ever again. How quickly the old heads forget the infamous day of disappointment when we were all promised that Canibus was Rakim reincarnated. We rushed out to get that whack ass Can-I-Bus album. We no longer have to blindly purchase an album ever again. They give away all the music at an unprecedented level. Imagine if your favorite ’90s rapper had produced as much material in their prime as some of these new cats. That whole era would be vastly different.
7. All these new rappers are fake.
Spoiler Alert: almost all rappers are fake. Requiring a rapper to be an actual criminal is absurd. Saying rappers are fake is not an original revelation. Chris Rock made CB4 knowing most rappers were faking the funk. The film was released in 1993 aka 23 years ago. This isn’t a new point. And it is not good one either. Wu-Tang Clan wasn’t from Shaolin and Lil Turnt Knife most likely did not sell bricks of cocaine. Also, selling cocaine is not a good thing. Music is still allowed to be escapism. It does not have to be literal. And more often than not, those that talk bout that life reap the consequences from it, in one form or another.