By Leon Makhadi
Hip Hop has always had debates about which artist is real and who’s fake. This goes back to when I started listening to Hip Hop, the generation that had been heads before me always criticized my choice of rappers saying “That’s not real hip hop” .The term ‘Real’ is relative. What may be real to me may not be real to the next person, the views expressed here are my own and do not represent the thoughts of any collective.
Hip hop is an art form that allows expression to individuals of all kinds; gangsters, intellectuals, politicians, academics etc. It would be really absurd to limit ‘realness’ in the genre to what one prefers. The versatility in Hip hop has been the cause of beefs in the industry and the streets, beefs like KRS-One and Nelly, with heads divided between Commercial, conscious and underground. Truth is, the Hip Hop sound is constantly evolving. When one is introduced to hip hop, the sound they are initiated into is what they consider real. Some will accept change, some will deny change and some are totally unaware of the change.
Initially there was resistance to Hip hop in venecular. It was a different sound to the established sound that was considered real hip hop. There were years of debate on whether Zola was hip hop or Kwaito. Years later there was friction between Hip Hop and Kwaito Artists, artists like Magesh and Kabelo were accused of trying to jump on the hip hop bandwagon(remember the track The man ?)
Is there a distinct sound that can be classified as Hip hop or Real Hip Hop if the two are not synonymous? Afterall, Hip hop is a genre that has borrowed from other genres and continues to blend with other genres.
It’s impossible to not notice the deteriorating lyricism in hip hop, how quality lyrics have been substituted with catchy lines about money, half naked women and cars. Although this has helped increase hip hop’s audience and gained a market of pop listeners, some including myself feel that when the content is compromised, the art form is less ‘real’. As a self-aware black individual, I find it hard to embrace such lyrics because I don’t find them relevant to me, they might be relevant to another group, but they aren’t real to me. Would u consider it real to you if you hear Zulu Boy rapping about Private Jets and custom whips ? The Korean musician Psy is a rapper, do u consider the song Gangnam style as Hip hop or Not, or u consider it a hip hop but u don’t consider it as real hip hop?
To sum it all up, here’s a quote that expresses my sentiments:
“Who am I to judge one’s perspective?
Though some of that shit y’all pop true it, I ain’t relating
if I don’t like it, I don’t like it, that don’t mean that I’m hating
I just want to innovate and stimulate minds”
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