When talking to other people who listened to rap in the 80’s and 90’s and backpackers, they always mention the current state of rap. Some feel that the constant talk of sex, drugs, and money are why “hip hop is dead,” but contrary to popular belief hip hop is alive and well. You just need to look a little harder for your ideal version of what a rapper should be.
Mainstream artists are not as good as underground rappers. Mainstream rappers are rappers who are the most known people in the rap industry. Being mainstream doesn’t necessarily mean a musician’s music is bad, but in most of cases their music is.
Lil Wayne is a perfect example. He is very successful and one of the most known artists of today, but that doesn’t make his music good. He rarely leaves his fans with anything meaningful.
We can also compare mainstream and underground rappers. How about Chief Keef, a Chicago rapper and West Coast rapper Nipsey Hussle from L.A. What do these rappers have in common? They both are in gangs, but the way they talk about that lifestyle is drastically different.
When listening to Chief Keef, you get the sense that he is glorifying that lifestyle, and some feel his music has fueled the violence in Chicago.
Nipsey Hussle , on the other hand, doesn’t glorify it, instead he lets his listeners know about the conditions and his experiences in Los Angeles. Rappers often talk about similar topics, but the way they deliver that message differs. Mainstream artists typically glorify things that shouldn’t be, while underground rappers tend to take a more informative, anecdotal approach to telling people about certain things. Things like growing up in rough neighborhoods, substance abuse, personal problems, etc.
Now don’t be mistaken, underground rappers rap about their money, cars, and clothes just like any other rapper. They don’t let those subjects become their main focus or message and that is what separates them. Almost every rapper boasts about what they have, it’s a part of the culture, but it’s not the entire culture.
It seems like some rappers don’t know this though. It isn’t uncommon to hear 2 Chainz talk about Gucci or Louis Vuitton in nearly every song he has made, or hear someone in the hall singing Versace. Rap also used to have a strong political presence, speaking on social injustices and other things. There is still music like this, but it is less common. Mainstream rap used to be socially conscious, but rappers still knew how to have fun and make party songs. While mainstream artists go along with trends and focus solely on “turning up,” underground rappers still have the same feel as older rappers.
There’s a common saying that you get what you pay for, well in this case you get what you search for. So if you’re sick of the rappers on top of the rap industry, then dig underground and you might find gold.