Many of you will see the words ‘hip hop’ and probably stop reading or have not even bothered to open the link, that is okay, this is for all the other hip hop gangster-rap aficionado’s out there like me. Let me explain.
So there I was, just 11 years old, when a mate of mine came round with a cd in his hand. He yelled: “yo man listen to this guy called Eminem!” Who on earth was this blonde hair dyed scrawny trailer trash fellow? Well 18 years later he still embodies the true sound of hip hop if you ask me. And a lot of you will debate that notion and I understand that to be fair.
When I grew up, considering I was born in 1987, I was too young to take notice of Run DMC, Rakim, Tupac and the NWA. Thinking back to my early youth I did not really start to actively listen to hip hop until I was introduced to Eminem. Soon after DMX, Lil’Wayne, Tech N9ne, Dr. Dre, Xzibit and Busta Rhymes (No Kanye West ha!) added to a nice ensemble of rap icons that would push the sound limit of my then Sony Walkman. What is an iPod anyway?! Going into my teens 50 Cent would be added to that list and soon after I found myself also digging into the more regional US hip hop artist with guys like Chamillionaire, Killer Mike and Bun-B.
A Good Beat To Start With
To be honest no matter what music I listen to, I have always had a great feebleness towards a good, strong beat as the underlying foundation of the song. Take for example:
- Eminem – The Way I am
- Xzibit – X
- Dr. Dre – Still Dre
- DMX – Get It On The Floor
- Busta Rhymes – Break Ya Neck
The above are just some examples of how I feel hip hop should sound. If you are familiar with the likes of DMX, Dr.Dre, Eminem and Busta Rhymes then you know the amount of their songs that have such strong beats and really give the song great meaning.
This brings me to today’s American so called hip hop artists like: ASAP Rocky, Wacka Flocka Flame, Juicy J, Rae Sremmurd, Wiz Khalifa, 2Chainz and Desiigner, just to name a few. Apart from the seriously stupendous names and skinny jeans, these so called rappers top the hip hop charts in the US as if it were the most common thing in the world.
What really leaves me incredulous though is the fact that the majority of those artists sound exactly the same from a beat perspective. If you ever listened to albums from Eminem, DMX and Lil Wayne for example, you will know that none sound remotely similar from the context of the beat. This cannot be said for the list of rappers above. Use the same beat and just adjust an additional instrument or electro sound to distinguish the songs. Even the flow or rap, speed is almost near identical. To top it off some of these morons cannot even rap proper English, of course you get your hood slang which is fine to a certain point, but if anybody can tell me what Desiigner raps about in the song ‘Panda’, then please do let me know?! At least Eminem, DMX and Dr. Dre managed some form of pronunciation and understanding.
Skinny vs Baggy Jeans
Remember the days you walked around in baggy jeans that were so big you could potentially use them as a sleeping bag? I do. It drove my mother nuts, she would try and pull my jeans up higher all the time. Showing your boxers was a given at the time. Hilarious looking back at it some 15 years later. More importantly in the past few years it has become a rising trend for men to wear skinny jeans, apparently it’s fashion. (cough)
So I always thought that as as a rapper you are supposed to represent something cool, rough and baggy jeans simply fit perfectly with the hip hop scene. However something cool and hip cannot be said about bloody skinny jeans! Most of these rappers have legs the as skinny as stick insects and just look like a tit! Sorry but that has ruined it for me. Cannot bare to look at it. Bring back those Karl Kani baggies!
The Rise Of Grime
Honestly though, there is a new scene on the block. Actually has been for quite a few years but only now it has seen its proper global rise. I am talking of course about yodeling. Yodeling is a form of singing which involves repeated and rapid changes of pitch between the low-pitch chest register and the high-pitch head register or falsetto, common to the Swiss and Austrian music scenes. Okay all kidding aside, I want to discuss GRIME. As Wikipedia describes it:
Grime is a genre of music that emerged in London in the early 2000s. It developed out of earlier UK electronic music styles, including UK garage and jungle, and also draws influence from Jamaican dancehall, ragga, and hip hop. The style is typified by rapid, syncopated breakbeats, generally around 130 or 140 bpm,and often features an aggressive or jagged electronic sound.
Most of you will not have heard of Skepta, Wiley, Giggs, JME, Stormzy or Kano. But it was Skepta’s album ‘Konnichiwa’ in 2016, that really put Grime on the global stage. Even though the ‘Godfather’ of GRIME, Wiley put out his record breaking album in January 2017, that personally feels like the best GRIME album ever made.
Grime has so much more character, humor and skill than the current American hip hop scene. The Grime MC’s are proper MC’s, no wannabe famous rappers starting their name with Lil’. Londen is tough fam, these lads express that in their lyrics. So please do have a good listen to the following songs that exhibit the true sound and lyrical punch of Grime!