Yo yo yo Hip Hop History community! We’re still in the time machine, but we’re getting closer to the present, closer to that half century.
The maximalist/backpacker/regional/hip hop takes over the cultural landscape of the late 1990s through the beginning of the 21st century is obviously informed by the internet (no, not that Internet, although they are pretty awesome!). From Soundcloud to Spotify, artists no longer had to look to gatekeeping record companies to get their music out there; this was not only an advantage for rappers who made music that might not have been considered commercial, but also for women in particular. Inspired by the brave MCs that persisted throughout the earliest of hip hop history, many women not only stepped to the mike, but found themselves both heard and seen.
Music blogs popped up all over the place, amateur critics championing the mix tapes, artists, and local scenes that might have never gotten a second look by mainstream media. And the music itself continued to grow and change in exciting ways, with regional scenes giving way to the online world, rappers singing and vice versa, and the continued cross-pollination with fashion and streetwear finally beginning to acknowledge its debts.
With his ‘cinematic’ first album neither lacking in ambition or a consideration of all that had come before it in hip hop, Kendrick Lamar climbed to the top of the game in the early part of the 2010s; many would argue that he still sits on the throne. His ability to examine his own socio-economic context, to narrate and give voice to the contradictions of being Black in America, and to speak for many of us and only himself simultaneously is nothing short of astonishing. The live performances, the features, the music videos, the social media presence- all things that Kendrick seems to understand in ways that most of us could never.
Perhaps the most important thing Kendrick has done in his discography is to demonstrate what hip hop can do in the most virtuosic way possible. It seems that his ambition is his influence, and I love that for this decade of the music and culture; it seems vital.
So! The 2010s. Bring em out!
1.) The tricky/fun thing about this 30 day ‘challenge’ is that you get one choice (see, it’s a challenge! If you’ve already mentioned a song from an album/artist you’d like to pick on a previous day, it’s cool-just pick a different song if you can.
2.) In order to keep the thread from borking, please limit yourself to one YouTube/media link per post. If someone ‘beats you to it’ and posts a song you would’ve posted, reply under their post saying why you like this song/why it was your pick as well, etc. Let’s not give Disqus a reason to make the thread hard to navigate for those of us listening to the songs! If you want to mention some others, of course that’s fine!
3.) Let’s keep this as positive as we can. Don’t yuck anyone’s yum, don’t snark on someone who may not be as familiar as others, don’t ‘Um, actually’ people, etc. Ain’t nobody earning any Internet Points out here.