30 Day National Hip Hop History Month Challenge Day 21: You better shine on ’em baby, you a star

Ok, Hip Hop enthusiasts, community, lurkers, commenters, neophytes..err’ybody. It’s your girl HP over here with an actual pen and pad of paper for this day’s challenge!

Everybody went through some things in 2020; it was impossible not to. And here we are, in 2023, on the other side of it, maybe a little older and wiser, but possibly also a little stranger.

And so it goes with hip-hop too. Here we are, at the end of our look through its decades to think about three, pandemic-inflected years. We’ve witnessed the incredible hybridity of the genre, incorporating pop and R&B influences, and as we get closer to our present, the lack of monoculture seems to make it so difficult to nail down just what hip hop is, what the culture means, and how we can continue to make sense of it even outside of a monolith that was never actually there, but definitely seemed that way at times.

So what was that pen and paper for? Well, I needed to make some notes from the internet, because time is a flat circle and who knows what came out when? It was a little easier with the decades, because whether something came out in ’92 or ’98, for example, it was all good. This time around, we got 3 separate calendar years.

After lots of scribbling, thinking, second guessing, crossing out, taking a quick listen, etc, I came up with my 3. I’m going to indulge here and post all 3 of them, but if we each could pick 1 of our 3 songs in the comments to post a link for, that would be great (just type out the other two, please-thanks for keeping the thread stable!)

Without further ado, for 2020 I have-

A long time coming, this one

For ’21, I have-

A special shout out to women rappers continuing their come up!

And ’22..this one was REALLY tough-

This album is one of my favorites from last year

I thought about how many of us feel such a strong affinity for music from Hip Hop’s Golden Era, and I get the ‘nothing will ever be like this again’, but I feel so excited and invested in what this genre can become, and I do try to get at new artists even if it doesn’t personally move me, because I believe in this culture as a socio-political vehicle- it feels necessary more than ever. And I feel like I owe it to rap music to try to get on that level, to try to recognize skill and genius and creativity even if it’s unexpected, or not my thing. I’m paying the culture back for what it’s given me.

So get your pen and paper out if ya need to, take some time, look through some lists (NPR has a few, so does Rolling Stone, your friendly neighborhood music blog, etc), and see if you can expand your horizons a little!

Let’s do this!

If someone grabs one of your picks and posts a link for it, feel free to chose another song off your mini-list and post that one. I think overlaps are ok for this one as long as we’re not posting the same YouTube/music links over and over! We just want to make sure folks can scroll without Disqus going nuts, is all.

I appreciate all of you sticking with this, whether you’re posting, having convos, or just reading along! <3