Hip-Hop Metamorphosis: Rap of the Nineties Versus Rap of Today
Although rap nowadays is much more focused on the beat and instrumentals instead of the lyrics, the level of talent in the genre has not decreased, rather it has evolved. Many people who listened to rap in the 90s criticize modern rappers for not putting any effort into their lyrics. It is somewhat true that the new wave of rap is not as focused on lyrics; however, the beats of rap have escalated and become much more complex. Lovers of 90s rap need to look past the lyrics and recognize how creative the modern beats have become. Whether the rap is old or new, the genre must be appreciated for the talent and innovation that is constantly applied to it.
When hip-hop group NWA came on the scene in the late 1980s, they revolutionized the rap genre. With Dr. Dre producing the music and Ice Cube writing the rhymes for himself and Eazy E, the group made music that all rappers would attempt to mimic over the next decade. The producers behind such rap from the late 80s and the 90s often would find certain snippets of jazz music from the 70s and loop them. Then they would insert drum patterns to accompany the loop. The beats were very repetitive, but this would not matter because the lyrics of the songs would be so complex that the listener would only focus on what the rappers were saying. That is not to say that the beats were boring-- the best beats of all time are often said to be from the 90s-- but the lyrics of the 90s had greater meanings and implications.
It is evident that the genre of rap has completely changed, as rap songs from the 90s are incredibly different from the rap songs that are released in 2016. The producers of today’s rap songs, such as Metro Boomin and Mike Will Made-It, have severely increased the bass level and have more heavily featured snare drums to create upbeat instrumentals that are certified to make people dance at a party. The new wave rappers, like Young Thug and Lil Yachty, do not have the most intelligent lyrics to accompany these intricate beats. Rappers like Young Thug and Lil Yachty do not tell stories with their songs or speak their mind about societal issues, rather they rap very fast or do not say real words in order to sound good over a beat. Listeners of classic rap often will not give ‘new wave rap,’ also known as ‘trap music,’ serious consideration. These critics say that there is zero talent involved and that the songs are simply noise. But the talent has not disappeared, rather the focus of rap songs has shifted to the production of the songs. Today, the true wizards of the hip-hop music industry are the producers. This is not to say that lyricists have disappeared in today’s rap music, but in the case of trap music, the instrumental is everything.
Whether it is modern rap or rap from the 1990s, instrumentals are fascinating and never cease to entertain listeners. Rap from the late twentieth century is considered much more lyrically based while today’s rap has a much heavier emphasis on instrumentals. To all the lovers of old school rap, I urge you to enjoy the changes that the rap genre is undergoing. Talent has not disappeared from rap, it has just taken a new form.