The Hip-Hop Renaissance
Hip-Hop as a genre of music has blown up in recent years, with popular singles from top hip-hop artists receiving radio play time on a regular basis. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Drake, J Cole, and Tyler the Creator now rival the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, a testament to how far the genre has come.
While the genre is commonly criticized for supposedly glorifying drugs, violence, and the gangster lifestyle, having a listen to the latest albums of these top artists reveal how such a perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Hip-hop albums are often an extended soundscape serving as the means to telling a story. Rappers utilize wordplay, metaphors, and wit to display their lyrical prowess, not unlike poets.
In Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, the album itself almost acts as therapy for Kendrick Lamar’s inner conflicts and tough personal battles. He reflects on his survivor’s guilt, and pleads with institutions and society to change their ways with regard to racism and discrimination.
In Tyler the Creator’s album, Call Me If You Get Lost, Tyler talks about his illicit relationship with a woman who is already taken, delving into the emotional turmoil and his guilt knowing that what he is doing is wrong and simply not sustainable.
Kanye West’s album, Donda, is a tribute to his late mother and the positive influence she had in raising him. Many of his tracks contain religious references to heaven and God, as he pleads to his higher power to take care of Donda and keep him safe in life.
These artists have elevated the genre from simply music into an artform, and have helped reshape the genre into the reflective and contemplative form that it often takes on today.