Retreating to the past - why can't rap be good again?
Today I watched Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport. A Tribe Called Quest is one of my favorite rap groups, though it never really quite hit me until today just how groundbreaking they were.
Listening to other rappers hold them in such high regard just reinforced my adamant stance that rap today will never be as good as it was back then, back when when finding the right rhymes and crafting the perfect beat was an art form. Seeing Q-Tip talk about how he randomly bought an album because he liked the cover and then, as he listened to it, discovering a beat that he ends up sampling for one of their hit songs was amazing. To hear the process, even though it had been a matter of chance (or hell, even fate) that he discovered that album and that beat, was so interesting to me.
Today, rap is all about autotune, chanting the same lyrics, and super slick production. Admittedly the whole genre is not like this (I continue to love the Beastie Boys to this day), but this is what is in the mainstream, what, for some reason, the masses enjoy. You no longer hear the homages to funk or jazz, there is no sense of discovery or creativity…it is no longer art, and, in a sense, no longer music.
So until the day comes when someone changes the game, I will continue to stubbornly cling to the old school.