Public Enemy‘s Chuck D and Flavor Flav sat down with Gigwise to discuss the state of hip-hop, and Flav lobbed what is, on its surface, a pretty scandalous critique at Jay Z, Drake, 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and a few other current hip-hop stalwarts. Basically, the former Flavor Of Love star alleged that those MCs aren’t purveyors of true hip-hop. But this isn’t a Dave Grohl “authenticity”-type argument. Rather, Flav’s argument basically comes down to tempo: in his eyes, true hip-hop is uptempo, so the the current stars are making some great rap music, but they’re not making hip-hop. Let’s let him explain.
“I think the element of hip-hop left when rap music started being created on a slow tempo,” he said. “There’s no more of that ‘wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care’ – you know, something that makes you wanna get out there and breakdance.” He specifically noticed the trend in America, and added, “There’s not too many great hip-hop records out there, but there are some great rap records. Lil Wayne is making some great rap records, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Snoop – everybody is making great rap records, but it’s not hip-hop.”
I see what he’s saying, and he wasn’t trying to be controversial — there has been an undeniable uptick in the amount of downtrodden rap in the last five years or so (the 808s And Heartbreak-ization of hip-hop). But there’s still a huge contingent of party rap in the US (even LMFAO‘s hiatus couldn’t stop that scourge). Not to mention, everyone Flav lists has released plenty of uptempo material in recent years.
The distinction between hip-hop and rap has always been a tad confounding, and using tempo and danceability as the distinguishing factors isn’t likely to help clear things up. There are many danceable, wave-your-hands-in-the-air tracks that happen to be slow. And it’s not just recently with a track like Kanye West‘s “Bound 2″: Outkast literally told you to throw your hands in the air on a fairly slow song way back in ’96. Likewise, there are fast rap songs that don’t make you want to hit the dance floor (see: Death Grips, early DMX).
So if you agree with Flav, I’ll leave you with this: using his metric, Karmin‘s “Hello” is a truer hip-hop record than K-Dot’s “Swimming Pools.”
[via 2 Dope Boyz]