The inspiration for this blog came from an idea I had a while back for a rather long, researched and thorough essay. I wanted to call this essay “Is Hip-Hop Dead: Historical Declinism In Rap Music.”
Declinism is the belief that something, particularly a country or a political/economic system, is undergoing a significant and possibly irreversible decline. When I learned about this principle in a History course I took last year it immediately reminded me of Nas’s 2006 album “Hip-Hop Is Dead.” Although some have criticized Nas for his decision to name the album as such, stating that the title was a simple publicity stunt, this brand of ‘Declinism’ in Hip-Hop is neither unprecedented nor recent. In fact, both Hip-Hop artists and outside commentators have been bemoaning the state of Hip-Hop since it’s inception. East Coast artists such as Common complained about the emergence of West Coast Gangster rap during the early 90’s and the toll it was taking on the art-form. ‘Underground’ MC’s have been complaining about the commercialization of Hip-Hop since at least the rise of ‘Jiggy Rap’ in the mid-to-late 90’s. Southern Rap is still struggling to find a foothold amongst rap ‘purists’.
All of these trends demonstrate a conviction amongst artists and fans that Hip-Hop is or has been in a state of decline. With my essay I wanted to attempt to answer whether Hip-Hop really is in this decline, all the while giving an account of the many declinist models throughout Hip-Hop’s history. This is going to be an ongoing project that I hope to have finished by the end of December.
I also titled my blog “Is Hip-Hop Dead?” because I think the aims of this essay extend to all the writing that I want to do for the website; in essence I want to examine the intricacies of the music I love and raise/answer intriguing questions about how we listen to and interpret music. I hope I can satisfy these aims and will try to the best of my abilities to achieve this goal.