Let's start with a little time line. Obviously some people will be offended that I left out MC so-and-so or DJ whats-his-face, but I am looking at milestones that are significant to ME.
Old School (Sugar Hill Gang/Grandmaster Flash) era: Proving to the world (or at least the 75 people tuning in on the local AM stations) that there can be more than one type of music to listen to that wasn't candy-coated, cocaine-filled and Euro-trashy. take THAT, disco.
New School (Run DMC, Beastie Boys, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Tribe) era: Yum. I eat this stuff up with a spoon. These guys weren't out to prove anything to rival record labels, or trying to contend against pop music. This genre started out grassroots and would have been very happy to keep it that way. Three Feet High and Rising kicks my ass every time I put it on to this day.
Crap Rap (MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Montell Jordan): enough said. Moving on.
Gangsta Rap (Ice T, NWA, and later Tupac, Dr. Dre & Snoop) : You love it or you hate it. You pick a crew and you love them, and you pick another just to hate them. I think these West Coast guys had a lot of bottled up tension, and for the most part it never really appealed to me.
East Coast Explosion Round 2 (Wu-Tang, Nas, Bad Boy, Jay-Z) : These guys loved at least one of the following: money, slingin' drugs, freeing Africa or trying to keep it free, money. How can you argue with that? Well I'll tell you how. You go on the Source Awards and accuse the entire East Coast of having no love for you. This lovefest ultimately ends with the two kingpin performers being worm food. Tough words lead to a tough life, guys.
The Southern Invasion (Outkast, No Limit, Juveneille) : Who let these guys in here? While other guys were telling stories about being poor and killing people, these little tykes were actually LIVING that mess. Lest we forget that Lil Wayne came out of this fresh crop of talent - back dat Azz up, folks. For the most part this stuff was good to get girls to shake their booty. I'm not sure if their message was quite as relevant as "THE Message."
Commercialism and Capitalism at its best/worst (Eminem, DMX, 50 Cent, MORE Jay-Z, MORE Bad Boy) : Every time this song is played, a rapper somewhere is getting paid.
Which leads me to the origin of this post. Today's "hip-hop" garbage. When did it become cool to synth your voice, basing your ideal sound on the EXACT SAME sound as 10 other artists out there? It doesn't have to be a competition, but can I get a tiny bit of originality? Is there anyone out there who DOESN'T sound like Drake? Giving yourself a cutesy name like Young Jeezy or Wacka Flocka doesn't make you any bit more original than the last guy. I scowl every time I turn on the radio and I am greeted with "You fancy, huh?" or someone reminding me to go "bottoms up". I can't afford these ridiculous lifestyles that you are trying to trick me into wanting, so shush. And give me back my musical integrity. Only a sheep needs a leader.