Have hip-hop changed since the 90’s?
By Casper Cederblad.
I have chosen to compare 90’s rap music and 2010’s rap/hip hop music. These music genres are very wide and open so I will try to narrow it down to only American music. I will start by describing both genres and then I will compare its differences and similarities.
The 90’s hip hop time was referred to as “Golden age hip hop”. The 90’s rap/hip hop community was really huge, not only America, but the entire world was shocked by this new and very different type of music. It was the time for a change and many new and interesting artists started making music. Some examples of these are Tupac, N.W.A (Dr.Dre), Eminem, Notorious BIG, Wu-Tang clan, Snoop Dogg and many more. The music started in the “black” community and was in the only “meant” for black people and gangsters. Racism had played a big part in the past for the music community. Black people could not release music and breakthrough as easily as white people. A good example is from the ’50s when Big Mama Thorton got her song “Hound dog” stolen by the one and only Elvis Presley.
Rapping essentially involves the speaking or chanting of rhyming lyrics, often set to a beat. The rhyming created by rappers is considered by many to be one of the most sophisticated styles of poetry. What’s more, these rhymes often address provocative subjects such as sex, violence, and socio-political issues which could be seen as one of the negative sides of hip-hop.
By the 1990s, rap matured from an old-school-style – which was based on relatively simple lyrics – to a new-school-style, which was louder and included more complex lyrics.
The characteristics of the golden age rap era were very hard-core beats and you sang about what’s on your mind. People were not afraid to offend anyone else or make someone upset. Ice Cube is a very good example of this. He released the song “No Vaseline” in 1991. He had left the group NWA and they had a very complicated relationship. It ended up with Cube dissing the entire group and he earned himself the respect and fame from the entire rap community.
The 90’s rap has very clear and simple yet so complex. There was no such thing as autotune and to make it as a rapper you either had to sing very well or have some other skill that separated you from the others. Eminem became famous for his rapping skills and being able to “spit bars” quicker than anyone else.
90’s rap can be more relaxed too. You did not have to be angry all the time. You could have a nice beat and make a song and still get tons of streams. Of course, the music was harder to spread since they had no such thing as Spotify or Soundcloud.
Generally, the rap technique in the 90s era is regarded as being the best because of emphasis on lyricism, especially inner rhyme/multiple rhyming in a line and use of multi-syllable rhyming. In the 90’s it was higher lyric density/complexity. The focus on musicality/ sing-songy vibe was very important and it was decisive for the listeners. It was much more emphasis on always being on the beat and it made the song more fluent and got the listeners to “vibe” more. All of these points are very important but for me, the most important thing was that the rapper generally just had fun with it. Most of the guys and girls just made music because of pure joy. For me it’s whats music is about. Having fun and it’s like art, you should not do it for single fame or money. This is why I think the 1990s was a very important time for the rap community.
However there with all the good things in life, there’s always a downside. Some of the negative things with the music is that the majority of the songs had a very poor language and it was not a good influence for the younger, which I can understand since it was made by gang members and gangsters.
What makes a rapper great? There are a number of differing definitions and philosophies. Rapper J. Cole cites consistency as the most important attribute and says it's important to look both for the big humorous "punch" lines as well as the underlying message of the rapper's songs.
The rap has developed a lot since the early ’90s. The music industry today has changed a lot. Not only the music, but all the money and fame have grown to insane numbers. First of all, we can start by talking about the music. The music today is different in many ways and you can tell the difference just by playing a song from both eras at the same time.
One of the main differences between the hip-hop today (10’s) and the ’90s is the instrument use. In the ’90s the instruments were very important for the music and it could change the entire song but today almost everything is made from computers. The producers already have sounds on their computers, which they can put in the song. It’s much more instrumental and another good example is the autotune. Auto-Tune works by receiving an input signal, detecting its pitch, and then altering the pitch to your specifications. Auto-Tune Pro has two operation modes: Auto or Graph. In Auto Mode, the plug-in automatically adjusts each note to its closest pitch based on the selected key and correction settings. It’s kind of a simple way to make your voice stay on tune and it makes the music sound more like the “ideal” voice instead of being more natural.
Here are two examples of songs from the two eras:
N.W.A - Straight outta Compton(90’s) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMZi25Pq3T8
Lil Tjay - F.N https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9RtTGzs5EE
Even though hip-hop has changed in a way between two different eras, it’s not really different. Yes, it sounds different and feels different but the purpose is the same. To spread a thought or feeling and mostly joy. Hip-hop can save lives, yes I know it might sound stupid and absurd, but it’s true. People feeling suicidal can relate to the music and can feel like they get “support” just by listening to a specific song or artist. This is what music is to me. It’s more than just sounds mixed together, it’s happiness and love!