It has been seven years since hip-hop legend Nas declared it: Hip-Hop Is Dead. Rap’s nonsensical subject matter and elementary lyrics had finally caught up with it. In retrospect, was it really?
Some would say it was. After all, Lil Wayne, who never has been known for his thoughtful subject matter, was arguably one of the top rappers of the year. “We Fly High (Ballin’)” by Jim Jones topped the Billboards week after week, despite its overall ridiculousness.
The genre had gone too mainstream; artists were too worried about being on the radios. Throughout the 90’s, perhaps hip-hop’s heyday, no rap album topped the Billboards.
Chicago native Lupe Fiasco released his debut album, Food & Liquor. While the album’s subject matter consisted of the struggles of growing up in underprivileged neighborhoods and Fiasco’s political views, it didn’t receive as much hype as other mainstream albums.
Hip-hop was in disarray, and it’s situation didn’t improve. The next couple of years saw the popularity of Soulja Boy skyrocket, as it seemed the genre was destined to be full of catchy hooks and lackluster rhymes.
Consistent rappers like Jay-Z were being ignored as one hit wonders plagued the radios, as overall rap album sales continued to decline.
Then, in June 2008, New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne released his sixth solo album, “Tha Carter III”. The album went platinum in its first week and would go on to reach triple platinum. It was the best selling albums in three years for rap music.
Generally, “Tha Carter III” is viewed as a turning point in hip-hop. The following year saw Eminem release his first album in five years, “Relapse”, and Jay-Z release the third of “The Blueprint” trilogy. Many rappers strayed from the money, cars, and girls subject matter that has dragged hip-hop down.
Artists such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, North Carolina’s very own J. Cole, have taken over radios; all three artists known for their relevant content and clever wordplay. With seasoned veterans such as Jay-Z and Eminem releasing successful albums recently, the old school and new schools have merged, and hip-hop has benefited.
Ladies and gentleman, hip-hop is alive and well.