Hip-hop is an ever evolving culture. There are ups and downs, peaks and valleys, ins and outs etc. etc. Especially in 2014, which has been said to be have been the worst year for the genre in a decade. This statement is a little harsh but comes from a place of truth. There weren’t many rappers who did particularly well on the charts or on the shelves in 2014, not to mention the slow releases and questionable content. It would be impossible to attribute these lows to one particular occurrence in the game but there are definitely some trends that hip-hop could leave behind moving into this new year. Check out the hip-hop trends that need to stop in 2015.
The Race Debate
2014 had a ton of dialogue concerning race, more specifically, race in America. The tragedies of Mike Brown and Eric Garner amongst others, sparked debate across the nation about the American justice system and white privilege. These open dialogues surrounding racial conflicts are 100% merited and deserve as much media attention as possible to spread awareness and make a difference. Naturally, these events and sentiments were reflected in hip-hop; as they should be. There were some powerful songs made to commemorate those we lost and rally a nation hit with sadness. The issue here is that the conversation turned from social inequality within society to social inequality in hip-hop. There were some artists who felt strongly about how hip-hop was getting tarnished by the the white MCs sparking debates about white appropriation and the validity of the “white rapper”. There is obviously some things to talk about here but hip-hop needs to shift its focus. It seemed like everywhere you turned this year, someone was mad and Macklemore or Iggy Azalea. Macklemore addressed the issue on Hot97 as you can see in the video below. It’s good to ask questions and spark debate but remember, everyone is allowed to rap. The culture is worldwide and hip-hop NEEDS to accept that.
Long Album Roll Outs & Push Backs
Remember a time when rappers would pick a release date for their project and stick to it? Us neither. Hip-hop has developed the bad habit of picking a release date and then proceeding to actually drop the project months later. By the time it has come out, the buzz is gone, the fans are upset and the album sales flop. Not to mention the inevitable leak which can hurt album sales even more. The other issue hip-hop is facing is the long album roll outs that artists feel they need to orchestrate. It’s no mystery that anticipation can raise an album’s interest level and hype but promoting your album way too hard way too early doesn’t work. This may have been the case back when the Internet didn’t exist but in today’s hip-hop landscape, you are much better off making the music the main focus, and not the promotion. Take J. Cole for example. He gives details in the video below but he essentially announced the release of his album three weeks before it hit the shelves and it sold over 300,000 copies the first week. Now look at Rick Ross. He dropped an album in March and immediately started promoting his next album that dropped at the end of November. Guess how it did first week? 70,000 copies. The moral of the story here: let the music do the talking.
Songs/Albums Filled With Features
Something hip-hop has done more and more of is the massive collaboration tracks. You know those songs that have somewhere around three to five guest verses from different rappers and an R&B singer for the hook. They are usually made in attempts of a smash hit that will attract fan bases from all seven artists featured on the track. More often than not, these songs are a mess, if not done right. There are too many voices to keep track of, which hinders the song and the artist whose project it’s on. The ultimate worst is when an entire album is riddled with features on every single song. How can we call it YOUR album when you have no songs by yourself? Most of the mainstream rap albums dropped in 2014 had more than half its songs containing at least one feature. Don’t get it twisted, songs with features can be awesome if done tastefully and placed strategically. If you are making a solo album, then prove to the people your solo work. Leave the massive collabs to DJ Khaled.