As a Hip Hop artist I feel that I am entrenched within the culture and movement of the musical genre called Hip Hop. There are many reasons noted that our music is dying. Many blame the trash commercial artists who are doing what they do to make hip pop albums and get paid but I would like to turn the blame elsewhere.
The artist is never responsible for creating a movement just like the prophet is not responsible for the religion. In both cases both prophet and artist simply reveal something to the world. It is the followers...those that love what has been brought who stand behind this and mount a flag and say "THIS IS OURS".
With this being truth, how can you blame an artist or blame people who are NOT a part of the culture for destroying it? No, you can't. You must blame those who subscribe to it...they are the ones who falter in hard times or change belief or tastes after a while.
So what is going on in Hip Hop? Hip Hop bred a generation and what has happened to it? There are several types of Hip hop listeners:
-The late 30's early 40's Nostalgia listener: These listeners talk about how dope things were "back in the day" but what they are really lamenting is their childhood. These people do not live a similar lifestyle and in fact most often, outside of old school hip hop they listen to little or no new Hip Hop. These people dismiss it without even listening or supporting.
-The "In style" listener: These people tend to be anywhere from 26 on up. They used to listen to hip hop but their style and taste has simply changed. Hip Hop is not cool to listen to anymore so they listen to other genre's of music. They like to self identify with hip hop and claim a love however, upon closer inspection, they too keep it restricted to the nostalgic music of their younger years.
-New listeners: 26 and younger who are growing up with the current artists but have much love and respect for the old as well. These people are in the minority of their age groups and so while they fully support Hip Hop, they are not enough to keep it afloat.
-Fan listeners: This is an interesting group of people. In my experience, this group is made up of mostly suburban white kids who are not hip hop lovers. They are lovers of some other style of music, however they have 2 or 3 current artists that they are into. They, like everyone else, have respect for the old stuff they grew up on or were told was "classic material". This group is important to cash in on if you are an artist because they support whomever they like to the fullest.
-Creator/Listeners: This crowd is self explanatory. This group consists of people who love the music so much they cannot resist but participate, even if only a temporary hobby. With the advent of technology and the ease of sharing music, they come off as actual lifestyle artists but they are more so "weekend warriors". Their love for the culture is deep however their role also serves to dilute the game and confuse the general listener. The general listener is bombarded with this type via myspace etc and makes the determination that Hip Hop artists are all wak now. This is not the case...serious artists are on a different echelon and should be understood as such. There was a time when I was just toying around with the notion of writing and rapping. I had enough respect to keep it at hobby level. I did not do shows nor produce public material until I had made the conscious decision that this was to be my life. Given that piece of history I feel very justified (even if mistakingly) to say to these types "fall back with that hobby rap."
With a crowd like this it is not a wonder to me that the artform I love so much is diminishing and struggling to breath. I, like my peers in this game refuse to die...because we love it. For many of us it is how we communicate and express ourselves so, like speech, we cannot leave it alone.