Five Hip-Hop Trends We Hope Will End in 2013
5. Rap's Unsavory Saviors
In 2006, hip-hop legend Nas released an album called Hip-Hop is Dead, a fact listeners are reminded of every time they read the press release of some up-and-coming rap artists looking to "bring rap back!" Whether you chalk it up to hip-hop finally reaching the age where it's spawned the genre's tribute band equivalents or just overzealous fans whose misguided appreciation for rap's yesteryear has morphed into an idealized nostalgia for an age that never existed, a vocal minority are just restlessly unsatisfied unless they hear/make the new Illmatic. Let's be real, hip-hop has never and will never need saving. As long as there's young people, the vibrant youth culture will be just fine.
4. Faux-Clever Attempts to Promote Free Music
With each year bringing fewer and fewer record stores along with, coincidentally, fewer people willing to spend money on music, the "free" project has become an absolute necessity for the emerging artist. Whether a mixtape or a full length album, it allows the artists and listeners to take a chance together on something they may really enjoy. Unfortunately, this market has arrived with the increasing frustrating trend of artists struggling to find new ways to say "my album is free." From confusing puns like "It costs Free.99" to convoluted contractions like "FreE.P.," all these do is cause potential listeners' eyes to roll and let writers know your publicist may or may not in fact be Joey Gladstone. Telling us an album is "Free" or even "Free Download" is eye-grabbing, enticing and fits our budgets perfectly. Otherwise, cut it.out.
3. Poorly Made Vaguely-Political Music
Remember during the re-election of President Bush when the underground and mainstream hip-hop scenes were united to express their disapproval by turning every live show into a super serious pep rally/"Def Poetry Jam" hybrid? At the very least new voices were inspired and it spawned some pretty passionate movements and sub-sects. Now, in 2013, there's still people holding on to that "Fuck Bush" mentality, only now they hate everything remotely government/politics related. It's one thing to make thought-provoking socially conscious music, but when how it sounds takes a backseat to an ideology, that's when there's a problem. A very, very boring problem. Regardless where you fall on the political spectrum, a musician's primary purpose is to make good music. Whether your rhymes support or oppose something on capital hill, they aren't going to be worth jack if your voice sounds like a struggling guinea pig whimpering through an Edison phonograph over a beat that sounds like somebody threw a 1982 Casio keyboard on to a Crocodile Mile and hit the demo button. Make sure it sounds good and THEN, if there's time, save the world.