Is Old School Rap Being Lost In An Ever-Changing Industry?

Words by Zurraq Khan.

The rap music industry at the moment is saturated with the sound of auto tune, lyrics about money and bitches and the odd back story about jail time in the ghetto. Whether you grew up listening to the easy sound of Grand Puba or the heavy controversial melody of Wu-Tang Clan, there are many artists that still provide a sound reminiscent of the golden era of rap.

First of which is J-Tek. A small-time rapper who takes inspiration from big-time moguls like Tupac Shakur, Nas and the duo of OutKast. Whether you’re jamming out to the wind-down beat of 93 Vitals or Hello America, this upcoming artist has all the ingredients of what’s been missing from the industry of present. His sound takes me back to the glory days of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, the music that you listen to whether you’re on a come down or just want to pay attention to the deep and relevant lyrics. Definitely one to watch.

De La Soul have been around for two decades now, providing memorable beats like Me, Myself & I, which have become major songs in the scene for a while. The thing with a lot of these artists that have been around for a long time is that they tend to stray off the mark later on in their reign towards a different style of music as an experiment, De La Soul however have kept to the same old school sound as the 80’s with their latest album ‘and the Anonymous nobody…’. Collaborations with pioneers of the rap and groove music industry like Estelle, Snoop Dogg and Pete Rock, this album does not disappoint the loyal fans of this rap group. They’re still keeping it ice cool with the easy listening vibes of old. Keep it up, De La Soul, we’re still listening.

Rap can take an alternative approach when you look at artists like Rejjie Snow. The music that he creates is based around funk mixed with easy lyrics and bass-heavy beats, combining to make perfect relaxation music, which a lot of people look to old rap for. Songs like Blakkst Skn, All Around the World and Keep Ya Head Up all take inspiration from historic rap moguls like Craig Mack, Common and even Souls of Mischief. His latest single ‘D.R.U.G.S’ is reminiscent of Warren G, another big name in the rap game.

The funky side of old rap still lives on, with some mainstream artists providing a platform for this style. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, KAYTRANADA and Anderson Paak have a groovy undertone to their music which possesses you when you listen to it. Kendrick Lamar is one of the biggest rappers out there, collaborating with some of the most well-known artists in the pop industry to give a concoction of pop, rap and funk to make big, even chart-topping hits. KAYTRANADA collaborating with AlunaGeorge on ‘TOGETHER’ is a diamond in the rough and deserves more recognition. Anderson Paak and Mac Miller on ‘Dang’, from his latest album ‘The Divine Feminine’ is a sound to behold.

The infectious sound of the 80’s and 90’s rap scene is still alive and kicking, you’ve just got to look in the right places. Look deeper than Gucci Mane and Lil’ Wayne, smaller artists are bringing the scene back to where it should be. Back to a prominent presence in the rap industry.

This piece was written by Zurraq Khan, follow him on twitter here

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