These days, nearly anything fashioned or put forth by black people gets referred to as “hip-hop,” even when the description is a poor or pointless fit. “Hip-hop fashion” makes a little sense, but even that is confusing: Does it refer to fashions popularized by hip-hop musicians, like my Lego heart pin, or to fashions that participate in the same vague cool that defines hip-hop music? Others make a whole lot of nonsense: “Hip-hop food”? “Hip-hop politics”? “Hip-hop intellectual”? And there’s even “hip-hop architecture.” What the hell is that? A house you build with a Hammer?
This doesn’t happen with other genres. There’s no folk-music food or New Wave fashion, once you get past food for thought and skinny ties. There’s no junkanoo architecture. The closest thing to a musical style that does double-duty as an overarching aesthetic is punk, and that doesn’t have the same strict racial coding. On the one hand, you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against? As it has become the field rather than the object, hip-hop has lost some of its pertinent sting. And then there’s the question of where hip-hop has arrived commercially, or how fast it’s departing. The music industry in general is sliding, and hip-hop is sliding maybe faster than that. The largest earners earn large, but not at the rate they once did. And everyone beneath that upper level is fading fast.
- Questlove (Full Article)
Questlove of the Roots shares his thoughts on Hip Hop. Check the full article and comment on your reaction to it below.