If your over the age of 25 you might be considered an “old head” meaning you grew up in the ’80s, or ’90s & early 2000s and you think that a good majority of today’s music is trash. Not to say that all new music is trash but a good majority of it is uninspired, uncreative, and just not our cup of tea. This goes double for hip-hop in 2019. As we know since the dawn of the internet a new rapper has been popping up every 5 seconds.
Soulja Boy was one of the first and ever since the internet has helped to make so many rappers famous in the 21st century. Through apps like Youtube, Vine (RIP), Musically/Tick Tok, Instagram & most importantly Soundcloud. Most of the hip-hop which is coming from these platforms (to me and a lot of old heads) is trash but to Gen Z its their Grunge, Hair Metal or Pop-punk/emo which some could say those generas where trash as well. Now most of the hip-hop that comes from these platforms is trap rap or emo rap which mixes heavy high hat drums and they usually rap or sing in an audio tune fashion. Their lyrics are mostly about the typical mainstream hip-hop tropes of girls, cars, drugs and money but with the sub-genera emo-rap it might talk more about being sad, depression and mental health. There are even trap rappers who mix other generas of music into the trap beats like emo rap or trap metal.
Then you have pop artist who always want a rapper on their tracks to make their songs “trendy” or “edgy” or how rappers want to sing and R&B guys are adding rapping elements to their music. R&B wants to have live bands and mix dance music or alternative rock into their sound. Mainstream rock is very much influenced by pop/R&B which is influenced by hip-hop. Many rock groups and artist have been adding a rapper to their songs and for a long time white rappers have been able to be played on rock stations. Then when it comes to country music you have people who come from the country genera and then mix country with pop or are a pop artist who can go into country and a lot of the flow of mainstream country today sounds very hip-hop or R&B inspired all the way down to the beats they use. Basically what I am saying is that the genera lines are now being very blurred due to every artist, band or group wanting to mix a little bit of everything in their music.
Thanks to the internet kids today can listen to more than one kind of music at a time and due to that newer artist who grew up on many different generas and the internet are able to mix all those influences into their music.
This brings us to one of the topics of this post. So I am not really a trap rap fan and I find most of that genera to not be my cup of tea wither due to being an “old head” or just my growing taste but I heard of this story and wanted to talk about this. So there is this rapper named Lil Nas X who made this song called “Old Town Road”. It’s basically a trap song with some banjo playing and him sing/rapping in a country southern twang. He talks about some very rap & country topics in the short less than 2 min song like cheating, drinking, horses, tractors, cars and designer labels. The song got big off of Tick Tok where kids are making 15 sec videos of themselves dancing to or going from normal to dressed in cowboy or country attire. It’s a cute little meme that is actually reaching the charts & was reaching high on the country charts. It is #1 on the iTunes chart and the kids love it & I don’t hate it’s a fun song nothing to ride home about but it’s a cute meme.
So what is the problem? Well Billboard charts which as we know can be racist and does not always know what they are doing when it comes to what should be at the top. So as Old Town Road went sky rocking up the Hot 100 & R&B/hip-hop charts it also went up the Country charts. People started to protest feeling that this song was not Country enough and didn’t like the trap beats of the song. So Billboard decided to take the song off the Country chart which caused some controversy among fans of the song due to most thinking it was taken off due to Lil Nas X being black. Billboard has said it had nothing to do with his race but some are not so convinced. Some have said that if someone like a Post Malone (who has in his past said that hip-hop has nothing to offer and if you’re looking to be deep go to another genera) made a song like this he would have been welcomed with open arms.
can @billboard please explain to me how #OldTownRoad by @LilNasX isn’t “country enough” to chart on their country charts? because it seems to me like there’s only one common denominator to determine eligibility 😤 pic.twitter.com/jgw9xZZnXy
— TH3RD 🌴 (@SERGIOTH3RD) March 26, 2019
In 2016 Beyonce who had just released her album Lemonade did a performance of her song Daddy Lessons on the CMA awards. Being that she is from Huston, TX she wrote the song which talks about her relationship with her father growing up and is one of the most “country” songs she has ever written. She performed the song with the Dixie Chicks too much backlash by “traditional” country fans who in 2015 when Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton did a performance together at the award show were much more receptive. Probably due to one Beyonce putting way more soul into her version of country music but also because of politics with Bey being a song believer in Black Lives Matter and the Dixie Chicks going against our then President Bush Jr. & the Iraq war.
This is how I see all of this.
First off like literally all American music generas ever Country was created by black people. Country is a mixing of British music and African music that came together during slavery. Mountain or hillbilly music, in particular, combines the ballads and folksongs brought to the South by immigrants from the British Isles in the 18th and 19th Centuries and the rhythmic influences of African slaves. The banjo, which mimics the banjar played in Africa, was invented by Southern blacks in the late 1690s. Slaves also played the fiddle, which was introduced to them by their white masters. Country comes out of Blues and Bluegrass something that many slaves and even after slavery would be used by black people to entertain each other or their slave masters. We used banjos, harmonicas, and fiddles in our country music. Like most generas of music many white artist early on have gotten famous off singing songs already done by black artist. DeFord Bailey who is basically the reason the Grand Ole Opry is as big as it is in the country music scene was big at venue in the 1920s. Charlie Pride was a black country star in the ’60s-’70s who made it big in that genera. His record company hid his identity on the first few records he released so people would just listen to the music and then once he started touring he would make jokes about his skin color to easy the audience. Ray Charles did many different country tracks from 1959-1986. There are only a two black country artist who have been put into the Country Music Hall of Fame and those are Charlie Pride & DeFord Bailey.
Darius Rucker is one of the few black artist to come from the pop/rock world to make it big in the country world.
Anyway it’s now 2019 and due to the internet like I said more and more genera bending, remixing and just mixing of different kinds of music are coming together everyday. Hip-hop is the biggest genera of music in the world as of 2019 and is being mixed together with everything. From trap beats to traditional hip-hop it is everywhere and you can’t escape it. Thanks to thinks like Nu Metal in the late ’90s/early 2000s and other sub generas of both rap and rock emo trap, emo rap, and trap metal is a big thing. Trap which in it self can be considered a type of EDM is big in the dance world & K-Pop, J-Pop ect. which is basically black American pop, R&B and hip-hop in Korean or Japanese is taking over the world as well. We are influencing so many different music forms.
Now of course with that comes the argument of over saturation. When do we put our foot down and say enough is enough when it comes to hip-hop? For us we are a very open genera probably more open than any other. Due to that everybody wants a piece of hip-hop but at what cost? So Lil Nas X wants to put his track on the country charts and classify it as country trap and? Rappers have played with the idea of country like When Nelly decided to work with Tim McGraw and do that “Over and Over Again” song in the 2000s (which I personally didn’t think was too bad) and then years later when Nelly hooked up with Florida Georgia Line and did that annoying bro-country song “Cruise”. Bone Thugs and Harmony did a song called “Ghetto Cowboy” and there are a number of other rap-country songs or collaborations being done. Now are these songs being considered country songs? By the “old heads” of country no but by kids who maybe don’t really listen to country and are not too familiar with it yes.
In hip-hop in 2019 you don’t even have to rap anymore to be considered hip-hop. You can sing, put EDM into your music, make really pop hooks, add rock or country to your music and everything is all right you can come right in and chart really high on our list but if someone mixes rap with country oh no can’t come to our charts. It’s stupid in my opinion just based on how Florida Georgia Line can colab with Nelly and the remix not officially be on the country charts but due to the success of the remix the original song gets more play. It’s like country likes to use hip-hop or pop to gain a wider audience for the music just so that they can get all the chart success without having to let those artist you colab with onto your chart.
Take a Taylor Swift or a Miley Cyrus. Taylor was a full on country star but with cross over appeal like Carrie Underwood but one day decided to draw her crowed to the more pop lane but still charted on the country chart.
Miley was more country adjacent just due to her dad and god mom Dolly. She goes through this “faze” where she tries to be as pop/hip-hop as she can for 3 years and go wild then when she is done she disregards hip-hop basically says that all they talk about in the genera is girls, cars, money, & drugs and she ain’t down. So she goes back to her sweet country image makes a record that does ok but not great and then as of March 2019 she poses in this pool with a bunch bling on and quoting Cardi-B.
Came thru drippin’ (drip drip) 💧💦 pic.twitter.com/nPdKF3U4m5
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) March 20, 2019
So Taylor and Miley can cross from genera to genera like it’s no big thing but Lil Nas X can’t even have a meme song on the country chart? It doesn’t add up. Like I said earlier if it were Post Malone, Iggy Azalea, Eminem, Macklemore or any other white rapper who had made this song I have a feeling Billboard would have embraced this track with open arms.
And how important are charts and generas anyway in 2019? I mean to be honest since most people are finding new artist on the internet now anyway and using streaming platforms to listen to their music does it really matter anymore how high on the chart a song goes or how you classify a song? To the artist of the song sure it’s important because that’s how they get noticed & make a little money but to the fans it’s not really that important anymore. The way music is just becoming this melting pot of sounds generas feel kind of like a obsolete relics of the past that were only there to further divide society.
But if we are going to have generas shouldn’t we at least be a little bit more open with them? And if were not going to be then hip-hop we gotta stop letting everyone into our inner circle who really isn’t hip-hop but also doesn’t fully care about the genera or the craft. Because if country can be this protective of their sound and genera then we need to be that way too. When a country artist wants to use hip-hop to get a leg up in their world but not give credit to the artist or genera then we have a problem.
Also side note did you know there is such a thing as “hick hop or country rap”? Me either till I saw a video on it a couple of years ago on Youtube. Apparently it all started with Kid Rock and his terrible music trying to act tough but still be a bro and mix hip-hop and country. Then Bubba Sparxxx became a thing and now there are so many other artist who are big in the mid-west and down south. Now for many reasons there is a double standard here due in part with how country artist can take country and mix it with hip-hop but only because it sounds like rapping country is it’s ok but let it have any hip-hop beats on it and it’s squashed. Oh and don’t even get me started on the fact that a good majority of “hick hop or country rap” is racist and uses the confederate flag on their album covers and in music videos. But as a culture of hip-hop we are suppose to let them in right? Again double standard.
Basically I am just tired of the fact that we as black people create or make better generas of music and then we get pushed out of them and the face of that genera changes. Then when we try to get back into a genera the gate keepers won’t let us in.
Lenny Kravitz had a very hard time when he first came out in the late ’80s to get rock stations to play his music because he wasn’t white but he also had a hard time getting hip-hop/R&B stations to play him because he wasn’t hip-hop. Afropunk the film was a whole documentary about black people who are apart of the white punk scene and the difficulties there. And both of these happened before the big boom of the internet.
So now that the internet exist and is really not going anywhere then we must keep that in mind and keep evolving because these old ways of doing things are not it chief. I mean look at the Wal-Mart Yodel boy or Kacey Musgrave’s Golden Hour both are big in all realms of the music world.
With Kacey who just won album of the year her album is more country indie and the Yodel boy is just a meme. Both are getting play on the country stations and charts.
Now with Kacey in the past traditional country hasn’t always embraced her version of country but with her Grammy win they kind have to now. Plus she is bringing YeeHaw culture to a mainstream audience who might not have any idea what that is.
And yea black people and people of color have been playing around with country fashion and ascetics for years. And with the Yodel boy if it were not for black twitter I don’t think that meme would have been as big. But now he got a record deal and has an album out and is being pushed to the country fans.
So do I think that Lil Nas X should be on the country charts? In one way yes and in another way no. I do get it when people say the song is not country enough but also due to country artist today using hip-hop beats I beg to differ. In all this song will be a flash in the pan for a hot minute and then it will go away and so will Lil Nas X’s career so if we are going to make a big fuss over a meme song then we really have our priorities messed up. But I guess the over all message of this post is basically we have got to stop being gate keepers of music so hard. It’s 2019 the internet is a thing and the kids they are the ones who are making hip-hop global. They are the ones making it so that every genera of music wants to take from hip-hop and that’s ok as long as they reciprocate in some fashion and honor the legacy and deep history of hip-hop as voice for the oppressed created by black & brown kids from the streets of New York City.