Music Mogul, Bad Boy Entertainment, and Revolt TV creator and founder Sean “Diddy” Combs posted a video on his Instagram account that has caused a lot of talks. In the video, Diddy sits in his car and talks about the fear of the culture becoming diluted. He explains that by there being so many rappers in the game today, rapping of the same things, the culture can become mass produced and lose its meaning. Let’s start off by stating that Diddy has been in the game for a very long time. His influence on music, fashion, arts, and films has been impactful in more ways than one. Although Diddy states that he is not trying to deter anyone from their dreams, he only wants the culture to stay special and unique. Is Diddy referring to the newer generation of rappers?
Originality and uniqueness is the takeaway from this video. The warning to not “become a part of the noise” is the most important messages of all. But by “noise” is Diddy talking about the vastly growing genre of mumble rappers? Artists of the SoundCloud rap genre gets a lot of slack for their lack of creative and intellectual contribution in Hip-Hop. Yes, a lot of people believe that their music is just a way to pollute the airwaves and line the pockets of mainstream labels. They are appealing to the younger demographic, while the older hip-hop fans find them repulsive. Lacking the skills of lyricism, most of the new wave rappers fall under the dreadful category of “mumble rap.”
However, the culture has always been a platform for all creatives to express themselves as they see fit. If we start to filter out what we don’t understand or refuse to accept, what message are we sending out to others? By stating that J. Cole’s message is more important to the culture than Lil Uzi Vert, aren’t we stating one is more talented or creative than the other? Hip-Hop purists may hate this question but, what if this is the new Hip-Hop we are progressing to be? Let’s face it, change is inevitable and Hip-Hop has changed so much in the last 35-40 years. Clever wordplay isn’t required to make a song “hot” anymore. VICELAND hosts Desus & Mero both stated that there is a time and a place for everything. “I don’t wanna hear multiple cadences flows if I’m just smacked in the club,” said Desus during an interview with HOT 97. “I’m not trying to hear the triple entendres. Then I’ll listen to some mumble rap. But then sometimes I’m not in the mood for Lil’ Yachty.”
We must welcome the balance of both mumble and lyrical rap. Too much of the same thing is not a good thing. As much as we may comment on the lack of sense most of the newer songs make, it’s fun. It is not dumbing down the genre but bringing the lightheartedness back to it. In this trial and error era of “Soundcloud rap,” what if we have unknowingly made it the new standards for a lyricist? No more storytelling, no more deeper-than-rap, impenetrable lyrics, just verses of random name drops of prescription drugs, brand labels and youth. Nevertheless, the rappers of today ARE creative and influential in their own special ways. Whether they are speaking on the behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves or convincing them to buy brand labels we need them.
The new wave rappers also fall under the sad-boy or modern day emo rap. A genre that allows the musician a certain level of openness. According to an article on wired.com, the genre is defined by a biographical vulnerability, that gives a sense of ritualistic self-loathing. A genre that gives misfits and rejects a voice to publicly claim their “outsiderism” and contrasting worldview. The late rapper Lil Peep, credited for blending both Hip-Hop and Emo music together, used his platform to share his struggle with both drug use and suicidal impulses. Deemed the poster boy for the modern day Emo rap, Peep shared how his fans thanked him for his vulnerability. “They tell me that it saved their lives,” he said, describing what his fans told him about his music. “They say that I stopped them from committing suicide, which is a beautiful thing. It’s great for me to hear,” he continued. “It helps. It boosts me because music saved my life as well.” Although, it was his drug use that ultimately ended his life at 21, Peep walked shoulder to shoulder with other musicians such as, XXXTentacion, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Xan, who all spoke on their experiences of suicide, heartbreak, and self-medicating. But it would be hard to acknowledge the rappers in this genre of music without acknowledging one of the biggest influences of Emo Rap, Kid Cudi. By speaking of his demons and troubled past, Kid Cudi started a movement that has seeped into the mainstream Hip-Hop genre. It is more than a beautifully aesthetic post on Tumblr, it is a way of life.
When we go back to what Diddy said, about diluting the culture, what did he really mean? The definition of diluting something is to weaken it from its original form. But if we truly believe that the culture itself will withstand time, can’t it only improve and continue to grow? No one knows what Diddy meant by his statement but he and all we can do is assume. Only time will tell whether Diddy’s words are a self-fulfilling prophecy or a self-defeating one.