Hip Hop is Evolving: Why You Should Evolve With It

Rap has included hundreds, if not thousands, of topics over the years. From supergroup N.W.A. and their issues with police politics at their peak stardom to club hits from 50 Cent and Akon to Slick Rick’s impeccable storytelling, it’s safe to say that most trending events have been included in rap lyrics over the past four decades. While all of these topics have stayed relevant over the years, a select handful of people often lead the charge in what the primary trend will be about with every album release. These people can be considered the “rap superstars” in the music industry. 

Kanye West has brought mental health discussion to a new peak in modern music with his release of ‘Ye’, and newfound confidence in his lyrics through religion on ‘Jesus Is King’. JAY-Z opened up about his cheating scandal and assisted in bringing extremely personal raps to the forefront on ‘4:44’. J. Cole began the wave of denouncing drugs that have taken the lives of many on his 2018 project ‘KOD’. In short, these artists, along with many others, often create the wave of which topics music will discuss at the moment, with thousands of artists behind them following suit. 

It’s key for any artist to ride this wave carefully, as it can be a slippery slope if not handled properly. Artists should evolve with the times and rap about what others are to stay relevant, while also staying true to themselves if possible. Keeping up with the current events and staying near the path of the latest trend will get more people to tune in, resulting in higher streaming rates and a chance at discovery. 

However, it’s important not to get sucked into the wave and become “just another rapper following what’s hot”. This will most likely cause fans to turn away from the artist, causing them to not be given the time of day. This will decrease listenership and seem as if the artist is only trying to stay relevant in a time where there are more singers and rappers than ever trying to make it big. 

In the end, it’s important to find a middle ground. Staying near the “path of relevancy”, or keeping up with other artists as hip hop evolves, but also straying away slightly and staking a unique claim in the music industry will give an artist the greatest chance at getting discovered. Getting people to discover an artist through other common ground that’s been heard before, but also finding a new sound or uniqueness to them is what makes them longtime fans, causing the artist to get closer by the stream to the superstars leading the charge, putting their name right next to the greats!