Hippie – a person of unconventional appearance, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.
Over the past 10 years hip hop has been through a few era’s. From the hustla (50 Cent, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross etc…) to the hipster (Wale, Lupe Fiasco, The Cool Kids etc…), and there’s those who’re versatile enough not to be put in a single niche (Jay-Z, Kanye, Snoop etc…).
What we’re beginning to get into now, is what I see as an adaptation to the “hipster” movement…a more open form of rap music. A few elements make me feel it’s almost an early 90’s renaissance. Sounds of The Pharcyde, Souls of Mischief & De La Soul are all evident.
Souls of Mischief – 93 ’till Inifity
The beginning of this new movement started seeing mainstream success back in the mid 2000’s when Kanye came on the scene, and it became ok to roc a pink polo. From Kanye’s releases, a new school of fans were introduced to rap music and those fans were relating to the more universal everyday issues. It was a departure from the macho sounds that had predeceased (if you tried telling someone in 2003 that the opening song to a near future #1 rap album would feature the singer from Maroon 5, you would’ve probably got slapped). From this sound, the mainstream were introduced to more artists; Common got a second chance, Lupe Fiasco upped the lyrical game and Jay Z gained a new international platform (yup, I just credited Kanye with helping Jay Z. Internationally).
Common ft. Kanye West – They Say
Stereotypically in the past rappers have been viewed as the non-sensitive thug. But, what we saw was a new group of artists who put their emotions on the line (DMX has been doing this throughout his career btw, he deserves more props), and now attracting a new pop audience to rap music.
Then we had Kid Cudi’s (who is no doubt a modern day hippie) debut album. The public was introduced to a hip-hop album that took influences from further afield. A lot of the music on Man On The Moon has reminiscence of a tripped-out, almost psychedelic/progressive era and a re-introduction of the synth, together creating an ambient but intense journey. The sound has recently been slightly adapted to top the charts, see Drake & Co.
Kid Cudi – Pursuit of Happiness
Now that not having to be a gangster or pimp is acceptable (smoking &/or drinking and having an abundance of women (respectable hoes) is still a must!), another new group of rappers are set to have the light shone on them. The new class have a more laid back outlook on life, not taking issues so seriously, sharing their fun with their audience and creating a more free spirited movement. Maybe this’s what the world wants and needs after the recession. People say that entertainment is escapism.
First to be mentioned has got to be the Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Signed to Atlantic Records, Wiz has generated huge buzz by releasing mixtapes that are centered on smoking and his own “Taylored” style life. By sharing his unique image, he’s encouraged listeners/watchers to get on board the image of being free…which of course includes buying his records,Tayor Gang clothing and his own branded rolling papers. Wiz’ “debut” single Black & Yellow has sold well over 1,000,000 copies and has topped the Billboard chart.His debut album, Rolling Papers, is only to feature a few other artists, Too $hort, Chevy Woods and Curren$y. By keeping the guests to a minimum, he’ll solidify his own style and approach, which new listeners will instantly pick up and be on the lookout with future releases. He’s also filmed a movie with Snoop Dogg, called High School, which will also have a collaborative soundtrack dropping in April (4.20 of course, 20th of the 4th). To add to his popularity momentum, he’s now Kanye’s ex Amber Rose’ new toy #heartbreak.
Wiz Khalifa – In the Cut
Wiz Khalifa – Black & Yellow
Fellow Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller is freshly graduated from high school and has built a reputation around the Ferris Beuller lifestyle.The fun loving, thumbs up MC is comfortable in his own skin, and was probably the kid in school that everyone was cool with. Citing Outkast, Big L and A Tribe Called Quest as his influences, he’s already bringing that old school rhyming back to the forefront of the game. For me, Mac’s appeal is that he doesn’t necessarily get too deep into the emotions, and at 19, this is what life should be about. You know when you see certain teen rappers going into all that heartbroken serious I miss you emotional shit…it’s 8.5/10 forced (you know they be sleeping with groupies every night of their tour), so why not just come clean and join the party : ) Mac Miller’s 3 official mixtapes have been downloaded 300,000 on mixtape site datpiff.com, alone. He’s is now signed with the same independent label that developed Wiz Khalifa, Rostrum Records. Expect a major label to co-sign soon…
Mac Miller – Donald Trump
Mac Miller – Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza
Curren$y is from New Orleans, and has already been signed to both No Limit and Cash Money. He was starting to gain mainstream attention, but due to lack of promotion from his labels, he felt it was best to part ways. Taking time out to re-group and pursue skateboarding, he formed his own movement along with Californian skateboarder Terry Kennedy. From the momentum that Curren$y had gained, Dame Dash signed him up to BluRoc and released his two 2010 successful albums Pilot Talk 1 & 2 with former Jay Z producer Ski Beatz handling the majority of the production. From the buzz which was created by these releases, Curren$y is now signed with Warner Brothers Music and his first release with them will be entirely produced by Alchemist. You just need to peep the artwork of his releases to see that Curren$y is coming from a more artful perspective than other rappers. His production is helped to be created by using a live band in the studio and throughout his career has only ever recorded a handful of tracks whilst not high (which was due to a throat infection).
Curren$y – Life Under the Scope
Curren$y ft. Fiend – Flying Iron
So, that’s just three of the new commercially successful artists who I wouldn’t really class as “hipster”, “backpacker or “emo”. Maybe a hybrid of them all…and then some. Hippie, Stoner, Slacker etc…They’re already doing major things in USA, I’m sure over time, UK labels will start signing up similar artists from our country. You might argue that the UK already has it’s own sound, which it does, no question. But at the same time, artists have and will continue to take influence, in some cases, attempt to recreate what is the popular sound coming from the States. It’s already a proven formula for major labels to buy into.
I think over the next year, the UK will continue to produce these “larger than life”, guest vocalist on the hook, “look-what-I’ve-overcome”, style anthems. Which for the most part, are ok songs, but it won’t be long before they’re played out…enter this Hippie-Hop?