The rise of hip-hop as the new rock in American culture

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Hip-hop music has dominated the music world for quite a while now.

It is astounding to see its rise in popularity and notoriety while still being one of the youngest genres in music at 45 years old. Hip-hop is not just a style of music but a living, breathing culture that is expressed not only with music but through fashion, dancing and even graffiti.

What started as an outlet for people to show the world the injustices and shortcomings of inner city neighborhoods in America has now evolved into a commercialized juggernaut that contains a litany of artists who still have substance and quality in their music without sacrificing their originality.

Rock artists and hip-hop artists have a lot in common, and although the two genres of music have very distinct sounds, the line between a “rapper” and a “rock star” are slowly but surely becoming increasingly blurry.

Kanye West spoke about this exact issue during an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 in 2013. When talking about how hip-hop has evolved and where it can propel to, he said, “Rap is the new rock ‘n’ roll. We the new rock stars, and I’m the biggest of all of them. I’m the No. 1 rock star on the planet.”

Fast forward five years later, and rap has now taken over as the most popular genre of music ahead of rock music.
Both of these genres have eerily similar backgrounds and characteristics. They were both created by black musicians who wanted to highlight their obstacles in society in the United States. Rock was adopted by white culture, and it was and still is known to be “white” music.

But hip-hop is a little different. It is mostly dominated by black men, but a lot of cultures can and have been represented through hip-hop. It has become something that everyone can enjoy.

Part of that comes from the fact that hip-hop has stepped up its theatrics during live concerts. Many rock artists always have been known to do wild things at their concerts as a part of their act and as a way to connect with fans.

Now, hip-hop artists such as Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert and XXXTentacion have become known for having some of the craziest live shows.

Travis Scott was arrested for inciting a riot in Arkansas last summer.

Lil Uzi Vert has been seen jumping from the rafters during concerts.

XXXTentacion has been shown in mosh pit videos with his fans. These hip-hop shows are only getting more and more crazy, which has helped it appeal to a more diverse audience.

Similarities between hop-hop and rock – upbeat tempos and infectious lyrics being just a few of them – have led to numerous collaborations with each other. Legendary artists Run DMC and Aerosmith collaborated for the first time in 1999 with “Walk This Way,” and they are credited for making “rap-rock” popular. More recently, Jay Z and Linkin Park hooked up in 2004 to work on their collaborative EP “Collision Course,” which tested new sounds and ways to put the two genres together.

Such collaborations prove that rock hasn’t died completely and that hip-hop isn’t necessarily the greatest genre of all time.

Lil Wayne even created an album that was mostly centered around rock music.

“American Star” and “Prom Queen,” two songs from that album, feature heavy guitars and rock drums, which is more rock than hip-hop.

At the time of its release, it got mixed reviews, but it actually inspired and influenced many artists to test the boundaries of their sound instead of getting pigeonholed into one category of music.

Hip-hop has evolved over the years, and it doesn’t look like that evolution or its popularity will slow down any time soon, even if its rise in popularity hasn’t always been easy for people to accept.

For the older generations reading this, it is OK to accept that society’s perception of what is good music has changed drastically. For the younger generations, embrace this period of time that we live in.

We will look back 20 years from now and realize that this is a great era for music. Hip-hop music is making literal history with every accomplishment, and we are lucky enough to witness it with our own two eyes.

The writing has been on the wall for years now.

It is time that we all stop denying what is right in front of our faces. Hip-hop is the modern day rock ‘n’ roll.

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Reporter | Communications | Junior | Mlwilli4@svsu.edu

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