When all is said and done, this year in hip-hop will be remembered, just like any other, for the music and the emergence of the next collection of stars, along with various unforgettable incidents.
Take a look at 2015 for example. Rappers found popularity by releasing songs associated with a popular dance like Silentó and iLoveMemphis who gave us “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and “Hit The Quan” respectively. The same year we found out that Birdman doesn’t like to pay wages and 50 Cent was bankrupt. We saw the emergence of Fetty Wap and Rae Sremmurd as chart topping artists, not just one-hit-wonders. Travis Scott and Migos released their debut albums, while Drake and Kendrick Lamar came out with the two most memorable albums, “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” and “To Pimp A Butterfly”.
If the year ended tomorrow, how would we look back on this year?
My initial thought when I first asked myself this question was, “It was a bit weird”. What is weird? What is weird about this particular year? I don’t know if I will be able to describe to you exactly what makes it weird for me, but I can try to shed some light on why I thought that.
Firstly, am I the only person that thinks if you look crazy enough you can be a successful rapper nowadays?
There was signs of artists trying to stand out when Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert were on the XXL Freshman cover with pink and purple hair dye but now its all a bit too extreme.
Unless you are a genuinely talented artist, good luck standing out compared to the guys who emerged this year. Bexey Swan, the supposed best friend of the late Lil Peep, has one of the strangest looks I’ve ever seen with a comical looking haircut and tattoos on his face and neck.
And yet he speaks so eloquently. He acts appropriately in interviews and his music isn’t generic stuff but in this day and age who is going to know unless you dress yourself up to look insane.
Another rapper that has created an image for himself is Kid Buu. Kid Buu just seemed to be another artist who first found fame on the music sharing platform Soundcloud, but it turned out there’s a lot more to this guy.
He named himself after an anime character, which is not a bad idea if you want to find quick fame as anime is a popular genre among young adults at the moment. He of course coloured his hair and has countless tattoos covering his body as well as his neck with some more on his face.
But “Kid Buu”, as it is now known is a 30-year-old man who has previously tried to enter the music industry to no avail and also has a criminal record. He has capitalised on the state of hip-hop to become famous. All he needed was to get himself noticed and he did so by completely transforming his look and nabbing sounds from other popular artists like Ski Mask The Slump God to gain a quick following. If anything, Kid Buu is a representation of how dysfunctional the hip-hop genre is right now.
Alright, so now that that is out of my system we can move on to the next point. 2018 has been the year that some of the most popular rappers have died at such a young age and at the peaks of their careers.
Lil Peep, the best friend of our pal Bexey Swan, died due to an overdose at 21 years of age and an even younger man XXXtentacion died at just 20 after he was shot in Florida. We also lost an older favourite, Mac Miller at 26.
Lil Peep was emerging as a popular rockstar/hip-hop artist who was making some rock influenced music that has become even more popular now in large part because of him. Unfortunately he was most influential after his death.
XXXtentacion was an artist that divided the hip-hop community. To some he was a violent delinquent from a very young age that screamed through the microphone. To others he was an inspiration, a young man that turned his life around and spread only positive messages. His death was rather untimely as his music video for ‘SAD!’, in which he portrayed himself as dead in a coffin, was released shortly after his death.
It’s odd to pair sadness with hip-hop but that is part of the reason why I feel this year is a weird one. Another reason why it is an odd year is Nicki Minaj isn’t the only female finding serious commercial success. Cardi B was a breakout artist in 2017 but in 2018 she has taken on Nicki Minaj as the most popular female rapper.
Both artists released an album in 2018 and although Cardi B’s was released a couple of months prior to Nicki Minaj’s, it seems to have gone down as the better of the two. Female rapping has been Nicki Minaj’s house for quite some time but now there’s someone new knocking down the door and its both refreshing and something I need to get used to.
And finally, 2018 has been the year that patience pays off. After years of working on their albums we finally heard what Travis Scott and Lil Wayne had to offer. Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ has been in the works since 2016 and over a year after the first single ‘Butterfly Effect’ was released, he finally released the full album. The album had been teased for a 2017 release and that is what caused the many fans of his to grow impatient and then finally jubilant when the album came out.
Fans of Lil Wayne had an even longer wait. An excruciatingly long wait. Lil Wayne had began work on the album in 2012 and it was initially thought that ‘Tha Carter V’ would be released in 2014 but boy was that estimate wrong. After a seemingly endless legal battle with Cash Money records, Lil Wayne was no longer under contract at the company which had been the main issue and cause of the delay. Just two months after the contract situation was sorted, Lil Wayne released ‘Tha Carter V’, and so far it has received a positive response.
So to put it all together in nice and simple terms, if the year ended tomorrow, I would say this year in hip-hop made me feel a variety of emotions and that alone is weird for hip-hop. Rappers get famous quickly by creating a crazy image to stand out, famous rappers died so young, Nicki Minaj isn’t the only majorly successful female rapper and Lil Wayne and Travis Scott finally gave the fans what they wanted.
What a year!