Rap is in a new golden era

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Britt Chester

The progression of music will always be weighed down by periods of stagnation. Although new rap acts are presented into the mainstream every year, the actual newness of the music is generally overstated. The prime exception to this rule is the so-called "golden ages," pockets of time where innovation is rampant, and from this innovation comes new styles, movements and sub-genres that maintain the genre until the next radical paradigm shift arrives.

See also: From UGK to Chief Keef: A look at the history of trap in rap and its subsequent influence on drill

There is debate as to whether there were one or two distinct golden ages, but from the mid- to late-'80s to the early- to mid-'90s is generally considered the period in which rap made unprecedented progression. From the first massive popularization of rap with Run D.M.C. came new ears and new perspectives on the form and an army of crate-diggers to uncover the most potent musical snippets on wax.

With N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton came gangsta rap, rap's most successful and popular offspring. While N.W.A. was arguably the most important act in terms of bringing gangsta to the forefront of rap, it was the albums like Nas's Illmatic and Wu Tang Clan's 36 Chambers in New York, Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle in California and the Geto Boys' We Can't Be Stopped in Texas that not only solidified gansta's place in rap, but allowed it to diffuse across the most influential rap scenes in the country in a pre-Internet industry.

At around the same time, the Jungle Brothers were one of the progenitors of what is now called alternative hip-hop, so called mainly because gangsta rap took over the industry so authoritatively that any other musical style was secondary.

In quick succession, the Jungle Brothers were followed by acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, De La Soul, Brand Nubian and others that took the Jungle Brothers' positivity, put their own spin on it and helped develop the subgenre into the perpetually underground scene as it has existed for the past fifteen years, during which it's hard to say that rap has experienced a period of growth like the golden age.

In recent years, there's been dramatic influx of rap emerging that sounds quite different from everything else being made, whether it's the EDM-inflected Danny Brown, the bizarrely political Kanye West, the conscious yet commercial Macklemore, the good kid from the m.A.A.d city Kendrick Lamar, the READ-MY-FUCKING-DIARY confessional Tyler, the Creator, the tweaked-out and jazzy Chance the Rapper, the modernized revisionists A$AP Rocky and Joey Bada$$. It is inevitable that there will always be innovation in anything at anytime, but to have so much variation see commercial success at once is unprecedented in modern rap.

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62 comments
Andrew West
Andrew West

I completely agree with the article. Rap is the genre progressing as a music form the most.

Matt Leising
Matt Leising

The "Golden Age" was most certainly the 90's and the beginning of 2000. Now rap and hip hop are on a downward spiral and that includes underground and local artists

Santiago Hermosillo
Santiago Hermosillo

The GZA/Genius would tear down anybody right now on first half of a verse right now.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

LMFAO......You old farts (late 30s-early 40s white balding/saggy-skinned/hygiene-challenged douchebags pathetically clinging to their remnants of their youth) are suffering from a major case of selective nostalgia. While it can't be argued that many hiphop classics came from the early 90s, so did some of the WORST in the genre. In reality, today isn't so much as "the worst" but rather there isn't anything particularly noteworthy or "groundbreaking" to arise. You can thank the full corporatizing of hip-hop altogether due to record industry whores Sean "Puff the Magic Dragon/P Diddly Squat" Combs and busta ass muddaphukkin Jay Zero for ruining it all.

Adam Baker
Adam Baker

NO!!! I think its at its lowest.

Frank Catalfano
Frank Catalfano

I believe rap should be outlawed forever , and so should all these videos for kids , to much violence , in plane terms to many copy cats

Jared Adsero
Jared Adsero

And you still employ that person? no offense but....come on. Rap gets worse and worse

James Lucero
James Lucero

It's a lost art, I already know what I'm getting for Christmas cause the package is totally visible...

Marcus Netters
Marcus Netters

Most of the white people commenting are the ones that own a Chief Keef Album

Adam Schafer
Adam Schafer

There's some good hip hop out there but most of it sucks. And LMAO at atmosphere. Slug's schtick got old a long time ago, the dude is washed up.

Zackary Ford
Zackary Ford

Run the jewels, audio push, big Krit, cakes da killa, deltron 3030, CunninLynguists, atmosphere, captain Murphy, Danny brown (the last half of "xxx")

Josh Moore
Josh Moore

Nothing can or will ever top 90s hip hop.

Carlos Perez
Carlos Perez

hell no rap nowadays sucks so anyone who thinks Kanye West are 2 Chainz are good needs to learn a little something about music and rap

Zackary Ford
Zackary Ford

To the people saying hip-hop this day and age is dead, have you even listened to any hip-hop besides what gets radio play? There are a million worth-while albums and mixtapes that have come out in the past couples of years.

Brian Eastin
Brian Eastin

Rap is not music, music requires melody, which doesn't exist in rap, and the 3 or 4 notes coming from a sequenced recording does NOT count.

Dee Jay Tazz
Dee Jay Tazz

As a full time professional dj is worse than ever how anyone could say its better is beyond me!

Chris Halley
Chris Halley

No. Today's generation/era of rap really sucks. I want original hip hop. Not "trap" or whatever this rap scene has come too. Everything before 2k was and still is grand.

Uriah Vigil
Uriah Vigil

80's and 90's rap, the only era worth while in the genre.

Stephanie Sarad
Stephanie Sarad

Lol ya drake and jayz are way better than tupac biggie n nwa. Ok.

Ski Steve
Ski Steve

Lollllllllll reaching much westword?

Mike E. Bee
Mike E. Bee

great article! people who disagree with this don't truly understand what the author is saying. being able to read something and comment from an unbiased perspective is pretty rare.

Steve Madrid
Steve Madrid

The Golden Era of Rap is late 80's early 90's, period.

Don Herman
Don Herman

Rap has always been nonsense. Sing-song, monosyllabic nonsense.

Derrick Rudolph
Derrick Rudolph

Depends on what you listen too. Mainstream is killing real hip hop

Adam Vaughn
Adam Vaughn

Dumbest headline I have read in a minute. These cats rapping today may be buying golden toilets but that is about as close to a golden age of rap that we are experiencing.

Adam Curtiss
Adam Curtiss

I want to be friends with EVERYONE who posted on this

Ken Tucker
Ken Tucker

Nuttin' but noise and an attempt to out "bling" the next person...

Heather Ellerbrock Deckard
Heather Ellerbrock Deckard

Absolutely not. Some things get better over time but nothing, nothing beats the early years of rap.

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