Joey Bada$$, one of the most popular rappers on the planet, believes rap is in a “very trash state” right now. Joey is, of course, entitled to his opinion and given that he himself is an artist, it’s important to remember that his perspective on the state of a genre in which he makes music will be different from that of a non-music-making rap fan.
With that said, Joey is not only wrong, but his position is quite hazardous.
Take one look at the Billboard Hot 100 or Spotify’s uber-popular RapCaviar playlist and Joey’s commentary proves to be spot-on. Almost every record follows the same safe, predictable formula: minimal lyrical content, melody-driven sing-song raps, annoyingly repetitive hook. Now more than ever before, there is an indiscriminate lack of diversity amongst prominent up-and-coming rappers who have gained a co-sign by “the mainstream”—whatever that means in 2018.
Understandably, many rap artists and their fans are frustrated. It’s hard to see the same type of artists continually earn financial backing by major labels and prominent playlist placements across every major streaming service. But instead of getting upset about what is being pushed to the forefront of the culture, artists and rap loyalists must instead focus their time, attention and energy on both practicing and openly encouraging artist discovery.
Fans of television series and movies often spend hours browsing through the hundreds of options that video-on-demand companies like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video make available, all in an effort to find something new. When it comes to discovering new music, though, there is an inherent laziness as it pertains to the work involved in looking for something new or something unheard of.
Sure, it’s easier to press play on an artist you’re already a fan of or whoever the streaming companies shove in your face, and time is a precious commodity that none of us have enough of when it comes to seeking out new forms of entertainment, but if you’d rather take the time to bitch and complain about the state of an entire genre on social media instead of giving a new artist a try or sharing a new artist with your audience, you are actually a part of the problem.
In a string of follow-up tweets, Joey also questioned the lack of soul in new rap music (“Like where’s y’all niggas souls at???”) and pointed the finger at the oversaturation (“Music is the most influential force in the world. Pay attention to what’s being over saturated.”), which are both fair points. Again, though, it all depends on where you’re getting your rap music from and who you’re listening to for recommendations.
For anyone who actually cares enough to take the time to dig and discover, there is a wealth of talented artists making incredible rap records. Instead of tweeting that rap is in a “very trash state,” Joey could be sharing new artists with his 873,000 followers. Instead of telling his young, impressionable base of fans that hip-hop is basically lifeless, Joey should tell them to press play on Rapsody, Supa Bwe, Dumbfoundead, Duckwrth and Jack Harlow. Instead of just helping Post Malone pen a hit record, Joey should work with his neighbor Marlon Craft, who has been making the kind of New York hip-hop that allowed Joey to enter the game with such open arms.
Be the change you want to see—both in life and in music. I’m talking to Joey, but I’m also talking to you.