i suppose the one thing missing in the piece
is that i didn't really advance an idea for why rap's stagnated, beyong vague
sense of running out of ideas. i think genres generally are finite things,
in the sense of having a sort of set of resources that they burn through, a
territory that is ruthelessly exploited and ransacked, and they you get
something like undie rap which is almost like a conservationist movement or
nature preserve, husbanding those resources, "sustainable growth" even. it
goes back to the old ideas and recycles them, or tweaks them.
but this was a surprisingly weak response -- as much in tone as argument, i'd have expected something much more aggressive and bitchily disrespectful.
he's basically saying that hip hop's turning into a kind of indie....
local, do-it-yourself, aesthetically oriented to the already-converted....
fair enough but that's a big fall from where it was in the early years of
this decade as this commercially and culturally dominant force
it does remind me of fanzine types you'd get in the 80s going on about
energy and local bands forming and complaining about lazy music paper
critics not paying attention
thing is, all he's done is sit there in his boxer shorts surfing through
YouTube and downloading the odd mixtape from rap blogs! there's very little virtue to be claimed in energy-expenditure terms
more generally i do find puzzling the morbid attachment on the part of
youngsters to things that have been around for ever and are
fundamentally static... same applies with R&B, in its current form it really goes
back to Teddy Riley and Bobby Brown, end of the 80s, swingbeat... we had Bobby on the cover of Melody Maker in 1989 i think it was, David Stubbs got kept waiting on the set of his video shoot for about 16 hours i believe, then got a 20 minute chat!
update: and here's a piece about rap in 2010 by tom breihan that basically concurs with the rap-as-indie thesis. Conclusion:
"In the end, hip-hop is recalibrating, from a pop sensation back into an underground movement. People are making music for specialized, dedicated audiences, knowing that these audiences probably won't make them rich. Sometimes they're holding down day jobs or figuring out alternate ways of making money. Touring is important. And listeners have to go deeper than the most obvious stuff, digging through various localized underground scenes to find the worthwhile stuff. Sound familiar? From certain angles, rap's current moment doesn't look too different from, say, indie rock circa 1985. That's a good place to be."
Sounds a humiliating place to be, for a former global popculture top dog, to be frank. Plus there was already an undie rap, so now there's another indie-rap, a sort of indie-streetrap/mersh-rap substratum, the submainstream as i call it...