Roc Nation star J. Cole speaks on the state of the rap game, notably seven years after Nas dropped Hip Hop Is Dead, and what emcees are pumping life into the culture in the new VIBE.
Cole says while it is not there yet, hip-hop is headed in a great direction courtesy of artists like Young Money’s Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
“It’s heading into another golden era. It might not be there just yet, but it’s getting there. Look at the options you got right now. I remember around the time Hip Hop Is Dead was coming out, I knew why you was saying it. Rap was a f*cking joke. It was a singles-driven market. But even when I was unsigned, I knew with what I was doing that this was gon’ turn around. I didn’t know at the same time that Kendrick was somewhere studying, going hard. Drake was somewhere studying, going hard.” (VIBE)
The North Carolina emcee also noted a new standard has developed in hip-hop.
“N*ggas is getting back to caring about rapping again. And really taking this sh*t seriously, clowning n*ggas that’s wack. There’s a real divided line of n*ggas that can rap and n*ggas that just can’t. And you can get your money and it’s all good. We still respect you and we gon’ play your song. But when you look at these guys, way different.” (VIBE)
Recently, rap mogul Jay Z said the trend of quality albums dropping these days has him feeling like hip-hop is back in its prime.
“Kanye, Drake, J. Cole, and that Kendrick Lamar album was insane,” Jay said ini an interview. “It’s a good time for hip-hop. I mean, think about the year that’s happening, all the albums that’s dropping. It feels like ’96, ’92. … hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, it doesn’t get the proper credit. It’s always demonized and people point out all the bad things about it, but no one talks about how hip-hop has brought all different races of people together.” (“Big Boy’s Neighborhood”)
Earlier this year, hip-hop veteran Nas said experiencing the good and the bad of the industry is all a part of reaching the rap game’s peak.
“I started to dislike the fact that people were making money, more than liking the state of music,” Nas said in an interview. “I started to appreciate that maybe ‘that guy’ may not be great, maybe he can feed his family now. I started to feeling like that. … I feel like the young guys really want to make a difference, they really want to make careers for themselves and really care about the culture. Not all of them but there’s a good group of guys out there that really care about it. … There’s a lot of confusion in the game because they want to go from just starting to be on a Tupac level. And there’s a lot of ground to cover before they get to that and they don’t hear that and if they would take the time to appreciate that path to go — you don’t want to miss the dash. That’s a good time. That’s a good time right there. It might be a little scary, it might be a little nervous at times but at the end of the day, once you make it to the point of being around for a while, you’ll appreciate the struggle.” (92Y)