Hip-hop pioneer Kool G Rap has weighed in on the lack of lyricism in today’s rap music compared to his reigning era dating back to the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s.
While some artists argue lyricism is vital, Kool G believes all emcees have their own lanes.
“It really don’t bother me because not everybody is capable of being a G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, or KRS-One,” Kool G said when asked about today’s lack of wordplay. “That says a person is gifted. These are not any rappers you see on TV, rocking some jewelry, and see all the girls chasing them. Now you see kids like, ‘Yo. I wanna do the same thing because I want all those things.’ A Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and G Rap kind of talent isn’t just going to shoot up your body, and then instantly you become that talented artist. That’s why it doesn’t matter because some of these artists are just doing what they can do. They doing all that they can do. So then, that’s when they make their swag stand out, and make swag a big thing. I mean swag was always a part of hip-hop, it’s just we didn’t call it swagger. We just used to say that someone was talented or had a lot of charisma. They just titled the sh*t ‘swagger’ now.” (BallerStatus)
In late December, Waka Flocka Flame admitted lyricism was not his strongest point.
“I don’t feel like I’m no lyricist. I’m not in the booth trying to godd*mn rap big words,” Flocka explained in an interview. “I’m not tryin’ to show off my intelligence. Anybody could memorize big words, put ‘em together. I could do that. But if I don’t use the words on an everyday basis, why use the words in my rap? I just like music. I’m a lover of making music. It could be a big record, small record–as long as I’m making songs. One day it’ll pop; that’s how I look at it. Yeah. What I did in one year–one year–a lot of people accomplish in 10 years. A lot of people don’t like that. They feel I don’t deserve what I got. I’m a hard-a** worker. And I’m here for a reason. This sh*t ain’t luck. I don’t believe in luck.” (RESPECT)
Last month, rap veteran Method Man discussed the changing image of what makes a true emcee.
“There are genuine artists out there who love what they do and do it with a purpose, but then you have those dudes who are a bunch of fashonistas,” Meth explained in an interview. “These kids are more concerned with the way they look than what’s coming out of their mouths…Back when I first came out if you told a kid ‘I’m an MC,’ the first thing the kid would say to you is, ‘Oh yeah, well say a rhyme for me.’ …Nowadays, you tell the kid you’re an MC and he’s like ‘Oh yeah, where’s your big chain at? Where’s your watch? Where’s your car? That’s what it is now.’ …The majority of the people who listen to the music can’t afford half that sh*t.” (Wall Street Journal)
In 2010, Chicago rapper Rhymefest spoke on emcees losing their essence.
“One thing I didn’t realize is that Hip-Hop doesn’t exist anymore,” he declared in an interview. “C’mon, think about the 4 elements: graffiti, breaking, deejaying, and emceeing. Emcees don’t exist. That’s somebody who gets on the stage, doesn’t have to rap, but can hype up the crowd while the DJ is playing. He has all the chants, all that sh*t. Everybody now is “listen to me, listen to my raps.” No one can hype up a crowd no more like that. Emcees are dead…So Hip-Hop as we knew is like jazz at this point. I can’t really get mad. It exists on a scale so small you might as well call it dead. But even from Disco we got techno, Bass music. From Hip-Hop we got Soulja Boy, Drake; the hybrid singing rap. We got to call it something else because it ain’t Hip-Hop. It’s not bad; it’s evolved into something else.” (All Hip Hop)
Check out some recent Kool G Rap footage below: