Did you know that RAP is an acronym for Rhythm and Poetry? Now you do. Comparison of the 90’s rappers and today can seem unfair—especially if you bring accomplishments into the picture. A more logical assessment would be using style and the content of their lyrics. The evolution of rap has made it more subtle and fan-friendly. Some elements have crossed over while others have been lost. In this post, we will compare today’s rappers to 90’s rappers with the aim of helping you to appreciate both generations.
If rap should be about rhyming and poetry alone, 90’s rappers surely did it better. They used their song to give voice to the people. In some instances, they were able to help their listeners approach a prevailing problem from a different point of view. If music was a church, you could call the 90’s rappers preachers. Fast-forward to today, rap is less poetic than it used to be. The emphasis now is usually on producing music that people can vibe to in clubs and parties. People want to be happy and have fun and the new generation of rappers are making it possible. Both eras of rappers influenced their generation is a certain way.
The best word that perfectly describes the 90’s rappers is ‘activist’. The 90’s rappers usually channeled their energy to talk about various social ills. Although some of these problems have existed before some of these rappers, creating a discussion around social ills is vital to their resolution. For example, while the N.W.A lasted, they made music that talked about police brutality. Although their album was banned on radios, it still went ahead to sell over a million copies. In an era where lots of social injustices thrived, it took the strong voice of rappers to put an end to some of those practices.
Inasmuch as the problems that the 90’s rappers criticized (police brutality) are still happening today, the new generation rappers have their focus on the entertainment part of the industry. This is not entirely bad. The vast majority of people today are fighting different levels of depression and sadness. Any form of music that will make them cheer up even for a second can save another soul from suicide. Call today’s rappers entertainers and healers and you won’t be far from the truth.
Another area that you will see a huge difference between today’s rappers and ‘90s rappers is the genre. Rappers of the ’90s took rap strictly for what it was. Many of them never switched genre throughout their career. The story is different today. It is easier to find artists crossing genre today. When it is not a total switch from rap to R&B or Rock, it is an infusion from other genres into rap. That is why it is now easier to find collaborations between rappers and singers of other genres than it was in the ’90s.
While some may want to judge this to mean that today’s rappers are more talented than the 90’s rappers, we don’t want to decode it that way. We think it is simply a switch of ideology. Some of the things that were once considered taboo in the ’90s are now part of our lifestyle. The same can be said of rappers then. A switch in genres was usually a warning sign to a dying career.
Today’s rappers may not be storytellers or motivational in approach but they are living up to the expectations of their generation, just like the rappers of ’90s lived up to their generation. The evolution of technology and sound has influenced today’s rap too—and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.