On September 21st COMPLEX ran an article by staff writer Angel Diaz about the recent Drake & Future collab mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive, that took a very loud shit-talking approach to address “hip-hop purists” who critique popular mainstream rappers such as Drake.
“You old head, super lyrical motherfuckers need to get over yourselves. Every time some new rap drops you sound bitter. ‘This ain’t that real shit,’ you scream as you fix your two-toned durag and adjust your NT denim. We can’t enjoy the two hottest rappers in the game dropping a joint tape? What exactly is that ‘real’ shit then? Turn up music isn’t ‘real’ hip-hop? How so? Was the genre not invented at a goddamn party? Isn’t music about having a good time? I’m dead tired of you cats, man. You make my head hurt. Can’t be listening to Talib Kweli rap off beat and Lupe Fiasco deep cuts at BBQs. I, too, was once like you, but come on, don’t nobody wanna hear that shit all the fucking time.”
The article was…not received well by a lot of folks. Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco personally expressed their disgust at its claims, and other publications ran articles strongly countering it. But long before this slightly-unhinged commentary on the “conscious vs pop” or “real vs mainstream” divide in hip-hop, another article by Aaron Randle on The Root made a much more balanced and well-written argument for unity among the seemingly disparate factions of hip-hop.
“And to me, that’s all the ‘real’ hip-hop debate is, really: less unbiased, nuanced, critical examination of musical quality, and more snap judgment of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ Blackness. It’s what makes purists feel good about themselves when they tout a Kendrick Lamar or a Common while simultaneously downplaying a Young Thug. It’s them saying, ‘I support this type of good Black musician, not this other isht.’ It’s respectability politics. Every time a purist, cloaked in self-righteousness, beats his chest for real hip-hop while giving the finger to a Migos, 2 Chainz or Gucci Mane, he’s creating a musical caste system, arbitrarily deciding what type of artist and music is beneath his taste, and thus unworthy of the hip-hop canon.”
But in the end, the wisdom of THE ARTIST wins. Just as she did when featuring Lil Wayne on her 2010 album New Amerykah Part Two, Ms. Badu, the queen of consciousness, showed all of us what cultural unity really means. With her perfect re-working of Drake’s pop single “Hotline Bling,” received with wild fanfare by her millions of fans, she wasted no time judging or explaining. Instead she let the beauty of the music move her heart, unburdened by labels or generational loyalty. As always, Erykah gives woke positivity to every tribe within the hip-hop nation. And we need her love.