Back in the late 90s, sitting in my bedroom reading the latest issue of The Source Magazine, I came to a conclusion that rap music would not last much longer. If I recall correctly, I was reading a KRS-One interview, one of those little columns with a short interview. As you know KRS is hip-hop‘s premier evangelist, and he was talking about how hip-hop was the music of the future. And he wasn’t talking about the next five or ten years, he was talking about Star Trek level futurism. Now, this kind of “confidence” is typical of what is called in psychology an inferiority complex. A short man complex, or a little dog complex. Where the short man will be a tough talker, and little dogs will always bark the most, it seemed that KRS-One was doing something similar to that.

Once I picked up on this idea, I immediately started to look for clues that would explain KRS-One’s overconfidence and need to “big-up” hip-hop’s supposed future. It only took me a few seconds to spot several weak spots in rap music. The first thing that came to mind was that rappers tended to have “weaker“ discographies than for example rock artists. Whereas famous rock bands often made progressively better albums as they aged, rappers seldom made more than one or two great albums and then they would fade and lose their essence. A lot of this has to do with the “ghetto quality” and “authentic-ness” of their lifestyles rather than their rapping abilities. A lot of fans, at least the white fans over here in Scandinavia, Europe, and the UK, like to live vicariously through the rapper’s albums. It’s exciting for us to catch a glimpse into the hood life. And we also don’t care much for club beats because they didn’t play hip-hop music at our clubs. So for us, it was all about the authenticity.

Of course, there are exceptions, and some rappers like A Tribe Called Quest, 2Pac, Redman, Ice-Cube, LL Cool J, GangStarr, Run-DMC and Jay-Z have managed to make many classic albums, many of which have been both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. But this group is rare and most artists and groups in rap music tend to have steep, cliff diving drop off’s in quality and commercial relevance. Take for example Nas, his first album is an undeniable all-time classic. While his second, third, and fourth albums are not loved in the same way. They are all quite commercial, some are very corny, all that they have going for them is pretty decent sales. It wasn’t until he made StillMatic that he gained some admiration back from the fans. But in my opinion, that album was good, maybe very good, but nothing too special.

Snoop Dogg is another high-profile rapper who also suffers from this problem of musical decline. His first album from 1993 on Death Row Records titled Doggystyle was a ridiculous success and fans absolutely love this album. It was groundbreaking in many ways from its amazing funk-driven beats to its entertaining and “authentic“ lyrics, to the unforgettable comic book artwork. His second album “Tha Doggfather“ was an entirely different affair. It was far blander, lacking in quality due to Dr. Dre‘s absence, and it just seem like a whole different vibe lyrically. As is often the case with rap artists, Snoop Dogg had been facing serious criminal charges in the years preceding this album. He was charged and eventually acquitted for attempted murder. And Dr. Dre was in hiding from Suge Knight and Tupac because he felt that they were more about drama and Gangbangin instead of making music. So Dr. Dre is nowhere to be found on Snoop Dogg‘s second album, although Dr. Dre was still on Death Row Records. Although he may have been transitioning over to his Aftermath Records at this time.

So that is just a couple of reasons why I thought rap music was not going to last in the way KRS-One was proselytizing. In this article, I listed two reasons. First was the decline in “authenticity“ that rappers tend to have after their first album. And secondly, that rappers tend to not have consistent and productive careers. In the next blog article, I’m going to list a couple more reasons which are quite interesting as well.

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