Can We Please Stop Era Bashing in Hip Hop?

Can We Please Stop Era Bashing in Hip Hop?

The new school versus old school debate will never see a winner, so let’s end it.

Published October 29, 2015

Gawd D****t. Here we go again. A rapper from the new school disses hip hop nostalgia, an artist from that era responds and it’s World War Hip Hop 9000 among fans. Since it’s 2015, we’ll play it like an actual world war and the allied side will be Vince Staples and his contemporaries who don’t think they get enough respect versus N.O.R.E. and the axis, who also don’t believe they get enough respect.

Vince fired first recently during an interview with Time. He told the magazine he doesn’t think the ‘90s were all that and called one of hip hop’s most revered times “overrated.” He did save face by explaining that whenever anyone begins loving rap, it’s always their favorite era. Fair enough. But we know you’re tired of hearing about how the ‘90s were better and how all hip hop now sucks.

N.O.R.E., known for his rather successful solo career and being half of Capone-N-Noreaga, fired back via Twitter and called Staples’s remarks an “idiot statement.” He clarified too and says the insult was only meant for his comments about rap nostalgia and was not personal.

If you think about this continual argument though, it’s really more like Vietnam or Iraq. It’s a conflict that seems important to address initially but really just gets everyone pissed off and lands in a stalemate at the end. Hip hop lovers are almost always on one side or the other and Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of arguments about the status of hip hop, but please, can we stop this?

Look, let's all make some concessions.

All genres of music have their peak periods. For rock it’s the late ‘60s, the ‘20s for jazz and in hip hop it’s 1988 to 1992 (or ’96 for all of you partial to gangsta rap). It’s the period where the equilibrium highly favored heads of the sport rather than everybody, making its commercial potential not entirely realized until later. It’s the period when the most amount of classic albums were made and produced the artists who made them. No other musical genre disrespects its elders like hip hop does. And for everyone saying, “Well, the old heads just s**t on what we’re doing now,” get over it. You don’t think Bob Dylan heard Evanescence and said, "WTF is this s**t?" Keith Richards as recently as September bashed heavy metal, calling it a “great joke.” It happens all over music. Just disregard it and move on. All you youngins who slander hip hop nostalgia, please stop. Do the knowledge and appreciate all periods of the genre that pays you.

Older heads, we need to have a talk too. I know not all of you or even most of you bash the current state of hip hop, but for those who blindly do, STOP. If you’re asking the younger ones to do their Googles, you should too. There are PLENTY of emcees and producers out right now making great music. Be the guy or gal to use your voice and support vibrancy in hip hop similar to how the game’s pioneers did for you.

Vince, I love your music and if anyone from hip hop nowadays could hold his/her own during the 1990s, it would be you. If you prefer hip hop of a more evolved form no one should bash you. If Bow Wow was your favorite rapper back in the day, dope. I’m from Columbus and copped Beware of Dog right when it dropped. The ‘90s didn’t mean that much to you and it makes sense. You’re young. But whether you’re a rapper, ball player or anything else, the best learn from the best. It can only make you better.

For everyone in this never-ending argument, lets stop arguing about this s**t. Anyone staunchly on either side of the debate looks closed-minded and really goes against any principles of the culture. Lets stop telling people who they should listen to and where they should listen to it. Stop telling those who enjoy Golden Age hip hop that they’re out of step. Stop telling new rappers that everyone now is inferior and that they’ll never be the ‘90s. This whole thing is truly corny in the end. It’s parents know better versus parents don’t understand and like Will Smith’s 1988 hit, lets leave it in the past.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photos from left: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Def Jam, Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

Written by Paul Meara

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