Sorry Diplo, but I gotta do this. I’m not too sure where to begin describing my utter misery at the NYC Mad Decent Block Party. Maybe it began with the 100+ degree weather, maybe the fact the only act I went there to see got rained out, or maybe because everything I know and respect about music & hiphop was shat on by someone who so obviously lip-synced his “raps” that even the 4 year old next to me with ear muffs on booed him off stage. With that, let us begin.
“Post-HipHop” is a label that has arguably been around for years, perhaps even decades. It’s only natural for something to progress and gradually become less and less recognisable from it’s inception. For better or worse; change happens. In this context, do labels even matter? If you ask someone who grew up on the art of the genre’s founding members, the answer is yes. If you ask this same person after seeing a show featuring RiFF RaFF, the answer is an emphatic yes.
Labels hold power in the legacy they contain. The most hardcore Hip-Hop head can be forgiven for feeling a flutter of embarrassment when they say to someone that they like Hip-Hop due to the image perpetuated in the “mainstream”. Can an artist genuinely be considered to represent Hip-Hop if they appear to display only the technicalities of what the genre has come down to?
Over these past rapid changing years in the music industry, the morphing “face” of hip-hop is more and more apparent. I quote face because it seems that an over-the-top appearance, a screaming presence throughout the internet and the signing to a label, ANY label, is more important than the stories that are told, the lyrics written and beats made.
Back to the NYC Mad Decent Block Party. Riff Raff, who began his “career” as a contestant on MTV’s From G’s to Gents (enough said), started off his 30-minute time slot on the stage high-fiving a foam cheese head running in circles behind him. Whether it was the sun’s heat beating down or a wave of frustration that hit the crowd, everybody in the place began booing and screaming insults at him. Riff Raff heard it all and simply shrugged his shoulders back at us. By the last 10 minutes, he so clearly had given up on his “performance” that he might as well not even have had a mic in his hand his lip syncing was so bad. I could go on here venting my anger and frustration with the display of rap chosen to take the stage, but I wont. I wont even touch on Mr. Mutha Fuckin’ eXquire….
Now, I’m well aware America has done it’s quick number on EDM through what our younger generation thinks it represents (neon colors and an excess of pills) and this block party is exactly where all that is seen nowadays. However my confusion comes in as to why these rap acts were chosen to represent Mad Decent and what their opinion of good modern day hiphop is. My respect for Diplo/Major Lazer runs deep for their love of reggae and excellent production skill. So I know that Riff Raff is not at the top of Diplo’s list. He (Diplo) is good at what he does. He is smart, he is a good money maker and good at gathering a following. He knows what has happened to the true hiphop world and is now only contributing to it’s disappearance. It is labels like Mad Decent that morph the face of hiphop and spoon feed it to our young music consumers.
So once again; labels hold power in the legacy they contain. It would therefore seem appropriate to pick a little more wisely the artists you want to carry that legacy and what you want to represent, not only for your own name but for the greater good of keeping music alive. It’s only in that rare selfless dedication that that can happen. Indeed, rare.
~ Written by Samantha with the help of Hardeep