2013 is surprisingly already off to a strong start. While years past have brought us a January where most artists recoup and regroup for the next 11 months, we've already had plenty of singles, videos and announcements looking to set the tone for 2013. We at the Weekly would like to get in on the action and, in our efforts to better the 2013 rap soundscape, present to you 5 Hip-Hop Trends We Hope End in 2013.
5. Rap's Unsavory Saviors
In 2006, hip-hop legend Nas released an album called Hip-Hop is Dead, a fact listeners are reminded of every time they read the press release of some up-and-coming rap artists looking to "bring rap back!" Whether you chalk it up to hip-hop finally reaching the age where it's spawned the genre's tribute band equivalents or just overzealous fans whose misguided appreciation for rap's yesteryear has morphed into an idealized nostalgia for an age that never existed, a vocal minority are just restlessly unsatisfied unless they hear/make the new Illmatic. Let's be real, hip-hop has never and will never need saving. As long as there's young people, the vibrant youth culture will be just fine.
4. Faux-Clever Attempts to Promote Free Music
With each year bringing fewer and fewer record stores along with, coincidentally, fewer people willing to spend money on music, the "free" project has become an absolute necessity for the emerging artist. Whether a mixtape or a full length album, it allows the artists and listeners to take a chance together on something they may really enjoy. Unfortunately, this market has arrived with the increasing frustrating trend of artists struggling to find new ways to say "my album is free." From confusing puns like "It costs Free.99" to convoluted contractions like "FreE.P.," all these do is cause potential listeners' eyes to roll and let writers know your publicist may or may not in fact be Joey Gladstone. Telling us an album is "Free" or even "Free Download" is eye-grabbing, enticing and fits our budgets perfectly. Otherwise, cut it.out.
3. Poorly Made Vaguely-Political Music
Remember during the re-election of President Bush when the underground and mainstream hip-hop scenes were united to express their disapproval by turning every live show into a super serious pep rally/"Def Poetry Jam" hybrid? At the very least new voices were inspired and it spawned some pretty passionate movements and sub-sects. Now, in 2013, there's still people holding on to that "Fuck Bush" mentality, only now they hate everything remotely government/politics related. It's one thing to make thought-provoking socially conscious music, but when how it sounds takes a backseat to an ideology, that's when there's a problem. A very, very boring problem. Regardless where you fall on the political spectrum, a musician's primary purpose is to make good music. Whether your rhymes support or oppose something on capital hill, they aren't going to be worth jack if your voice sounds like a struggling guinea pig whimpering through an Edison phonograph over a beat that sounds like somebody threw a 1982 Casio keyboard on to a Crocodile Mile and hit the demo button. Make sure it sounds good and THEN, if there's time, save the world.
2. Hashtag Rap
For those who missed the rise of Drake over the past five years, "Hashtag Rap" is a style credited to rapper Big Sean but popularized by Drake on tracks like "Forever" where he essentially says a simile but replaced the word "like" with a dramatic pause. The rhymes are along the lines of "Haters all up in my ass...colon / they need to get up off my dick...foreskin." While the style worked on "Forever" and a few other songs at the time, Hashtag Rap became this generation's "iggity" and subsequently plagued hundred of mainstream and independent releases that beat the dead horse to the point where it's now a pile of glue. Drake himself disowned the style and just about apologized for it back in 2011, but some artists can't take the hint and won't let it die out. Please, just let it join Auto-tune and "rock star" in the graveyard of overkill where they won't be reanimated for two generations until 19-year-olds in 2030 idealize it as a relic from a magical time "when hip-hop was real."
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1. Social Media Spam
Remember how you used to love MySpace? How your own personal destination on the internet opened you up to a world of social media? Do you remember why you stopped? Before all the hideous re-designs and relaunches, what drove many of us away was the non-stop influx of attention starved "musicians" innovating new ways to irritate us with their Microsoft Sound recorded demos. What started with just floods of bulletins evolved into oversized images in our comments and "WANNA BUY HOT EXXXCLUSIVE BEATS?!" messages in our inboxes that greatly infringed upon our personal (My)space. We fled MySpace to avoid these "artists," but now their Spambot Swag game has invaded Facebook, Twitter and every other social media extension we hold sacred. Rappers now have larger platforms to become more self-obsessed and less self-aware than ever. If you don't swim in a rapper's toilet, don't let them spam on your wall. Absolutely nobody likes it, and it hasn't helped grow a single fan-base or elevated a career. It's just given us painful reminders of the MySpace we loved and lost.