What Happened to ’90s Rap?


P. Belossat

Wu Tang Clan, a famed rap group launched to fame in the 90s known for hits like “C.R.E.A.M.” at the Festival Eurockéennes in 2007.

I’ve heard that it is widely considered that hip-hop/rap is not as good as it used to be. Not a lot of modern rap albums are considered all-time classics according to rap fans. Junior Alex Cunningham believes that rap is not as good as it once was.

“Rappers right now are very lazy in the way that they write lyrics,” Cunningham said. “Not a lot of them write lyrics about real things or tell stories. Rappers just write rhymes that don’t mean anything with a beat that’s good, and people listen to it just for production. It is way harder to rap than to produce, and people should listen to the lyrics and appreciate when they tell real stories.”

“There are a few exceptions,” Cunningham said. “I love Joey Bada$$ and Kendrick (Lamar) but those are the only good lyricists right now. My favorite ’90s rappers are Biggie, Nas, Scarface, Jay-Z, Ice Cube, and 2pac. They tell stories about their lives, and what’s going on in it. Eminem is also a great story-teller and is one of my favorites. Rap is moving more and more away from that, and it’s all about production.”

Senior Ethan Ziolek also is on the ’90s rap train.

“Rappers’ flow to their lyrics right now is flat out terrible,” Ziolek said. “Every time they say a bar of lyrics, they take a breath. Rappers used to say bars and bars, and would take breaths after three or four bars. It is easier to rap with breathing after one bar and it shouldn’t be about what’s easy, it’s about how you sound and how you tell stories.”

“The beats are slower which makes it easier to rap to,” Ziolek said. “Now rappers think ‘just say lyrics that rhyme, and let the beat make it popular.’ Back in the 90s, rappers thought ‘I’m telling stories about what’s going in my life, with upbeat drums, and piano for the beat. My favorite 90’s rap album is “Ready To Die” by Biggie.”

Personally, I fully agree with Ziolek and Cunningham. Rap music is about someone expressing themselves by telling lyrical stories with a flow that is strong and can last longer. No rappers now are expressing themselves or if they do, they do it in an apologetic way. I think that they do that so that they don’t have any controversy over their lyrics. Rappers used to get hated on for rapping in an unapologetic way and modern rappers want to be Prima Donnas and not have any trouble.

It is dumb to me that production alone can make a song popular. I think that beats are not as important as a rapper’s ability to rap. If a rapper’s flow is slow, then he’s just not working that hard. Saying bad lyrics with a slow flow and having a good beat bail you out is lazy and stupid. If you listen to hip-hop just for production than I can’t consider you a real rap fan.

In modern rap, the only time when rappers think about lyrics is when they write diss tracks and you don’t really have a choice then. I think 20 years from now only Kendrick Lamar will be thought of as a great rapper. I hope rap one day goes back to the way it used to be.